Ukraine LIVE: Horror as Putin shells Europe's largest nuclear plant hours after threat

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Good afternoon I’m Francesca Edwards, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

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Twitter: @FrankieLEdwards

Aliss Higham

German minister: Mobilisation only increases support for Ukraine

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Thursday that Russia’s “partial mobilization” and planned referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine will not deter Germany’s military support.

She said: “Rather, this reaction from Putin to Ukraine’s successes spurs us on to continue to support Ukraine and send this clear signal.

“We see that Ukraine has achieved great successes.”

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Sweden condemns protest arrests in Russia

Sweden’s foreign affairs minister has praised protesters in Russia after unrest broke out in major cities.

Anne Linde said the demonstrators were “courageous” and held her “deep respect”.

More than 1,000 people were detained across cities like Moscow protesting President Putin’s plans to partially mobilise the population to fight in Ukraine.

Condemn widespread arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters in Russia who took to the streets to protest Putinu2019s decision to scale up Russiau2019s war in #Ukraine even further by decision of partial mobilization. These courageous demonstrators have our deep respect. #StopWar

u2014 Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) September 22, 2022

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Who is Vladimir Putin?

Vladimir Putin has been the President of Russia since 2012.

He previously held this position from 2000-2008 and was Russia’s Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2012.

Before his career in politics, he was a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years.

(Image: GETTY)

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Putin is bluffing, says Ukraine ambassador

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, has said Putin is bluffing following his speech yesterday.

He said to Sky News: “When somebody is saying that I’m not bluffing, that’s the first sign that they are actually bluffing.

“Otherwise, they would do something like prepare the nuclear arsenal.

“They’re not doing it, which means that he’s trying to find a magic wand which will allow him to get out of the situation because he’s deeply, deeply in trouble.”

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Putin to order 1million to fight in Ukraine

Russian media has reported President Putin will order 1million to fight in Ukraine.

The Russian president said yesterday he was prepared to bring in mobilisation to advance his invasion of Ukraine.

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper operating in exile, has quoted an unnamed official in the Kremlin.

The source told the newspaper that a classified seventh paragraph of a decree, signed by Putin on Wednesday, would allow the Moscow to call up one million people to fight.

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Ukraine’s nuclear power stations

Ukraine is heavily dependent on nuclear energy, with around 15 reactors generating about half of its electricity.

Energoatom operates all four active nuclear power stations in Ukraine.

The country is also home to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster site, one of the world’s most severe nuclear accidents when an explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination across much of Europe.

(Image: EXPRESS)

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How have Vladimir Putin’s aims changed since the start of the invasion?

Vladimir Putin’s aims have shifted since the invasion began February 24, 2022.

His initial aim was to overrun Ukraine and depose its government.

The Russian leader claimed this was a preventative measure to prevent Ukraine from joining the Western defensive alliance NATO.

After a month of failures, he abandoned his bid to capture the capital Kyiv and turned his ambitions to “liberating the Donbas region” in Ukraine’s east and south.

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Traffic increases at Finnish border as Russians flee mobilisation

Traffic at the border between Finland and Russia has “intensified” after President Putin announced his plans to partially mobilise in order to bolster the number fighting in Ukraine.

Finnish border guard’s head of international affairs, Matti Pitkaniitty, said: “The number clearly has picked up.

“It is an exceptional number in the sense that it clearly is busier.”

He said the situation remained under control and is manageable.

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Five British prisoners land back in UK

Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, John Harding, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill have all been released from Russia and have arrived safely in the UK.

Dominik Byrne, co-founder of Presidium, a UK-based company that says it carries out evacuations of families and individuals from war zones, said: “We know that all are back safely in the UK.

He said they are all “looking forward to normality with their families after this horrific ordeal”.

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Ukraine has ‘liquidated’ 55,000 Russians

According to the latest stats from the general staff of the Ukraine Army, 55,510 Russians have been killed since the invasion began on February 24.

Additionally, more than 2,000 tanks have been destroyed along with 253 helicopters and 15 warships and boats.

u0417u0430u0433u0430u043bu044cu043du0456 u0431u043eu0439u043eu0432u0456 u0432u0442u0440u0430u0442u0438 u043fu0440u043eu0442u0438u0432u043du0438u043au0430 u0437 24.02 u043fu043e 22.09 u043eu0440u0456u0454u043du0442u043eu0432u043du043e u0441u043au043bu0430u043bu0438 / The total combat losses of the enemy from 24.02 to 22.09 were approximately: pic.twitter.com/fRcXHBHZUk

u2014 u0413u0435u043du0435u0440u0430u043bu044cu043du0438u0439 u0448u0442u0430u0431 u0417u0421u0423 (@GeneralStaffUA) September 22, 2022

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Medvedev threatens to attack Europe and US

Deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev has issued a dire warning to Europe and the USA as the Kremlin prepares to hold sham referendums in captured areas of Ukraine.

He said: “Referendums will be held, and the Donbas republics and other territories will be admitted to Russia.

“The protection of all the territories that have joined will be significantly strengthened by the Russian armed forces.

“Russia announced that not only mobilisation capabilities, but also any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection.

“Therefore, various retired idiots with generals’ stripes do not need to scare us with talk about a Nato strike on Crimea.

“Hypersonic is guaranteed to be able to reach targets in Europe and the United States much faster.

“But the western establishment, in general, all citizens of the NATO countries need to understand that Russia has chosen its own path. There is no way back.”

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Zelensky hands UN five-point master plan to end war and ‘punish’ Putin

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has laid out a five-point plan for the UN to help achieve peace and end Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

The Ukrainian leader spoke via video link to the United Nations general assembly in New York.

His plan includes: punishing Russia for its crimes, protecting life, restoring security and territorial integrity, ensuring security guarantees, and the determination of Ukraine to continue its self defence, all of which he described as “non-negotiable”.

President Zelensky said: “A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment.”

He recommended that a “special tribunal should be created to punish Russia for the crime of aggression against our state… Russia should pay for this war with its assets”.

He also urged the UN to remove Russia’s veto rights as a Security Council member.

(Image: GETTY)

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Who is Volodymyr Zelensky?

Volodymyr Zelensky is the 6th President of Ukraine, a position he has held since 2019.

Prior to his career in politics, Mr Zelensky was a comedy actor and starred in a show called Servant of the People, in which funnily enough, he played the role of the Ukrainian President.

He also recorded the voice of Paddington Bear in the Ukrainian dubbing of the British films Paddington and Paddington 2.

For his courageous leadership in the war against Russia, Mr Zelensky appeared on TIME’s list of the world’s most influential people in 2022.

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Zelensky thanks Turkey and Saudi Arabia for role in prisoner release

President Zelensky of Ukraine has thanked Turkey and Saudi Arabia for helping secure the recent prisoner release.

He said on Telegram:

“Ukraine returned 215 heroes from Russian captivity. We greatly appreciate the contribution of everyone involved in rescuing the defenders and will never forget it. Many thanks to the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for leading this process.

We agreed that the five released commanders of “Azov” will be in comfortable conditions in Turkey until the end of the war and will be able to see their families.

Also, as a sign of gratitude for the help to our country, Ukraine freed from Russian captivity five citizens of Great Britain, two citizens of the USA, citizens of Morocco, Sweden, and Croatia. Thank you for your support Saudi Arabia.

We remember all those who are in Russian captivity, and we will do everything for their rescue.”

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Flights swarm out of Russia as mobilisation fears rise

Countries sharing borders with Russia, as well as popular holiday destinations further afield, are experiencing a surge in Russian visitors following President Putin’s speech yesterday.

Swathes of planes have been spotted on flight radars leaving Russia.

Flight prices have jumped to mouth-watering sums, in some cases five times the average monthly salary, as people attempt to escape a potential mobilisation of men of fighting age.

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Why did Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin started the invasion of his southwestern neighbour on February 24, 2022.

He told the Russian people his goal was to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine”.

Putin’s declared aim was to protect people subjected to what he called eight years of bullying and genocide by Ukraine’s government.

But this escalation came after years of rhetoric claiming that Ukraine rightfully belonged to Russia.

Putin also claimed the invasion was necessary to protect Russia from the possibility of Ukraine joining the Western defensive alliance NATO.

(Image: GETTY)

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UK actions on Ukraine will determine next decade, Ellwood says

MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons defence committe, has said the world is moving into a “darker chapter” and the UK’s actions will be crucial in the fight against Russia.

He told Sky News: “I think our leaders are now recognising where this is all going and we need to step back and ask ourselves the fundamental security question that I pose ever more regularly.

“Is the world likely to become more dangerous or less over the next few years? I think the answer is clearly the former.

This is not just about Ukraine, but the emergence of a new alliance with Russia, China, and other authoritarian states challenging the status quo that we’ve enjoyed since the end of the Cold War.

“So our actions now, in how we handle Ukraine, given the conflict has now moved into a darker chapter, will determine I think how the next decade plays.

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Borrel says Putin is trying to ‘destroy’ Ukraine

Speaking at the UN, EU Commission vice president Josep Borrel reaffirmed the bloc’s committment to sanctioning Russia.

The exact details of the sanctions are yet to be determined, he said.

Mr Borrel said: “It’s clear that Putin is trying to destroy Ukraine.

“In line with the United Nations charter, and international law, Ukraine is exercising its legitimate right to defend itself against Russian aggression, to regain full control of its territory, and has the right to liberate occupied territories within its internationally recognized borders.

“And for that, we will continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts, the provision of military equipment, as long as it takes.”

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Where is Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant?

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is located in south eastern Ukraine, near the city of its name and Melitopol.

The plant continues to be operated by Ukrainian staff, under Russian control.

Ukraine has four operational nuclear power plants.

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Zaporizhzhia city shelled – infrastructure destroyed

A city council official has reported the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, close to the occupied nuclear plant, was shelled early Thursday.

Zaporizhzhia City Council Secretary Anatoliy Kurtiev said on his Telegram Channel that “civil infrastructure has been destroyed” and that “there are casualties.”

Claims have been made of five explosions from both pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian media, however Express.co.uk cannot verify these claims at this time.

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Russia uses chemical weapons on Ukrainian village

Russian forces forces have dropped flesh-melting thermite bombs across the Ukrainian village of Ozerne, with drone footage capturing the chilling moment it happened.

Burning drops of white hot rain are seen falling over the village, scorching the earth as they hit the ground, and in some places creating fires.

While the use of such chemical weapons is not strictly forbidden, their deliberate use against civilians has been banned under Protocol 3 of the Inhumane Weapons Convention.

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Russian military drop incendiary shells on Ukrainian village

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Truss condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in first UN speech

Liz Truss has made her first speech at the UN General Assembly, using it to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

She said: “For the first time in the history of this assembly we are meeting during a large-scale war of aggression in Europe.

“And authoritarian states are undermining stability and security around the world.

“Geopolitics is entering a new era – one that requires those who believe in the founding principles of the United Nations to stand up and be counted.”

The new Prime Minister also pledged to cut off “toxic power”, meaning Russia, and move the UK to greener energy solutions – despite opening up fracking sites in the UK as one of her first moves in office.

She said: “We are cutting off the toxic power and pipelines from authoritarian regimes and strengthening our energy resilience.

“We will ensure we cannot be coerced or harmed by the reckless actions of rogue actors abroad.

“We will transition to a future based on renewable and nuclear energywhile ensuring that the gas used during that transition is from reliable sources including our own North Sea production.”

(Image: GETTY)

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1,300 detained in Russia as fierce protests erupt

Protests have been taking place in cities like Moscow against partial mobilisation in Russia, which was announced by President Putin yesterday.

The figure includes at least 502 people in Moscow and 524 people in St Petersburg, according to independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info.

A Russian protestor is detained in Moscow (Image: GETTY)

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Five Brits released from Russia – two no longer on death row

Five British nationals have been released in a Ukraine-Russia prisoner exchange on Wednesday.

They were held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine for months, according to Ukraine’s Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

Among them were Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, both of whom were sentenced to death by so-called courts in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in June.

Aliss Higham

Good morning

Good morning from London. I’m Aliss Higham, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on Ukraine today. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

Email: [email protected]