(Bloomberg) -- Moscow's forces launched multiple rockets against the city of Zaporizhzhia, about 52 kilometers (32 miles) from the namesake atomic plant, on Wednesday night. Targets included residential apartment blocks, a hospital and other civilian objects, with fatalities reported. More explosions were reported Thursday morning.
Ukrainian officials called for international sanctions against Russia and its nuclear entities after President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered his government to formally take ownership of the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant, located in a region Russia annexed after an illegal referendum.
Russia's top energy official, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, said a price cap on its exports would backfire and might lead to a temporary cut in production. Speaking in an interview after an OPEC+ meeting in Vienna, Novak reinforced the Kremlin's warning that his country won't sell oil to any countries that adopt the cap.
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On the Ground
Russian troops killed at least two people after firing seven missiles at the city of Zaporizhzhia, hitting high-rise apartment buildings and other civilian targets, the region's governor said. Explosions were heard again Thursday morning. Ukraine's forces have advanced in the eastern Kharkiv region, and also liberated several small towns in Luhansk, a region still mostly controlled by Russia, said Governor Serhiy Haiday. Ukraine's General Staff said Moscow's troops continue efforts to disrupt Kyiv's counteroffensive, while continuing attempts to conduct offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. Nine Iran Shahed-136 kamikaze drones were downed by Ukrainian defense in the south of Ukraine, seven of them in Mykolaiv region. Two missiles were launched by Russian jets from Belarusian air space, and both hit the area near Shepetivka in central Ukraine, hundreds of miles from the front line. Areas south of Dnipropetrovsk region were shelled with multiple launch rocket systems and heavy artillery. In the Donetsk region, 14 civilians were killed as of this morning.
(All times CET)
Zelenskiy Urges American States to Condemn Russia (8:44 a.m.)
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a video address, called on the Organization of American States to offer united support of Ukraine and condemnation of Russian policy.
"The greater the support for those who fight for freedom and independence, the stronger freedom will be in general in the world and the faster we will go all the way to freeing our land from the Russian invaders," Ukraine's president said.
The OAS, currently meeting in Lima, historically representing mainly Latin American countries, recently suspended Russia's observer status.
EU's Borrell Says Prague Meeting Shows 'Clear Divide' With Russia (10:10 a.m.)
The European Union's top diplomat said Thursday's summit in Prague shows a "clear divide" between European countries and Russia. "This meeting is a way of looking for a new order without Russia," Josep Borrell told reporters. "It doesn't mean we want to exclude Russia for ever," but the current, Putin-led Russia, he said.
A total of 44 European leaders, including UK's Liz Truss and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are meeting to discuss defense and security, as well as the energy crisis brought on by Russia.
Austria Adds $5.3 Billion to Defense Budget (8:38 a.m.)
Austria will raise its military budget to 1.5% of economic output by 2027 to bolster its defense in the wake of Russia's war against Ukraine.
One of the last militarily neutral countries in the EU will increase spending on soldiers next year by about a fifth, to 1% of GDP, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said. It will add 5.3 billion euros ($5.25 billion) of spending in the next four years, raising the total to more than 16 billion euros.
Ukraine's Energy Minister Joins Calls for Sanctions on Rosatom (7:56 a.m.)
Herman Halushchenko joined his foreign ministry colleagues in urging sanctions against Rosatom and Russia's nuclear industry for Moscow's attempts to "legally consolidate" its occupation of the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant.
The actions of Russia, and in particular the decree of Putin on a separate legal entity for the operation of the facility, are a gross violation of international law and the basic principles of nuclear safety, protection and guarantees, Halushchenko said in a statement.
"Trying to take control over Zaporizhzhia NPP, Russia is stealing nuclear and radioactive materials located on the territory of the power plant," Halushchenko said.
Depleted Russian Forces Face a Dilemma, UK Says (7:30 a.m.)
Moscow's troops face new problems as Ukrainian units advance in the south, pushing the front line there forward "by up to an additional 20 kilometers (12 miles)," the UK defense ministry said.
"Russia faces a dilemma: withdrawal of combat forces across the Dnipro makes defense of the rest of Kherson oblast more tenable; but the political imperative will be to remain and defend," the UK said.
Since the Kremlin has committed most of its "severely undermanned airborne forces" to the defence of Kherson, it's likely to fill gaps in Donbas with recently-mobilized reservists, the UK said.
Ukraine Demands Sanctions Against Rosatom Over Plant Seizure (8:21 p.m.)
The Ukrainian foreign ministry has urged the European Union, G7 countries and other partners to consider immediate sanctions against Russian nuclear company Rosatom, affiliated companies and institutions, and against key Russian officials in the nuclear sector, according to a statement from the ministry.
Ukraine sees Russian President Vladimir Putin's decree to formalize the control of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as "a crime which further increases risks and threats in the nuclear security caused by Russian occupation of the power plant."
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, in a tweet, called the decree an attempted raider's attack. Podolyak urged sanctions and an end to any cooperation with Russia in the nuclear sector.
US Believes Ukrainians Behind Russian Assassination: NYT (7:45 p.m.)
US officials believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the August attack in Moscow that killed the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist and fear such moves could expand the war, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
The US did not take part in, or have advance warning of, the car bombing and have since rebuked Ukraine over it, officials told the paper. Ukraine denied responsibility at the time.
There has not been specific retaliation for the assassination of Darya Dugina, whose far-right political theorist father, Alexander Dugin, is believed to have been the actual target. But the US is concerned such moves could provoke Russia to target Ukrainian officials.
Putin Orders Russia to Take Formal Control of Occupied Nuclear Plant (5:14 p.m.)
President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to formally take ownership of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from Ukraine after Russia laid claim to the territory where the facility is located.
Russian troops have controlled the area where the plant is located since March and Putin signed laws formally annexing the territory on Wednesday. The United Nations, as well as many countries, have denounced the annexation as illegal.
The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was traveling to Kyiv for talks on nuclear safety as the organization calls for a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant. The measure is "now more urgent than ever," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a Tweet.
On Telegram, Ukrainian nuclear energy operator Energoatom dismissed the Russian decree as legally void, "absurd" and "not adequate."
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