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October 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Rob Picheta, Tara Subramaniam, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN
UN secretary-general urges renewal of crucial grain deal
From CNN's Richard Roth
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for the renewal of the Black Sea grain initiative between Ukraine and Russia which potentially runs out in three weeks.
"The impact of the agreement signed in Istanbul has been clearly demonstrated. Exports of grains and other food products under the Black Sea Grain Initiative have surpassed 9 million tonnes," Guterres said in a statement Friday.
Some background: In July, Ukraine and Russia agreed to the deal that allowed the resumption of vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, a major diplomatic breakthrough at the time, aimed at easing a global food crisis sparked by the war.
Ministers from both countries signed an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul. It came after months of negotiations and promises to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds – some of Ukraine’s most important exports.
Guterres underlined the urgency to renew the deal on Nov. 19.
"If food and fertilizers do not reach global markets now, farmers will not have fertilizers at the right time and at a price they can afford as the planting season begins, endangering crops in all regions of the world in 2023 and 2024, with dramatic effect on food production and food prices worldwide. The current crisis of affordability will turn into a crisis of availability," the statement said.
UN humanitarian convoy delivers aid to community in eastern Ukraine
From CNN's Richard Roth and Jennifer Hauser
A United Nations humanitarian convoy delivered aid to more than 8,000 people in the community of Borova in eastern Ukraine which was recently retaken by Ukrainian forces.
"This is the fifth time in the last two weeks that we, along with our humanitarian partners, have managed to deliver much-needed assistance through inter-agency convoys in areas recently retaken by the Ukraine government. As you know, humanitarian access to these regions of Ukraine had been impossible over the past eight months," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday.
UN partners delivered supplies like hygiene kits, bedding and kitchen sets which will help over 8,000 people as winter approaches, according to Dujarric.
Houses and key infrastructure are heavily damaged and "most of the 12,000 civilians who remain in the area are facing tremendous difficulties in accessing water gas and electricity," Dujarric said, adding that millions more across the country are also struggling with the same problem.
Poland to work with US on new nuclear power program to counter energy crisis caused by war in Ukraine
From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan and Maija Ehlinger
Poland announced Friday it will work with the United States to kickstart its nuclear power program in an effort to diversify its energy supply as Europe faces an energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Following talks with Vice President Kamala Harris and US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Twitter that his country’s “nuclear energy project will use the reliable, safe technology" from Westinghouse Electric — a Pennsylvania-based, nuclear-focused technology company.
The project is valued at $40 billion and will "create or sustain" more than 100,000 American jobs, according to a tweet from Granholm.
"This decision on the part of Poland not only strengthens our bilateral relationship with Poland on energy security for generations to come, but I think it sends a clear message to Russia that the Atlantic Alliance stands together to diversity our energy supply, to strengthen climate cooperation, and to resist Russian weaponization of energy," Granholm added.
Zelensky says Russia's mobilized troops are poorly trained and equipped
From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Jennifer Hauser
While Russia touts the hundreds of thousands of reservists that have bolstered its forces in recent weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that the new troops are ill-prepared for battle.
"Today the enemy reports about the alleged completion of their mobilization, about the alleged unnecessity of new waves of deployment of Russian citizens to the front," Zelensky said in his nightly address. "We feel quite the opposite at the frontline. Russia is trying to increase pressure on our positions using the mobilized, but they are so poorly trained and equipped, so crudely used by the command, that it suggests that soon Russia may need a new wave of sending people to war."
He added that Ukraine is preparing for Russian leadership to look for more opportunities to prolong the conflict.
For context: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday that the call for mobilization has been completed and the target goal of 300,000 mobilized citizens has been fulfilled.
The mobilization order got off to a rocky start and proved controversial in Russia, sparking protests and concerns from rights groups that ethnic minorities were disproportionately targeted for deployment.
Canada announces new sanctions on Russian officials and funding of winter supplies for Ukraine
From CNN's Jennifer Hauser
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several new measures to assist Ukraine on Friday.
Canadians will be able to purchase government-backed Ukraine Sovereignty Bonds, which will help fund the Ukrainian government.
Canada is also sanctioning "35 senior officials of energy entities, and six energy sector entities, involved in Russia’s illegal invasion. We intend to impose sanctions on members of the Russian justice and security sectors, too," Trudeau said in a tweet Friday.
In preparation for winter, Canada is allocating funding to help provide shelter, blankets, clothing and heating appliances. There will also be funding for de-mining efforts.
"As the Russian regime continues its unwarranted and unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine, we’ll continue to support the Ukrainian government and people," Trudeau tweeted.
UN nuclear watchdog frustrated by slow progress on protection zone for Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu
Progress at establishing a protection zone for Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is going too slowly, according to Rafael Grossi, the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency.
Grossi, who serves as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, added that he is "very frustrated."
“For me, establishing a protection zone around a nuclear power plant is as self-evident as anything can be. How can you shell a nuclear power plant for God’s sakes?” Grossi said at an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington Friday.
Russia, which controls the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, detained two staff members there on Oct. 17, which caused “great concern” for Grossi.
Some background: The plant is the largest nuclear power facility in Europe and has been under Russian control since the beginning of the war, though it is still operated mostly by Ukrainian technicians.
Ukraine’s military alleged this month that plant employees are subjected to “moral and psychological pressure” to obtain Russian passports and sign employment contracts with Russia’s nuclear agency.
Grossi has repeatedly called for a nuclear safety zone around the plant “as soon as possible,” citing the threat that fighting over the facility could cause a nuclear accident.
It all comes at an increasingly fragile time for Ukraine's energy supply. In recent weeks, Russian missile and drone attacks have targeted Ukraine’s power plants and electrical grid leading to rolling blackouts and water supply disruptions.
CNN's Olga Voitovych and Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.
Ammunition for rocket systems included in $275 million additional US security assistance for Ukraine
From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ellie Kaufman
The Pentagon announced an additional $275 million of security assistance for Ukraine through presidential drawdown authority, deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon Friday. The package includes additional ammunition for high mobility artillery rocket systems, or HIMARS, that have been a key weapon helping Ukraine counter Russia in the ongoing conflict.
The package also includes “500 precision guided 155 artillery rounds; 2,000 155mm rounds of remote anti-armor mine systems, more than 1,300 anti-armor systems, 125 Humvees, small arms and more than 2.75 million rounds of small arms ammunition and four satellite communications antennas,” Singh said.
The package is the 24th presidential drawdown authority package, Singh said.
The US has committed “more than $18.5 billion dollars in security assistance to Ukraine” since the beginning of the Biden administration, Singh added.
Singh also said that a Defense Department training program for Ukrainians to operate the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) "will conclude soon.”
"Once it has been completed, the system will be ready for delivery to Ukraine," she said.
CNN's Michael Conte and Oren Liebermann contributed reporting to this post.
Ukrainian foreign minister demands Iran stop supplying Russia with weapons against Ukraine
From CNN's Jennifer Hauser
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he spoke with his Iranian counterpart Friday and demanded Iran halt supplying Russia with weapons.
"Today, I received a call from Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during which I demanded Iran to immediately cease the flow of weapons to Russia used to kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure in Ukraine," Kuleba said in a tweet Friday.
Iran has repeatedly denied it is sending weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. CNN has not seen a statement as of this writing from the Iranian foreign minister on this topic.
Some context: Ukraine said Friday it has shot down more than 300 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones that Moscow is using to cripple infrastructure, according to Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson of the Air Force Command of Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The US, France and the UK have said the transfer of weapons from Iran to Russia would violate a UN Security Council resolution.
CNN first reported in August that the US believed Russian officials began training on drones in Iran during the summer.