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Ukraine-Russia: EU summons top Russian diplomat

October 3, 2022

The EU has summoned the top Russian diplomat to the bloc over the attempt to annex parts of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the UN nuclear watchdog said the head of the Zaporizhzhia plant has been released. Follow DW for more.

Police officers walk at Red Square in front of constructions reading the words ''Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Russia"
The illegal "annexations" took place to a fanfare of celebrations in MoscowImage: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/picture alliance

The EU on Monday called in Moscow's top diplomat to Brussels to underline the bloc's condemnation of President Vladimir Putin's illegal annexation of more Ukrainian territory

The move comes after individual EU nations on Friday began calling in Russian envoys over Moscow laying claim to four Ukrainian regions occupied by his troops. 

Belgium was one of the first, followed by Italy and Austria. EU leaders have vowed they "will never recognize this illegal annexation."

 "This is an EU-wide and EU coordinated exercise," Peter Stano, a  bloc foreign affairs spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

Putin relieved Russia's veteran EU Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov, who was in the role for 17 years, of his duties last week amid worsening tensions.

Within the EU, diplomats are trying to overcome objections from Hungary —  whose Prime Minster Viktor Orban is considered close to Putin — to pass on a new package of economic sanctions. The measures would include moves to impose a price cap on Russian oil sold around the world. 

Here is more news from or concerning the war in Ukraine on Monday October 3:

Ukrainian leaders bristle at Musk's 'peace plan'

Ukrainian politicians thought little of Tesla CEO Elon Musk posting his idea of a plan for the future of their country on Twitter. The tweet includes the stipulation that Ukraine remain neutral following the conflict, that is, not join NATO or the EU, and that Crimea is permanently ceded to Russia. It concludes with a poll for users to indicate whether or not they agree.

Andrij Melnyk, who is Ukraine's ambassador to Germany until next week, responded to Musk's tweet with an expletive.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that "Those who propose Ukraine to give up on its people and land — presumably not to hurt Putin’s bruised ego or to save Ukraine from suffering — must stop using word "peace" as an euphemism to 'let Russians murder and rape thousands more innocent Ukrainians, and grab more land.'"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to Musk's statement with a poll of his own:

Several hours after posting, there was overwhelming online support in favor of Ukraine. 

US: Ukraine on track to reach battlefield objectives

Ukraine seems on course to achieve several key battlefield objectives, a Pentagon official said on Monday.

Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, pointed out success Ukraine's forces booked recently in the regions of Kharkiv and Donetsk, as well as gains they have made in the southern region of Kherson.

"Ukraine seems to be on track to achieve in all three of those objectives right now," Wallander told the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.

Zaporizhzhia plant chief released — UN nuclear watchdog

The head of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine has been released, International Atomic Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said.

"I welcome the release of Ihor Murashov, Director General of #Ukraine's #Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant; I have received confirmation that Mr Murashov has returned to his family safely," Grossi tweeted.

Ukrainian nuclear energy service Energoatom had accused Russian forces of "kidnapping" Murashov.

The IAEA said that Russia had told the agency that the head of the plant had been "temporarily detained to answer questions." The UN nuclear watchdog said it then contacted Russian officials for answers.

Ukrainian forces recapture towns along Dnieper River

Moscow's troops have yielded land along a second major front, near the southern city of Kherson that Russia claims to have annexed. 

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, "With numerically superior tank units in the direction of Zolota Balka and Oleksandrivka, the enemy managed to forge deep into our defenses."

Konashenkov added that Russian forces had inflicted heavy losses on Ukraine.

The breakthrough comes after Ukrainian forces took the key logistics hub of Lyman — Kyiv's most significant battlefield gain in weeks.

Both moves set the stage for advances aimed at further cutting Russian supply lines.

Russian military bloggers have described a Ukrainian tank advance through dozens of kilometers of territory along the Dnieper's western bank.

Kremlin fires commander of Russia's Western military district

Russian outlet RBC reports Colonel-General Alexander Zhuravlyov, responsible for Russia's Western military district, was sacked and replaced with Lieutenant-General Roman Berdnikov.

Several news sites also reported the personnel change though officials did not offer formal confirmation.

Russia's armed forces are divided into five military districts. Zhuravlyov's exit comes after Russia saw Ukrainians recapture large swaths of territory occupied by Russia.

On Saturday, Ukrainians retook Lyman, a strategic railroad junction critical to Russian supply lines.

Russia's Duma votes to annex four regions

The lower house of Russia's parliament, the Duma, has approved laws to annex four Ukrainian territories into Russia after rapidly-organized so-called "referendums" last week. 

No lawmakers voted against the resolutions on the annexations, which the West has denounced as coercive and illegitimate.

Members of the parliament voted to incorporate Ukraine's Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia.

The Kremlin says two of the four regions it plans to illegally annex from Ukraine are to join Russia with administrative borders that existed before a 2014 conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that the issue of the borders of the two other regions - Zaporizhzhia and Kherson - remained open.

"We will continue to discuss that with residents of those regions," Peskov said.

Chechnya's Kadyrov says will send sons to front

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, says he is sending three of his teenage sons — aged 14, 15 and 16 — to the front line in Ukraine.

"It's time to prove themselves in a real fight, I can only welcome this desire," Kadyrov wrote on Telegram, posting a video of the boys firing missiles in a shooting range. "Soon they will go to the front line and will be on the most difficult sections of the contact line."

Kadyrov, the leader of Russia's southern Chechnya region whose troops are fighting for Moscow, on Saturday called for a change of strategy "right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons."

The Kremlin dismissed the call saying it was a "very emotional moment."

"In our country, the use of nuclear weapons happens only on the basis of what is stated in the relevant doctrine", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

UK says Putin's mobilization looks in jeopardy

The UK Ministry of Defence says Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan to mobilize personnel for the war in Ukraine looks beset by failure.

Russia's first mobilization since World War Two has led to widespread discontent, including complaints about call-up papers being sent to clearly ineligible men.

Putin addressed his National Security Council on the "partial mobilization" he had announced on 21 September, and admitted that there had been problems.

Putin admitted "a lot of questions are being raised during this mobilization campaign, and we must promptly correct our mistakes and not repeat them."

The UK ministry said Putin's "unusually rapid acknowledgment of problems highlights the dysfunction of the mobilization over its first week. Local officials are likely unclear on the exact scope and legal rationale of the campaign."

"As drafted reservists continue to assemble at tented transit camps, Russian officials are likely struggling to provide training and in finding officers to lead new units."

EU agrees to host training for up to 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers

German magazine Der Spiegel reports that EU member countries will host training for up to 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers starting as soon as possible.

The final details will be hashed out in Brussels next week, but preliminary details cited by the magazine suggest Poland will receive EU funds to establish a headquarters that will be run in conjunction with other members of the 27-nation bloc.

The report added medics and other specialists would be trained in Germany, and a combat simulation center would also be utilized.

Baerbock: Germany takes Putin's nuclear threats 'very seriously'

In an interview with Neue Ossnabrücker Zeitung, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the German government takes Russian President Vladimir Putin's repeated nuclear threats "very seriously."

Baebock added, "Anything else would be negligent." She noted Putin and Russian forces have committed war crimes repeatedly throughout the conflict.

She noted, "We must not and will not engage in blackmail - Putin would see that as an invitation to further escalation."

"Hardly any country in the world still backs Putin; young Russians are fleeing the country by the hundreds of thousands," Baerbock said.

Lithuania expels chief of Russian embassy in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Sergei Ryabokon, the head of Russia's embassy in the Lithuanian capital, was being given five days to leave the country before he would be declared persona non grata. 

In April, Lithuania downgraded relations with Russia in response to atrocities Russian forces committed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. The change in diplomatic status made then second-in-command Ryabokon the embassy head.

Deputy Foreign minister Mantas Adomenas said Ryabokon was being expelled due to his "cynical distortion of historical events" regarding an incident in 1991 when Soviet troops fired on Lithuanian demonstrators, killing 14 and wounding 700 in the final days of the Soviet Union.

A Lithuanian court convicted dozens of Soviet-era officials in 2019 but most all remain in Russia where they are protected from extradition.

In an interview, Ryabokon said it had been illegal to demonstrate in Lithuania in 1991 and those who died were guilty of "provocations" against the Soviet Union.

Lithuania also accused Ryabokon of having "active communication" with individuals "acting against the national interests of Lithuania."

More DW content on the war in Ukraine

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has hailed Ukraine's capture of the Lyman as encouraging. Meanwhile, UK Defense Intelligence called it a major political setback for Russia. Read more about what happened on Sunday.

When the war began, Ukrainian authorities stopped extending Russian citizens' residency permits. Since then, their status has become unclear and many face deportation.

ar,rc,sdi,es/kb,sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)