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Ukraine updates: Putin signs law 'annexing' 4 regions

October 5, 2022

Defying international law, Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to officially annex four partly occupied regions of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine's military has advanced closer to the Luhansk region. DW has the latest.

Russian President Putin gesturing during a speech on October 5, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed several Ukrainian regions following sham "referendum" votesImage: Gavriil Grigorov/AP Photo/picture alliance

Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to finalize the illegal annexation of several Ukrainian regions on Wednesday.

The Kremlin announced that Putin signed laws to absorb the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — with Moscow now designating them as parts of Russia. 

The documents were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday.

The move comes after Russia held orchestrated "referendums" in the regions. Ukraine and Western governments have rejected the votes, saying they violated international law and were non-representative and coercive.

The Russian military currently controls only parts of the annexed areas, but nuclear-armed Russia now sees the entire Ukrainian regions as under its protection and part of its territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to Russia's annexation move by lodging a fast-track application to join NATO and to rule out formal talks with Putin.

Here is more news from or concerning the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, October 5.

Ukraine retakes more villages in Kherson

Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced late on Wednesday that three more villages in the country's Kherson region had been recaptured from Russian troops.

Zelenskyy said the villages of Novovoskresenske, Novogrygorivka and Petropavlivka "were liberated in the last 24 hours," adding that the counter-offensive "continues."

Russia uses Iranian drones far from Ukraine's frontlines

Russian forces used Iranian drones  in an attack on a town far from the battlefield frontlines and near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Wednesday.

Six drones hit a building overnight in Bila Tserkva, around 75 kilometers (45 miles) south of Kyiv, the region's Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.

The drones were launched from Russia-controlled areas in southern Ukraine, said Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat, adding that six additional drones were shot down before reaching their targets.

"This is a new threat for all the defense forces, and we need to use all available means to try to counter it," Ihnat said.

Ukraine has reported several Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in the last three weeks, but Wednesday's strike was by far the closest to Kyiv.

Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.

Estonia calls for NATO subs to monitor pipelines

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur proposed NATO start a program of "Sub Policing" akin to its "Air Policing" operations.

"When it comes to the sea," Pevkur said, "we only know what's going on on the surface. Underneath that, things get difficult. Finland and Sweden have really good detection systems in this area. That's why we're seeking cooperation with both these countries." 

The issue is of particular relevance to Estonia as it receives electricity via undersea cables from Finland. Pevkur noted that attack or sabotage is no simple matter and required explosives, as the Nord Stream blasts had shown, but he nevertheless recommended some kind of underwater surveillance program.

In an interview with German weekly Die Zeit, the Estonian defense minister was also asked his opinion on the arguments over who was behind the Nord Stream explosions. "The only country that had a motive for this sabotage is Russia," he said. 

For it's part, the Kremlin said Wednesday that Russia should have a role in an investigation into the cause of the Nord Stream pipeline leaks. 

Putin hoping for annexed regions to stabilize, says he has 'great respect' for Ukrainian people

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he is "working on the assumption" that the situation in the four new territories recently annexed by the Kremlin "will stabilize," after Moscow suffered military setbacks there.

Putin, who made the comments during a televised video call with teachers, also said that Russia has "great respect" for the Ukrainian people, despite what he called "the current situation." Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February. 

Putin said the results of so-called referendums to join Russia organized by Moscow in regions captured by its army were "more than convincing."

"In all honesty, the results of the referendum not only pleased me, but also surprised me," he said, before adding, "they are not subject to any doubt."

The West and Ukraine decried the ballots as a sham with voters coerced to take part at gunpoint while their land remains occupied by a foreign power.

Kremlin vows to retake lost territory in Ukraine

Moscow's forces have suffered significant losses in two of the four regions since Friday, when Putin signed treaties to incorporate them.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has vowed to reoccupy the regions in eastern Ukraine, claiming they will belong to Russia "forever."

The eastern regions Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya that Moscow has annexed are, at least partially, under the control of Ukrainian troops following embarrassing battlefield defeats and retreats, making Peskov's comments seem untimely. But, he explained, "there is no contradiction here."

He said that even though Russian troops have withdrawn from some areas at the moment, those regions will eventually be reconquered.

Emphasizing his point, Peskov continued: "I repeat once again: certain territories will be retaken and we will continue consultations with the populations that will express the wish to live in Russia," the TASS news agency reported.

Russian TV protester confirms she has gone on the run

The Russian TV journalist who earlier this year interrupted an on-air broadcast with a placard that read "Stop the war" and "They're lying to you" says she has escaped house arrest and, according to her lawyer, did not turn up for a scheduled hearing at 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT/UTC) at a district court in the capital.

Marina Ovsyannikova had been confined over charges of spreading fake news again and faced up to 10 years in prison. But on the Telegram messaging service, she said she considers herself "completely innocent," adding, "since our state refuses to comply with its own laws, I refuse to comply with the measure of restraint imposed on me as of September 30 and release myself from it."

Investigators had yet to establish her whereabouts, according to her lawyer, backing up a Russia Today report on Saturday that said she had fled. The state-run media outlet also reported she had gone on the run with her 11-year-old daughter.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine in February, authorities in Moscow and other cities have been cracking down on any sign of dissent.

The Kremlin has restricted access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to prevent the reports and images of war from reaching them. Domestic media are banned from using the terms "invasion" or "war" in reference to what is going on in Ukraine.

Expert says no nuclear payloads on filmed train in Russia

Suggestions that there were nuclear payloads aboard a train that was filmed in Russia have been dismissed by the director of the Rochan military consultancy in Poland.

Since the video was published, further information about the train has been revealed — namely, that it was actually moving in a direction northeast of Moscow and away from Ukraine, Rochan's Konrad Muzyka told DW, before adding that the video, contrary to reports in the British media, "did not show that the train was carrying any nuclear payloads at that time."

Ukraine forces approaching Luhansk region, says UK

Ukrainian forces are continuing their advance on areas under Russian military control, according to a new UK intelligence bulletin.

Ukrainian military forces are now approaching the borders of the Luhansk region. According to the British statement, Ukrainian troops have advanced up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) beyond the Oskil River, bringing them closer to Russia's defensive zone in Luhansk.

"Politically, Russian leaders will highly likely be concerned that leading Ukrainian units are now approaching the borders of Luhansk Oblast, which Russia claimed to have formally annexed last Friday," the British Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russia has been facing mounting setbacks on the battlefield, as Ukrainian forces retake land under Russian occupation in the east and south.

Drone attack targets town south of Kyiv

Several explosions rocked the town of Bila Tserkva, located south of the capital Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday morning.

The blasts set off fires at infrastructure sites, leaving one person injured, said regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba.

Officials said the attacks were carried out by so-called suicide drones made by Iran.

Ukraine's military first reported Russian attacks with Iranian-made drones last month, although those have primarily targeted sites in southern Ukraine.

EU agrees Russian oil price cap as part of eighth sanctions package

Russia's oil exports are set to be capped after ambassadors from the European Union's 27 countries agreed on a new sanctions package. 

The move hopes to deliver a blow to Russia's oil revenues amid its ongoing war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin's move to illegally annex partly occupied territories in the embattled country.

"The package contains: Prohibition of maritime transport of Russian oil to third countries above the oil price cap and a ban on related services," the Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating Presidency of the EU Council, said in a statement.

Russians fleeing mobilization will not necessarily get French visas, says junior minister

French Junior Minister for European Affairs Laurence Boone has announced that Russians fleeing to avoid being deployed in the army would not automatically get permission to stay in France.

"We have limited conditions under which visas can be given. We will make sure dissident journalists, people who fight the regime, artists and students can still come here, and we will issue visas on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the security risks," she said in an interview with franceinfo radio.

Boone said each case would be assessed individually and that the procedure to get a visa for the Schengen area would be extended from the usual 15 days to 40, in order to conduct a thorough assessment.

"We want to preserve access to political asylum in Europe to people who really need it and to avoid security risks," she said.

Russia to resume gas deliveries to Italy says energy giant Gazprom

Russia will "resume" gas deliveries to Italy after temporarily halting them over the weekend due to a transport problem in Austria, Gazprom said in a statement Wednesday. 

The energy firm said a "solution" had been found with Italian buyers following regulatory changes in Austria.

Most Russian gas in Italy is delivered through Ukraine thanks to the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline (TAG), to Tarvisio in northern Italy on the border with Austria.

Italian energy firm Eni confirmed that "gas supplies from Gazprom resumed today." 

More DW content on the war in Ukraine

There is increasing fear, even panic, that the energy crisis caused by Russia could force industrial production in Europe into meltdown. DW's Europe correspondent Bernd Riegert says Germany's recent €200 billion national economic rescue package cannot be a model for the whole of the EU.

jsi, rs/nm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)