Ukrainian forces on Monday achieved their biggest breakthrough in the Kherson region since the war began, bursting through the Russian front and advancing along the Dnipro River to threaten Russian supply lines. In Zaporizhzhia, the UN nuclear watchdog said the head of the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant had been released. Read our live blog to see how all the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
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11:55pm: Elon Musk in row with Zelensky over Russia ‘peace plan’
US billionaire Elon Musk was embroiled in a social media spat with Ukrainian officials including President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday over his ideas on ending Russia’s invasion.
Musk sparked the controversy on Twitter by proposing a peace deal involving re-running under UN supervision annexation referendums in Moscow-occupied Ukrainian regions, acknowledging Russian sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula and giving Ukraine a neutral status.
The Tesla and SpaceX founder created a poll to let his more than 107 million followers vote on the idea.
Zelensky responded with a Twitter poll of his own, asking: “Which @elonmusk do you like more?” with the options “One who supports Ukraine” and “One who supports Russia”.
Kyiv’s ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk replied bluntly: “My very diplomatic response (to Musk) is to get lost.”
10:21pm: ‘Excitement’ in Ukraine over recent gains
Reporting from Kyiv, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg says there’s a “great deal of excitement” on Ukrainian social media over the recent gains in the southern Kherson region. “There’s a feeling that this southern offensive is gathering momentum,” said Cragg.
However Ukrainian officials remain “very cautious” in their public statements, in part because the “recently liberated areas are coming under constant shelling and are still very, very dangerous”, explained Cragg.
10:06pm: Russian state TV protester put on wanted list
Former Russian state television journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, famous for staging an on-air protest against the war in Ukraine, has been put on Moscow’s wanted list.
Ovsyannikova, who was born in Ukraine, came to international prominence in March by walking out in front of studio cameras during an evening news broadcast on the flagship Channel One with a placard that read “Stop the war” and “They’re lying to you”.
She was given two months’ house arrest in August, and faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of spreading fake news about Russia’s armed forces.
The terms of her house arrest was due to last until Ocober. 9.
However, the state-run news outlet Russia Today reported on Saturday that she had fled along with her daughter, and that her whereabouts were unknown.
On Monday, her name could be seen on the interior ministry’s online list of fugitives from justice, accompanied by a photo.
The circumstances of where she went or how she left are not clear.
9:05pm: Ukraine on track to achieve battlefield objectives: Pentagon official
Ukraine appears on course to achieve several key battlefield objectives it set for itself, according to a senior Pentagon official.
Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, noted successes in the regions of Kharkiv and Donetsk, as well as efforts under way in the southern region of Kherson.
“Ukraine seems to be on track to achieve in all three of those objectives right now,” Wallander told the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.
6:58pm: French PM says Western sanctions ‘suffocating’ Russia
Western sanctions are “suffocating” the Russian economy and should not be abandoned, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told parliament on Monday.
“Our objective has been the same from the start: making the cost of the war unbearable for Russia, hitting its economy hard to prevent it from financing its offensive,” Borne told the National Assembly as MPs returned to work after their summer break.
“Moscow is trying to keep up its illusion. But the facts are there. Russian propaganda shouldn’t fool us. The Russian economy is suffocating,” she added.
“Abandoning the sanctions would be abandoning Ukraine. It would be giving up on our values. It would be submitting to Russia. France, patriotism, means not abandoning, not giving up, not submitting,” Borne said.
5:38pm: Ukrainian advances in Kherson region
Reporting from Kyiv, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg explains that the fighting in the southern Kherson region, “has been much tougher for the Ukrainians than in the northeastern front, where they were able to take a huge swathe of territory in the Kharkiv region very quickly. But now, the Ukrainians are beginning to go public about some successes” in the Kherson region, said Cragg, adding that the Ukrainian gains in the south were “mostly rural areas”.
5:25pm: Russia sacks commander of western military district: news reports
Russia has sacked the commander of its western military district, according to news outlet RBC, the latest in a series of top officials to be fired after a series of defeats and humiliations in the war in Ukraine.
RBC said Colonel-General Alexander Zhuravlyov would be replaced by Lieutenant-General Roman Berdnikov. There was no official confirmation of the change, which was also reported by other news sites.
The western military district is one of five that make up Russia’s armed forces. The reported departure of Zhuravlyov follows dramatic Russian losses in northeast Ukraine last month and the recapture by Ukraine on Saturday of Lyman, which Russia had used as an important logistics hub in the Donetsk region.
4:40pm: Head of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant released: IAEA
The head of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine has been released, said UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi, after a detention that Ukraine blamed on Russia and called an act of terror.
“I welcome the release of Ihor Murashov, Director General of#Ukraine’s #Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant; I have received confirmation that Mr Murashov has returned to his family safely,” Grossi said on Twitter.
Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s largest nuclear energy facility – has been at the centre of recent tensions after Moscow and Kyiv accused each other of strikes on and near the plant, raising fears of an atomic disaster.
Ihor Murashov was detained by a “Russian patrol” on Friday at around 4pm local time (1300 GMT) on his way from the plant to the city of Energodar, the head of Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said in a statement.
He said Murashov’s vehicle was stopped, he was taken out of the car and, “with his eyes blindfolded, he was driven in an unknown direction”.
4:10pm: Ukrainian gains in Kherson and Donbas regions
As Russia loses ground in a number of key areas, FRANCE 24’s Foreign Editor Rob Parsons provides details on a two-pronged Ukrainian military strategy.
In the southern Kherson region, “the Ukrainians are now pushing down towards a town called Dudchany…and hoping to encircle a large swathe of Russian-occupied territory there before pressing on towards Kherson [city] itself,” explained Parsons.
Meanwhile, further north in the Donbas region, the Ukrainian military is also gaining ground around the town of Lyman. “The Ukrainians are pushing forward extremely fast with very serious implications for the Russians,” said Parsons.
“The area around Kherson in the south is where the Ukrainian counteroffensive initially began and subsequently it became clear that that was a feint to suck in Russian forces from the Donbas area,” said Parsons. “That original counteroffensive, which has just been ticking along, now seems to be picking up momentum.”
3:45pm: Ukrainian forces break through Russian lines, recapture villages in major advance in south
Ukrainian troops on Monday recaptured villages along the west bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine in a major new breakthrough, opening a second big front that is forcing Moscow to abandon ground just days after claiming to annex it.
Ukrainian forces have made some breakthroughs in the southern Kherson region and taken control of some settlements, a Russian-installed official said.
Russian military sources also acknowledged the advance. Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in his daily briefing that “with superior tank units in the direction of Zolotaya Balka, Aleksandrovka, the enemy managed to penetrate into the depths of our defense”.
3:21: EU summons Russian diplomats over Ukraine annexation
The EU has summoned Russia’s top diplomat in Brussels as part of a coordinated move with member states to condemn President Vladimir Putin’s “illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions.
“This is an EU-wide and EU coordinated exercise,” Peter Stano, a foreign affairs spokesman for the bloc, told AFP.
EU nations on Friday began calling in Russian envoys after Putin formally claimed four regions of Ukraine occupied by his troops since the invasion in February as Russian territory.
Belgium on Friday summoned the Russian ambassador, and Italy and Austria were among those that have since followed suit.
EU leaders have vowed that they “will never recognise this illegal annexation” carried out by Moscow and the bloc is readying fresh sanctions.
2:55pm: Gas stopped leaking from Nord Stream 1: Swedish coast guard
Sweden’s coast guard has said leaks from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in the Baltic Sea were no longer visible, but a smaller leak from Nord Stream 2 pipeline had “increased slightly”.
The observations were made during an overflight on Monday at around 8am local time (0600 GMT) of the two pipelines suspected to have been damaged, said a coast guard statement.
“At that time, the smaller leak was approximately 30 metres in diameter,” the coast guard said.
Russia and the US have denied responsibility for the leaks.
1:51pm: Duma approves annexation of four Ukrainian regions
The lower house of Russia’s parliament approved laws on Monday on annexing four Ukrainian territories into Russia, following hastily organised votes that Ukraine and the West denounced as coercive and illegitimate.
No lawmakers in the State Duma voted against the resolutions, which were on incorporating Ukraine’s Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia.
1:50pm: Gazprom says Nord Stream leaks stop, gas supply could resume on single line
Russia’s Gazprom said on Monday that gas had stopped leaking from three ruptured Nord Stream gas lines under the Baltic, and that it might be possible to resume pumping through the remaining single line.
In a statement, it said the pressure in the three lines had stabilised and it was working to reduce environmental risks.
Europe launched investigations after major leaks were discovered in the two Russian Nord Stream gas pipelines, each consisting of a pair of lines. Germany, Denmark and Sweden said they believed there had been sabotage.
>> EU chief Von der Leyen says ‘sabotage’ behind Nord Stream pipeline leaks
1:18pm: Czech Republic calls on citizens to leave Russia
The Czech Republic has urged its citizens to leave Russia amid a worsening security situation, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
“With regard to the ongoing military invasion by the Russian Federation in Ukraine and possible threat of the worsening of security in the country, especially for citizens of EU and NATO states, the Czech Foreign Ministry strongly urges against travel to Russian Federation territories,” it said on its website.
“The Czech Foreign Ministry calls on citizens of the Czech Republic to leave the country.”
1:09pm: Russian officer suspended after thousands called up in error
An enlistment officer in a far eastern Russian region has been suspended and transferred after thousands of people were mistakenly called up to fight in Ukraine, officials said Monday.
“The military commissar of the Khabarovsk region, Yuri Laiko, has been suspended. This will have no impact on the fulfilment of the tasks that the president has set for us,” the region’s governor, Mikhail Degtyaryov, said in a Telegram video.
He did not specify the reason for the dismissal but referred to a series of mistakes in the recruitment process.
12:10pm: Kremin dismisses ’emotional’ nuclear weapons call by Putin ally
The Kremlin dismissed Monday a call by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine, after Moscow’s troops were forced out of Lyman in the east by Ukrainian forces.
“This is a very emotional moment,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a daily briefing with journalists, referring to statements by the ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “In our country, the use of nuclear weapons happens only on the basis of what is stated in the relevant doctrine”, Peskov said.
11:58am: UK, allies meet to discuss pipeline security after blasts
The Joint Expeditionary Force group of northern European nations will meet Monday to discuss the safety of undersea pipelines and cables after blasts ruptured two natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.
Wallace said the virtual meeting has been called by the UK and the Netherlands. The force brings together troops from 10 countries, including the Baltic and Nordic nations, and has seen its importance increase since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Wallace also said Britain will acquire two specialist ships to protect undersea cables and pipes, with the first “multi-role survey ship for seabed warfare” operational by the end of next year.
Undersea blasts that damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines last week have led to huge methane leaks. Nordic investigators said the blasts involved several hundred pounds of explosives.
11:56am: Russian-installed official confirms Ukrainian breakthroughs in Kherson region
Ukrainian troops recaptured villages along the west bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine on Monday in a major new breakthrough, opening a second big front that is forcing Moscow to abandon ground just days after claiming to annex it.
The advance in Kherson province was Ukraine’s biggest in the south of the country since the war began, and follows similar breakthroughs in the east that have turned the tide of the war in recent weeks.
The Russian-installed head of the administration in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson province confirmed that Ukrainian troops had captured a number of settlements along the river, pushing as far as the vicinity of the village of Dudchany. This would represent a startling advance of around 40 km (25 miles) in a single day.
“The information is tense, let’s put it that way, because, yes there were indeed breakthroughs,” Vladimir Saldo told Russian state television.
“There’s a settlement called Dudchany, right along the Dnipro River, and right there, in that region, there was a (Ukrainian) breakthrough. There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces,” he said.
11:49am: Russia has funds to support four regions being annexed, finance ministry says
Russia has funds to support four Ukrainian regions which President Vladimir Putin began annexing last week and these funds are part of the country’s budget, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told parliament.
“Priority for the next three years will be the full integration of the new regions,” Siluanov said, without saying how much would be spent.
“The federal budget has necessary resources for this, both for the current provision of social standards… as well as funds for the economic restoration of the new regions of the Russian Federation.”
11:47am: Russia to ‘consult’ locals on annexed Ukraine regions’ borders, Kremlin says
The Kremlin said Monday that Russia would discuss with the local populations of two Ukraine regions that Moscow annexed last week to determine the exact borders of the regions to be integrated into Russia.
“We are going to continue to consult the populations of these regions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said referring to the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions that are partially controlled by the Ukrainian military.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
Originally published on France24