The Pentagon on Friday announced $725 million in additional security aid for Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has no regrets about the invasion of Ukraine, now well into its eighth month, and that Moscow's aim isn't to "destroy" its neighbour. The controversial mobilization of some 300,000 reservists is almost complete, Putin told reporters in Kazakhstan.
Putin also said a direct clash with NATO troops would be catastrophic and that no further mass strikes are planned "for now," days after missiles hit cities across the country in retaliation for a strike on a key bridge in Crimea.
Russia's leader said he doesn't see a "need" for talks with President Joe Biden at next month's Group of 20 summit.
NATO allies must press ahead with support for Ukraine while taking Russia's threats to use nuclear weapons seriously, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said. The Kremlin vowed to repair a crucial bridge from the Russian mainland to Crimea by July 2023.
On the Ground
Ukraine's troops continue to push ahead in the Kherson region, where some 1,200 square kilometers including dozens of settlements have been liberated. Heavy fighting continues in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka regions of Donetsk, said Serhiy Cherevatiy, spokesman of the "East" command.
Russia struck the city of Zaporizhzhia with three S-300 missiles early on Friday, damaging infrastructure, regional authorities said on Telegram. Moscow's troops are focusing on attempts to reach the administrative border of the Donetsk region and hold ground in occupied areas of the Kherson, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv regions, according to Ukraine's General Staff.
(All times CET)
Russia failed to end reliance on western parts: audit (3:20 a.m.)
Even before sanctions cut off access to vital components and technologies for Putin's defense industry, an internal Russian government review found years of attempts to reduce reliance on imports had largely failed.
Previously unreported assessments show a program with specific targets was put in place from 2019 to slash Russia's dependence on Western parts for its arsenal by 2025 "- everything from radar to advanced submarines to anti-missile defense systems. But an internal review of the plan 10 months before Putin invaded Ukraine found it was falling short on almost every metric.
US to give another $725 million in security aid (2:55 a.m.)
The Biden administration on Friday announced $725 million in additional security aid for Ukraine. The package includes more ammunition for the HIMARS long-range artillery systems, which Ukraine has credited with helping its military counteroffensive in the east and south of the country by striking deep behind Russian lines.
"In the wake of Russia's brutal missile attacks on civilians across Ukraine, the mounting evidence of atrocities by Russia's forces, and the firm and unequivocal rejection by 143 nations at the United Nations of Russia's illegal attempted annexation of parts of Ukraine, the United States is offering additional military assistance to help Ukraine's proud defenders protect their country," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
"This $725 million drawdown includes additional arms, munitions, and equipment from U.S. Department of Defense inventories," Blinken said. "This drawdown will bring the total U.S. military assistance for Ukraine to an unprecedented more than $18.3 billion since the beginning of the administration."
Zelenskiy speaks to Saudi Crown Prince (1:50 a.m.)
Ukrainian President Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had spoken to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and expressed gratitude for his support of "Ukraine's territorial integrity."
"We agreed to interact in the release of prisoners of war. We agreed on the provision of macro-financial aid to Ukraine," Zelenskiy tweeted on Friday.
In September, the Saudis helped broker an exchange that freed 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war for an ally of Putin and others held by Ukraine.
IAEA says back-up power to nuclear plant is destored (8:04 p.m.)
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a tweet that backup power has been restored to the Russian-seized Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in Ukraine.
Musk's Starlink isn't only option for Ukraine, Pentagon says (7:52 p.m.)
The Pentagon confirmed it's talking with Elon Musk, who has threatened to stop funding Ukraine's access to his Starlink satellite communications system, but pointedly added that the US is also looking into other options.
"We are engaged in talking with SpaceX," the space exploration company owned by Musk, Defense Department spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters Friday. At the same time, she said, the US, Ukraine and allies are also "assessing our options" with other communications companies.
Zelenskiy aide praises Musk's Starlink contribution (5:40 p.m.)
Mykhailo Podolyak, a top aide to Ukraine's president, praised Elon Musk in a tweet, saying that "like it or not," the billionaire has helped the nation "survive the most critical moments of war."
His comments came hours after Musk threatened to cut off financial support for the Starlink satellite system that's played a pivotal role in the war against Russia. Musk said others should step in the cover the costs incurred by SpaceX.
Almost 40,000 women serve in Ukrainian army: official (5:37 p.m.)
Ukrainian troops include 40,000 women - more than 20% of the total, Serhii Nayev, commander of the United Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on Friday, the nation's Defenders Day holiday.
"More than 5,000 of them are on the front lines - in areas of active hostilities," Nayev said. According to him, among women serving in Ukraine are commanders of batteries, platoons, vehicles, leaders of unmanned aviation units, and snipers.
Ukraine crop-deal talks may hinge on fertilizer, extra port (4:12 p.m.)
Russia and Ukraine are both seeking changes to their landmark grain-export deal as part of discussions to extend the initiative beyond the current deadline next month, according to the UN.
Russia wants to see a pipeline that transports its ammonia to Ukraine's Odesa port reopened as part of the new terms, said Amir Abdulla, UN coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Ukraine is seeking to extend the deal by more than year, and include Mykolaiv as a fourth exporting port, he said.
Putin says no plans to expand mobilization (3:10 p.m.)
Putin said he doesn't expect to expand the mobilization of reservists beyond the 300,000 announced last month, with most of those having now been called up.
There's no need for further such efforts in the "foreseeable future," Putin told reporters in Kazakhstan. The "partial mobilization" will be completed in a few weeks, with 222,000 reservists already mobilized, he said. About 16,000 of those are already fighting in Ukraine, he said.
Putin's sudden order in September to call up the reservists - the first such move since World War II - triggered an exodus of more than 300,000 Russians from the country and widespread alarm among those who stayed.
Putin says goal Isn't to 'destroy' Ukraine (3 p.m.)
Putin said he doesn't have any regrets about the invasion of Ukraine, which is approaching the eight-month mark. Russia's actions are "right and timely," Putin said in a press conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, replying "No" when asked if he had any regrets.
The Russian leader said no further mass strikes on Ukraine are needed "for now" and that its aim isn't to "destroy" its neighbor. Moscow this week unleashed a barrage of missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian cities, including many far from the front lines, after an explosion that severely damaged the key bridge link with Crimea that it blamed on Ukraine.
Ukraine reopens Kyiv-Kramatorsk rail connection (2 p.m.)
Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said Ukraine's rail service from Kyiv to Kramatorsk, a major city in the Donetsk region, was being resumed as a result of a "significantly improved" security situation.
Ukrainian Defense Minister sees progress in weapon deliveries (1:22 p.m.)
"Talks on weapons deliveries continue and there is progress," Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in comments on TV. Ukraine will get the German IRIS-T complex soon and its troops are training on the system, he said. Several Nasams air defense systems will be delivered this month and training is already under way.
"Russia has around 300 Iranian drones and seeks to receive more," while Kyiv's troops are learning how to shoot down the drones, Resnikov said.
NATO nuclear exercise to run through Oct. 30 (1:11 p.m.)
Air forces from across NATO will practice nuclear deterrence capabilities with dozens of aircraft over north-western Europe from Monday, the alliance said on Friday.
The annual drills are a "routine, recurring training activity and it is not linked to any current world events," NATO said.
"Steadfast Noon" involves 14 countries and up to 60 aircraft of various types. Training flights will take place over Belgium, which is hosting the exercise, as well as over the North Sea and the United Kingdom.
Defense Ministry says 1,235 Russian missiles fired at Ukraine (12:22 p.m.)
Russia has fired 776 Iskander-type, ground-launched missiles, 228 Kalibr sea-launched missiles, and 231 air-launched cruise missiles since the invasion started in February, Ukraine's defense minister said on Twitter. Officials in Kyiv had called repeatedly for more help from Western allies to shore up their missile defence.
Lithuania Gets US Battalion Deployment Through 2025 (12:03 p.m.)
A US battalion will remain in Lithuania through 2025 after approval of a rotational force plan in Washington, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said after talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The US has been rotating a full combat battalion and reinforcement units in Lithuania since 2019. Additional US troops have been deployed there this year in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.