October 6, 2020 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya, Matt Meyer and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 2:26 AM ET, Fri October 7, 2022
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4:08 p.m. ET, October 6, 2022

Ukraine says it's recovered about 120 settlements in the last 2 weeks in northeast and southern regions

From CNN's Tim Lister

A senior Ukrainian military official said the country's forces have recaptured around 120 settlements in the past two weeks as they advance in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Kherson regions.

Oleksii Hromov, a senior official with the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that since Sept. 21, Ukrainian troops had managed to advance 55 kilometers (about 34 miles) in the northeast, "establish control over 93 settlements, [and] take control over more than 2,400 square kilometers."

Hromov appeared to be referencing gains in Kharkiv region that were made before Sept. 21 but only confirmed later. 

"In the Kherson direction, the enemy is trying to counterattack at the expense of reserves in order to restrain the advance of our troops and regain lost positions. Since Oct. 1, 29 settlements have been taken under [our] control," he said. 

Hromov said Russia had stepped up its use of Iranian-made attack drones.

"Since Sept. 30, the enemy used 46 'Shahed 136' kamikaze drones to strike military facilities, civilian infrastructure and troop positions; 24 of those drones were destroyed," he said.

In total, Hromov said, Russia had used 86 of those drones.

In its operational update Thursday, the Ukrainian General Staff said that Russia continued to try "offensive actions" in the Donetsk region and had carried out more than 20 rocket attacks. Settlements in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions had been damaged, but Russian efforts to advance in the Bakhmut area and other parts of Donetsk had failed, the military said.

The General Staff said the Ukrainian Air Force had carried out 11 strikes Thursday but provided no details on the progress of the Kherson offensive.

Satellite imagery suggests that Russian forces have fortified defensive positions near the towns of Vesele and Nova Kakhovka on the Dnieper River.

4:06 p.m. ET, October 6, 2022

It's nighttime in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

All eyes were on Zaporizhzhia on Thursday after a Russian missile attack left at least one person dead in the southern city while the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency met with Ukraine's president for an update on the embattled power plant.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces pressed ahead with their counteroffensive in the south and east.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Nuclear watchdog in Ukraine: Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), visited Kyiv to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. There were several notable takeaways:
  • The nuclear agency head reiterated that Russia's annexations in Ukraine are not accepted by international law — the legal framework that guides his organization.
  • Grossi said he'll travel to Moscow next as part of his continued effort to prevent a nuclear accident. He said he could "neither boycott nor play along" with potential Russian attempts to operate the plant and make Zaporizhzhia staff employees of Russia's Rosatom.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to urge Grossi for a stronger defense, saying "we expected a tough statement from the IAEA."
  • Russian missiles strike Zaporizhzhia: Grossi's visit came the same day as missile attacks on the key southern city, which killed one person and left seven hospitalized, including a three-year-old girl, according to local officials.
  • Kyiv gains more ground: Ukrainian troops re-entered the Luhansk region and will "keep moving in that direction" with difficult battles ahead, officials said. It's the first time since the start of the conflict that they have advanced into the eastern area. More settlements in the south of Ukraine have also been liberated in the Kherson region, according to Zelensky.
  • Russia-backed leaders criticize war effort: Continuing the trickle of public criticism from regional officials in recent weeks, the Russian-appointed deputy leader of occupied Kherson blamed battlefield shortcomings on “incompetent commanders." And the head of Russia’s State Duma Defense Committee demanded officials report the truth about battlefield developments, saying senior figures need to "stop lying."
  • This map captures the latest state of the counteroffensive and current areas of control:

5:37 p.m. ET, October 6, 2022

Zelensky: Ukrainians "expected a tough statement" from IAEA after Putin's decree claiming Zaporizhzhia plant

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen during a press conference on September 9 in Kyiv, Ukraine. 
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen during a press conference on September 9 in Kyiv, Ukraine.  (Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to denounce the decree by President Vladimir Putin unilaterally taking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant into Russian ownership.

"I would like to hear what you think about this, because we expected a tough statement from the IAEA. I think that society expects this condemnation from you," Zelensky said speaking at a meeting with Rafael Grossi, the IAEA director general, in Kyiv.

Zelensky also requested Grossi's views on the presence of Russian forces at the plant, which he said was "not resolved."

"According to our data, confirmed by the workers of the plant — there are around 500 soldiers there," the Ukrainian President said.

Zelensky thanked Grossi for the IAEA's assistance in securing the release of the director of the plant, Ihor Murashov, after he was detained by Russian forces at the weekend.

Earlier Thursday, Grossi told CNN's Fred Pleitgen that the Zaporizhzhia plant is a Ukrainian facility and possible changes "would be a complex issue" that he'll have to discuss during his upcoming visit to Moscow.

2:34 p.m. ET, October 6, 2022

Russian annexations are invalid under international law, UN nuclear watchdog agency head says 

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen, Radina Gigova and Niamh Kennedy

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency said Russia's annexations in Ukraine are not accepted by international law — and that is the legal framework guiding his organization.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made the remarks at a news conference in Kyiv Thursday. CNN's Fred Pleitgen asked whether he will address Russia's claim that it now owns the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during upcoming meetings in Moscow.

"We are an international organization. We are guided by international law. And as you know very well, you all know very well, annexations are not accepted under international law, the UN Charter, other instruments. So, this is very clear," Grossi told reporters.

"But there are practical consequences, and I am dealing with that as well," he added. 

During the news conference, the IAEA chief also highlighted the plight of the plant's workers, who he said are "operating under almost unbearable circumstances." 

Grossi said uncertainty about the plant's ownership has only exacerbated the stress workers are experiencing.

He also said the IAEA plans to increase the number of its staff members based at the plant from two to four, likely carrying out three-to-four-week rotations.

1:50 p.m. ET, October 6, 2022

UN nuclear watchdog agency head says Zaporizhzhia plant is a Ukrainian facility

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen and Radina Gigova

A general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on September 11.
A general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on September 11. (AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is a Ukrainian facility and possible changes "would be a complex issue" that he'll have to discuss during his upcoming visit to Moscow. 

When asked by CNN's Fred Pleitgen on Thursday if IAEA would boycott the process of Zaporizhzhia staff potentially becoming employees of Russia's Rosatom, Grossi said "I can neither boycott nor play along. I have to do the right things and the right thing in this case is first of all to look at the security, the safety and the wellbeing of the staff."

Grossi added that "when it comes to the contractual changes that may be coming as a result of the announcements, is something that I will have to be discussing in Russia in the next few days."

"There is not much clarity of the extent of these proposed changes, so I will have to have more clarity," Grossi said. "For us, it is obvious that since this is a Ukrainian facility, the ownership is of Energoatom. Any change would be a complex issue."

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday that puts the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine under Russian state control. 

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

12:36 p.m. ET, October 6, 2022

IAEA director general says he'll travel to Moscow to discuss nuclear safety

From CNN's Radina Gigova 

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi speaks in a press conference at UN headquarters on September 21.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi speaks in a press conference at UN headquarters on September 21. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Thursday he will travel to Moscow to discuss nuclear safety and the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, after he met with Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky in Kyiv.

"My work is to prevent a nuclear accident, and this is what I am doing," Grossi told reporters at a press conference in Kyiv.

Grossi said he will travel to Russia "very soon" and that he believes the conversations he'll have here will be at a "very high level." 

The staff at the plant are working in "unbearable circumstances," but that the IAEA staff will continue their rotation at the plant, he added, saying there have been indications that there are mines in the perimeter of the plant, but not inside the plant itself.

12:01 p.m. ET, October 6, 2022

Ukrainian officials confirm advance into Luhansk region, saying units "keep moving in that direction" 

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)

Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration, has confirmed that Ukrainian troops have re-entered the eastern Luhansk region and will "keep moving in that direction."

CNN reported Wednesday that Ukrainian units had entered the village of Hrekivka in Luhansk. 

"I've seen some soldiers already posted a photo of them standing on the background of the sign 'Hrekivka', so its not a secret anymore — it is already liberated. And we keep moving in that direction," Hayday posted on Telegram.

Hayday said he expected difficult battles ahead as Ukrainian forces push into Luhansk, now absorbed into Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree declaring the annexation of the region. 

"After liberating Lyman [in Donetsk at the end of last month], as expected, the main battles are on the direction of Kreminna. The occupiers are pulling their main forces there. This is where the beginning of de-occupation of Luhansk oblast lies," Hayday said.

"Luhansk region liberation will be tougher than Kharkiv region. All those Russian military who ran from Kharkiv region and Lyman ran to our direction, so the occupation forces increased in number," he added.

"There will be no element of surprise, like during the Kharkiv region operation. Now they had the time to prepare, to build fortifications, to entrench deeper, to bring in some equipment, some reserves. However, I believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and I believe that the forces of L/DPR [Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics] will not be able to hold the defense for long," he continued.

More on Ukraine's counteroffensive: Between April and June, the Ukrainian military was gradually pushed out of parts of Luhansk region that it held. Several towns and cities in the region were largely destroyed in weeks of bitter fighting.

Analysts expect Russian forces and their allies to seek to defend new lines running north from Kreminna to Svatove.

11:01 a.m. ET, October 6, 2022

Ukrainian refugees are being blocked from fleeing Russia and trucked away, Estonian interior minister says

From CNN’s Teele Rebana and Joseph Ataman

More than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees trying to enter Estonia from Russia have been stopped from fleeing and taken to an undisclosed location, according to Estonia’s interior minister.

“Trucks came, they were put in trucks and taken away or were driven away," Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets said in a radio interview Wednesday. "Where they went, where they are we don't know. The police and board guard is working to gather that information at the moment.”

The Ukrainian embassy accused Russia of blocking Estonians from crossing the border in a Facebook post Wednesday, following a visit by the Ukrainian ambassador and Läänemets to the border.

Läänemets said Estonia’s border guard is patrolling with drones in case Russia forces the Ukrainians across forested parts of the border back into Russia.

On Thursday, an Estonian border official said there are as many as a few hundred vehicles waiting on the Russian side of the southeastern Luhamaa and Koidula border crossings.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "partial mobilization" order has sparked a surge in border crossings. Earlier Thursday, the Kremlin said it does not have the “exact numbers” of people who have fled since the order was announced on Sept. 21.

10:51 a.m. ET, October 6, 2022

"We have to stop lying," Russian lawmaker urges senior officials to tell the truth about battle developments

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh

Chairman of the Committee on Defence of Russia's State Duma Andrei Kartapolov, center, takes part in the Immortal Regiment march on Victory Day in Volgograd, Russia, on May 9.
Chairman of the Committee on Defence of Russia's State Duma Andrei Kartapolov, center, takes part in the Immortal Regiment march on Victory Day in Volgograd, Russia, on May 9. (Kirill Braga/Reuters)

The head of Russia’s State Duma Defense Committee demanded officials report the truth about developments on the battlefield in Ukraine, telling a journalist that senior figures need to "stop lying."

“First of all, we need to stop lying. We brought this up many times before… But somehow it's apparently not getting through to individual senior figures," Col. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov said in an interview with Vladimir Solovyov, which was posted on Solovyov's Telegram channel on Wednesday.

“Our Russian city of Valuyki… is under constant fire,” Kartapolov said in the interview. “We learn about this from all sorts of folks, from governors, Telegram channels, our war correspondents. But no one else."

"The reports from the Ministry of Defense do not change in substance. They say they destroyed 300 rockets, killed Nazis and so on. But people know. Our people are not stupid. But they don’t want to even tell part of the truth. This can lead to a loss of credibility,” he continued, using Russian President Vladimir Putin's false accusations of Nazism to justify his war in Ukraine.

Valuyki is in the region of Belgorod in western Russian, near the border with Ukraine. 

CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Mick Krever contributed previous reporting to this post.