October 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Sana Noor Haq, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2:24 a.m. ET, October 6, 2022
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1:50 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Ukrainian forces advance into Luhansk region for first time since conflict began, social media images show

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukrainian soldiers stand at the entrance to the village of Hrekivka, inside Luhansk region.
Ukrainian soldiers stand at the entrance to the village of Hrekivka, inside Luhansk region. (Obtained by CNN)

Social media images from Wednesday showed Ukrainian troops in at least one village in the eastern Luhansk area, after crossing from the neighboring Donetsk region.

One photograph showed a Ukrainian unit kneeling and standing around a road sign at the village of Hrekivka, just inside Luhansk region.

It is the first time since the beginning of the conflict in March that Ukrainian troops have advanced into Luhansk.  

More on Ukraine's advances: All of Luhansk region is claimed as Russian territory by the Kremlin, following its forcible annexation. But in recent days Ukrainian forces have been approaching the region from several directions, building on their successful offenses in Kharkiv and Donetsk. 

Social media video also showed Ukrainian troops in the town of Terny in Donetsk region, about 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) from the town of Kreminna in Luhansk, which analysts believe is a critical defensive line for the Russians now that they have lost ground in both Donetsk and Kharkiv regions.

The Ukrainian advances in the northeast come within days of the so-called referendums held by pro-Russian local authorities that led to the annexation by Moscow of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as much of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Since the annexation measures were approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin last Friday, Russian forces have lost hundreds of square kilometers of territory in Donetsk and Kherson. 

10:22 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Putin says he was "pleasantly surprised" by results of referendums as Western leaders dismiss them as a "sham"

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was pleased and surprised by the results of the so-called referendums in four regions of Ukraine that have since been annexed by Russia.

“The results of the referendums, frankly speaking, not only pleased me, but also surprised me — after all, people lived in such difficult conditions, and still continue to live," Putin said during a televised meeting with Russian teachers on Wednesday. “This result, I assure you, I think the election observers know this as well, there was no desire to correct something, clean something up, add something.”

Remember: The votes are illegal under international law and have been universally dismissed as “a sham” by Ukraine and Western nations. In all four regions that have subsequently been annexed by Russia, the declared vote in favor of joining the Russian Federation was more than 90%. The “votes” – and the results that Russia and its local allies have claimed – are an important step in Russia’s faltering effort to seize control in Ukraine.

Addressing a teacher from the Donbas region, Putin said that these regions will be stabilized and developed while “helping strengthen the country as a whole."

“We always, despite the tragedy of today, have had great respect for the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian culture, and the Ukrainian language, literature, and so on,” Putin said. "We have never allowed the sort of things that Ukraine allows against Russian culture or the Russian language."

9:37 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Here's a look at the state of control in Ukraine right now

Kyiv's forces continue to press forward with territorial gains in the south and east of the country, including in the regions Russia claims it is annexing.

Here's how the state of control looks right now:

8:18 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Russia lacks manpower to stop Ukrainian advance in Luhansk, says correspondent embedded with Russian military

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

The Russian military lacks the manpower necessary to hold off a further Ukrainian advance into the Luhansk region, a correspondent embedded with the Russian military in the occupied city of Svatove said on Tuesday evening.

“The Russian troops do not have enough manpower to stop the enemy attacks,” Alexander Kots, for Russian pro-government tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda said in a video posted to Telegram. “The recent Russian losses are directly connected to that. It’s a very difficult period of time on the front line at the moment.”

He said that “we expect a serious fighting here very soon,” and that “it remains to be seen if it could stop the enemy advances.”

Kots confirmed that Russian forces were trying to fortify their defense at the line connecting the occupied cities of Kreminna and Svatova. Yuriy Podolyaka, a pro-Russian military blogger said on Monday that Russian troops had withdrawn to the Zherebets River, which runs just west of Kreminna and Svatova.

“The enemy is concentrating its forces to attack Svatove from two directions,” Kots said on Tuesday. “The enemy artillery is reaching and working over the Kreminna-Svatove road and its sabotage and reconnaissance groups can operate there. This area is being fortified by the Russian troops who dig trenches and place land mines.”

He said that Ukrainian forces are “on the high and enjoying a numeric advantage.”

“They don’t have problems with the intelligence data or high precision weapons which they are constantly using. We are just waiting for our reserves to become fighting fit and join the battle.”

7:22 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Russia declines to clarify the borders of territories it claims to have annexed 

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Radina Gigova

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in central Moscow, Russia on May 9.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in central Moscow, Russia on May 9. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Moscow refrained from giving a concrete answer when asked how the borders of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions should be defined under the Kremlin's newly-signed claimed illegal annexations.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said "certain territories there are still to be returned," following rapid advances by Ukrainian forces in the south. 

When asked by CNN how he would interpret the language of the laws signed by Putin earlier Wednesday, which refers to the borders of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions as "the territory which existed on the day of its adoption in the Russian Federation," Peskov said: "I will leave this question unanswered."

When asked by CNN if he can provide any comment at all for better understanding, Peskov said: "You should read the decree, there is a legal wording there. On the whole, of course, we are talking about the territory in which the military-civilian administration operated at the time of its adoption (as part of the Russian Federation)."

When asked again by CNN if this should to be read as the territory captured by Russian troops as of September 30, Peskov said: "(You should stick to) what is written in the decree. But I repeat once again: Certain territories there are still to be returned, and we continue to consult with those populations that will express a desire to live with Russia."

Asked one more time by CNN whether any additional laws would be required to include those areas into the Russian Federation, or whether they would automatically be included as part of the regions under the signed laws, if and when they are “returned," Peskov said: "For now, I have nothing to add."

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law the documents on the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions on Wednesday, completing the last step of the annexation process, based on the Russian legal system. The annexation is illegal under international law. 

Putin's move comes as Ukrainian forces continue to press forward with territorial gains in the south and east, including in the regions Russia claims it is annexing.

7:14 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

"De-occupation of Luhansk has begun," says regional Ukrainian leader

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A man walks past a residential building in Lysychansk, the city controlled by pro-Russian troops in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, on September 21.
A man walks past a residential building in Lysychansk, the city controlled by pro-Russian troops in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, on September 21. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The "de-occupation" of Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region "has begun," according to a regional official.

“Several settlements have already been liberated from the Russian army, from the Russian occupiers,” Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region's Ukrainian military administration, said on national television Wednesday.

“All those soldiers realize that a counterattack is just inevitable, they are being defeated.”

After regaining the key eastern city of Lyman, in the Donetsk region, over the weekend, Ukrainian forces have continued their counteroffensive, pushing into the Luhansk region, pro-Russian officials and propagandists said on Monday. 

Russia controls nearly all of Ukraine’s Luhansk region. Ukrainian forces liberated the Luhansk village of Bilohorivka at the end of September.

Hayday urged residents who fled their homes earlier this year not to try to return. 

“I’d like to appeal to everyone,” he said. “First, do not get ahead of yourselves, do not rush to bring stuff and come back. We will let you know when and where exactly you can return. Because it is necessary that the Armed Forces of Ukraine move the front line further, and only then it will be possible to enter certain settlements. The territory must be demined.”

He also urged residents in occupied areas of Luhansk to try to evacuate away from the front line, or to stay in shelters.

8:18 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Zelensky discusses plans for "further liberation of Ukrainian territories" with military and security staff

From Mick Krever in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday met with his top military and security staff, and considered plans for “further liberation of Ukrainian territories,” according to the president's office.

“Those present heard information from the intelligence, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the commanders of the operational directions about the situation at the front and the latest actions of the enemy,” the readout of the meeting read.

“They also discussed the issue of stabilizing the situation in the newly de-occupied areas. Plans regarding further liberation of Ukrainian territories were also considered.”

The participants also “focused on the issue of countering new types of weapons used by the Russian army.”

Among those present were Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhny, and Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate Kyrylo Budanov.

Ukrainian forces are making gains in the east as well as in the south, where they are piercing through Moscow's defenses in the Kherson region.

Earlier Wednesday, Zelensky said that in the Kherson region the towns of Liubymivka, Khreshchenivka, Zolota Balka, Biliaiivka, Ukraiinka, Velyka, Mala Oleksandrivka and Davydiv Brid had all been liberated, “and this is not a complete list.”

Kherson is one of the four regions in Ukraine that Russia has announced it is annexing, in violation of international law.

8:44 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

It's 2 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law measures that claim to annex four Ukrainian regions, in violation of international law.

Ukrainian forces have gained ground in the south, pushing even further toward the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Kremlin signs illegal annexations: Putin signed into law measures that claim to illegally annex the four Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson into the Russian Federation. He also designated "acting heads" of four illegally annexed Ukrainian regions, according to Russian state news agency TASS. The four newly appointed leaders will govern until official heads for the regions are elected in accordance with Russian law, TASS reported Wednesday. 
  • Kyiv sweeps the south: The Ukrainian military has liberated multiple towns in the southern Kherson region as part of "the ongoing defensive operation," according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Meanwhile, Russian troops are leaving mines in southern Ukrainian villages as they retreat along the western bank of the Dnieper River, the Ukrainian military said on Wednesday.
  • Western allies bolster support for Ukraine: US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Tuesday and said the US "will never recognize Russia's annexations." European Union member states have also agreed on a fresh round of sanctions against Russia, the Czech Presidency of the EU Council announced Wednesday. The EU's eighth package of sanctions against Russia -- which was proposed by the European Commission last week -- will include an oil price cap, among other measures.
  • Zelensky proposes "special tribunal" for Russian leaders: Zelensky on Wednesday called for the creation of a “special tribunal” to pursue Russian political and military leaders for their role in the invasion of Ukraine. “We must bring to justice those whose decisions started all this,” he told a conference in Paris.
  • Miss Crimea fined for singing Ukrainian song: The winner of Miss Crimea 2022, Olga Valeeva, has been fined 40,000 Russian rubles ($680) by occupying Russian authorities for singing a patriotic Ukrainian song, according to Russian state media and pro-Russia regional authorities. Olga Valeeva was spared a jail sentence because she has young children, Russian state news agency TASS reported. A friend who sang with her was sentenced to 10 days in detention.

6:47 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Journalist who held anti-war poster on Russian state TV confirms she has abandoned house arrest

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London. Translation by Olly Racz.

Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state TV journalist speaks to the press as she arrives for a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, on July 28.
Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state TV journalist speaks to the press as she arrives for a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, on July 28. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who held up an anti-war poster on Russian state TV, has confirmed that she has left her court-ordered house arrest.

“I consider myself absolutely not guilty and because of our country's refusal to execute its own laws, I refuse as of 30 September 2022 to observe my pre-trial restriction in a form of a house arrest and I free myself from all that,” Ovsyannikova said in a statement on her Telegram channel. 

A court in August placed her under house arrest until October 9, charging her with disseminating false information about the Russian Armed Forces, TASS reported.

Ovsyannikova, a former employee of Russia Channel One, interrupted a broadcast in March holding up a sign that read: "NO WAR. Stop the war. Do not believe propaganda they tell you lies here.”

At the time, Ovsyannikova told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that many Russian journalists see a disconnect between reality and what is presented on the country’s television channels, saying "it was simply impossible to stay silent.”

“Dear law enforcers, please put this type of bracelet on Putin as it’s he who should be isolated from society and not me. Putin should be put on trial for the genocide against the people of Ukraine and mass murder of Russia’s male population," Ovsyannikova said in a separate video on Telegram on Wednesday while pointing to a monitoring bracelet on her ankle.

Russia’s military leadership has “no idea about the number of victims among the civilian population” in Ukraine," Ovsyannikova added.

“Мaybe some judge's, prosecutor's or investigator's conscience will wake up and they will stop calling the children who died in Ukraine fakes,” she said. “And they will stop prosecuting me for telling the truth.”

“I've spent almost two months under house arrest," she continued, adding that the whole time investigators have been referring to the words of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his spokesperson Major-General Igor Konashenkov, "trying to pretend that not a single child died during the war in Ukraine.”