Key developments on Oct. 24
- Ukraine pushes Russian forces out of 4 settlements in Donbas
- Ukrainian forces liberated over 90 settlements in Kherson Oblast during counteroffensive
- Ukraine's Intelligence chief says Russia prepares for a defense in Kherson – not retreat
- Russia's Foreign Minister casts doubt on the future of UN-backed grain deal
Ukraine's Armed Forces have liberated four settlements in Donbas – Nevske, Miasozharivka, Karmazynivka, in Luhansk Oblast, and Novosadove, Donetsk Oblast.
The Defense Ministry also reported that Ukrainian forces have liberated over 90 villages and towns in southern Kherson Oblast.
Yet, Defense Ministry's Intelligence Directorate Chief Kyrylo Budanov said Russia prepares to fight for Kherson, not to retreat.
Russia is ready for a long war in Ukraine, therefore, it's crucial to keep providing Ukraine with military and financial assistance to help it get through winter and restore its civilian infrastructure, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevich said.
The United States, The United Kingdom, and France have jointly rejected Russian claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a "dirty bomb" and warned Russia against using any pretext for escalating the war.
Over 85 percent of Ukrainians believe that the military should continue to fight Russia, even if Moscow doesn't stop attacking civilians, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology survey shows.
Meanwhile, the arrested head of a Ukrainian aircraft engine manufacturing giant Viacheslav Bohuslaiev has held a Russian passport since 2000, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Bohuslaiev was arrested allegedly for collaborating with Russia.
Since 2000, Bohuslaiev was elected to Ukraine's parliament, sitting on the National Security and Defense Committee, having access to state secrets.
After Bohuslaiev's arrest on Oct. 23, the Security Service published intercepted conversations in which allegedly Bohuslaiev sought to send Ukrainian-made attack helicopter engines to Russia via third countries.
A man said to be Bohuslaiev also expressed hope that Ukraine would fall in the face of Russia's advance.
Russian troops face tough choice in Kherson
As Ukrainian forces press forward down the southern region, Ukraine's intelligence chief says Russian forces facing difficulties its command understands.
Russia's new commander General Sergei Surovikin is creating the illusion that Russian forces are leaving Kherson. Instead, they are bringing new military units there to prepare for defense, Kyrylo Budanov told Ukrainska Pravda.
If Ukraine takes over the only functioning transport artery, Kakhovka dam, in Kherson Oblast, the Russian command will have to make a difficult decision, the military intelligence chief warned.
"Either to leave the city very quickly and withdraw, or they risk finding themselves in the same situation as our units in Mariupol. The situation is slightly different, but conceptually it will be very similar." Budanov said.
Ukrainian soldiers were surrounded in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, and were forced to surrender in mid-May.
In order to slow down Ukraine's counteroffensive, Russian forces continue to mine bridges and crossings, Ukraine's General Staff reported on Oct. 24.
President Volodymyr Zelensky on Oct. 20 said Russia is deliberately creating the grounds for a large-scale disaster in Kherson Oblast by mining Kakhovka dam and threatening to flood the city of Kherson.
Grain Initiative may halt as Russia questions UN-backed deal
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again questioned the UN-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative ahead of planned renewal talks set to take place before Nov. 19.
Lavrov, on Oct. 24, requested the UN to provide detailed information on which exact countries were receiving Ukrainian grain, the transport of which out of Ukrainian ports was renewed in August after a five-month Russian naval blockade.
Due to Russia's efforts to block an UN-brokered deal to export Ukrainian grain, Ukraine's Black Sea ports in Odesa Oblast have been working at a 25-30% capacity in recent days, the Infrastructure Ministry said on Oct. 23.
Russia has ramped up complaints in the past weeks, not only about the destination of the exported grain but also in relation to the promised transport of Russian agricultural products, including fertilizers.
According to the Infrastructure Ministry, a total of 380 vessels carrying 8.5 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain have left for Asia, Europe, and Africa since Ukraine and Russia signed the UN-backed grain deal in July.
Casualties and attacks
Russian forces launched three missile strikes and seven airstrikes across Ukraine on Oct. 24, according to Ukraine's General Staff.
Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said that Russian forces heavily shelled several settlements in the eastern region, killing one civilian in Zarichne, east of Lyman.
Russian forces attacked the city of Zaporizhzhia with allegedly Iranian-made Shahed-136 kamikaze drones, and struck its suburbs with S-300 missiles, the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Governor Oleksandr Starukh said.
Starukh added that one of the drones hit a civilian building in the regional capital and that Russian forces shelled villages in the region, damaging a school and houses. No casualties were reported, according to Starukh.
In Mykolaiv Oblast, Russian attacks damaged power lines, houses, and an educational facility. No casualties were reported, Governor Vitaliy Kim said.