2 women killed in Russian missile attack on Zaporizhzhia, official says
From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv
Two women died and at least five people were trapped in rubble after Russian missiles hit buildings in the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine early Thursday, Oleksandr Starukh, head of the regional military administration, said in a post on Telegram.
“Many people were rescued. Among them is a 3-year-old girl. The child was hospitalized. A rescue operation is underway at the scene,” the post read.
The acting Mayor of Zaporizhzhia, Anatoly Kurtev, said in a separate Telegram post that eight people had been hospitalized.
Zaporizhzhia is one of the regions of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed — in violation of international law and the protests of Western governments.
5:14 a.m. ET, October 6, 2022
Russian forces fire missiles at Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine
From CNN's Josh Pennington and Mohammed Tawfeeq
Russian forces fired several missiles on the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine on Thursday, Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration, said in a post on Telegram.
"The occupiers have launched missiles on the regional center, targeting infrastructure facilities. The extent of destruction and casualties is being clarified. Take shelter!" Starukh said.
He said fires broke out in the Ukrainian-controlled city as a result of the attack, and "residential buildings were destroyed."
Acting Mayor of Zaporizhzhia, Anatoly Kurtev, also said residential buildings were on fire in a post on Telegram on Thursday.
It's unclear whether there are casualties, but Starukh said "rescue teams are working" to determine that.
Some context: Zaporizhzhia is one of four areas of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed — in violation of international law and despite the protests of Western governments.
Russia has declined to clarify the borders of the territories it claims to have annexed and is not even in full control of these regions — with Kyiv's forces making rapid advances in their counteroffensive across Ukraine's south and east.
Moscow only controls just under three quarters of the southeastern region, not including the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, which is situated along the Dnieper River -- 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the local nuclear power plant that bears its name.
The power plant has been the site of heavy fighting in recent weeks and has been under Russian military control for months.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin also claimed the facility as Russian federal property after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree amending the Constitution to admit new regions into the Russian Federation. 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.
The confrontation over the status of the plant and the intense shelling that has damaged numerous installations has led the UN nuclear watchdog to intervene. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Wednesday that he was traveling to Kyiv.
"The need for a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone (NSSPZ) around #Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is now more urgent than ever," he tweeted at the time.
10:32 a.m. ET, October 6, 2022
Zelensky says more settlements were liberated in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine
From CNN's Josh Pennington and Julia Kesaieva
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that more settlements in the south of Ukraine have been liberated amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson region.
The communities of Novovoskrensenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka had been recaptured, he said in his daily address, suggesting that Ukrainian forces are making progress through the largely rural hinterland of Kherson.
The three settlements "were liberated from the pseudo-referendum and [subsequently] stabilized," he said.
However, Ukrainian forces remain some distance from Kherson's capital and other strategically important areas.
8:32 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022
US believes elements within Ukraine's government authorized assassination near Moscow, sources say
From CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Katie Bo Lillis
The US intelligence community believes the car bombing that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of prominent Russian political figure Alexander Dugin, was authorized by elements within the Ukrainian government, sources briefed on the intelligence told CNN.
The US was not aware of the plan beforehand, according to the sources, and it is still unclear who exactly the US believes signed off on the assassination. It is also not clear whether the US intelligence community believes that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was aware of the plot or authorized it.
But the intelligence finding, first reported by the New York Times, would seem to corroborate elements of the Russian authorities’ findings that the car bombing was “pre-planned.” Russia had accused Ukrainian nationals of being responsible for the attack, which Ukraine had strongly denied in the aftermath of the explosion.
Asked to comment, a Ukrainian defense intelligence official told CNN Wednesday evening following publication of the latest reports that their agency had no new information on Dugina’s death. Shortly after her death, the same official had told CNN that Ukraine had nothing to do with it.
The National Security Council, CIA and State Department declined to comment.
Ukrainian forces advance into Luhansk region for first time since conflict began, social media images show
From CNN's Tim Lister
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 the 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 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.
8:43 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022
Putin predicts annexed Ukrainian regions will stabilize despite Moscow's lack of control
From CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Mick Krever and Uliana Pavlova
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he expects the situation to stabilize in four war-torn regions of Ukraine after signing legislation to annex them on Wednesday, despite the fact that Russia’s military does not fully control those areas.
While Russian state television hailed Putin’s inking of the annexation process, pro-Kremlin pundits delivered rare dispatches on the growing setbacks faced by Moscow’s troops on the ground.
Russian forces appear to be buckling under growing pressure as Ukraine continues to regain territory in the south, where Russian soldiers have been forced to retreat from previously-held settlements as Kyiv progresses with its counteroffensive towards the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.
Despite losing territory in the south to the Ukrainian military at rapid pace, Putin on Wednesday signed several laws ratifying the Russian Federation’s claimed annexation of four Ukrainian regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
In a bid to celebrate the news, Putin took the opportunity in a televised meeting for Teachers’ Day to congratulate educators from “all 89 regions of Russia,” a number that includes the newly annexed territories.
Putin said he was “pleased” and “surprised” by the referendums’ results and claimed that the regions will now be stabilized and developed while “helping strengthen the country as a whole.”
The annexations are illegal under international law. World leaders have said they are the result of “sham” referendums that will never be recognized.