RUSSIA, UKRAINE – KYIV
At least three people were killed in Kyiv when Russia attacked the city early Monday morning with explosive Iranian-made drones, officials said. Two more people were trapped under rubble and 18 others were wounded in the blasts in central Kyiv, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service. The drone strikes appeared to be aimed at knocking out key electrical infrastructure as Russia tries to make life miserable for Ukrainians even as its military faces setbacks on the battlefield. Vitaly Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said that 28 drones were spotted over the city, resulting in five strikes. The targets included the headquarters of Ukraine’s national energy utility and a municipal heating station. Michael Schwirtz, Megan Specia and Austin Ramzy report for the New York Times.
Klitschko has called today’s drone strikes on Kyiv part of the “genocide of the Ukrainian people.” “The Russians need a Ukraine without Ukrainians. They want to leave without heating, without electricity, without life. They need territory – not residents of Ukraine,” he told reporters. All available resources have been deployed to clear the rubble from devastated areas, he said, adding that city authorities are expecting the arrival of air defense systems to protect the capital from drone attacks. BBC News reports.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has urged the E.U. to impose sanctions on Iran for supplying Russia with drones that were used in the strikes on Kyiv. Kuleba addressed a gathering of the E.U.’s Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg from a bomb shelter in the Ukrainian capital. Cassandra Vinograd reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – BELGOROD
The Russian region of Belgorod was subject to more than a dozen explosions on Sunday. RIA Novosti reported that 16 explosions had hit Russia’s Belgorod region, an important staging ground for its invasion. This was a sharp increase in what had previously been mostly isolated attacks, apparently by Ukraine, on Russian territory close to the border. Ukrainian officials did not comment, in keeping with an official policy of near-total silence about explosions inside Russia’s internationally recognized border. Andrew Higgins, Megan Specia and Ivan Nechepurenko report for the New York Times.
Two gunmen opened fire on Russian military recruits at a training ground in Russia’s Belgorod region on Saturday, killing at least 11 people and wounding another 15. The attack happened during a training session at the Western Military District, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS, which cited the Russian Defense Ministry. The gunmen were said to be from former Soviet states. Russian officials have branded the attack an act of terrorism. Mariya Knight reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
NATO and Russia are set to separately hold long-planned exercises of their nuclear forces. NATO’s annual nuclear exercise, known as Steadfast Noon, will begin today, with the U.S. among the 14 nations participating. Russia’s annual exercise is expected to take place before the end of the month, according to several U.S. officials. The Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community are watching for any unexpected or unusual movements of Moscow’s nuclear weapons during Russia’s exercise and U.S. and NATO officials have expressed confidence that they will be able to accurately monitor any Russian nuclear activity during the exercise. Barbara Starr reports for CNN.
A pro-Moscow official in the illegally occupied Donetsk region claimed on Sunday that the mayor’s office had been hit by Ukrainian rockets. “According to incoming information, today at 7:37 there was a direct hit by enemy ordnance on Donetsk’s city administration building,” Alexey Kulemzin, who has served as Donetsk’s mayor since 2016, said in a statement on his Telegram channel. Kulemzin later published several videos and images of the purported attack’s aftermath, showing a badly damaged building amid sparse flames and thick smoke. Ukraine has so far not claimed the attack. Gian Volpicelli reports for POLITICO.
Russian troops and military planes have started to arrive in Belarus in preparation for the formation of a new joint Russia-Belarus force, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said yesterday. Belarus is Ukraine’s neighbor to the north and a close ally of Russia, from whose territory Moscow launched an abortive attack on Kyiv in February. A renewed Russian offensive in northern Ukraine from Belarus would further expand the conflict, and the establishment of a joint force with Russia will most likely reinforce the view in Ukraine that Belarus is clearly a “co-aggressor” – a label that Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has rejected. Andrew Higgins reports for the New York Times.
Russia’s military uses rape and sexual violence as a part of its “military strategy” in Ukraine, U.N. envoy Pramila Patten said in an interview with AFP. “All the indications are there,” the U.N. special representative on sexual violence told AFP, when asked if rape was being used as a weapon of war in Ukraine. The U.N. has verified “more than a hundred cases” of rape or sexual assault since the beginning of the war, Patten said. AFP reports.
Elon Musk has said that SpaceX will continue to financially support its Starlink terminals in Ukraine, following social media backlash against his proposed halt to funding the service. “The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free,” Musk tweeted on Saturday. The SpaceX founder and high-profile tech entrepreneur had previously sent a letter to the Pentagon asking the agency to take over funding for the satellite communication system, which the company donated to Ukraine earlier this year after Russia’s invasion. Craig Howie reports for POLITICO.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled that his unpopular mobilization drive is coming to an end. “This work is coming to an end,” he told journalists on Friday after a conference attended by regional leaders in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. Indicating that the mobilization drive would be concluded in two weeks, he added that 222,000 out of an expected 300,000 reservists had already been conscripted. The order — the first mobilization of reservists in Russia since World War II —triggered protests across the country, while thousands attempted to avoid the call-up by fleeing to neighboring countries like Georgia, Belarus and Armenia. Hyder Abbasi reports for NBC News.
A fire at the Evin Prison in Iran’s capital has killed at least eight inmates, according to the state-aligned news agency Tasnim. The prison is known for housing political prisoners and anti-government activists, and for being a site of alleged human rights abuses. The fire, which was widely visible Saturday evening, came as nationwide anti-government protests entered a fifth week. Whilst Tehran Gov. Mohsen Mansouri. claimed that the fire “was caused by a fight between some prisoners in a sewing workshop,” Iranian social media posts have challenged this. Former inmate of Evin and rights activist Atena Daemi said in a Tweet Sunday that normally, all prisoners are sent to their wards and the workshops closed by sunset. CNN reports.
CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY CONGRESS
In his opening speech at the Chinese Communist party congress, Chinese leader Xi Jinping called on the party’s 97 million members to steel themselves for a “critical time” in the country’s history. The two-hour speech, which was delivered in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, outlined goals ranging from an “all-out people’s war” against the Covid-19 pandemic to realizing the unification of China and Taiwan. In one of the speech’s biggest applause lines, Xi pledged that the party would “never renounce the use of force [to achieve unification] and will take all necessary measures to stop all separatist movements.” “The resolution of the Taiwan issue is a matter for the Chinese people themselves, to be decided by the Chinese people,” said Xi. Without mentioning the U.S. specifically, he added that the party would combat “protectionism and bullying” by other nations. The week-long congress will end on October 22, with a new leadership line-up unveiled a day later. Xi’s reappointment to a third term as party leader and head of the Chinese military is widely seen as settled, despite a series of controversial policies that have dramatically slowed growth in the country. Tom Mitchell and Primrose Riordan report for the Financial Times.
Activists and lawmakers in the U.K. are demanding an investigation after a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester was allegedly beaten on the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Manchester. A pro-democracy group called Hong Kong Indigenous Defense Force had staged a protest outside the consulate in the northern city on Sunday, in opposition to the Chinese Communist Party Congress happening the same day in Beijing. Video of the incident shared widely on social media shows a confrontation breaking out on the sidewalk outside the consulate, with loud shouts heard as people rush towards the gated entrance. The video then appears to show one Hong Kong protester being dragged through the gate into the consulate grounds and beaten by a group of men. Hong Kong Indigenous Defense Force alleges that Chinese consular staff were involved in the alleged beating, and that the protester was taken to hospital in stable condition. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday that he was “not aware of the situation.” Jessie Yeung, Angus Watson and Jake Kwon report for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) has said it is “deeply distressed” by reports of nearly 100 naked migrants at the border between Greece and Turkey. “UNHCR is deeply distressed by the shocking reports and images of 92 people, who were reported to have been found at the Greek-Turkish land border, stripped of their clothes,” the agency tweeted Sunday. “We condemn such cruel and degrading treatment and call for a full investigation into this incident,” it added. Greece’s Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, blamed Turkey for the situation, condemning the country’s treatment of migrants as “a shame for civilization.” A statement by the Greek authorities added that clothing, food, and first aid had been provided to the migrants. Turkey’s Deputy Interior Minister Ismail Catakli denied Turkey’s involvement in the incident and accused Greece of “manipulations and dishonesty.” Allegra Goodwin and Chris Liakos report for CNN.
U.K. lawmakers will try to oust Prime Minister Liz Truss this week despite Downing Street’s warning that it could trigger a general election, the Daily Mail has reported. More than 100 members of parliament belonging to the governing Conservative Party are ready to submit letters of no confidence in Truss to Graham Brady, the head of the Conservative Party’s committee which organizes the leadership contest, the tabloid reported, quoting unnamed sources. Brady is said to be resisting the move, arguing that Truss, along with newly appointed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, deserve a chance to set out economic strategy in a budget on Oct. 31, the report added. Separately, The Times reported that some lawmakers have held secret discussions on replacing Truss with a new leader. Reuters reports.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has ordered an inquiry into the Unification Church, a religious group that has come under the spotlight after the assassination of former leader Shinzo Abe. The suspect in the killing wrote in online posts and a letter that he blamed the church for his family’s troubles and said he was targeting Abe because of the former leader’s connections to the group. Scrutiny of the religious sect in the weeks following then revealed it had ties with many government lawmakers. The church is a legally registered religious organization in Japan, entitling it to a tax exemption. Kishida said the government would invoke its authority to seek information from the church about its activities, a step never taken before against a religious organization in Japan. Depending on the investigation’s results, the government could ask a court to dissolve the church’s registration. Peter Landers and Chieko Tsuneoka report for the Wall Street Journal.
The United States has drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution encouraging “the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force” to Haiti. The drafting of the resolution follows a push by U.N. Secretary General António Guterres for the creation of an international force to bolster the Haitian National Police as powerful armed gangs destabilize the country, disrupting the supply of fuel and electricity to the impoverished Caribbean nation. The resolution is the first sign the Biden administration may be willing to participate in a Haiti mission that has a military component. John Hudson and Widlore Mérancourt report for the Washington Post.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
A former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence returned before a grand jury on Thursday to testify in a criminal probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter. This came after federal courts overruled former President Trump’s objections to the testimony. In a sealed decision that could clear the way for other top Trump White House officials to answer questions before a grand jury, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that former Pence chief of staff Marc Short probably possessed information important to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack that was not available from other sources. Trump appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to postpone Short’s appearance while the litigation continues. Spencer S. Hsu, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany report for the Washington Post.
The Jan. 6 committee will ask former Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato to testify again, panel member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said yesterday. “We’re in a position in the very near future to call the witnesses from the Secret Service back in for a few additional questions,” Lofgren told CNN’s Pamela Brown on “CNN Newsroom,” explaining that the panel had wanted to “get through all the documentary evidence … over a million documents,” which they’ve now done. To this point, Ornato has met with the panel on two occasions – in January and March – as part of its investigation. It’s not clear whether Ornato will end up testifying in relation to the claims from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson specifically testified that Ornato had told her about Trump lashing out in anger and lunging at a member of his protective detail as he demanded to be taken to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Paul LeBlanc reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 96.952 million people and has now killed over 1.07 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 624.756 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.57 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.