Ukraine war: The key developments you need to know for Saturday

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1. Ukraine denounces POW execution calls

Ukrainian authorities have denounced Russian calls to “hang” or inflict a “humiliating death” on fighters from the Ukrainian Azov regiment, the day after a strike on a prison where some of them were being held that killed more than 50 prisoners of war.

“There is no difference between Russian diplomats calling for the execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war and Russian troops doing so in Olenivka. They are all complicit in these war crimes and must be held accountable,” Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter.

He was reacting to a tweet posted on Friday evening by the Russian Embassy in London, which Twitter flagged with a warning as having “breached rules on hateful conduct”, but remains available to view as Twitter considers it “of interest to the public”.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack on the prison in Olenvika a “deliberate Russian war crime.” 

Authorities in Ukraine believe that Russia carried out the attack to kill the prisoners of war and cover up evidence of torture, maltreatment and war crimes. The Russians have accused Ukraine of bombing the prison.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has organized civilian evacuations in the war and worked to monitor the treatment of POWS held by Russia and Ukraine, said it has requested access to the prison “to determine the health and condition of all the people present on-site at the time of the attack.”

“Our priority right now is making sure that the wounded receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are dealt with in a dignified manner,” the Red Cross said in a statement.

Read more at our story here.

2. Russia cuts of gas supplies to Latvia

Russian gas giant Gazprom announced on Saturday that it has suspended gas deliveries to Latvia, amid Russian-Western tensions due to the conflict in Ukraine and unprecedented European sanctions against Russia.

“Today, Gazprom suspended its gas deliveries to Latvia (…), due to the violation of the gas offtake conditions,” the Russian company said in a statement on Telegram, without further details.

The announcement comes as Gazprom drastically reduced deliveries of Russian gas to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline this week, citing the need for turbine maintenance as European countries scramble to fill their reserves. for winter.

Russia had already cut its delivery volume twice in June, saying the pipeline could not function normally without a turbine that was being repaired in Canada and had not been returned to Russia because of sanctions imposed by the Westerners following the Russian assault on Ukraine.

Since then, Germany and Canada have agreed to send the equipment back to Russia, but the turbine has not yet been delivered.

Westerners accuse Moscow of using the energy weapon in retaliation for the sanctions adopted after the offensive against Ukraine. The Kremlin says that technical problems in the gas pipeline infrastructure are due to sanctions. 

3. US Ambassador: ‘No doubt Russia wants to dismantle Ukraine”

The US ambassador to the United Nations said there should no longer be any doubt that Russia intends to dismantle Ukraine “and dissolve it from the world map entirely.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council that America is seeing growing signs that Russia is laying the groundwork to attempt to annex all of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, including by installing “illegitimate proxy officials in Russian-held areas, with the goal of holding sham referenda or decree to join Russia.”

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “has even stated that this is Russia’s war aim,” she said.

Lavrov told an Arab summit in Cairo on Sunday that Moscow’s overarching goal in Ukraine is to free its people from its “unacceptable regime.”

Apparently suggesting that Moscow’s war aims extend beyond Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region in the east comprising Donetsk and Luhansk, Lavrov said: “We will certainly help the Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical.”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told the Security Council on Friday that “The de-Nazification and demilitarization of Ukraine will be carried out in full.”

“There must no longer be a threat from this stage to Donbas, nor to Russia, nor to the liberated Ukrainian territories where for the first time in several years people are finally able to feel that they can live the way they want,” he said.

4. Russian forces hit multiple targets across Ukraine

Russia launched overnight attacks on several Ukrainian cities, Ukrainian officials said Saturday. 

Rockets hit a school building in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, and another attack occurred about an hour later according to the mayor. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The bus station in the city of Sloviansk also was hit, according to Mayor Vadim Lyakh. Sloviansk is near the front line of fighting as Russian and separatist forces try to take full control of the Donetsk region, one of two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as sovereign states.

In southern Ukraine, one person was killed and six injured in shelling that hit a residential area in Mykolaiv, a significant port city, the region’s administration said Saturday on Facebook.

5. Russia blacklists more New Zealanders

Russia announced on Saturday that it would ban entry into its territory of 32 New Zealand officials and journalists, in response to similar measures taken by New Zealand against Moscow due to the Ukrainian conflict.

Those sanctioned include Wellington Mayor Andrew John Whitfield Foster and Auckland Mayor Philip Bruce Goff, Commodore Garin Golding, Commander of Naval Forces New Zealand, and journalists Kate Green and Josie Pagani (The Dominion Post), the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

This decision is taken “in response to the sanctions of the New Zealand government which affects more and more Russian citizens”, specifies the press release.

In April, Russia already banned entry into its territory to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as well as to many ministers and parliamentarians.