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Russia admits borders of two annexed regions are unclear

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 03/10/2022 George Styllis, India McTaggart, Grace Millimaci
A Ukrainian national flag is displayed in front of a destroyed house near Izyum in eastern Ukraine - JUAN BARRETO/AFP © JUAN BARRETO/AFP A Ukrainian national flag is displayed in front of a destroyed house near Izyum in eastern Ukraine - JUAN BARRETO/AFP

Russia has admitted it does not know exactly where its new borders are as Ukraine continues its counter advance into annexed territories.

Moscow claimed Kherson and Zaporizhzhia - along with Donetsk and Luhansk - as Russian territory last week after holding 'sham' referendums in which voters there apparently voted overwhelmingly to join Russia.

But on Monday it said it was still trying to determine how to properly define its newly-annexed land.

“As for Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, we will continue to consult with the people who live in those regions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The admission looks set to further undermine how Russia can practically exert sovereignty over the region as Kyiv ignores the results of the referendum and pushes on with its advance into the Donbas.

On Monday Ukrainian forces achieved their biggest breakthrough in the south of the country since the war began.

They burst through the front and advanced rapidly along the Dnipro River, threatening supply lines for thousands of Russian troops.

It follows Ukraine's capture of Lyman and onward march towards Svatove and Kreminna.

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07:20 PM

Today's top stories 

  • Russia has admitted it does not know exactly where its new borders are as Ukraine continues its counter advance into annexed territories

  • Lyman's recapture by Ukrainian troops is Russia's biggest battlefield loss since Ukraine's lightning counter-offensive in the north-eastern Kharkiv region in September

  • The detained chief of Ukraine's Russian-held nuclear power plant has been released, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday

  • Thomas the tank engine has been given a military makeover as Czechs club together to send a tank to Ukraine.

  • A record 83 per cent of Ukrainians would like their country to join Nato, a Kyiv-based opinion pollster said on Monday, citing a survey conducted after Kyiv applied to join the military bloc.

  • European countries said the damage caused to the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea was clearly deliberate and warranted an "increased maritime presence"

07:18 PM

European countries to 'increase maritime presence' in waker of Nord Stream pipeline damage

European countries said the damage caused to the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea was clearly deliberate and warranted an "increased maritime presence".

The European joint expeditionary force comprising the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden condemned the apparent sabotage of both Nord Stream gas pipelines as "blatant and irresponsible attacks against critical civilian infrastructure."

The group said "it is discussing security responses, including increased maritime presence and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance activities. It will seek to deter further such acts, reassure allies and demonstrate collective commitment to the security and stability of the region."  

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "In this period of heightened concern for all like-minded partner nations, it is right that we act with speed, agility and collective resolve to actively demonstrate our shared commitment to mutual security."

06:53 PM

France becoming 'irrelevant' in Ukraine war and must bump up military aid, expert says 

A French defence expert says Emmanuel Macron is not pulling his weight in the conflict compared to countries like the US and UK, writes Henry Samuel.

France is becoming “irrelevant” in the Ukraine war and should do more to bump up its meagre supply of weapons, a top French defence expert has warned.

Concerns that President Emmanuel Macron is not pulling his weight in military support to Ukraine compared to countries like America and Britain came amid reports France would belatedly pledge six to 12 more high-tech artillery weapons on Monday.

Mr Macron could confirm transfer of the Caesar self-propelled howitzers when he meets German leaders in Berlin on Monday, in a package of new French support for Ukraine.

The country has so far given €233 million in military aid compared with €25 billion from the United States, €4 billion from Britain, €1.8 billion from Poland and €1.2 billion from Germany, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy last month.

Read the full story here

06:40 PM

Elon Musk gets into Twitter spat with Zelensky's advisor 

Ukraine has rubbished suggestions by Elon Musk that one way to end the war would be for Ukraine to let Russia have Crimea and to hold referendums in annexed territories under UN supervision. 

Mr Musk made the controversial suggestions in a tweet on Monday under the heading "Ukraine-Russia Peace:"

To that end, Mr Musk appears to suggest, votes should be reheld in annexed regions under UN supervision, with Russia leaving "if that is will of the people."

He also suggested Crimea remain in Russian hands as it was "formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake)." 

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Zelensky, dismissed the comments, saying a better plan would be for Ukraine to  liberate its territories, including the annexed Crimea and that "War criminals go through international tribunal."

"Let’s vote?"

06:10 PM

Record 83pc of Ukrainians want Nato membership, poll finds 

A record 83 per cent of Ukrainians would like their country to join Nato, a Kyiv-based opinion pollster said on Monday, citing a survey conducted after Kyiv applied to join the military bloc.

The poll of 2,000 respondents by Rating Group was conducted at the start of this month after President Zelensky announced on Friday that Ukraine was submitting an expedited application for Nato membership.

Rating Group said the percentage of those supporting membership was the highest ever recorded by a survey in Ukraine. Only 4 per cent said they would vote against joining the bloc and 9 per cent said they would not vote.

By contrast, in November, 55 per cent voiced support for joining the bloc, illustrating how sharply public opinion has changed on the question of Nato since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia has, for years, fiercely opposed the expansion of the alliance, which it sees as a security threat and hostile.

05:54 PM

Thomas the 'tank' engine to roll into Ukraine 

Thomas the tank engine has been given a military makeover as Czechs club together to send a tank to Ukraine.

More than 33 million crowns (£1.2 million) were raised in an crowdfunding campaign to donate the T-72 Avenger dubbed Tomasz to Ukraine, according to the deputy foreign minister of Ukraine.

The tank, adorned with the face of the famous children's character, is equipped with 22 cartridges and capable of using Czech sub-caliber anti-armor missiles, which can penetrate 500 mm thick armor at a distance exceeding 2000 m.

Foreign Minister Yevhen Perebyinis thanked the more than 11,000 people who contributed to the campaign, as the Czech Republic became "the first country in the world where people piled on a tank to send it against Putin. Tomáš is going to war!"

05:17 PM

Head of Russian-held Ukrainian nuclear plant freed 

The detained chief of Ukraine's Russian-held nuclear power plant has been released, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

"I welcome the release of Ihor Murashov, director general of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant; I have received confirmation that Mr Murashov has returned to his family safely," Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Twitter.

Kyiv on Saturday called for the immediate release of Murashov, condemning his "illegal detention".

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.

05:03 PM

The moment soldiers liberated the village of Zolota Balka in Kherson

04:53 PM

Stick with sanctions against Russia, says French PM

Western sanctions  are "suffocating" Russia's economy and should not be abandoned, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said.

"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," Ms Borne told the National Assembly.

"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.

Ms Borne's remarks were in part aimed at parties in opposition to her minority government, including the National Rally.

04:35 PM

Izyum's ancient guardians fall victim to Russia's assault 

For almost 1,000 years the babas of Mount Kremenets have stood watch over the city. Now they are perhaps Ukraine's oldest war casualties, writes Roland Oliphant.

For nearly a thousand years they have stood guard over Izyum, gazing west towards the setting sun. Their facial features, if they had any, have been worn away by the ages. Some are wearing headdresses and necklaces.

Now the babas of Mount Kremenets have become perhaps the oldest victims of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At least one of the ancient statues, which date to between 900 and 1300 AD, was destroyed and others suffered shrapnel damage during fierce fighting here in spring.

The stone woman, who was completely destroyed, appears to have been the victim of a single shell which left a black crater a few feet away.

Read the full story here

04:18 PM

Russia says woman killed after cross-border Ukrainian shelling 

Ukrainian shelling has killed a woman in a rare cross-border attack in the neighbouring Russian region of Belgorod, a Russian official said.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine fired at the village of Golovchino in the Graivoronsky district. After shells hit the centre of the village, there is destruction. A 48-year-old woman died," the Belgorod regional governor Viatcheslav Gladkov said in a post on social media.

Russia has previously accused Ukraine of firing missiles armed with cluster bombs at residential areas in the region, killing at least three civilians. 

04:02 PM

Sweden sends diving vessel to probe leaking Nord Stream pipelines

 Sweden sent a diving vessel on Monday to the site of Russian gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea that ruptured last week following blasts in the area.

Europe is investigating what caused three pipelines in the Nord Stream network to burst in an act of suspected sabotage near Swedish and Danish waters that Moscow quickly sought to pin on the West, suggesting the United States stood to gain.

Nord Stream, which runs from Russia to Germany, has been at the centre of a growing gas supply crisis in Europe, which until recently relied heavily on Russian fuel, sending prices soaring.

"The coast guard is responsible for the mission, but we are supporting them with units," a spokesperson for the Swedish navy, Jimmie Adamsson, told Reuters.

"The only one we are naming is HMS Belos, which is a submarine rescue and diving vessel."

03:37 PM

Russia puts state TV protester Ovsyannikova on wanted list 

A former state television journalist  who protested against the war during a live broadcast has been put on Russia's wanted list.

 Maria Ovsyannikova interrupted a live broadcast on Russian state television to tell the audience: "They're lying to you."

She was later arrested and claims to have been interrogated for 14 hours.

On Mondfay her name was added to the Interior Ministry's wanted list, according to its website. She has been charged with spreading false information about the Russian armed forces and was placed under house arrest in August. She faces up to 10 years if convicted.

02:38 PM

Kyiv asks residents to wear masks as Covid cases surge 

Authorities in Kyiv have asked residents to resume wearing face masks due to a surge in Covid cases and a health system battered by the Russian invasion.

In the past week, 2,515 coronavirus cases were registered in the Ukrainian capital, 242 people were hospitalised and 22 people died, the city hall said.

Residents should wear a mask in "public transport, in places that serves clients, and in educational facilities", it said.

Between September 19 and September 25, there were 44,137 new registered cases in Ukraine, 6,667 people were hospitalised, and 161 people died, the health ministry said.

02:18 PM

EU summons Russian diplomats over Ukraine 'annexation' 

The EU summoned Russia's top diplomat in Brussels on Monday as part of a coordinated move with member states to condemn Putin's "illegal annexation" of more Ukrainian territory.

"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.

02:02 PM

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."

01:49 PM

Mobilisation 'changed everything' for recent Russian arrivals to Turkey

Russia's  military draft "changed everything" for the tens of thousands who have fled the country since Putin announced mobilisation last month, according to recent arrivals in Istanbul.

Niki Proshin, 28, left St. Petersburg last week, part of a torrent of Russian men escaping their homeland following Putin's Sept. 21 declaration of a "partial mobilisation" for the war in Ukraine. The Russian military call-up came as some Russian troops have been forced to retreat amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

"Last week changed everything for hundreds of thousands of other people who decided to leave Russia," he said. "The main reason is the danger of being drafted into the Russian army."

Turkey, which has maintained air links with Russia while other countries blocked flights and does not impose visa restrictions on Russian visitors, has been a popular destination for those leaving for "any place" they can reach.

Turkish officials have not released data on how many Russians may have arrived in Turkey to flee the draft, but Russia is close to the top of a list of countries that sends tourists to Turkey, after Germany. Some 3 million Russians have visited the country so far this year

People board a bus after going through the passport check at the border checkpoint crossing in Vaalimaa, Finland, on the border with the Russian Federation on September 29, 2022. - Fearing the border may close © Alessandro RAMPAZZO / AFP) (Photo by ALESSANDRO RAMPAZZO/AFP via Getty Images People board a bus after going through the passport check at the border checkpoint crossing in Vaalimaa, Finland, on the border with the Russian Federation on September 29, 2022. - Fearing the border may close

01:23 PM

Europe must lower winter gas consumption, says IEA

Europe must ramp down gas consumption to survive the winter given perilously low stocks, the International Energy Agency said on Monday.

Prices have exploded over recent months with a slump in Russian supply, leaving Europe to seek alternative sources.

The IEA warned of "unprecedented risks" of shortages unless demand is reined in, estimating cuts of nine per cent are needed compared with the average of the past five years if the continent is to make it through to the spring with "adequate" provision.

"The outlook for gas markets remains clouded, not least because of Russia's reckless and unpredictable conduct, which has shattered its reputation as a reliable supplier. But all the signs point to markets remaining very tight well into 2023," the agency warned in its latest quarterly report.

01:19 PM

Mapped: Most recent troop movements, according to the MoD

01:02 PM

Russia's lower house 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. 

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 27: People cast their votes in controversial referendums in Moscow, Russia on September 27, 2022. Voting runs from Friday to Tuesday with people asked to decide if they want these regions to become part of Russia. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)  - stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 27: People cast their votes in controversial referendums in Moscow, Russia on September 27, 2022. Voting runs from Friday to Tuesday with people asked to decide if they want these regions to become part of Russia. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)  - stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

12:45 PM

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.

"Out of several thousand compatriots who received a summons and arrived at military enlistment offices in the past 10 days, around half were sent back home for failing to meet the selection criteria," Mr Degtyaryov said.

12:32 PM

Hungary ready to help Serbia with gas if needed, Orban says 

Hungary has gas reserves covering about five to six months' worth of consumption, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday, adding that Hungary would help its southern neighbour Serbia with supplies if needed.

Hungary was grateful to Serbia, now the main import route of Russian gas via the Turkstream pipeline, and would return the favour if needed, Orban told a news conference.

Mr Orban said last month that Hungary should prepare for a prolonged war in Ukraine as he criticised European Union sanctions imposed on Russia. He said they had "backfired" and driven up energy prices.

12:15 PM

Ukrainian advances raise prospect of liberating northern Donbas 

As Ukrainians continue towards Svatove and Kreminna after taking full control of Lyman, James Rothwell has the latest.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday night announced that his forces had liberated two towns in southern Ukraine as they made significant progress in retaking the Russian-occupied Kherson region.

As Ukrainian counter-offensives in southern and eastern Ukraine continued on Sunday, Mr Zelensky said his forces had retaken Arkhangelske and Myrolyubivka in the Kherson area.

Earlier on Sunday, Ukraine's army cleared the key city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine of Russian soldiers and was advancing on the cities of Kreminna and Svatove, as well as the P-66 highway which connects them. 

The swift advance of Ukraine’s forces raises the prospect that the Kherson region and the northern part of the Donbas could be liberated in a matter of days, in yet another crushing blow to Mr Putin.

Read the full story

11:51 AM

Lithuania declares top Russian diplomat persona non grata 

Lithuania has declared Russia's top diplomat in the country persona non grata.

"(His) recent actions and statements are incompatible with diplomat's status, and should be seen as interference into host nation's domestic affairs", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Lithuania's parliament voted unanimously in May to describe Russia's actions in Ukraine as "genocide" and "terrorism" and to call for a international tribunal to prosecute suspected war crimes.

11:37 AM

Chechen leader to send teenage sons to Ukraine, saying it's time 'to prove themselves in battle'

The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov will send three of his teenage sons, including one who is just 14, to fight in Ukraine. 

"Akhmat, Eli and Adam are ready to show their skills in the zone of the special military op. I'm not joking. The time has come to prove themselves in battle, and I welcome their ambition," said Kadyrov.

"It's time to prove themselves in a real fight, I can only welcome this desire," Kadyrov wrote on Telegram, posting a video of the young boys firing missiles in a shooting range. 

"Soon they will go to the front line and will be on the most difficult sections of the contact line."  

Kadyrov is a staunch ally of Putin, recently urging him to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

11:24 AM

Local officials likely unlcear on the scope of Russia's mobilisation campaign - Latest from the UK Ministry of Defence

10:58 AM

Kremlin dismisses 'emotional' nuclear weapons call by Putin's ally

The Kremlin dismissed a call by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on Monday 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.

10:36 AM

Kremlin: Russia will consult residents on borders of annexed Ukrainian regions

The Kremlin said today that it will consult with residents living in two of the Ukrainian regions it moved to annex last week - Kherson and Zaporizhzhia - on how their borders should be defined.

"We will continue to consult with people who live in these areas", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia formally claimed to annex four Ukrainian territories last week, but none are fully under the control of Moscow's forces and Ukraine continues to advance in the south.

10:32 AM

Kremlin for 'balanced approach' after Putin ally proposes use of nuclear bomb in Ukraine

On Monday the Kremlin said it favoured a "balanced approach" to the issue of nuclear weapons, not based on emotion, after a key ally of President Vladimir Putin called over the weekend for Russia to use a "low-yield nuclear weapon" in Ukraine.

Asked about the comments by Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechnya region, who also criticised Russia's military leadership over battlefield setbacks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had the right to voice his opinion, but that Russia's military approach should not be driven by emotions.

Peskov said the basis for any use of nuclear weapons was set down in Russia's nuclear doctrine.

10:24 AM

Norway posts soldiers at oil and gas plants after Nord Stream leaks

Norway's military said  it had posted soldiers to help guard major onshore oil and gas processing plants on Monday, as part of a wider effort to boost security amid suspicion that sabotage caused leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines last week.

Russia's Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines burst on September 26, draining gas into the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark and Sweden. Seismologists registered explosions in the area, and police in several countries have launched investigations.

Norway, Europe's largest gas supplier and a major oil exporter, last week deployed its navy and air force to patrol offshore petroleum fields and announced it would receive assistance from Britain, Germany and France in doing so.

At the request of Norwegian police, the Norwegian Home Guard, a rapid mobilisation force, on Monday began to deploy troops at plants responsible for processing and exporting oil and gas.

Although the Norwegian government has said it was not aware of any specific threats to oil and gas infrastructure, it still found it prudent to beef up security and sought to calm concerns among workers.

Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark  - RITZAU SCANPIX/REUTERS © RITZAU SCANPIX/REUTERS Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark  - RITZAU SCANPIX/REUTERS

10:21 AM

Russia has funds to support four regions being annexed, says Finance Minister

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 the parliament.

Siluanov did not say how much would be spent.

Russia declared the annexations of the regions after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

09:57 AM

Ukraine has made 'breakthroughs' in Kherson region, says Russian-installed official

Ukrainian forces have made some breakthroughs in the southern Kherson region and taken control of some settlements, a Russian-installed official said on Monday.

"It's tense, let's put it that way," Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed head of Ukraine's Kherson region, said on state television.

Russia formally moved to annex four Ukrainian territories last week, including Kherson region, but none are fully under the control of Moscow's forces and Ukraine continues to advance in the south.

09:01 AM

Ukrainian forces recapturing towns along west bank of Dnipro River

Ukrainian forces were reported to be recapturing towns along the west bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine on Monday, with Moscow forced to yield territory along a second major front line just days after claiming to have annexed it.

The scale of the Ukrainian advance was unconfirmed, with Kyiv maintaining all but complete silence about the situation in the area. But Russian military bloggers described a Ukrainian tank advance through dozens of kilometers of territory along the bank of the river.

In one of the rare comments by a Ukrainian official on the situation, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the interior ministry, posted what he said was video of a Ukrainian soldier waving a flag in Zolota Balka, downriver from the former front line.

Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think-tank, cited Russian bloggers as reporting their forces falling back as far as Dudchany - 40 km (25 miles) downriver from where they had opposed Ukrainian troops a day earlier.

"When this many Russian channels are sounding the alarm, it usually means they're in trouble," he wrote on Twitter.

08:43 AM

Ukraine claims full control of Lyman

Ukraine has claimed full control of the eastern logistics hub of Lyman, its most significant battlefield gain from Russia in weeks.

The stinging setback for Vladimir Putin was delivered after the Russian president proclaimed the annexation of four regions covering nearly a fifth of Ukraine on Friday, an area that includes Lyman. 

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the capture of the town demonstrated that Ukraine was capable of dislodging Russian forces and showed the impact Ukraine's deployment of advanced Western weapons was having on the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that the success of the country's soldiers was not limited to the recapture of Lyman.

Ukraine's forces had liberated the small Arkhanhelske and Myrolyubivka settlements in the Kherson region as well, he said.

08:12 AM

Thousands of Russians mobilised for service in Ukraine sent home

Thousands of Russians mobilised for military service in Ukraine have been sent home and the military commissar in Russia's Khabarovsk region removed in the latest setback to President Vladimir Putin's chaotic conscription of 300,000 servicemen.

On the battlefield, Putin suffered a stinging setback on Sunday with Ukrainian forces claiming full control of Russia's eastern logistics hub of Lyman, their most significant gain in weeks.

Russia's first mobilisation since World War Two, after its forces suffered major battlefield defeats in Ukraine, has led to widespread discontent and forced thousands of men to flee abroad.

07:53 AM

In pictures: Ukraine today

Ukraine - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ukraine - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
© OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

06:27 AM

Mobilised personnel sent home

The military commissar of Russia's Khabarovsk region was removed from his post after half of the newly mobilised personnel were sent home because they did not meet the draft criteria, the region's governor said early on Monday.

Russia's first mobilisation since the Second World War has led to widespread discontent among officials and citizens over the way the draft has been handled, including complaints about enlistment officers sending call-up papers to clearly ineligible men. 

"In 10 days, several thousand of our countrymen received summons and arrived at the military registration and enlistment offices," Mikhail Degtyarev, the governor of the Khabarovsk region in Russia's Far East, said in a video post on Telegram.

"About half of them we returned home as they did not meet the selection criteria for entering the military service."

Degtyarev said the removal of the commissar, Yuri Laiko, would not affect the mobilisation plan set by Vladimir Putin.

06:16 AM

Russia attacks 35 settlements

Ukraine's military said early on Monday that Russian forces had used missiles, air strikes and artillery in attacks on 35 settlements in the past 24 hours. 

Ukraine’s air force had attacked a command post, weapons caches and an anti-aircraft missile complex, it said.

It also brought down one helicopter, one attack aircraft and eight drones.

The governor of the Zaporizhzhia region said Russian forces had attacked Zaporizhzhia city and nearby villages overnight, with at least 10 missiles.

05:46 AM

The West will be Putin's target

President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territory on Friday, celebrated in the splendour of the Kremlin, is evidence not of offensive success, but of defensive fear, writes Bob Seely.

"It is a world away from his triumphal 2014 seizure of the Crimean Peninsula. Putin’s aim now is to hold on to seized Ukrainian territory.

"His actions are the sign of a desperate man fearing military humiliation, but sadly one who is also becoming more dangerous, and one – judging by last week’s sabotage on Russia’s own pipelines – threatening again to widen his war."

COMMENT: We are entering a terrifying new phase of the Russo-Ukraine war

05:19 AM

Putin making rash and secretive decisions

Vladimir Putin is becoming rash and secretive in the face of battlefield defeats, Kremlin insiders have warned.

The Russian leader is said to be making snap decisions without consulting with some of his military chiefs.

Sources said the military conflict in Ukraine would only escalate in coming months. Yet none can predict what will happen if Russia loses.

The Russian army’s most significant defeat since the start of the war dramatically changed the situation inside Russia.

Read the full story here.

04:10 AM

MoD explains Lyman's importance

A destroyed bridge across the Siverskyi Donets river in the recently liberated town of Sviatohirsk, Ukraine - Evgeniy Maloletka/AP © Evgeniy Maloletka/AP A destroyed bridge across the Siverskyi Donets river in the recently liberated town of Sviatohirsk, Ukraine - Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

The UK's Ministry of Defence said Lyman's operational importance was due to its command over a road crossing over the Siverskyi Donets River, behind which Russia had been attempting to consolidate its defences.

Russia likely experienced heavy casualties during the withdrawal, the ministry said. 

Russia had 5,000 to 5,500 troops in the town before the Ukrainian attack, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.

03:49 AM

Russia's biggest battlefield loss since Kharkiv

Lyman's recapture by Ukrainian troops is Russia's biggest battlefield loss since Ukraine's lightning counter-offensive in the north-eastern Kharkiv region in September.

Russian forces captured Lyman from Ukraine in May and used it as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region.

Control over Lyman could prove a "key factor" in helping Ukraine reclaim lost territory in the neighbouring Luhansk region, whose full capture Moscow announced in early July after weeks of grinding advances, Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said.

02:49 AM

Zelensky: Success not limited to Lyman

Ukrainian troops pose for a photo in Lyman - Oleksiy Biloshytskyi via REUTERS © Oleksiy Biloshytskyi via REUTERS Ukrainian troops pose for a photo in Lyman - Oleksiy Biloshytskyi via REUTERS

Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that the success of the country's soldiers was not limited to the recapture of Lyman.

Ukraine forces had liberated the small Arkhanhelske and Myrolyubivka settlements in the Kherson region as well, the Ukrainian President said.

Ukraine's Interfax agency reported that according to Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesman for the Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces, Ukraine's forces recaptured Torske, a small village in the Donetsk region, about 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of now liberated Lyman.

02:38 AM

Ukraine claims full control of Lyman

A Ukrainian soldier brings down a Donetsk Republic flag hoisted on a monument in Lyman, Ukraine - Oleksiy Biloshytskyi via REUTERS © Oleksiy Biloshytskyi via REUTERS A Ukrainian soldier brings down a Donetsk Republic flag hoisted on a monument in Lyman, Ukraine - Oleksiy Biloshytskyi via REUTERS

Ukraine claimed full control of the eastern logistics hub of Lyman on Sunday.

It is its most significant battlefield gain from Russia in weeks, providing a potential staging post for further attacks to the east while heaping further pressure on the Kremlin.

The stinging setback for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, was delivered after he proclaimed the annexation of four regions covering nearly a fifth of Ukraine on Friday, an area that includes Lyman. Kyiv and the West have condemned the proclamation as an illegitimate farce.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the capture of the town, where Ukrainian flags were raised over civic buildings on Saturday, demonstrated that Ukraine was capable of dislodging Russian forces and showed the impact Ukraine's deployment of advanced Western weapons was having on the conflict.

01:02 AM

Today's top stories

  • Vladimir Putin is becoming rash and secretive in the face of battlefield defeats, Kremlin insiders have warned, as the Russian leader is said to be making snap decisions without consulting with some of his military chiefs
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday night announced that his forces had liberated two towns in southern Ukraine as they made significant progress in retaking the Russian-occupied Kherson region
  • Ben Wallace has not ruled out a future Conservative leadership run, as he warned against cuts to “unsexy” defence budgets
  • Comment: Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territory on Friday, celebrated in the splendour of the Kremlin, is evidence not of offensive success, but of defensive fear
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