Key developments on Nov. 3:
- Russian attacks on Donetsk, Kharkiv oblasts killed at least five civilians in the past day.
- Ukraine returns 107 POWs from Russian captivity.
- Zelensky says he won’t attend G20 summit if Putin does.
- Ukraine repels 12 Russian attacks in Donetsk, Luhansk oblasts over the past 24 hours.
On Nov. 3, the International Atomic Energy Agency experts finished the in-field inspections at three Ukrainian nuclear facilities and found no “indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the locations,” the agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, said in a written statement.
The inspections were carried out at Ukraine’s request, following Moscow’s unproven claims that Kyiv was developing a so-called “dirty-bomb” – a device that uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste.
On Oct. 27, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that he personally instructed Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to call his counterparts in other countries to tell them about Ukraine’s alleged preparation of a provocation using the device.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba earlier dismissed Russia’s allegations, saying they were part of a “misinformation campaign that might be aimed at creating a pretext for a false-flag operation.”
Grossi said that the IAEA’s technical and scientific evaluation of their results so far “did not show any sign of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at these three locations.”
The IAEA inspectors also collected environmental samples for analysis. Environmental sampling can provide information about past and current activities related to the handling of nuclear materials, Grossi explained.
“Additionally, we will report on the environmental sampling results as soon as possible,” he added.
At the battlefield
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on Nov. 3 that Russia has lost 730 troops in the past day alone, bringing the total number of troops lost since the start of the full-scale invasion to 74,000.
The death toll of Russian troops and their allied forces is the highest Russia has suffered since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or arguably since World War II, according to President Zelensky.
At the same time, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its recent intelligence update that Russia faces difficulties finding artillery ammunition and armored vehicles.
According to the ministry, Moscow has acquired at least 100 additional tanks and infantry fighting vehicles from Belarus over the recent weeks, while its forces are losing about 40 armored vehicles a day in Ukraine.
The General Staff said on Nov. 3 that the military has shot down ten Iranian-made Shahed-136 and Russian-made Orlan-10 drones over Ukraine while also repelled 12 Russian attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts over the past 24 hours.
The Armed Forces repulsed Russian troops attempts to advance near Makiivka, Nevske, and Bilohorivka in Luhansk Oblast, as well as Verkhinokamianske, Spirne, Bakhmut, Maiorsk, Pervomaiske, Novomykhailivka, Vodiane, Pavlivka, and Prechistivka in Donetsk Oblast.
Over 20 towns and cities across several oblasts were struck by Russian attacks over the past day, the report said.
The General Staff also said that by stationing its mobilized forces in Belarus, Russia is trying to divert Ukraine’s attention and force it to move its soldiers from the east and south to the north.
However, even if the Kremlin decides to attack Ukraine from Belarus, its military leadership would have to train the drafted men first, which would take at least 2-3 months, General Staff Deputy Chief Oleksii Hromov noted.
On Nov. 3, Ukraine returned 107 soldiers from Russian captivity, including 74 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, President’s Office Head Andriy Yermak said, adding that many of the released were seriously wounded.
“We’ve managed to exchange those who were seriously wounded in Mariupol... boys with shrapnel wounds in their arms and legs,” Yermak said.
Ukraine has returned 1,138 prisoners of war from Russian captivity, including both civilians and military personnel, since March, according to authorities.
G20 summit controversy
President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would not participate in the G20 largest economies summit if Russian President Vladimir Putin attends it.
“My position, and the position of Ukraine, is that if the leader of Russia participates (in the summit), then Ukraine will not,” Zelensky said.
Both leaders were invited to take part in the summit hosted by Indonesia that begins on Nov. 15. But neither Moscow nor Kyiv have yet committed to their presidents’ attendance.
However, Zelensky said Ukraine is preparing for the summit. He said he had a call with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Nov. 3, during which they discussed preparations for the G20 meetings, among other matters.
Some of the G20 members, such as the U.K., have earlier expressed their opposition to Russia’s participation.
A spokesman for the British Foreign Ministry said Russia has no moral right to attend the G20 meeting while continuing its invasion of Ukraine.
Attacks and casualties
Russian attacks on eastern Ukraine have killed at least five civilians in the past 24 hours, officials reported on Nov. 3.
In Donetsk Oblast, Russian forces have killed four and wounded five civilians, according to the oblast governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Russia has also attacked Kharkiv Oblast, killing an 82-year-old woman in Kupiansk and injuring six people in other settlements, said Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov.
In the occupied city of Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, explosions were reported at about 5 a.m. on Nov. 3.
Exiled Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said a part of the refrigeration engineering factory Refma might have been destroyed by the attack. Russian forces used one of the factory’s buildings as a major personnel base, according to the official.
Ukraine hasn’t claimed responsibility for what appears to be an attack on Refma.