Putin’s alleged goddaughter flees to Lithuania. The Ukrainian nuclear authority warns of a provoked nuclear accident at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war can be found in the ticker.
More on the course of the war in Ukraine
10:49 p.m .: After allegations of blackmail, the daughter of Vladimir Putin’s former political mentor, the Russian journalist Xenia Sobchak, fled Russia to Lithuania. The former presidential candidate entered the country with an Israeli passport, a source from the Lithuanian border guards confirmed to the AFP news agency on Wednesday.
Earlier, Russian media, citing police, reported that Sobchak was suspected in a case of large-scale extortion. According to Tass, Sobchak’s residence was searched on Wednesday morning.
In recent months, Sobchak has repeatedly criticized the Russian attack on Ukraine on her YouTube channel. In 2018, Sobchak ran for the Russian presidency against incumbent Vladimir Putin. At the time, however, observers accused Sobchak of running for the election only to give the appearance of competition. Sobchak is reportedly Putin’s goddaughter. Her father Anatoly, the late mayor of St. Petersburg, was once the head of the Russian president.
Sobchak rejected the allegations against her in the online service Telegram on Wednesday, saying that it was an attempt to put pressure on her media company Attention Media. “It is clear that this is an attack on my editorial office, the last free editorial office in Russia that had to be put under pressure,” the 40-year-old wrote on Telegram. She hopes there is a misunderstanding.
Thursday, October 27, 2:16 a.m .: Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder has spoken out in favor of supplying more weapons to Ukraine – and at the same time looking for a political solution. “It needs increased arms deliveries, but always in the NATO alliance. Ukraine must be enabled to negotiate with Russia from a position of strength,” Söder told Mediengruppe Bayern.
Ultimately, however, only Ukraine can decide on the timing of negotiations. “The West needs to think together about what a political solution could look like. At the moment, however, I can’t see any diplomatic concept from the Foreign Minister,” said the CSU boss, referring to Annalena Baerbock (Greens).
11:56 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the Russian airstrikes as an unprecedented attack on his country’s energy supply. “Russian terrorists have created such difficult conditions for our energy workers that no one in Europe has ever seen or experienced anything like it,” Zelenskyy said in his daily video address on Wednesday. Once again he warned of impending power cuts across the country and called on the population to save energy.
In addition, he criticized what he said was insufficient implementation of the grain agreement. Russia continues to impede the export of Ukrainian food by sea. The 44-year-old complained that 175 ships were stuck in traffic waiting to be cleared. “It is evident that Russia intends to re-escalate the global food crisis to bring back the threat of starvation.” He called on the international community to increase pressure on Moscow.
Selenskyj’s words were probably also aimed at governments in Africa, which Ukraine is now increasingly trying to win. “It is very important that on this continent, where the influence of the Kremlin is traditionally strong, they hear the Ukrainian position and know the full truth about what is really happening,” he stressed. Selenskyj had previously received the President of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embaló, the first head of state from Africa since the outbreak of the war. Embaló said he had brought an offer of talks from Vladimir Putin, whom he had met in the Kremlin the day before. However, Moscow has not yet confirmed the offer.
3:43 p.m .: The rumors about a possible “dirty bomb” do not stop. The Kremlin boss has now commented on this himself. On Wednesday afternoon, Putin said: “We are aware of the plans to use a ‘dirty bomb’ for provocation purposes,” said the 70-year-old. He also directed his statements towards the United States. “They turned Ukrainian territory into a training ground for biological warfare experiments. Now they’re pumping in heavy weapons,” Putin said.
Despite Western rejection, Russia is sticking to the claim that Kyiv wants to discredit Moscow with a “dirty” – i.e. nuclear-contaminated – bomb. Russia had already made the allegations public on Sunday, Ukraine, the USA, France and Great Britain rejected them. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was “concrete information about the institutes in Ukraine that have the technology to build such a ‘dirty bomb'”.
1.30 p.m .: The Ukrainian nuclear authority Energoatom warns of the preparation of a provoked nuclear accident by Russian forces. On the site of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which was occupied by Russians, “unauthorized” construction work was carried out in the dry storage facility for spent fuel elements last week, the authority writes on Telegram. “The Russian military carried out the work alone and in secret,” it says.
174 containers loaded with nuclear waste are currently stored there. “The destruction of these containers by detonation will lead to a nuclear accident and contamination of several hundred square kilometers in the area,” warns Energoatom. The authorities have the suspicion that the Russians are planning “a theoretical act” with the contaminated nuclear waste. “It is necessary to stop Russian nuclear terrorism,” Energoatom said.
Previously, Russia has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine is building a “dirty bomb” to accuse Moscow of using nuclear weapons. Western intelligence services dismissed this claim as false.
10:28 a.m .: The car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz wants to withdraw further from Russia and sell its shares in Russian subsidiaries to a local investor. CFO Harald Wilhelm said on Wednesday in Stuttgart. The investor is the local dealer Avtodom. However, completion of the transaction is still subject to official approvals.
Wilhelm spoke of a “consequent step” after the company had already stopped exporting vehicles to Russia and local production after the Russian attack on Ukraine began.
Wednesday, October 26, 2:35 a.m.: According to the head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, Russian President Vladimir Putin primarily wants to influence Germany with his nuclear threats in the Ukraine war. “With the threat of nuclear weapons, he is primarily aiming at Germany,” Heusgen told the newspapers of the Bayern media group. With this threat, Putin is trying to stir up fears and weaken support for Ukraine. “We’re back in Cold War logic.”
The Americans have made it clear to Moscow that the use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic consequences for Russia, Heusgen said. “I cannot imagine that there are suicidal Russian generals who would implement such an order.” In addition, the Kremlin chief does not want to go into worldwide isolation. Even China cannot allow the use of nuclear weapons to go through.
In connection with the war of aggression in Ukraine, the Kremlin has repeatedly and indirectly threatened to use nuclear weapons. For example, Putin had announced that he would use all available means to protect Russia. Russia had previously annexed Ukrainian territory. Observers saw it as a threat to use nuclear weapons.
On the question of Ukraine’s possible NATO membership, Heusgen said that former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had vetoed it at a 2008 summit. The situation has changed as a result of Putin’s breach of international law, said Heusgen, who was Merkel’s foreign policy adviser for many years. “We have to think about what guarantees we can give Ukraine.” He didn’t want to anticipate that. “But I think we should no longer rule out NATO membership for Ukraine,” Heusgen told the newspapers.
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