Britain's new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his first visit to Kyiv, pledging to continue the firm support for Ukraine that was a focus of his predecessors, and providing a new air defence package to help shoot down Russian drones.
FUNERAL IN POLAND
* One of the men killed by a missile that hit a Polish village this week was buried, the first of two funerals this weekend following a blast that raised fears that the war in Ukraine could spiral into a wider conflict. Locals said the dead man had worked hard to shelter Ukrainian refugees in the early days of the war.
JOYOUS TRAIN RIDE
* Jubilant Ukrainians rolled into Kherson by train for the first time in more than eight months as residents of the newly liberated southern city greeted them on the platform with flowers and national flags.
* Citing damage done by Russian forces, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced evacuations of people who want to leave Kherson and the surrounding areas would soon begin.
* Russia's surge in missile strikes in Ukraine is partly designed to exhaust Kyiv's supplies of air defenses and finally achieve dominance of the skies above the country, a senior Pentagon official said.
* Ukrainian electricity supplies are under control despite Russian attacks on power-generating infrastructure and there is no need to panic, the energy ministry said a day after the government stated that almost half of Ukraine's energy system had been crippled, and authorities in Kyiv warned that the capital could face a "complete shutdown" of the power grid as winter sets in.
* Around 60 Russian soldiers were killed this week in a long-range Ukrainian artillery attack on their positions in the town of Mykhailkva, 40 km (25 miles) to the south of Kherson, Ukraine's military said on Saturday.
* Five people were wounded in a Russian strike on a humanitarian station where bread was being distributed in the town of Bilozerka, just west of Kherson city, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.
* Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.
* Peace in Ukraine will only be possible if the country's 1991 borders are restored, a senior aide to Zelenskiy said.
* U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said failure to help Ukraine secure its own future could lead to a "world of tyranny and turmoil," in a speech that sought to lay out the stakes in the war for the international community.
ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE
* Hundreds of people were detained or went missing in Kherson region while it was under Russian control, and dozens may have been tortured, Yale University researchers have concluded in a report backed by the U.S. State Department. Russia has denied its forces have committed abuses.
* Russia's defence ministry said on Friday that Ukraine had executed more than 10 Russian prisoners of war. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine, which has vowed to investigate any alleged abuses by its forces.
The collective West is growing tired of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and is “pushing” Kiev into talks with Moscow, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrote in a Telegram post on Saturday. He added that the US and NATO don’t want to risk a new world war.
The reaction to the missile strike that hit the Polish village of Przewodow on Tuesday, killing two civilians, has revealed a new “symptom” in this trend, with even “the most ardent Russophobes” in Warsaw refusing to blame the incident on Moscow, the ex-president commented.
On Friday, Warsaw called the strike an “unfortunate accident” that was “practically impossible” to prevent. Kiev has repeatedly tried to blame the incident on Moscow. The Russian military, meanwhile, said it did not carry out any launches near the Ukrainian-Polish border at the time, while analysis of photos from the site showed that the projectile was an S-300 anti-aircraft missile operated by Ukrainian forces.
“Everyone is tired of the Kiev regime. Especially of the neurotic Zelensky, who is constantly whipping up tensions, whining, sniveling and extorting more and more money and weapons handouts. [He] acts like a hysterical child with developmental problems,” Medvedev stated.
Fatigue with Kiev and its actions is prompting the collective West to “push”Ukraine into talks with Russia, the deputy head of the nation’s Security Council continued.
“The US, NATO and the European Union do not want a complete rupture with Russia, risking a third world [war]. Hence, the frequent attempts to rein in Kiev and bring it to its senses, to push it to negotiate,” Medvedev wrote.
By refusing to talk with Russia, Zelensky is actually pursuing much more mundane and selfish goals, Medvedev suggested. He added that “if [Zelensky] does not accept the reality of Ukraine's collapse, it is pointless to sit down at the [negotiating] table. And if [he] does accept it – he will be taken out by his own nationalists, who are intertwined with the army top brass.”
The former president’s comments came as several leading politicians in the West, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have repeatedly called for direct talks between Kiev and Moscow. Recent reports have also indicated that Washington has been privately pushing Ukraine to drop its uncompromising rejection of the peace process with Russia. Last week, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, suggested that a Ukrainian military victory might be unachievable and that winter could provide an opportunity to begin talks with Moscow.
**Ukrainian armed forces have carried out 12 strikes against the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (NPP) on Saturday, for the first time since September, Renat Karchaa, an advisor to the director general of Russia’s Rosenergoatom company, said in a televised interview with Rossiya-24 news channel.
"Twelve strikes hit the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant from 5.15 p.m. to 5.41 p.m. We mean the perimeter of the plant, but not the industrial zone or any other areas adjacent to the plant," Karchaa said.
Karchaa pointed out that the splash pool, which is part of the NPP cooling system, was hit six times, two more impacts were recorded in the dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel and three more strikes were documented near Checkpoint 2.
"The bombardment was massive indeed," said the advisor to the Rosenergoatom CEO. "The plant has not been a target since late September," he added.
Karchaa emphasized that there were no casualties among the personnel.
"Today it ended up with damage and destruction that will be clarified tomorrow morning," he said. "Today is Saturday, so there are far fewer personnel at the plant than on weekdays. And luckily, there were no casualties, as it ended up with just damage," he added.
Karchaa warned that such shelling might trigger nuclear contamination.
The Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe. Russia took control of it at the end of February during its special military operation. Currently the plant’s six energy units have been switched to cold shutdown mode since the facility was being regularly shelled by Ukrainian troops. In September, following a visit by the IAEA’s mission, the agency urged the creation of a security protection zone around the plant to prevent emergency situations due to hostilities. Currently, the discussion of the security zone’s geographic parameters is underway.