Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that civilians in Ukraine’s Kherson region should be evacuated from the conflict zone, the Kremlin chief’s first acknowledgment of a worsening situation in a region he claims to have annexed. Follow our live blog for the latest developments. All times are local time in Paris (GMT+1).
14:28: G7 ministers warn of serious consequences if Russia uses nuclear or chemical weapons
The foreign ministers of Group of seven economic powers said on Friday that any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons Russia would face serious consequences, and renewed his call for Moscow to end the war in Ukraine.
“Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric is unacceptable,” the ministers said in a joint statement. “Today we are establishing a G7 coordination mechanism to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure,” they added.
2:17 p.m.: Russia seeks exemption from sanctions on Ukrainian state bank over grain deal talks
Russia wants the West to ease restrictions on state agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank to facilitate Russian grain exports, four sources familiar with the request told Reuters, which was made during talks to extend a deal on food supplies from Ukraine.
Moscow suspended its participation in the secure Black Sea grain corridor in late October but rejoined after four days, easing fears of further disruptions to grain exports from key supplier Ukraine at a time of rampant global food inflation.
President Vladimir Putin has reserved Russia’s right to stop the UN-brokered deal again, while UN chief Antonio Guterres is pressing Moscow to agree to extend the pact beyond its scheduled November 19 expiration.
Russia has not made its demands public beyond calls to unblock Russian fertilizer stuck in European ports and warehouses and resume exports of ammonia, a key fertilizer ingredient, through a Russia-Ukraine pipeline.
The four sources, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the subject, told Reuters that Russia asked Western countries to allow state lender Rosselkhozbank to restore its relations with correspondent banks despite Western sanctions.
13:37 “More than 5,000” civilians were evacuated “every day” from the Kherson region
“More than 5,000” civilians are leaving their homes “every day” since evacuations resumed in the Kherson region on Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday, as Moscow faces a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the annexed territory in southern Ukraine.
“Military engineers daily transport up to 1,200 civilian vehicles, trucks and cars, as well as more than 5,000 civilians to the left bank of the Dnieper River,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram.
13:10: Ukraine’s president accuses Russia of “energy terrorism”
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of engaging in “energy terrorism” after Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power grid left millions of residents without power.
About 4.5 million people were without electricity across the country, Zelensky said in his evening speech on Thursday. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 450,000 apartments in the capital alone were without electricity on Friday.
“I appeal to all residents of the capital: save electricity as much as possible, because the situation is still difficult!” wrote the mayor on Telegram. State-owned grid operator Ukrenergo reported on Friday that emergency shutdowns will take place across Kyiv.
Russia has repeatedly carried out missile and drone attacks against Ukrainian power facilities, especially in recent weeks. In his speech, Zelensky described the targeting of energy infrastructure as a sign of weakness.
“The very fact that Russia is resorting to energy terrorism shows the weakness of our enemy,” he said. “They cannot beat Ukraine on the battlefield, so they are trying to break our people in this way.”
1:00 p.m.: Putin says civilians “must be removed” from Kherson
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that civilians in Ukraine’s Kherson region should be evacuated from the conflict zone, the Kremlin chief’s first acknowledgment of a worsening situation in a region he claims to have annexed.
“Now, of course, those living in Kherson should be removed from the area of the most dangerous actions, because the civilian population should not suffer,” Putin told pro-Kremlin activists as he marked Russia’s National Unity Day.
12pm: Russia’s Putin must know intimidation won’t work, UK and Polish leaders say
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday discussed the situation in Belarus and agreed on the need to continue sending a strong message to Russia that intimidation would not work, Sunak’s office said.
In the statement, Sunak told Morawiecki on a call: “As part of deterrence efforts across the eastern flank, Britain increased the capabilities of its forces and had increased activity with the Joint Expeditionary Force in the Baltic region.”
“Both agreed on the need to send a continued strong signal to Putin that intimidation will not work.”
11:32: G7 urges Russia to extend grain deal, US official says
The G7 has urged Russia to extend an agreement allowing the safe passage of grain shipments from Ukraine at a meeting in western Germany, a senior US State Department official said on Friday.
“Everyone agreed on the need to extend Black Sea grain initiative,” the official said.
11:18: Russian families lament Ukraine’s military draft ‘chaos’
Seething with anger, Russian beautician Tatyana describes the Kremlin’s military mobilization as “complete horror”.
In early October, her young nephew was called into the city of Krasnogorsk northwest of Moscow as part of the Kremlin’s push to support Russian forces fighting in Ukraine. The family, she said, had to buy everything from clothes to a first aid kit for him at their own expense.
“They had to buy everything themselves, they bought a uniform, thermal underwear, medicine and food,” 40-year-old Tatyana, who declined to give her last name for fear of reprisals, told AFP.
“When they arrived, no one was waiting for them, and nothing was organized.”
On September 21, Putin announced the start of a “partial” military mobilization, the country’s first enlistment since World War II.
In late October, the Ministry of Defense announced that the draft was complete and said that 300,000 reservists had been called up.
11:05am: The G7 agreed on the need for a coordination mechanism to repair Ukraine’s infrastructure
Group of Seven foreign ministers agreed on the need for a coordination mechanism to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure, a senior State Department official said on Friday.
“It’s something that will be a core focus of this group in the coming days and weeks,” said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.
He added that there was “remarkable alignment” between the G7 countries on views and approaches towards China and the need for the G7 to strengthen the coordination of strategy towards Beijing.
10:38: China’s Xi calls for peace talks in Ukraine with Germany’s Scholz
“Currently, the international situation is complex and changing,” state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying. “As influential powers, China and Germany should work together in times of change and chaos to make more contributions to world peace and development.”
On Ukraine, Xi pointed out “that China supports Germany and that EU play an important role in promoting peace talks and promoting the construction of a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework,” CCTV reported
The international community should “urge all relevant parties to exercise rationality and restraint, make direct contacts as soon as possible and create conditions for the resumption of negotiations (and) jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons,” Xi said. .
10:26 am: Germany’s Scholz urges Putin to extend grain export agreement
“I urge the Russian president not to refuse to extend cereals an agreement that expires in a few days,” he told reporters on a visit to Beijing. “Hunger must not be used as a weapon.”
10.24am: Pope blasts ‘childish’ wars at interfaith summit in Bahrain
With Russia’s war in Ukraine raging, Pope Francis joined Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders on Friday to call on the world’s major religions to work together for peace, telling an interfaith summit that religion must never be used to justify violence and that faith leaders must counter the “childish” whims of the powerful for to wage war.
On his second day in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, Francis concluded a conference on East-West dialogue sponsored by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. It was his second such conference in as many months, after one in Kazakhstan, evidence of Francis’ core belief that moments of encounter between people of different faiths can help heal today’s conflicts and promote a more just and sustainable world.
10:11 am: Germany’s Scholz urges China to use “influence” on Russia
Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping in talks on Friday that he wanted Beijing to use its “influence” on Moscow to stop the war in Ukraine.
“I told President (Xi) that it is important for China to use its influence on Russia,” Scholz said. “Russia must immediately stop the attacks during which the civilian population suffers daily and withdraw from Ukraine.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)