Shelling resumed near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with the warring sides trading blame again on Wednesday, a day after the U.N. atomic watchdog agency pressed for a safe zone there to prevent a catastrophe. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).


10:45pm: Ukraine’s Zelensky claims recapture of settlements near Kharkiv

Ukrainian troops have recaptured several settlements in the Kharkiv region in the country’s northeast, Volodymyr Zelensky has said in his daily address to the nation.

“This week we have good news from Kharkiv region,” the Ukrainian president said, adding that “now is not the right time to name those settlements, where the Ukrainian flag has returned”.

Kharkiv region has been partly occupied by Russian troops since the start of the invasion launched on February 24. But observers have reported a breakthrough by Ukrainian forces in the region in recent days, with no official confirmation of the potential gains.

The city of the same name – the second largest in Ukraine – is regularly targeted by deadly bombardments, but the Russian troops have never managed to seize it.

10:35pm: ‘Credible’ accusations Ukraine children forcibly moved to Russia, UN says

The UN’s human rights office says there are credible accusations that Moscow’s forces have removed children from Ukraine to Russia for adoption as part of larger-scale forced relocations and deportations.

“We are concerned that the Russian authorities have adopted a simplified procedure to grant Russian citizenship to children without parental care, and that these children would be eligible for adoption by Russian families,” Ilze Brands Kehris, the Assistant UN Secretary-General for Human Rights, told the Security Council on Wednesday.

“There have been credible allegations of forced transfers of unaccompanied children to Russian occupied territory, or to the Russian Federation itself,” she said.

9:30pm: Putin says Ukraine grain deal helping Europe at expense of poorer countries

“Almost all” the Ukrainian grain shipped under a UN-backed deal to ease a global food crisis is reaching rich European nations, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has claimed, accusing the West of deceiving developing countries.

The UN has hailed the deal as the world’s best chance to ease an acute global food crisis stoked by the Black Sea grain blockade. But Moscow has voiced growing frustration with how the agreement is being applied.

“Almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is sent not to the poorest developing countries, but to EU countries,” Putin told an economic forum in Russia’s Pacific port of Vladivostok. 

Data compiled by a joint centre in Istanbul monitoring the July agreement showed slightly more than a third of the grain being delivered to European countries and another 20 percent arriving in Turkey. It also showed 30 percent reaching “low and lower-middle income countries” across the world.

More shipments are expected to start arriving in famine-stricken parts of Africa and the Middle East under the UN World Food Programme whose implementation is just getting underway.

8:55pm: Ukraine admits hitting Russian military bases in Crimea

Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, has for the first time admitted that Ukraine carried out missile strikes that hit Russian military bases in annexed Crimea.

Major blasts at the Saki air base in Crimea last month, which left at least one person dead and destroyed military aviation hardware, have been explained by Moscow as an accident.

But analysts have said that satellite imagery pointed to a likely attack by Ukrainian forces, with no public acknowledgement by Kyiv officials at that time.

Ukraine has “successfully carried out missile strikes on enemy military bases, including Saki airfield”, Zaluzhnyi wrote in an article published by the state-run Ukrinform news agency on Wednesday, hailing a “successful” effort to “physically transfer fighting” to the territory of Crimea.

5:20pm: Putin touts Asia pivot in threat to the West

FRANCE 24’s regional correspondent Nick Holdsworth has more on Vladimir Putin‘s comments earlier today threatening to cut gas and oil deliveries to Western countries that impose a price cap on supplies from Russia.

Speaking at an economic forum earlier today, Putin sought to pivot towards allies in Asia, the Middle East and Africa as his country faces a barrage of Western sanctions.

Holdsworth summed up the Russian leader’s pitch: “What Putin is saying is, ‘Okay, you in the West want to put the squeeze on us. Well we just won’t sell you anything that you need. You got to get through a very tough, cold winter, and we’ve got new partners here on our doorstep in the far east of Russia that we can deal with, we can trade with, we can work with’.”

4:55pm: Russia’s ruling party proposes Nov. 4 annexation votes for occupied Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party has proposed holding referendums on November 4 to annex territories taken by Moscow’s forces in Ukraine.

“It would be right and symbolic” to hold the votes on November 4, Russia’s Day of National Unity, party secretary general Andrey Turchak said on its website.

After the votes, he said, “Donetsk, Lugansk and many other Russian cities will finally return to their home port. And the Russian world, now divided by formal borders, will regain its integrity.”

2:50pm: West is provoking Russia, says Turkey’s Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the West of staging “provocations” against Russia, saying he understands Moscow’s decision to cut off natural gas supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline.

“I can say very clearly that I do not find the attitude of the West – no need to mention names – to be correct, because it is a policy based on provocations,” Erdogan told reporters on a visit to Belgrade. “As long as you try to wage such a war of provocations, you will not be able to get the needed result.”

Erdogan has maintained good working relations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin while trying to stay neutral in the conflict and supplying Ukraine with weapons and combat drones. He has tried to use his open relations with both Moscow and Kyiv to try to broker talks.

“As Turkey, we have always maintained a policy of balance between Ukraine and Russia. From now on, we will continue to follow that balanced policy,” he said.

Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine
Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine © Studio graphique France Médias Monde


(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AP and AFP)