Live Updates: Russia-Ukraine-War

International Headlines

A man reacts near the body of his cousin, killed in a Russian rocket attack in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief has reiterated his appeal to Russia to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross “full access” to all prisoners of war.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday this is required under international humanitarian law, including the Third Geneva Convention, according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The ICRC said earlier Friday it shares “frustration” about incomplete access to prisoners amid Russia’s war in Ukraine but noted there are limits on what it can do.

“We have been able to visit hundreds of POWs on both sides,” ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said, “but there are thousands more who we have not been able to see.”

On Thursday, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andriy Yermak, said Kyiv was giving the ICRC three days to send a mission to the Olenivka penal colony, located in a Russian-run part of the Donetsk region, where many Ukrainian POWs are held. Olenivka was the scene of a deadly explosion in July, for which Russia and Ukraine blamed each other.

Watson said that “our teams are ready on the ground and have been ready for months to visit the Olenivka penal facility and any other facility where POWs are held” but that requires “practical arrangements to materialize on the ground.”

Russia and Ukraine agreed in early August to a U.N. fact-finding mission on the July explosion, but U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Friday: “We still need to have the appropriate security guarantees in place for them to be able to go about their work.”

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— Putin: Call-up of Russian reservists to finish soon

— Turkey, Russia to act on Putin’s gas hub offer

— Russia to evacuate Kherson residents as Ukraine advances

— Russian man stopped with drones in Norway

— What’s the state of Russia’s missile arsenal?

— How Moscow grabs Ukrainian kids and makes them Russians

— Orphan watched dad die, awaits future in Ukraine shelter

— Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

MOSCOW — Russian officials say Ukrainian forces have shelled the Belgorod region of Russia, which lies across the border from Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine.

Regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov and other Russian officials said Friday the shelling blew up an ammunition depot, hit a multi-story residential building and knocked out power to a handful of villages.

No casualties or injuries were reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to retaliate harshly if Ukraine or its allies strike Russian territory, including the annexed regions of Ukraine.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin reckons a mobilization of army reservists he ordered last month to bolster his country’s deployment in Ukraine will to be completed in two weeks.

Putin told reporters after attending a summit in Kazakhstan on Friday that 222,000 reservists have been mobilized. The Russian Defense Ministry had said it was aiming for a total of around 300,000 reservists.

A total of 33,000 of them are already in military units, and 16,000 are involved in the military operation in Ukraine.

The call-up, announced by Putin in September, has proved hugely unpopular in Russia, where almost all men under the age of 65 are registered as reservists.

The Russian leader initially described the mobilization as “partial” and said only those with combat or service experience would be drafted. However, a decree he signed outlined almost no specific criteria.

Russian media reports have described attempts to round up men without the relevant experience, including those ineligible for service for medical reasons.

In the wake of the president’s mobilization order, tens of thousands of men left Russia.

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VILNIUS, Lithuania — A heavily armed U.S. battalion is set to remain in Lithuania until at least 2026, amid fears about Russia’s intentions in the region following its invasion of Ukraine.

The Baltic NATO member’s defense minister announced the decision Friday after a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Bucharest.

“The decision to extend the presence of the rotational battalion in Lithuania shows that the U.S. takes Baltic security seriously,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said. “It also sends a message to Russia. The Americans are here, and they are not going anywhere.”

The U.S. Army deployed a contingent of some 500 soldiers to Lithuania on a troop rotation basis in 2019. The forces include the U.S. Armored Brigade Combat Teams that have been on exercises in the eastern flank countries since 2017.

Additional U.S. forces arrived in Lithuania, a month after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and the rotation of the U.S. 3-66 Armor battalion’s rotation has been extended.

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Kremlin-backed authorities in the eastern Luhansk region of Ukraine, illegally annexed by Moscow last month, say 10 captured servicemen have returned to the area in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine.

They are currently undergoing rehabilitation, Russian-backed human rights official Victoria Serdyukova told Russian state news agency Tass on Friday.

The announcement follows a prisoner exchange on Thursday, in which 20 Ukrainian soldiers and 20 Russian soldiers were swapped.

The last large-scale exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, involving nearly 300 people, took place at the end of September.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces have launched at least four missile strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov reported the explosions on Friday afternoon. He offered no details on the extent of the damage or possible casualties.

The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, urged local residents to heed air raid sirens and take cover in bomb shelters.

On Thursday evening, two Russian strikes left Kharkiv, where the pre-war population stood at 1.4 million, without electricity.

The Ukrainian army has retaken most of the previously occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, but the Russians continue to shell the region’s capital with missiles.

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The Russian government says that the restoration of a Crimean bridge damaged in a recent explosion is scheduled for completion by July next year.

A decree published on a government website Friday also identified the company hired to carry out the work on the bridge that links Russia to the annexed Crimea.

The Kerch Bridge, which holds important strategic and symbolic value to Russia in its faltering war in Ukraine, was hit Oct. 8 by what Moscow says was a truck bomb. Road and rail traffic on the bridge were temporarily halted, undermining a vital supply route for the Kremlin’s forces.

Also Friday, a court in Simferopol, the second-largest city in Crimea, formally arrested and placed five suspects in pre-trial detention in relation to the explosion, according to an Interfax report.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) previously said it had identified 12 suspects involved in the explosion. The FSB alleged the involvement of Ukrainian, Armenian and Russian citizens in what it described as a “terrorist act.”

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GENEVA — The International Committee of the Red Cross says it shares “frustration” about incomplete access to prisoners amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

However, the humanitarian organization notes that there are limits on what it can do.

ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said Friday that “we have been able to visit hundreds of POWs on both sides, but there are thousands more who we have not been able to see.”

He noted that the third Geneva Convention obliges parties to international armed conflicts to grant the ICRC immediate access to all POWs, wherever they are held.

On Thursday, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andriy Yermak, said Kyiv was giving the ICRC three days to send a mission to the Olenivka penal colony, located in a Russian-run part of the Donetsk region, where many Ukrainian POWs are held. Olenivka was the scene of a deadly explosion in July, for which Russia and Ukraine blamed each other.

Watson said that “our teams are ready on the ground and have been ready for months to visit the Olenivka penal facility and any other facility where POWs are held.”

But he added that “beyond being granted access by high levels of authority, this requires practical arrangements to materialize on the ground. We cannot access by force a place of detention or internment where we have not been admitted.”

Watson said that the call for full and regular access to prisoners of war goes to both sides.

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Russian-installed officials in the occupied Kherson region of Ukraine are repeating calls for local residents to evacuate to Russia, citing incessant shelling by advancing Ukrainian forces.

The deputy head of the Moscow-appointed administration of Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, urged people Friday to take “humanitarian trips” to Russia “in order to avoid civilian casualties” in the war.

The Kremlin-backed administration of Kherson on Thursday announced plans to evacuate civilians, with Russian authorities promising to provide free accommodation for them.

The move came as Ukrainian forces push their counteroffensive deeper into the southern Kherson region, albeit at a slower pace.

Russia illegally annexed Kherson, as well as the neighboring Zaporizhzhia region and Donetsk and Luhansk in the east of Ukraine, last month, following “referendums” in all four regions that Kyiv and the West denounced as a sham.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential office says Friday that over the previous 24 hours at least nine civilians were killed and 15 injured.

Friday is Defender’s Day in Ukraine, which traditionally is a public holiday, but celebrations are muted because of the war against Russia’s invasion.

In Kyiv, a concert at the central opera house was cancelled because of planned, rotating power outages across the city as energy infrastructure damaged by bombing is repaired.

In the Kherson region, which is a key link to Crimea, the Ukrainian army continued to slowly advance along the right bank of the Dnieper.

Ukraine’s armed forces commander-in-chief Valeriy Zaluzhny vowed to forge ahead with a counteroffensive launched last month.

“We’re getting (what is) ours back. No one and nothing will stop us,” Zaluzhny said in a video message. “We have buried the myth of the invincibility of the Russian army.”

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KYIV, Ukraine — Russia is keeping up its targeted attacks on critical infrastructure across Ukraine, in a fifth straight day of intensified bombardments.

Multiple Russian missile strikes shook the capital of the Zaphorizhzhia region overnight as the city continued to be a focal point for Russian fire.

Zaporizhzhia regional Governor Oleksandr Starukh said Friday morning several explosions were reported in the city overnight at infrastructure facilities, causing fires. Preliminary reports mentioned no victims.

Russian forces have struck the regional capital and the surrounding area continuously in recent days and weeks, creating concerns about the safety of the nearby nuclear power plant.

The regional capital is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the plant, which is the largest nuclear power facility in Europe.

The heavier Russian barrage began last Monday and comes as Ukraine pushes its military counteroffensive on the southern front.

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Russia is promising free accommodation to residents of the partially occupied Kherson region who want to evacuate to Russia.

The move suggests that Ukrainian military gains along the southern front are worrying the Kremlin.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin made the announcement shortly after the Russia-backed leader of Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, asked the Kremlin to organize an evacuation from four cities of the region.

Saldo said in a video posted online Thursday that Ukraine’s missile strikes are causing “serious damage,” claiming they had struck hotels, residential buildings and markets.

Kherson is one of four Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Moscow last month.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian armed forces are reporting steady territorial gains along the southern front in the country’s battle against invading Russian forces, including the recapture of 75 settlements in the Kherson region in the last month.

The Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories announced late Thursday that Ukraine’s armed forces have recaptured 502 settlements in the Kharkiv region, 43 in the Donetsk region and seven in the Luhansk region.

Russian officials say Ukrainian shelling on Thursday evening blew up an ammunition depot in Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said Friday that an unspecified number of people were killed and wounded in the incident.

Unconfirmed media reports said three officers of Russia’s National Guard were killed and more than 10 were wounded.

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