By The Associated Press
MOSCOW — The Kremlin held the door open for expanding areas of Ukraine under Russian control following the absorption of four regions it currently holds.
Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will keep consulting residents who would be eager to embrace Russia.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed laws absorbing the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine into Russia after the Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.
The move came even as Ukrainian forces were pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim those regions.
Asked about Ukraine taking back some territory in the four regions after their declared annexation, Peskov said Russia would reclaim them.
He wouldn’t say if Moscow planned to organize votes in any more Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
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A former Russian state TV journalist who quit after staging an on-air protest against the war in Ukraine and who was later charged with spreading false information about Russia’s armed forces, said on Wednesday that she is no longer abiding by house arrest rules.
Marina Ovsyannikova separately was charged in August for taking part in a street protest and holding a banner reading: “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children have been killed (in Ukraine). How many more children should die for you to stop?”
A former state-controlled Channel One employee, Ovsyannikova faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted under a new law that penalizes statements against the military and that was enacted shortly after Russian troops moved into Ukraine.
Ovsyannikova was placed under house arrest pending an investigation and trial, but over the weekend her ex-husband claimed she had escaped with her young daughter.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Ovsyannikova herself said that “starting from Sept. 30, I refuse to abide by the restrictions imposed on me in the form of house arrest and (I) release myself from it.”
BRUSSELS – European Union countries agreed on Wednesday to impose new sanctions on Russia after it illegally annexed four regions in Ukraine, according to an EU official, including an expected price cap on Russian oil.
No details of the sanctions were immediately released. They will be published as soon as Thursday.
They are expected to include a price cap on Russian oil, curbs on EU exports of aircraft components to the country and limits on Russian steel imports.
The moves build on already unprecedented European sanctions against Russia as a result of its war against Ukraine since February. EU measures to date include restrictions on energy from Russia, bans on financial transactions with Russian entities including the central bank and asset freezes against more than 1,000 people and 100 organizations. They also include a ban on most Russian oil products from December.
MOSCOW — A Russian-installed official in the Kherson region insisted Wednesday that Ukrainian advances in the region have been halted.
Kirill Stremousov, in comments to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti, said that “as of this morning … there are no movements” by Kyiv’s forces.
Stremousov vowed that “they won’t enter (the city of) Kherson, it is impossible.” He added that the Russian forces in the region were “regrouping” in order to “gather strength and strike (back.)”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential office says that at least five civilians have been killed and eight have been wounded by the latest Russian shelling.
A statement on Wednesday says Russian troops used six Iranian suicide drones to strike the town of Bila Tserkva in the Kyiv region, leaving one person wounded.
The strikes were the first on the town since March when the Russians retreated from the areas near the Ukrainian capital after a failed attempt to capture it.
Russian forces also shelled the areas on the western bank of the Dnieper facing the Russia-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and in the Donetsk region.
In Sviatohirsk, which was reclaimed by Ukrainian forces, a burial ground for civilians was found and bodies of four civilians were discovered, according to Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said the Ukrainian forces were pressing their offensive from Lyman toward Kreminna snd Svatove. In the Kherson region, the Ukrainian troops captured eight towns and villages so far this week during their counteroffensive, according to the presidential office.
KYIV, Ukraine — Kyiv has dismissed as “worthless” the laws that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Wednesday formalizing the annexation of four Ukrainian regions into Russia.
“The worthless decisions of the terrorist country are not worth the paper they are signed on,” the head of the Ukraine President’s Office, Andriy Yermak, said on Telegram messaging application. “A collective insane asylum can continue to live in a fictional world.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier said in his nightly address that he has signed a decree rendering void any of Putin’s acts designed to annex Ukrainian territories since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“Any Russian decisions, any treaties with which they try to seize our land — all this is worthless,” Zelenskyy said at the end of his video address.
MOSCOW — Russian energy company Gazprom says it is resuming gas supplies to Italy after reaching an agreement for transit through Austria.
The Russian government-controlled company had suspended delivery to Italy through Austria last week citing regulatory changes that came into effect in the Alpine nation last month.
In a statement Wednesday, Gazprom said the operator of an Austrian pipeline has indicated its willingness to handle the transit of gas to Italy “making it possible to resume the supplies of Russian gas across Austria.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws formally absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, even as its military is struggling to hang on to control of the regions it illegally annexed.
The documents finalizing the annexation carried out in defiance of international laws were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday morning.
Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. That followed Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in the four regions that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.
On the ground, Moscow’s war in Ukraine has entered a new, more dangerous phase. Russia faces mounting setbacks, with Ukrainian forces retaking more and more land in the east and in the south — the very regions Moscow has pushed to annex.
KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian army has recaptured a number of villages in Kherson region as a part of its massive counteroffensive in the south of the country, the regional military command said.
The Ukrainian flag has been raised above Liubymivka, Khreschenivka, Zolota Balka, Biliaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka and Mala Oleksandrivka villages, Operational Command South said.
The villages are all concentrated on the right bank of the Dnipro river in the northern part of the region.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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