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Ukraine: Russia to evacuate residents from annexed Kherson

October 13, 2022

Moscow says it will help evacuate civilians from Kherson, the region it illegally annexed last month. Meanwhile, Russia carried out strikes on Ukraine's capital region and Mykolaiv in the south. DW has the latest.

A view of a damaged village, located in the border of the Kherson region
Ukrainian forces retook 29 settlements in Kherson at the start of OctoberImage: Metin Aktas/AA/picture alliance

Russia's drone and missile assault continues

Russia said Thursday it would help residents leave Kherson after the region's Kremlin-backed governor made a plea for assistance.

The southern region was annexed by Moscow last month in violation of international law.

"The government took the decision to organize assistance for the departure of residents of the (Kherson) region to other regions of the country," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said on state television.

"We will provide everyone with free accommodation and everything necessary," he said. 

Earlier, Kherson's regional governor called for locals to evacuate — a sign that Ukrainian forces are continuing their advance in the region. On Wednesday, Kyiv said it had retaken five settlements in Kherson.

"We suggested to all people of the Kherson region to, if they wish, leave to other regions to protect themselves from missile hits," Governor Vladimir Saldo said on Telegram. "In addressing the leadership of the country (Russia), I ask you to help organize this work."

Saldo said an increasing amount of rockets were hitting the region, causing "serious damage." 

Kherson was among the first regions to be captured by Russian forces after Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. 

Here is more news concerning Russia's war on Ukraine from Thursday, October 13:

Kyiv region hit by Iranian-made drones: Governor

Iranian-made "kamikaze" drones hit regions around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, early on Thursday morning, the regional governor, Oleksiy Kuleba, said.

The deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Telegram that "critical infrastructure facilities'' in the area had been hit. 

Later reports said the attacks took place the small town of Makariv, about 55 km (34 miles) west of the capital. No casualties were reported.

Kyiv had largely been spared attacks in recent months until Russian forces launched massive missile strikes on Monday against civilian sites across the country. Since then, air raid sirens have sounded every day in the region.

Russian forces also "massively shelled" the southern city of Mykolaiv overnight, according to its mayor.

"A five-story residential building was hit, the two upper floors were completely destroyed, the rest — under rubble. Rescuers are working on the site," Oleksandr Sienkovych said in a statement on social media.  

It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties. The port city has suffered heavy bombardment throughout Russia's invasion.

 Ruined apartment building
This picture purportedly shows an apartment building in Mykolaiv damaged in the Russian strikeImage: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout/REUTERS

Stoltenberg warns Russia not to cross 'very important line'

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russian President Vladimir Putin would be crossing a "very important line" if he were to deploy nuclear weapons in Ukraine. 

His comments came after a meeting of NATO's Nuclear Planning Group in Brussels.

Asked what the military alliance would do should Moscow launch a nuclear attack, Stoltenberg said, "We will not go into exactly how we will respond, but of course this will fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. It will mean that a very important line has been crossed.''

"Even any use of a smaller nuclear weapon will be a very serious thing ... and of course that would have consequences,'' he added.

He stressed, however, that the circumstances in which NATO might have to use nuclear weapons are "extremely remote."

The meeting in Brussels came ahead of a planned NATO nuclear exercise, dubbed "Steadfast Noon," next week. Russia is also expected to hold nuclear drills of its own in the near future.

Stoltenberg's comments echoed those of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who also warned the Russian president against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

"Any nuclear attack against Ukraine will create an answer, not a nuclear answer but such a powerful answer from the military side that the Russian Army will be annihilated,'' he said in a speech in Bruges, Belgium.

Putin is unpredictable and we have to be ready: Estonia's Defense Minister

Ukrainian prosecutor launches probe into Russian strikes

Ukraine's prosecutor general says investigators are collecting evidence following the latest round of missile attacks by Russia on Ukrainian cities.

Prosecutor Andriy Kostin called the strikes "a classic act of terror prohibited under international law."

Speaking at a joint press conference with International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan in The Hague, Kostin said criminal proceedings would be opened.

"Every missile strike, every explosion, every hit on a civilian target — everything is documented," he said, adding that Ukraine had so far identified 186 suspected Russian war criminals. 

ICC chief prosecutor Khan said Ukraine could extradite Russian war crimes suspects to The Hague if trials could not take place in Ukraine for legal reasons.

The ICC opened its own probe into the war in Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded.

Merkel says no regrets over gas deals with Russia

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her government's decision to buy large quantities of natural gas from Russia.

"You always act in the time in which you find yourself," she told reporters in Lisbon. "In this respect, I do not regret decisions at all, rather, I believe that it was right from the perspective of the time."

Merkel said buying cheap gas from Russia had allowed Germany to make progress on phasing out coal and nuclear power. Those plans, however, have been delayed by the current crisis.

Germany and other European countries have been trying to wean themselves off Russian energy in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Critics say Germany's energy policy under Merkel left her country too reliant on Russian gas. When she left office last year after 16 years as chancellor, 55% of Germany's gas imports came from Russia.

Russia, Ukraine exchange 40 prisoners 

Moscow and Kyiv have exchanged 20 prisoners each in their latest swap.

Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak said on Telegram that the freed Ukrainians included "14 soldiers of Ukraine's army, four members of the territorial defense, a member of the national guard and a member of Ukraine's navy."

There were also "people that the Russians detained in Olenivka prison and in the temporarily occupied areas of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions," he added.

Russia's Defense Ministry said 20 soldiers had returned from Ukrainian territory controlled by Kyiv and were getting the medical help they needed.

Ukrainian shelling hits apartment building in Russia's Belgorod: Governor

A multi-story residential building in the southern Russian city of Belgorod has been struck by shells fired by Ukrainian forces, a regional governor says.

"The Ukrainian armed forces shelled Belgorod. There is damage at a residential apartment building on Gubkin street. Information about the victims is being specified," the Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a statement on Telegram.

He shared a picture appearing to show a partially collapsed building with rubble next to it.

The report has not been independently confirmed.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that Russia had launched a missile towards the Ukrainian
city of Kharkiv but "something went wrong and it hit (a) residential building."

A number of attacks in Belgorod, which is located near the border with Ukraine, have been reported by Russian authorities since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. Ukraine has so far declined to take or deny responsibility for the incidents.

Putin's war on Ukraine 'a crusade against liberal democracy': German chancellor

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken of "Russia's abhorrent aggression" as he renewed a vow to keep giving weapons and support to Ukraine for "as long as it takes."

In a video message to the Progressive Governance Summit in Berlin, Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin had made it clear that Moscow's invasion of  its neighbor "is not only about Ukraine."

Scholz said the Russian regime considered the war to be part of "a crusade against liberal democracy, a crusade against a rules-based international order, a crusade against freedom and progress, a crusade against our way of life and a crusade against what Putin calls the collective West — he means all of us.''

Putin and Erdogan meet in Kazakhstan

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have held two-way talks on the sidelines of a summit in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

In comments that have emerged from the meeting, Putin reportedly proposed to build what he described as a supply hub in Turkey for gas to be delivered to the EU and other customers. 

However, Russian state-owned news agency RIA cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying the two leaders did not discuss Russia's war on Ukraine.

This is despite the fact that, ahead of the talks, Erdogan had said his country's goal was "to help stop the bloodshed as soon as possible by maintaining the momentum gained despite the difficulties in the field."  

Speaking to regional leaders at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), he said that "a fair peace can be achieved through diplomacy." 

Earlier, a Kremlin aide had said Erdogan was likely to put forward ideas for bringing peace to Ukraine at the talks.

At the summit, Putin is also expected to hold talks with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

UK says will send missiles for US air defense systems

The UK has said that it will provide missiles for the NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) air defense systems that the US  plans to deliver to Ukraine in the next weeks to help protect against Russian aerial attacks.

It said it would send Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, or AMRAAMs, that could be used with the US systems.

Hundreds of additional air defense missiles of other types would also be delivered to Ukraine, along with more aerial drones and a further 18 howitzer artillery guns, it said.

The British defense minister, Ben Wallace, said that "these weapons will help Ukraine defend its skies from attacks and strengthen their overall missile defense alongside the US NASAMS.''

He announced the new support ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

Russia has stepped up its missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian civilian in the past few days, prompting a number of Western governments to pledge the supply of more air defense systems.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that Ukraine has only about 10% of what
it needs for its air defenses.

NASAMS system seen in the Netherlands
The US has pledged to send its NASAMS to Ukraine to defend against Russian aerial attacksImage: Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/ANP/dpa/picture alliance

Russian military likely preparing for fighting in Kherson: UK Ministry of Defence

Russian occupiers in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson have probably started to prepare to evacuate some civilians in the expectation that Kyiv's forces will soon try to retake the city, according to an intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defence.

It said Russian forces seem to be trying to reinforce a new front line west from the village of Mylove in Kherson after having been forced to retreat in the north of the region in early October.

There was still heavy fighting along the line, it said, with the Russian troops in the region still suffering from depletion.

German finance minister: Ukraine can count on G7 support during the war

Christian Lindner, Germany's finance minister, told a news conference in Washington that Ukraine can count on the support of the G7 to provide financial support during Russia's war against Ukraine. Lindner is in Washington to attend the annual gathering at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Lindner said the war will require the combined efforts of big international monetary lenders, the G7, the US and others.

One major concern of the government in Kyiv and its allies is that Russia is attempting to bankrupt Ukraine, which would make the continued operation of the state difficult from the army to power stations, teachers, pensions and beyond.

More DW coverage on the war in Ukraine

Russia is facing increasing international isolation over its invasion of Ukraine, as was shown by Wednesday's vote at the UN condemning its actions.

And rather than intimidating Ukrainians, the recent missile attacks by Russia seem to have strengthened their resolve to resist the invaders, as DW reports.

tj, nm/rt (AP, Reuters, AFP)