Kherson urged civilians to evacuate across Dnipro

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Russian annexation authorities issued an urgent evacuation order for the city of Kherson, held by Moscow’s forces since March, urging civilians to leave immediately ahead of an expected counteroffensive by Ukrainian troops. Ukraine has said Russia intends to blow up a dam upstream.

Russian forces launched dozens of rockets into Ukraine in a “massive attack” on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. Some rockets hit energy targets in several cities, leaving about 1.5 million Ukrainians without power. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister called the targeted attacks on critical civilian infrastructure “part of the Russian genocide”.

Zelenskyy said Moscow is deliberately slowing grain exports from Ukrainian ports to prolong a global food crisis with more than 150 ships waiting to gain access to Black Sea ports. Putin has repeatedly criticized the grain supply deal that his government approved in July.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

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On the ground

Ukraine was attacked on Saturday with 40 missiles and 16 Iranian drone strikes, according to the country’s military headquarters, which said Ukrainian forces shot down half the missiles and 11 drones. The attacks are part of a Russian campaign against civilian infrastructure that has shut down electricity and water. Ukrainian troops shelled Zhebekino in Russia’s Belgorod region, killing two people, the region’s governor said. There was no comment from Ukraine and no confirmation. Eleven people were injured in a rocket attack on an industrial plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, the regional governor said. Ukraine conducted 16 airstrikes on Russian military targets and shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet.

(All times CET)

Ukraine Says Russian Troops Flee to Kherson Territory (6:35 p.m.)

Russian troops continue to flee the Kherson region amid a Ukrainian counter-offensive, the General Staff in Kyiv said on Facebook. According to the report, Russian officers left the town of Beryslav, 77 kilometers (48 miles) east of Kherson up the Dnieper River.

Annexation officials order expeditious evacuation of Kherson (6 p.m.)

Russian-installed authorities ordered all civilians in the southern city of Kherson to leave “immediately” ahead of an expected advance of Ukrainian troops, taking “documents, money, valuables and clothing” with them.

In a telegram, adding urgency to earlier statements, the pro-Kremlin government urged civilians to use boat crossings across the Dnipro River to advance deeper into Russian-held territory, citing a tense situation on the front lines.

There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian authorities. Kyiv has warned that Russia has mined the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnipro River above Kherson and may attempt to blow it up, causing massive flooding in the city and dozens of other settlements downstream.

Power Resumption in Some Regions (4:07 p.m.)

The lights came back on as Ukrainian repair workers repaired damage to the local power grid in the southern Mykolaiv region, one of several that faced rocket attacks from Russia on Saturday morning.

“Connection plus, light plus,” regional governor Vitaliy Kim wrote on his Telegram account.

Zelenskyy says Russia launched 36 missiles on Saturday (3 p.m.).

Ukraine’s president said Russia launched “a massive attack” on Saturday with about 36 missiles, most of which were shot down by Kiev’s air defenses, although some hit key energy targets.

“To all energy workers and services currently working at impact sites and restoring our infrastructure. You are our heroes!” said Zelenskyj on his Telegram channel.

Kyiv increases mobile power supply (2:41 p.m.)

Authorities in Kyiv are buying mobile boiler rooms amid fears Russian airstrikes on energy infrastructure could lead to a temporary collapse in central heating, Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing Deputy Mayor Petro Panteleyev.

Kyiv on Friday started its new heating season, which normally lasts from late October to mid-April, despite relatively mild weather that has eased some of the pressure on the power grid. Authorities have urged residents to conserve electricity amid heavy shelling of Russia’s power infrastructure in recent weeks.

The Ukrainian government has warned citizens to prepare for a difficult winter marked by possible power outages.

Nearly 1.5 million Ukrainians face blackouts (1:44 p.m.)

More than 1.4 million Ukrainians are without power after Russia’s repeated rocket attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure on Saturday, a senior adviser to President Volydymyr Zelenskiy said. The water supply was also cut off.

Extensive power outages were reported from Khmelnytskyi, some 350 km (217 miles) southwest of Kyiv and even further from the front lines in the Donbass and Kherson regions. More than 670,000 residents are without electricity there, more than half of the region’s population, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office. Explosions were also reported in the Volyn and Rivne regions, further west.

Biden quotes Ukraine in message to Italy’s Meloni (2 p.m.)

US President Joe Biden focused on the war in Ukraine as he praised Giorgia Meloni for becoming Italy’s new prime minister, the first woman to hold the role.

“As leader of the G-7, I look forward to advancing our support for Ukraine, holding Russia accountable for its aggression, ensuring respect for human rights and democratic values, and building sustainable economic growth,” Biden said in a statement.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy also offered congratulations and said he looked forward to “continued fruitful cooperation to ensure peace and prosperity in Ukraine”.

Germany’s Scholz says Ukraine’s rebuild must be a global effort (10am)

Rebuilding Ukraine will be a task that the European Union cannot shoulder alone as it is an effort that will need funding for decades, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video statement.

Scholz will host a conference in Berlin as part of Germany’s G7 presidency on Tuesday to discuss what investments are needed and how funding can be organised, he said.

The gathering is meant to be “a sign of hope that things are looking up now amid the horrors of war,” he said.

More widespread strikes in power plants (9:30 a.m.)

Russian forces on Saturday attacked several Ukrainian power plants and other energy infrastructure, including in western and central regions, as well as the Odessa region on the Black Sea coast. Attacks on power and water facilities increased on October 10 and continued.

The Ukrainian power grid operator NPC Ukrenergo restricted electricity supply in Kyiv and at least ten other regions.

Alignment with civilian infrastructure has increased as Kremlin troops suffered several battlefield setbacks, including what now looks like a retreat from the southeastern Kherson region.

Russian forces in Kherson prepare for street fighting, retreat (8:30 a.m.)

A significant part of Kherson’s population has left, and the remaining Russian military personnel in the city are changing into civilian clothes and have moved to abandoned buildings in the southeastern city, the Ukrainian military said.

The War Research Institute said Russia’s withdrawal from western Kherson Oblast began weeks after the region was illegally annexed by Putin. The troops likely intend to continue their withdrawal for several weeks, but “might have trouble withdrawing in good order if Ukrainian forces attack,” the US-based think tank said.

Russia “will probably try to blow up the dam at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station to cover its withdrawal,” ISW said. Zelenskyy and other officials have warned of the possibility for Russia to blow up the dam and called for urgent international intervention.

Zelenskiy Blames Russia for Massive Backlog of Grain Ships (8am)

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia is trying to undermine the safe transit deal agreed in late July for three Black Sea ports, creating a backlog of “more than 150 ships” waiting to load wheat, corn and other products.

“It’s an artificial queue,” said Zelenskyy in his nightly video speech on Friday. “It only arose because Russia deliberately delayed the passage of ships.”

Ukraine has shipped more than 8 million tons of agricultural products since August but “underexported” about 3 million tons due to delivery delays, Zelenskiy said, estimating that at “the annual volume consumption of 10 million people.”

Read more: Fears over Ukraine’s grain deal raise food costs and slow shipping

Blinken warns of more Iranian drones on the battlefield (3:30 a.m.)

Blinken said more Iranian military drones could be on their way to Russian forces as the US reiterated its condemnation of Tehran for supporting President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

“We believe Russia has received dozens of these UAVs from Iran so far, with more potentially in the works,” Blinken told reporters at a briefing with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Friday, referring to UAVs.

Blinken spoke a day after the White House accused Iran of sending trainers and technicians to Crimea to advise and assist Russian attacks on Ukrainian targets. He added that the US was working to counter Iran’s efforts and strengthen Ukraine’s ability to repel attacks.

Russian and US defense chiefs speak for first time since May (3:22 ​​p.m.)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke with US counterpart Lloyd Austin about the Ukraine war and other global security issues, Tass said, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

The summary report contained no further details of the call. In a separate reading, the Pentagon said Austin “emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war.” The US last announced a phone call between the two on May 13.

Austin also spoke with Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Friday, the Pentagon said.

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