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Ukraine updates: Russia sentences anti-war journalist

Published October 4, 2023last updated October 4, 2023

Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian journalist who protested against the war in Ukraine on TV, has been sentenced to prison in absentia. Meanwhile, Moscow says it downed 31 Ukrainian drones overnight. DW has the latest.

This video grab shows Russian Channel One editor Marina Ovsyannikova holding a poster reading Stop the war. Don't believe the propaganda.
Marina Ovsyannikova became famous after holding up an anti-war placard during a live state TV broadcastImage: NTC/ZUMA Wire/IMAGO
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

A court in Moscow sentenced Marina Ovsyannikova — a Russian state television employee arrested for protesting live on-screen against the war in Ukraine — to eight and half years in jail in absentia for taking part in a street demonstration against President Vladimir Putin.

She was sentenced for spreading disinformation about Russia's military for holding a poster at a rally in July 2022 that said "Putin is a killer. His soldiers are fascists. 352 children have been killed (in Ukraine). How many more children need to die for you to stop?"

Ovsyannikova made the headlines worldwide for a protest during a live news broadcast when she held a poster up saying, among other things, "Stop the war, don't believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here."

She and her daughter have fled the country. 

Here are the main headlines about Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, October 4:

Skip next section Germany's Scholz says 'convinced' of continued US support for Ukraine
October 4, 2023

Germany's Scholz says 'convinced' of continued US support for Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday he was "convinced" the United States would not end support for Ukraine despite Washington's unclear political situation after Republicans voted to remove their own party's top politician in US Congress.

"I am very convinced that the American Congress will make the necessary support for Ukraine possible," Scholz told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday, a day after a phone call by President Joe Biden to allies on the issue on Tuesday.

For his part, however, Biden said on Wednesday that he is indeed concerned Republican infighting could hurt Ukraine aid. The president promised to deliver a speech soon to lay out why the US needs to continue to support Ukraine.

"It does worry me ... but I know there are a majority of members of the House and Senate in both parties who have said that they support funding Ukraine," Biden said.

Skip next section Zelenskyy: Ukraine doing 'everything' for additional air defenses
October 4, 2023

Zelenskyy: Ukraine doing 'everything' for additional air defenses

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country was doing "everything" possible for the country to receive more air defense systems before the onset of winter.

"We are doing everything to provide Ukraine with more air defence systems before winter," Zelenskyy said in his evening video.

"Now we are waiting for certain decisions from our partners," he added.

Russia is widely expected to increase its bombardment of Ukrainian infrastructure to knock out heat and electricity of the country's residents.

The Ukrainian leader added that the country's regions should protect critical facilities and carry out necessary reconstruction work "as soon as possible."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock this week called for the creation of a strategy to insulate Ukraine from the fallout of a campaign of Russian strikes on its energy grid.

Skip next section NATO sounds alarm, says increased arms production desperately needed
October 4, 2023

NATO sounds alarm, says increased arms production desperately needed

Speaking before the annual two-day Warsaw Security Forum in Poland, NATO Military Committee Chairman Rob Bauer warned those present of the dangerously depleted state of NATO-member arms stockpiles.

Bauer on Tuesday renewed NATO's urgent plea for greatly increasing arms and ammunition production.

Praising partners' willingness to supply Ukraine, he cautioned that Western allies were not giving arms from full warehouses.

"We started to give away from half-full or lower warehouses in Europe and therefore the bottom of the barrel is now visible. And we need the industry to ramp up production in a much higher tempo and we need large volumes," he said.

Bauer said this assistance was compounding production shortfalls prompted by price increases prior to Russia's invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022.

Last month, Bauer cautioned NATO member states that defense spending increases had been partially nullified by steep ammunition prices and no longer automatically meant greater security.
At the time, Bauer urged more private defense investment.

Skip next section DW looks at Ukrainians attempting to avoid conscription
October 4, 2023

DW looks at Ukrainians attempting to avoid conscription

Draft dodgers: Ukrainian men fleeing conscription

Ukrainian martial law requires men between the ages of 16 and 60 to stay in the country.

At the start of Russia's invasion, hundreds of thousands of people volunteered to serve in the country's defense corps, but recently, most new recruits have been drafted.

DW takes a look at conscription in Ukraine and those wishing to avoid it.

Skip next section Ukrainian lawmaker Yasko tells DW Kyiv conscription allows volunteers to rest
October 4, 2023

Ukrainian lawmaker Yasko tells DW Kyiv conscription allows volunteers to rest

Lisa Yasko, a Ukrainian lawmaker and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told DW that Kyiv needs to conscript soldiers in order to allow volunteers time to rest.

Yasko said many Ukrainian volunteer soldiers had spent time at the frontline "without rotation."

She said Ukraine would not achieve victory in the near future and would "need to have rotation" of troops as part of the war effort. She added that if Ukraine does not win, Russia could start a war with Poland and other countries.

Yasko said Ukraine was working on proposals to allow conscripts to serve in units not directly involved with fighting. 

The lawmaker said Kyiv was dealing with "massive propaganda coming from Russia that says Ukrainians don't want to fight."

Yasko said that no dialogue with Russia was possible.

"They want to kill all of us," she said. "We have to fight till the end."

Yasko asserted that Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the frontline wanted "victory" and would not be content with a "frozen" conflict.

"These people who give their lives for our land […] are paying a huge price," she said. "We cannot say no to them.

Skip next section Ukraine claims attack on Russian S-400
October 4, 2023

Ukraine claims attack on Russian S-400

Drones launched by Ukraine struck an S-400 air defense system in Russia's Belgorod overnight, a source in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) told the Reuters news agency.

It is rare for Ukrainian authorities to claim responsibility for attacks carried out on targets inside Russia.

Earlier, Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov spoke of damage to an administrative building. 

Russia's Defense Ministry said it had overnight downed 31 drones in its airspace. 

Skip next section Russia 'highly likely' shot down one of its most advanced combat jets: UK
October 4, 2023

Russia 'highly likely' shot down one of its most advanced combat jets: UK

Russian air defense systems are "highly likely" to have shot down a Russian combat jet over Ukraine last month, the British Ministry of Defense said in its latest update.

The Su-35S aircraft was downed as it flew over Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia region on September 28, the ministry said.

"Although Russia has lost around 90 fixed wing aircraft since the start of the invasion, this is probably only the fifth loss of a Su-35S, Russia’s most advanced combat jet in widespread service," the update read.

Tomak is "heavily fortified" and "often hosts Russian headquarters," it added. The headquarters would typically be protected with multi-layered air defense systems.

"These [systems] are almost certainly held at very high readiness, as Ukraine continues to conduct effective deep strikes against such locations,” it said.

Skip next section IFRC wants Belarus Red Cross chief who admitted taking Ukrainian children sacked
October 4, 2023

IFRC wants Belarus Red Cross chief who admitted taking Ukrainian children sacked

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) wants the head of the Belarus Red Cross dismissed after he said the organization was actively involved in illegally bringing Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied areas to Belarus.

It has given the Belarus Red Cross until the end of November to dismiss Dzmitry Shautsou.

An internal IFRC probe found Shautsou misused the organization's emblem and breached the IFRC integrity policy.

They determined that a different organization relocated children from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, and the Belarus Red Cross only assisted within Belarus. It did not name the other organization.

The IFRC said it will suspend the Belarus Red Cross from the global organization if Shautsou is not suspended.

It will also recommend all affiliates halt new partnerships and funding for the Belarus branch.

In July, a report aired on Belarus state TV showed Shautsou visiting the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region.

At the time, he said the organization was actively bringing Ukrainian children to Belarus for "health improvement" purposes.

"The Belarus Red Cross has taken – and is taking, and will be taking – an active part in it," Shautsou said.

It sparked global outrage, including from Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, who urged the international criminal court "to issue an arrest warrant" for Shautsou, saying that he "has publicly confessed to the crime of unlawful deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine."

Skip next section Russia says it destroyed 31 Ukrainian drones overnight
October 4, 2023

Russia says it destroyed 31 Ukrainian drones overnight

Russia's Defense Ministry said it has destroyed more than 30 Ukrainian drones over Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk overnight.

It said its planes also averted a Ukrainian attempt to penetrate Crimea by sea.

"Air defense systems on duty over the territory of the Belgorod, Bryansk, and Kursk regions intercepted and destroyed 31 Ukrainian aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicles," the ministry said.

There were no details on any possible casualties or damage. 

There was no immediate comment from the government in Kyiv.

Skip next section Russian journalist given jail term for anti-war protest
October 4, 2023

Russian journalist given jail term for anti-war protest

Marina Ovsyannikova, the former Russian state TV journalist who held up an anti-war poster on air, was handed a jail term in absentia.

The court sentenced Ovsyannikova to eight years and six months' imprisonment, to be served in "a general regime penal colony," the Moscow prosecutor's office said.

Ovsyannikova fled Russia after the proceedings were initiated more than a year ago.

She was found guilty of "spreading knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces," according to a statement posted by the court on Telegram.

Before the sentencing, she called the charges against her "absurd and politically motivated."

"They decided to flog me for not being afraid and for calling things by their names," she said.

She was sentenced for holding a poster at a rally in July 2022 that said "Putin is a killer. His soldiers are fascists. 352 children have been killed (in Ukraine). How many more children need to die for you to stop?"

Ovsyannikova became internationally famous overnight when she interrupted a live TV broadcast in March last year by holding up an anti-war poster, protesting Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Shortly after the incident, she was briefly detained and then released with a fine. Ovsyannikova then spent some time abroad, including in Ukraine.

Russian journalist protests war on live TV

Skip next section Russia and US test emergency warnings
October 4, 2023

Russia and US test emergency warnings

Russia and the United States have both said that they will be testing emergency public warning systems on Wednesday.

In Russia, sirens will be sounded and television and radio broadcasts will be interrupted as authorities mimic what would happen in a disaster or catastrophe.

"When you hear the sound of a siren, you need to remain calm and not panic, turn on the TV - any publicly accessible channel or radio — and listen to the information message," the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said.

In the US, the federal emergency alert system will be broadcast to cellphones, televisions and radios nationwide.

The US test aims to ensure that the systems "continue to be effective in alerting the public to emergencies, particularly at the national level," the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in a press release.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the most profound crisis in Russia's relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. 

lo/kb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)