Ukraine war: Zelenskyy wants 'aerial shield', Russian forces 'exhausted' and Donetsk exhumations

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP, Reuters
An abandoned car lies on the ground in a heavily damaged grain factory where Russians forces gathered destroyed vehicles at the recaptured town of Lyman, Ukraine
An abandoned car lies on the ground in a heavily damaged grain factory where Russians forces gathered destroyed vehicles at the recaptured town of Lyman, Ukraine   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

1. Zelenskyy calls for 'aerial shield' as G7 pledges 'steadfast' support

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appealed to G7 leaders to create an aerial shield to prevent Russian strikes which have battered his country.

"I'm asking you to reinforce the general effort for financial aid to create an aerial shield for Ukraine. Millions of people will be grateful to the G7 for such assistance," he told a virtual meeting of seven of the world's most advanced economies.

The president called for tough new sanctions on Moscow and again ruled out talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After the meeting — convened after Monday's missile strikes by Germany which currently chairs the G7 — the leaders said they would “stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes”. In a statement, they said they had reassured Zelenskyy they are “undeterred and steadfast in our commitment to providing the support Ukraine needs to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

They said they will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support to Kyiv, and that they are committed to supporting Ukraine in meeting its “winter preparedness needs.”

The G7 leaders condemned Russia's barrage of missile strikes against Ukraine, saying that “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations constitute a war crime”. They pledged to “hold President Putin and those responsible to account”.

They "unequivocally" rejected Putin's annexation of four Ukrainian regions and said Russia would face "severe consequences" if it resorted to using biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, they said.

The leaders also warned Belarus against any further involvement in Ukraine, accusing the Lukashenko regime of "complicity with Russia". Moscow's closest ally said it had begun an exercise to assess its "combat readiness" after ordering troops to deploy with Russian forces near its border with Ukraine.

Zelenskyy called for an international monitoring mission on Ukraine's border with Belarus. The country allowed Russia to use its territory to invade Ukraine but has not yet sent its own troops across the border.

The G7 is made up of the US, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan.

The Ukrainian leader has called air defence systems his "number 1 priority", and the White House promised more advanced air defence systems on Monday night following a phone call between the two countries' presidents.

The Kremlin said more US weapons supplies to Ukraine would extend the fighting and increase the damage to Ukraine.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that “the US de facto has become deeply involved”, adding that the supply of advanced air defence systems would exacerbate Ukraine’s condition.

“It will only drag the conflict out and make it more painful for the Ukrainian side, but it will not change our goals and the end result,” he said.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L), and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R), attend the video conference of the leaders of the G7 and Ukraine, Kyiv, Oct. 11, 2022.Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

2. Fresh Russian missile attacks 'aimed at terrorising civilians'

Russian cruise missiles rained down on cities across Ukraine on Tuesday, with the country waking up to the wailing of air raid sirens for a second day.

Today's barrage of bombs comes one day after strikes killed at least 19 people in the biggest air raids since the start of the war. 

New missile strikes killed at least one person in the southeastern town of Zaporizhzhia, setting off a large fire, the State Emergency Service said. A local official said the missiles hit a school, residential buildings and medical facilities.

Like Monday, the attacks struck both power plants and civilian areas. The mayor of Lviv in western Ukraine said Russian forces struck an energy facility. About a third of the city remained without power and there were issues with water supplies.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Tuesday afternoon that “numerous explosions are again heard in Lviv”. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were any casualties. Energy facilities in the Vinnitsya region also took hits. 

Ukrainian forces shot down an inbound Russian missile before it reached Kyiv. However, the capital region experienced rolling power outages as a result of the previous day's deadly strikes.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the main targets were energy facilities.

"These are war crimes planned well in advance and aimed at creating unbearable conditions for civilians — Russia’s deliberate strategy since months," he wrote on Twitter.

The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim, urged residents to remain in bomb shelters as “there are enough missiles still in the air”. Russia seemed to have changed tactics, he added.

"They launch rockets more than once so that our people can wait and our air defence can work, but at intervals they launch significantly fewer rockets and keep people in shelters. What is this if not terror?" he said on national television.

In the central Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukrainian forces on Tuesday shot down four Russian missiles, according to the region’s governor Valentyn Reznichenko.

Four more Russian missiles were downed by Ukraine’s forces in the south, as well as five drones over the Mykolaiv and the Odesa regions, Operational Command South said. 

3. NATO chief condemns 'horrific' attacks as members tighten security

The large-scale bombings carried out on Monday by the Russian army in Ukraine are "a sign of weakness" of Moscow which is losing the battle on the ground, said Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, on Tuesday.

"Russia is increasingly resorting to horrific and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and critical infrastructure," Stoltenberg told a news conference. 

"What we saw yesterday [Monday] is a sign of weakness, because Russia is losing on the battlefield and these bombings reflect President Vladimir Putin's lack of alternatives," he added.

NATO will go ahead with its annual routine nuclear deterrent exercises as cancelling it now would send the wrong signal to Moscow, Stoltenberg said.

He added that NATO's military strength was the best way to prevent any escalation of tensions with Russia.

Stoltenberg also said that allies are increasing security around critical infrastructure after attacks on gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea, adding that any deliberate attack would be met with a "united and determined response".

Meanwhile, European arms manufacturers have urged the European Union to help coordinate weapons procurement as they scramble to boost production to meet soaring demand for the war in Ukraine.

Meeting ahead of a NATO defence ministers gathering in Brussels, defence company executives said their industry had been geared up for EU states spending less on defence rather than more, after decades of peace in Europe.

"We now need now to respond to a dramatic increase in demand for military equipment from member states ... while we have production capacities in Europe that are designed for peace time," said Nicolas Chamussy, chief executive of French defence firm Nexter.

Stoltenberg said the alliance has started dialogue with industry and allies on how to boost production and replenish weapons stocks.

4. Ukraine accuses Russia of new abduction from Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Ukraine’s state nuclear operator is accusing Russian forces of abducting another senior official at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Energoatom wrote on its Telegram channel Tuesday that Valeriy Martyniuk, the plant’s deputy director general for human resources, had been kidnapped. It wrote that “they keep holding him at an unknown location and (are) probably using methods of torture and intimidation.”

The plant has been held by Russian forces for months but operated by its Ukrainian staff. Reports of intimidation of the staff and abductions began trickling out over the summer.

Ukrainian authorities have said that the plant’s director, Ihor Murashov, was seized and blindfolded by Russian forces on his way home from work, then released in early October after being forced to make false statements on camera.

5. Russian forces 'exhausted and running out of supplies' — UK spy chief

The director of Britain's GCHQ spy agency, Jeremy Fleming, has said that Russia's ground forces are "exhausted" and running out of supplies.

In a rare public speech to the Royal United Services Institute think tank, Fleming said that Ukraine’s “courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide”.

“Russia’s forces are exhausted,” he said. “The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilisation of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation.”

GCHQ, formally known as the Government Communications Headquarters, is one of Britain’s three main intelligence agencies, alongside MI5 and MI6. It did not disclose the sources of its intelligence.

The spy chief also urged caution over talk about the potential use of nuclear weapons, telling the BBC on Tuesday: “I think any talk of nuclear weapons is very dangerous, and we need to be very careful about how we’re talking about that."

Fleming said his agency would “hope that we would see indicators if [Russia] started to go down that path” – suggesting GCHQ has not seen any such indicators so far.

He added that “they [Russia] are staying within the doctrine that we understand for their use, including for nuclear weapons”.

6. Ukraine says 32 prisoners of war released by Russia

Thirty-two Ukrainian prisoners returned home in an exchange of prisoners of war with Russia on Tuesday, a senior Ukrainian official said.

"Among the freed are officers, sergeants and soldiers of (Ukraine's) Armed Forces. All of them were in places where fierce fighting was going on. Many of these people were considered missing," Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president's staff, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Yermak said Ukraine had also received the body of Israeli citizen Dmytro Fialka, who Yermak said had volunteered to fight for Ukraine.

7. Ukraine exhumes dozens of bodies in recaptured Donetsk region

Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office says it has exhumed the bodies of 78 civilians in two towns in the eastern Donetsk region recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

"Numerous burial sites have been discovered in the liberated cities of Sviatoguirsk and Lyman," it said, reporting 34 bodies exhumed in Sviatoguirsk and 44 in Lyman.

According to the source, some of the bodies exhumed in Sviatorguirsk showed signs of "violent death", and the burnt remains of two people were found in a car.

In Lyman, some 110 graves were counted, from which 44 bodies were exhumed immediately, including those of "a one-year-old child and his entire family".

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of numerous abuses, discovering during Russian retreats the graves of civilians, including victims of torture or summary execution. Russia has consistently denied such accusations.

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Members of a forensic team at work during an exhumation at a mass grave in Lyman, Ukraine, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.AP Photo/Francisco Seco

8. Russian missile strikes could be 'war crimes', says UN

The UN human rights office said on Tuesday that Russian missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday were “particularly shocking” and could amount to war crimes.

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Russia to “refrain from further escalation” and expressed concerns about strikes on civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings and energy facilities.

“Damage to key power stations and lines ahead of the upcoming winter raises further concerns for the protection of civilians and in particular the impact on vulnerable populations,” she told reporters at a UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. 

“Attacks targeting civilians and objects indispensable to the survival of civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law.”

Shamdasani added: “We have to stress that intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects — that is objects which are not military objectives — amount to a war crime.”

The State Emergency Service said 19 people died and 105 people were wounded in Monday’s strikes. At least five of the victims were in Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. 

More than 300 cities and towns lost power, from the capital to Lviv on the border with Poland, and many remained without electricity on Tuesday.