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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12:34 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

UN nuclear watchdog chief will travel to Kyiv after Putin announces seizure of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

From CNN's Jorge Engels, previous reporting from Uliana Pavlova and Olga Voitovych

The chief of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency will head urgently to Kyiv on Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to incorporate Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, located in Zaporizhzhia, as Russian federal property.

“On our way to Kyiv for important meetings. The need for a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone (NSSPZ) around #Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is now more urgent than ever,” Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), tweeted.

Russian forces have controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant for months, and the area has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks.

Earlier on Wednesday, Putin signed a decree that puts the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power under Russian state control — and amends the country's constitution by admitting new regions into the Russian federation.

Remember: The annexation of Zaporizhzhia and three other regions has been widely condemned by the international community as "a sham", and the vast majority of governments have described it as against international law.

The confrontation over the status of the plant, and shelling that has damaged some installations there, has led the IAEA to intervene.

See the IAEA chief's tweet:

12:21 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

International Boxing Association reverses decision to ban Russian and Belarussian competitors

From CNN's Jacob Lev

The International Boxing Association (IBA) reversed the ban on Russian and Belarussian boxers from competition, the governing body announced on Wednesday.

The IBA board of directors voted to allow boxers from Russia and Belarus to return to competition and perform under their flags. The national anthems will be played if the boxer were to win a gold medal.

"The IBA strongly believes that politics shouldn’t have any influence on sports," the IBA said in a statement Wednesday. "Hence, all athletes should be given equal conditions. The IBA added that it remained "politically neutral and independent." 

The association added, "IBA calls for peace and remains a peacemaker in any conflicts. Moreover, the IBA has obligation to ensure equal treatment towards the athletes and competition officials, regardless of their nationality and residence." 

Technical officials of Russia and Belarus will also be included in the return to competition.

Boxers, judges and officials from both countries have been banned from IBA international competition since March following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

11:57 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Putin signs decree taking Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant into Russian federal ownership

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Olga Voitovych

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Enerhodar on September 11.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Enerhodar on September 11. (AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree that puts the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine under Russian state control — and amends the country's constitution by admitting new regions into the Russian Federation.

Putin also instructed the cabinet to determine how to regulate and operate the Zaporizhzhia plant — which has been under Russian military control since March — through 2028.

Remember: The annexation of Zaporizhzhia and three other regions has been widely condemned by the international community as "a sham", and the vast majority of governments have described it as against international law.

The confrontation over the status of the plant, and shelling that has damaged some installations there, has led the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to intervene.

Just as Putin was signing the decree, the Ukrainian state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said its president would assume the duties of the plant's director general. 

Petro Kotin, Energoatom president, said in a video address to the employees of the plant: "In accordance with the current legislation, approval and regulatory documents, I have decided to take up the duties of the director general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant."

He said the administration of the plant would be transferred directly to Kyiv following the detention by Russian officials of the plant's general director, Ihor Murashov. The official also noted that operational issues at the plant would be resolved by the technical staff by agreement with the central office of the company.

"Undoubtedly, our work, our destiny, our homes and our future are with Ukraine, as always. We will continue to work in accordance with Ukrainian legislation, in the Ukrainian energy system, in Energoatom. Don't doubt it!" Kotin noted.

Some more context: On Tuesday, the IAEA said that Murashov will not continue his duties at the nuclear power plant following his release from Russian detention.

The nuclear plant, with six reactors, is the largest in Europe. It continues to be run by Ukrainian technicians, but the forcible annexation of Zaporizhzhia means that according to Russian law it is now on Russian territory.  

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.