Live Updates: Russia-Ukraine War
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko gave his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a tractor as a gift for his 70th birthday while electronic billboards congratulating Putin appeared in Serbia’s capital Belgrade.
Lukashenko presented Putin with a gift certificate for the vehicle as the leaders of several ex-Soviet nations met at the Czarist-era Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg on Friday. It wasn’t clear how the Russian leader responded to the gift, which Lukashenko’s office announced.
The billboards in Belgrade feature Putin’s photo and read: “Happy birthday to President Vladimir Putin from the Serb brethren!” The posters are signed by a Pro-Russian right-wing group.
Putin remains popular in Serbia despite the attack on Ukraine and many in the Balkan country believe that the Russian president was provoked by the West into launching the invasion.
— Biden: Nuclear ‘Armageddon’ risk highest since ’62 crisis
— Putin’s path: from pledges of stability to nuclear threats
— Nobel Peace Prize to activists from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine
— EU leaders struggle to bridge gas price cap divide
— UN rights body agrees to appoint expert to scrutinize Russia
Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Ukraine’s environmental protection minister says an accident at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could release 10 times the amount of potentially lethal radioactivity than the world’s worst atomic accident did in Chernobyl 36 years ago.
Ruslan Strilets who is in Cyprus for a U.N. environmental conference, told the Associated Press in an interview Friday that a release of radioactivity of that magnitude could expand to as much as 2 million sq. km (772,200 sq. miles), “three times larger than Ukraine’s total area” or an area half the size of the European Union. An accident could also spark “a wave of environmental refugees” fleeing to other areas of Ukraine or abroad.
According to Strilets, about 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) of forest have been damaged or burned since the Feb. 24 launch of the Russian invasion. Forest fires in combination with Russian attacks on oil depots and industrial facilities have spewed more than 67 million tons of pollutants into the air. Currently, 812 nature-protected areas have either been damaged or remain under threat.
He added that a preliminary assessment on environmental damage the war has caused in the last seven months puts the cost at over 36 billion euros ($35.25 billion).
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch financial crime prosecutors say they have arrested a 55-year-old man on suspicion of breaching sanctions by selling computer chips to companies in Russia that could have military uses.
The tax service’s prosecution office, known by its Dutch acronym FIOD, said Friday that the man was arrested Sept. 27 in the eastern Netherlands and remains in custody. His identity was not released, in line with Dutch privacy regulations.
FIOD said in a statement that the chips he delivered to Russia “can also be used for producing weapons.” It added that the Russian weapon industry currently has a serious shortage of these microchips.
FIOD says the man allegedly deliberately tried to evade sanctions by pretending the chips had destinations other than Russia.
OSLO, Norway — This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to jailed Belarus rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian group Memorial and the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said Friday the judges wanted to honor “three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence in the neighbor countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.”
Reiss-Andersen told reporters in Oslo the laureates “have revitalized and honored Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace and fraternity between nations, a vision most needed in the world today” through their consistent efforts in favor of human values, anti-militarism and principles of law.
The award follows a tradition of highlighting groups and activists trying to prevent conflicts, alleviate hardship and protect human rights.
KYIV — A spokesman for Ukraine’s president says Volodymyr Zelenskyy would never ask NATO to launch a nuclear first strike to prevent Russia from unleashing its own nuclear arsenal.
Zelenskyy’s press officer Serhiy Nikiforov said Friday the Ukrainian president’s remark during a discussion at Australia’s Lowy Institute didn’t imply that NATO should launch a preemptive nuclear attack, but instead to act proactively with additional sanctions as it should have done prior to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak posted on Twitter that Zelenskyy’s reference to strikes meant that the West should step up sanctions as well as military aid to Ukraine.
In response to a question about what NATO should do to deter Russia from using nuclear weapons, Zelenksyy told the Lowy Institute the alliance should “make it impossible for Russia to use nuclear weapons” through “preemptive strikes, so they know what will happen to them if they do.”
KYIV — Britain’s Defense Ministry says Ukraine’s ability to capture and put back into service Russian tanks and other equipment continues to be an important factor in its drive to repel the invasion.
The Ministry said Friday Ukrainian forces have captured at least 440 tanks and about 650 armored vehicles since the start of the war.
It also said the failure of Russian crews to destroy intact equipment before withdrawing or surrendering “highlights their poor state of training and low levels of battle discipline.”
KYIV — Ukraine’s emergency service says the death toll from a Russian missile attack on an apartment building in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia has risen to 11.
The service said Friday 21 people were rescued from the rubble of residential buildings that were hit with modified S-300 missiles.
Regional Governor Oleksandr Staruch posted on his Telegram channel that this was not random, but a deliberate strike on multi-story buildings.
Starukh said Russian forces on Friday deployed for the first time Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones that damaged two infrastructure facilities Zaporizhzha.
KYIV — The Ukrainian military says its forces have shot down more than 20 Russian drones over the last 24 hours.
Most of the drones were the Iranian-made Shahed-136 that are packed with explosives and are designed to crash into targets.
The military also said that 500 former criminals have been mobilized to reinforce Russian ranks in the eastern Donetsk region, where Ukrainian forces have been retaking territory. The new units are commanded by officers drawn from law enforcement.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War says Russia has increasingly deployed the cheaper an less sophisticated Iranian-made drones in recent weeks, but the weapons are unlikely to significantly affect the course of the war.
KYIV — A Ukrainian military official says Russian troops have shelled the southern city of Nikopol overnight, damaging multi-story buildings, houses, farm buildings and public infrastructure including gas pipelines and electricity systems.
Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the local military administration, said Friday no injuries reported.
Nikopol is situation along the Dnieper River, opposite Russian-held territory. Russian forces are trying to blunt recent Ukrainian advances along the southern front.
PRAGUE — European Union leaders are meeting in Prague to try to bridge significant differences over a natural gas price cap as winter approaches and Russia’s war on Ukraine fuels the energy crisis.
It’s hoped that a price cap will contain a crisis that is driving up prices for consumers and business. It could lead to rolling blackouts, shuttered factories and a deep recession over the winter.
As Europeans bolster their support for Ukraine in the form of weapons, money and aid, Russia has reduced or cut off natural gas to 13 member nations.
Standing in the way of an agreement at Friday’s summit is the simple fact that each member country depends on different energy sources and suppliers.
NEW YORK — U.S. President Joe Biden says the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Biden’s remarks came as Russian officials speak of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the eight-month invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking at a fundraiser Thursday for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons.”
Biden added that “we have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss Ukraine’s humanitarian, economic and development needs.
At a briefing in Kyiv on Thursday, USAID director Samantha Power said that “this war will be won on the battlefield, but it is also being won in Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its democracy and its economy.”
Power says her visit included meetings with Ukrainian farmers, civil society activists, journalists and groups that USAID has been supporting to identify and document war crimes.
Earlier in the day, Power announced that USAID has committed an additional $55 million to assist Ukraine with repairs to heating pipes and other infrastructure and equipment. USAID has since February given $9.89 billion in aid to Ukraine.
UNITED NATIONS — Russia is calling for a secret ballot next week in the U.N. General Assembly on a Western-backed resolution that would condemn Moscow for its “attempted illegal annexation” of part of four Ukrainian regions and demand an immediate reversal.
Russia apparently hopes it would get more support from the 193 nations if their votes are not made public.
The General Assembly has announced that its emergency special session on Ukraine will resume Monday when the draft resolution will be presented. Diplomats say they expect the vote on the resolution likely on Wednesday.
Votes on resolutions in the world body are traditionally public and illuminated with different colored lights on a large board which has the name of every country.
KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the U.N.’s atomic energy agency says it’s doubling to four the number of inspectors that it plans to deploy to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in a Russian-controlled area of southern Ukraine as fighting continues in the region, threatening its safety.
During a visit Thursday to the Ukrainian capital, Director-General Rafael Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency deplored how workers in Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant are facing “almost unbearable circumstances.”
He said he would take up that issue and hopes of establishing a secure protection zone around the nuclear power station during talks with an unspecified “very high-level” official when he travels soon to Moscow.
Grossi emphasized that despite Russia’s proclaimed — and widely criticized — annexation of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, or region, the plant remains a Ukrainian facility that belongs to state-run company Energoatom.
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