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Putin Says Annexation Is Forever, Defends Ukraine Land Grab
President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that Russia is annexing four occupied regions in Ukraine "forever" and repeated warnings that Moscow will use all available means to defend the territories.
The US and European Union members denounced the move, with President Joe Biden calling it a "flagrant violation of the UN Charter and the basic principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity." The US sanctioned hundreds of Russians, including central bank head Elvira Nabiullina and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, a key figure in Russian dealings with OPEC.
Ukraine's atomic power provider accused Russian troops on Saturday of detaining the head of the occupied Zaporizhizhia nculear plant.
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
Putin's War Machine Funding Is Unscathed by Latest US Sanctions
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Putin Vows Annexation of Occupied Ukraine Lands Is 'Forever'
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Ukraine Launches NATO Bid Despite Long Odds on Wartime Move
On the Ground
Russian troops are pursuing attacks against Ukrainian-held areas in the east and south, including civilian housing and infrastructure, Ukraine's military general staff said Saturday. Over the past 24 hours, Moscow's forces staged missile, air and artillery strikes against military and civilian targets in dozens of settlements. Ukrainian forces struck Russian weapons complexes and military logistical sites, it said. Igor Girkin, the former commander of separatist forces in the Donbas, said late Friday that Russian forces in Lyman, in the Donetsk region, are totally surrounded. He accused military commanders of "idiocy " for allowing it to happen. A power station in the Odesa region and many residences in Mykolaiv were struck with "Iskander" and C-300 rockets Saturday morning, Interfax-Ukraine reported.
All times CET:
Ukraine Atomic Plant Chief Said to be Detained by Russia (9 a.m.)
Moscow's troops detained the head of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as he was driving to the nearby city of Energodar, the Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said in a Telegram post.
A Russian patrol seized Ihor Murashov, the plant's director-general, on Friday afternoon, stopping his car and blindfolding him before taking him to an undisclosed location, according to the post. Russian officials haven't commented on the claim.
Energoatom President Petro Kotin demanded Murashov's immediate release and urged the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency to intervene. "His detention by (Russia) jeopardizes the safety of Ukraine and Europe's largest nuclear power plant," Kotin said.
Black Sea Grain Initiative Has Shipped 5.5M Tns So Far, Minister Says (8:30 a.m.)
A total of 5.5 million tons of agricultural products were shipped from three Black Sea ports in Aug-Sep under the safe-transit agreement brokered by Turkey and the UN, Ukraine's infrastructure minister said.
"This is important not only for countries facing hunger but for the entire world," Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter. "Such export volumes positively affect the dynamics of food prices."
Zaporizhzhia Strike Was Likely a 'Long-Range Air Defense Missile,' UK Says (8 a.m.)
The munition involved in Friday's strike on a civilian convoy southeast of Zaporizhzhia "was likely a Russian long-range air defence missile being used in a ground attack role," the UK defence ministry said.
"Russia's stock of such missiles is highly likely limited and is a high-value resource designed to shoot down modern aircraft and incoming missiles," the UK said. Moscow is "killing civilians it now claims are its own citizens."
At least 25 people were killed in the strike, including two children, Ukrainian authorities said. The people were preparing to travel into occupied areas to rescue relatives or deliver aid.
Putin's Funding Unscathed by Latest US Sanctions (8 a.m.)
The latest measures taken by the US to sanction Russian officials, their families, and others appear likely to have little practical effect on President Vladimir Putin's ability to sustain his country's economy with oil and gas revenue.
"To further isolate Russia, there needs to be a serious look at deploying secondary sanctions, rather than just threatening," said Daniel Tannebaum, a former Treasury Department official. "Secondary sanctions force countries to choose between doing business with the target of sanctions, or those imposing sanctions."
Ukraine War Hurts Party Back by Russians in Latvian Vote (6 a.m.)
Latvian voters are poised on Saturday to knock a party appealing to the nation's Russian population from the top political spot for the first time in more than a decade, weakening a former ally of Moscow in the NATO member state.
Polls suggest Krisjanis Karins, Latvia's US-born, center-right prime minister, will defeat Harmony, a Social Democratic party that represents much of the Baltic nation's Russian-speaking minority.
Putin's Invasion Hurts Party Backed by Russians in Latvian Vote
No Sign Putin Has Decided on Using Nuclear Weapons, Austin Says (4:10 a.m.)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says he hasn't seen any sign that Putin has made a decision on using nuclear weapons in the war on Ukraine.
Speaking to CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Austin reiterated US condemnation of Russian threats to use nuclear weapons, calling it "irresponsible behavior," according to excerpts provided by the television network ahead of the interview which airs Sunday.
He said the decision will be made by one man -- Putin -- and there are "no checks" on the Russian president, but added he hasn't seen anything that would lead him to believe that a decision on using nuclear weapons has been made.
Russia Blocks UN Vote Condemning Annexation (9:57 p.m.)
A United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory failed Friday after Russia exercised its veto as a permanent member of the council.
Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian envoy to the UN, blasted the resolution as unprecedented and accused other council members of provoking Russia into vetoing it. The resolution, introduced by the US and Albania, gained the backing of 10 council members, while China, India, Brazil and Gabon abstained.
Ruchira Kamboj, India's permanent representative to the UN, said her government was committed to keeping open all diplomatic channels. China's Ambassador Zhang Jun, cited Beijing's commitment to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The resolution can still be submitted to the UN General Assembly but it lacks enforcement authority.
Adding Ukraine to NATO Is for a 'Different Time': US (9:33 p.m.)
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reaffirmed the Biden administration's position that Ukraine's request to join NATO should be considered "at a different time."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said earlier Friday that his country would make an accelerated bid to join the alliance after Russia formally annexed areas of Ukraine. "The best way for us to support Ukraine is through practical, on-the-ground support in Ukraine and that the process in Brussels should be taken up at a different time," Sullivan said in response.
Pentagon Officials Cite Push to Coordinate Arms Production for Ukraine (8:39 p.m.)
Pentagon officials said arms directors from 45 countries, the EU and NATO that met in Brussels this week to support Ukraine focused in part on expanding NATO's standard for "interoperability,"allowing countries to produce interchangeable systems and ammunition.
Citing the example of howitzer ammunition, William LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, said when 155 mm rounds of ammunition produced in one country can be used in artillery made elsewhere, "the operator doesn't need to worry about it. That's a simple version of interchangeable and that's where we need to go in lots of these systems. But what that also means is it means we're going to have to agree on standards."
In the US, he said, that may require congressional support for procurement, development, contracting and production across multiple countries.
Biden Calls Pipeline Damage 'Sabotage' (8:17 p.m.)
Biden said that damage to the Nord Stream gas pipeline system in the Baltic Sea was a "deliberate act of sabotage" and that Russian statements about the incident shouldn't be trusted.
"It was a deliberate act of sabotage. And now the Russians are pumping out disinformation and lies," Biden told reporters Friday at the White House, without providing evidence for his conclusion.
"We're working with our allies to get to the bottom exactly what precisely happened and at my direction have already begun to help our allies enhance the protection of this critical infrastructure," he added.
NATO Chief Says Allies Collecting Data on Pipeline Disruptions (6:46 p.m.)
NATO allies have ships and planes in the Baltic Sea and North Sea to help prevent any more disruption to energy infrastructure after the Nord Stream incidents, according to Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the military alliance.
The presence sends a message of "readiness to protect and defend each other, also critical infrastructure," Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. "These allies, these capabilities, these planes, these ships are also collecting information, data which can be helpful both for the ongoing investigation but also to monitor these critical energy infrastructures."
US, UK Sanction Russia Central Bank Chief Elvira Nabiullina (4:45 p.m.)
The US and UK government both added Russian central banker Elvira Nabiullina to their sanctions lists on Friday.
"Nabiullina is obtaining a benefit from or supporting the government of Russia through working for the government of Russia as governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation," the UK said.
US Sanctions 57 Entities Over Invasion (5:45 p.m.)
American firms will be prohibited from doing business with the entities without first obtaining a US government license.
A notice from the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security says 56 of the entities are listed under Russia and one under the Crimea region of Ukraine.
Ukraine Applying for Fast-Track NATO Entry (4:20 p.m.)
Zelenskiy announced the bid in a video address to the nation. Ukraine has already made its "path towards NATO," demonstrating "compatibility with the alliance's standards," he said. "We trust each other, help each other and defend each other. We know it is possible."
All 30 members of NATO would have to unanimously agree to invite Ukraine to join, and the process can take years.
Read More: Ukraine Bids to Join NATO Despite Long Odds Against Wartime Move
EU Presents Tougher Security Rules for Visas for Russians (3:35 p.m.)
The European Commission cited "an escalation of the security threat" by Moscow including alleged war crimes, partial mobilization and plans to annex Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine.
Commissioner Ylva Johansson told reporters the updated guidelines include more thorough security assessments of applicants, and refusing visas to citizens who could stay longer than 90 days in the EU. She said about 190,000 Russians had entered bloc in September, around 10,000 to 20,000 more than usual for that month.
The EU earlier this month adopted higher fees, the need for more documents, an increased processing time, and more restrictive rules for multiple-entry visas for Russians.
Putin Says Russia Annexing Ukrainian Regions 'Forever' (3:00 p.m.)
In a speech to officials at a Kremlin ceremony, Putin also called on Ukraine to halt fighting and begin negotiations.
Ukraine has rejected negotiations until Russian forces have been pushed back at least to positions they held before the Feb. 24 invasion. Russia doesn't control the territories in full that it's seeking to absorb. The United Nations has condemned Russia's seizure of the Ukrainian regions as illegal. Putin cited the UN Charter in his speech seeking to justify the annexation.
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