Russia-Ukraine war: Moscow loses full control of Luhansk region; Ukraine to dominate agenda at UN summit – live updates | Ukraine

Summary and welcome

Welcome back to our live coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At 7.30am Kyiv time, these are the latest developments.

  • Ukrainian forensic experts have so far exhumed 146 bodies, mostly of civilians, at the mass burial site near Izium in eastern Ukraine, the regional governor said on Monday. Oleh Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said the exhumed bodies included two children. The Kremlin has denied allegations that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv province.

  • Ukraine has recaptured a village close to the eastern city of Lysychansk, in a small but symbolic victory that means Russia no longer has full control of the Luhansk region, one of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s key war aims. Luhansk’s governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Ukraine’s armed forces were in “complete control” of Bilohorivka. “It’s a suburb of Lysychansk. Soon we will drive these scumbags out of there with a broom,” he said. “Step by step, centimetre by centimetre, we will liberate our entire land from the invaders.”

  • The leaders of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic were beginning to panic, Haidai claimed. There have been numerous reports of snatch squads detaining men on the street and drafting them into the army, while mobile communications and the internet have been jammed to prevent people from learning about Moscow’s military setbacks, he claimed.

  • The leader of the Moscow-backed administration in Donbas has called for urgent referendums on the region becoming part of Russia. Denis Pushilin, head of the Moscow-based separatist administration in Donetsk, called on his fellow separatist leader in Luhansk to combine efforts toward preparing a referendum on joining Russia. “Our actions should be synchronised,” Pushilin said in a video posted to social media on Monday.

  • The pace of Ukrainian forces’ advance the north-east had thrown Russian forces into a “panic”, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in his nightly address. Zelenskiy said he was now focused on “speed” in liberated areas. “The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed in restoring normal life,” he said.

  • Russian troops struck the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region early on Monday but its reactors have not been damaged and are working normally, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said. A blast took place 300 metres away from the reactors and damaged power plant buildings shortly after midnight, Energoatom said in a statement. The attack also damaged a nearby hydroelectric power plant and transmission lines.

  • Ukrainian officials say 200 Russian soldiers died in a strike on Sunday when a missile hit a former bus shelter where they were based, in the frontline city of Svatove. According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russia has failed to send reinforcements. It is now under pressure and vulnerable to a further counteroffensive, the thinktank said.

  • Ukraine’s armed forces said troops had crossed the Oskil River over the weekend, marking another important milestone for the counteroffensive in the north-eastern Kharkiv region. The river flows south into the Siversky Donets, which snakes through the Donbas, the main focus of Russia’s invasion.

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may cause long-term grain prices to rise by 7% and drive up greenhouse gas emissions if production in other parts of the world expand to meet any shortfalls, a study published in Nature Food found. Russia and Ukraine together export about 28% of the world’s wheat supply.

  • A court in rebel-held Luhansk has sentenced two employees of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to 13 years in prison on treason charges. OSCE chairman Zbigniew Rau condemned the “unjustifiable” detention of the mission’s members since the outbreak of the war, calling it “nothing but pure political theatre … inhumane and repugnant”.

Key events

War in Ukraine to dominate UN summit agenda

With the UN to hold its first in-person general debate since the start of the pandemic in New York this week, the Guardian’s world affairs editor Julian Borger and diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour have prepared this preview.

The UN general assembly summit this week will be dominated by a struggle – between the US and its allies on one side and Russia on the other – for global support over the fate of Ukraine, as the global south fights to stop the conflict from overshadowing the existential threats of famine and the climate crisis.

With a return to fully in-person general debate, presidents and prime ministers will be converging on New York, many of them direct from London, where the diplomacy got underway on the sidelines of the Queen’s funeral.

Russia is currently in retreat on the battlefield and in the contest for global hearts and minds over Ukraine’s fate. The general assembly voted 101-7 with 19 abstentions to allow Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to deliver a prerecorded video address, granting him an exemption from the requirement that speakers should appear in person.

India, a longstanding Moscow ally which has tended to abstain in votes on Ukraine, voted in Zelenskiy’s favor. The vote was on the same day that India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, publicly scolded Vladimir Putin, telling him “today’s time is not a time for war” when they made a joint appearance at a regional Asia summit in Uzbekistan. Putin said he was aware of Indian “concerns”, echoing what he had said the day before about China.

The weeklong session of United Nations general assembly meetings and leaders’ speeches begins as mass graves are being discovered after the Russian retreat from the Ukrainian town of Izium.

You can read the full story here:

Security fears have almost certainly led Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to relocate its Kilo-class submarines from Sevastopol in Crimea to Novorossiysk in southern Russia, the UK Ministry of Defence says in its latest intelligence briefing on the war.

The move comes as Ukraine’s long-range strike capacity grows, and undermines one of Russia’s key objectives in annexing Crimea in 2014.

Ukraine’s armed forces have sunk a barge carrying Russian troops and equipment across the Dnieper River near Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region, the Kyiv Independent reports. In a statement on Facebook, Ukraine’s military said: “Attempts to build a crossing failed to withstand fire from Ukrainian forces and were halted.”

After Ukraine’s recapture of the Kharkiv region, new details of the Russian takeover are emerging. Luke Harding and Isobel Koshiw travelled to Shevchenkove to speak to locals about their time under Russian occupation.

Until last week, a portrait of Vladimir Putin hung on the wall of the mayor’s office in the town of Shevchenkove. There was a Russian flag. Around a cabinet table, a pro-Kremlin “leader”, Andrey Strezhko, held meetings with colleagues. There was a lot to discuss. One topic: a referendum on joining Russia. Another: a new autumn curriculum for Shevchenkove’s two schools, minus anything Ukrainian.

Strezhko’s ambitious plans were never realised. On 8 September, Ukraine’s armed forces launched a surprise counteroffensive. They swiftly recaptured a swathe of territory in the north-eastern Kharkiv region, including Shevchenkove. Most residents greeted the soldiers with hugs and kisses. Strezhko disappeared. He is believed to have fled across the Russian border, along with other collaborators.

You can read the full report here:

Two men walk past a wall where a Ukrainian Trident was torn down
A wall where a Ukrainian Trident was torn down during the Russian occupation in Shevchenkove. Photograph: Daniel Carde/The Guardian

Britain’s prime minister, Liz Truss, will tell world leaders this week that the UK will next year match or exceed the £2.3bn (US$2.63bn) it committed to Ukraine’s war effort against Russia in 2022, the Financial Times has reported.

Truss, making her first trip overseas as PM, will address the UN general assembly on Wednesday. Speaking ahead of the trip, Truss vowed to the people of Ukraine: “The UK will continue to be right behind you every step of the way.”

Booted feet on top of a Russian flag
A man stands on a Russian flag in the recently liberated town of Kupiansk. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Ukraine’s stunningly successful counteroffensive caught many commentators off guard, after months of predictions that the war had settled into an indefinite stalemate. Orysia Lutsevych, head of Chatham House’s Ukraine Forum, asks why experts keep underestimating Ukraine, and overestimating Russia.

The war in Ukraine will be the most important issue at the UN general assembly in New York this week, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell says.

“The war in Ukraine is not just a war in Ukraine,” Borrell said on Monday. “The Ukrainians are fighting, they are being bombed with missiles; and the rest of the world is being affected by the prices increase on energy, on food, by growing insecurity and high interest rates.”

Among other issues, UN representatives will discuss “how to counter the Russian narrative that tries to convince people around the world that this problem is being caused by our sanctions, when in fact this is a consequence of the war itself,” he added.

Summary and welcome

Welcome back to our live coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At 7.30am Kyiv time, these are the latest developments.

  • Ukrainian forensic experts have so far exhumed 146 bodies, mostly of civilians, at the mass burial site near Izium in eastern Ukraine, the regional governor said on Monday. Oleh Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said the exhumed bodies included two children. The Kremlin has denied allegations that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv province.

  • Ukraine has recaptured a village close to the eastern city of Lysychansk, in a small but symbolic victory that means Russia no longer has full control of the Luhansk region, one of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s key war aims. Luhansk’s governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Ukraine’s armed forces were in “complete control” of Bilohorivka. “It’s a suburb of Lysychansk. Soon we will drive these scumbags out of there with a broom,” he said. “Step by step, centimetre by centimetre, we will liberate our entire land from the invaders.”

  • The leaders of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic were beginning to panic, Haidai claimed. There have been numerous reports of snatch squads detaining men on the street and drafting them into the army, while mobile communications and the internet have been jammed to prevent people from learning about Moscow’s military setbacks, he claimed.

  • The leader of the Moscow-backed administration in Donbas has called for urgent referendums on the region becoming part of Russia. Denis Pushilin, head of the Moscow-based separatist administration in Donetsk, called on his fellow separatist leader in Luhansk to combine efforts toward preparing a referendum on joining Russia. “Our actions should be synchronised,” Pushilin said in a video posted to social media on Monday.

  • The pace of Ukrainian forces’ advance the north-east had thrown Russian forces into a “panic”, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in his nightly address. Zelenskiy said he was now focused on “speed” in liberated areas. “The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed in restoring normal life,” he said.

  • Russian troops struck the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region early on Monday but its reactors have not been damaged and are working normally, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said. A blast took place 300 metres away from the reactors and damaged power plant buildings shortly after midnight, Energoatom said in a statement. The attack also damaged a nearby hydroelectric power plant and transmission lines.

  • Ukrainian officials say 200 Russian soldiers died in a strike on Sunday when a missile hit a former bus shelter where they were based, in the frontline city of Svatove. According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russia has failed to send reinforcements. It is now under pressure and vulnerable to a further counteroffensive, the thinktank said.

  • Ukraine’s armed forces said troops had crossed the Oskil River over the weekend, marking another important milestone for the counteroffensive in the north-eastern Kharkiv region. The river flows south into the Siversky Donets, which snakes through the Donbas, the main focus of Russia’s invasion.

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may cause long-term grain prices to rise by 7% and drive up greenhouse gas emissions if production in other parts of the world expand to meet any shortfalls, a study published in Nature Food found. Russia and Ukraine together export about 28% of the world’s wheat supply.

  • A court in rebel-held Luhansk has sentenced two employees of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to 13 years in prison on treason charges. OSCE chairman Zbigniew Rau condemned the “unjustifiable” detention of the mission’s members since the outbreak of the war, calling it “nothing but pure political theatre … inhumane and repugnant”.

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