Key developments on Oct. 5
- Ukraine liberates 3 settlements in Kherson Oblast, reportedly 6 more in Luhansk Oblast
- Putin signs decree to formalize Russia's illegal seizure of Europe’s largest nuclear plant
- Putin signs ‘documents’ to formally annex Ukraine’s 4 partially occupied regions
- Russia fires 3 missile strikes, 2 airstrikes across Ukraine
Ukrainian forces have pushed further into occupied Luhansk Oblast on Oct. 5.
Governor Serhiy Haidai reported that Ukrainian forces have already liberated six settlements in Luhansk Oblast, without disclosing further details.
“The de-occupation of Luhansk Oblast has begun,” Haidai said on Telegram.
Anticipating Ukraine’s further push into its easternmost region, Russia is strengthening its defense of Kreminna city by drawing in more troops and heavily mining the area, he added.
Luhansk Oblast is among the four Ukrainian regions Moscow had illegally declared part of Russia on Sept. 30. Most of it is still under Russian control.
According to several unconfirmed reports that surfaced on Oct. 5, Ukrainian forces had liberated Hrekivka and Makiivka villages, both located on the western border of Luhansk Oblast. Ukraine’s military has not officially said anything yet.
The U.K. intelligence said that after a lightning counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine has “consolidated a substantial area of the territory east of the Oskil River” in the region and it is “highly likely that Ukraine can now strike the key Svatove-Kreminna road” in Luhansk Oblast. Ukraine can strike the strategic road with most of its artillery systems, “further straining Russia’s ability to resupply its units in the east,” according to the report.
Rodion Miroshnyk, Russia’s proxy in Luhansk Oblast, admitted that the areas leading to Kreminna and Svatove (close to Kharkiv Oblast) are “in danger,” with the path leading to Kremmina “really under threat.”
Russia’s losing game
Despite suffering significant losses in occupied regions, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed “documents” to formally annex 15% of Ukraine’s territory on Oct. 5.
The signed federal laws aim to formalize the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts.
“Violent decisions of a terrorist country are not worth the paper on which they are signed,” Zelensky's Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak reacted on Telegram.
Russia doesn’t have full control over any of the four regions, with its occupied territory continuing to shrink in Donetsk and Kherson oblasts amid Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Ukraine and its Western allies have condemned the biggest landgrab in Europe since the World War II, calling it an illegitimate farce.
Apparently conceding the severity of battlefield setbacks, Putin said he expected the situation to “stabilize” in Ukraine’s four partially occupied regions.
Putin’s reaction comes a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces had liberated “dozens” of settlements across the country this week.
Domestic criticism is continuing to grow in Russia. The stinging defeat on the battlefield comes after Moscow raised the stakes of the war by ordering mobilization and threatening the use of nuclear weapons.
Even with prominent Russian figures beginning to criticize the military command, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had no plans to change its war strategy.
Also on Oct. 5, Putin signed a decree ordering to transfer Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in occupied Enerhodar into Russian property.
The EU said it had finally signed the eighth sanction package for Russia, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promising that the bloc is “determined to continue making the Kremlin pay.”
“We will never accept Putin’s sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine,” von der Leyen said.
The front-line situation in Kherson Oblast is “stably tense, but under the control” of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, the Southern Operational Command said on Oct. 5.
Zelensky named three more villages Ukraine liberated in Kherson Oblast in his evening address – Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka, and Petropavlivka.
Ukraine has liberated more than 50 settlements in Kherson Oblast as of Oct. 4, freeing about 3,500 residents from Russian occupation, First Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin said.
Russian forces are using multiple launch rocket systems, artillery, and drones to attack Ukraine’s military positions in the south and prevent its further advances, according to the Southern Operational Command.
Drone attacks are also increasing. Twelve Russian drones attacked Ukraine from the country’s south overnight, six of which were destroyed, Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman for the air force, said on TV.
Bila Tserkva, a city located 80 kilometers south of Kyiv, came under the attack. Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said Iranian kamikaze drones struck the city six times, injuring a person and damaging an undisclosed infrastructure site.
Ukraine earlier said that the Russian army has increased the use of Iranian-produced kamikaze drones because they are cheaper than high-precision missiles and more convenient for striking targets. According to Ihnat, Russia might have hundreds of Iranian drones.
Multiple media reports citing U.S. officials have shown that Iran has supplied drones to Russia. Zelensky has also made similar accusations.
Iran has denied sending drones to Russia, saying that it upholds a "clear policy on active impartiality and opposition to war."
Casualties and attacks
Russian forces launched three missile strikes and two airstrikes across Ukraine on Oct. 5, Ukraine’s General Staff reported.
In the east, Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said another four bodies of civilians were exhumed near Sviatohirsk, a recently liberated city in the north of the oblast.
A mass burial site of over 50 civilians was discovered in Lyman, another recently liberated city in Donetsk Oblast, Hromadske media outlet reported. Some graves are marked with nameplates while others only had numbers written on them, according to the report.
Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said Russian shelling continued in the front-line settlements and areas near the Russian border, wounding three civilians who were later hospitalized.
The bodies of two civilian men aged 30-35 were found at a leisure complex in the liberated village of Novoplatonivka in Kharkiv Oblast, the oblast’s Prosecutor’s Office reported.
They were found handcuffed to each other and are believed to have been killed by the Russian special forces stationed at the complex during the occupation, the prosecutors said.