(Bloomberg) --

The strategic eastern town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine has been “fully cleared,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a brief video posted on Telegram, a day after Russia announced it was pulling its troops out. The town is part of one of four regions Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed on Friday after referendums termed illegal by Ukraine and its allies.  

Pope Francis appealed directly to Putin to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine, his first public remarks referencing the Russian leader’s role in the conflict. 

Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom suspended natural-gas deliveries to Italy on Saturday, escalating the energy crisis in Europe. Ukraine released video of what it said was the execution in late September of 24 people, including children, in a “gray zone” between occupied and unoccupied areas.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • EU Aims to Exempt Maritime Pilot Services From Russia Oil Ban
  • Another Defeat in Ukraine Undermines Putin’s ‘Forever’ Goals
  • US Eyes Regular Aid Payments to Ukraine, Pushes EU to Do More
  • Russia Halts Gas Supply to Italy in Latest Energy Battle
  • Russia’s Novak Says Possible to Repair Nord Stream Pipelines
  • Capturing the Image That’s Defined the War on Ukraine 

On the Ground

Russia continued to use Iranian-made drones to attack Ukraine in the past day. Seven Shahed-136 drones were fired toward the Mykolaiv region, with five shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, the country’s military said. Another kamikaze drone hit a school building in Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s home town, damaging two floors and starting a fire. Russian attacks also targeted the city of Zaporizhzhia, authorities said. A power station in the Odesa region and many residences in Mykolaiv were struck with “Iskander” and C-300 rockets Saturday. Ukraine’s military, continuing to press counterattacks, said it struck a Russian ammunition depot and other command posts and anti-aircraft batteries. Smoke billowing near the Belbek airfield in Sevastopol, Crimea, was caused by an aircraft overrunning the landing strip and catching fire, the occupied region’s governor said. Images of black smoke and what appeared to be munitions explosions flooded social media. 

All times CET:

EU May Allow Maritime Pilots in Russia Sanctions (9:45 p.m.) 

The European Union has proposed exempting maritime pilot services from sanctions on Russia scheduled to take effect in December, according to a person familiar with the plans. 

The exception would allow ship owners to hire the specialized pilots that guide vessels through narrow areas such as the Danish Straits, a route for Russian crude and fuel shipments that links the Baltic and North seas. EU governments are still negotiating over the matter.

US Senator Rubio Warns of NATO Spillover Risk (5:30 p.m.)

NATO should focus on how to respond if a Russian attack caused casualties among alliance troops, rather than on fast-tracking Ukraine’s membership, said US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. 

Putin “could very well attack some NATO distribution point” since he blames the US and its allies for arming Ukraine, Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week.” 

NATO needs to consider, for example, “what the response will be if [Russia] attacks an airport in Poland, or a train station on the border with Poland,” Rubio said. Ukraine’s membership request will have to through “the normal process,” he said.

Zelenskiy Hails Central Europe Support for NATO Bid (5:20 p.m.)

Ukraine’s president acknowledged a show of support from NATO members in central and eastern Europe, who issued a joint statement earlier in support of Ukraine’s bid to join the defense alliance. 

The presidents of eight nations said they “firmly stand behind Ukraine’s future NATO membership.”  

Macron Pledges to Work for Further Russia Sanctions (5 p.m.) 

France’s president told his Ukrainian counterpart that France was determined to work with European partners to come up with new sanctions against Russia, according to a statement from Emmanuel Macron’s office. 

Macron, who reiterated his condemnation of the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Russia, reaffirmed France’s determination to help Ukraine regain its sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Macron and Zelenskiy also spoke in a phone call about the “preoccupying” situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, whose director is currently in Russian detention. 

Russia’s Novak Says Possible to Repair Undersea Pipelines (4:42 p.m.)

It should be technically possible to repair undersea ruptures to the Nord Stream pipelines, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Sunday, according to the Tass news agency. 

Danish officials said the two pipelines stopped leaking natural gas over the weekend, a prerequisite to evaluating what it will take to fix four leaks identified last week. 

Four European Countries to Fund Howitzers for Ukraine (4 p.m.)

Slovakia, Germany, Denmark and Norway will together fund production of 16 howitzers for Ukraine, Slovakian Defense Minister Jaro Nad said.

The countries signed and agreement to produce “state-of-art” Zuzana2 howitzers worth 92 million euros, he wrote.

Pope Francis Appeals to Putin on Nuclear War Risk (1:45 p.m.)

The pontiff called Russia’s war on Ukraine an “error and a horror” that could end in a nuclear attack, and appealed directly to President Vladimir Putin to “stop this spiral of violence and death,” the Associated Press reported. 

Francis made the comments during regular Sunday remarks at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square, saying he was abandoning his usual religious theme to concentrate on Ukraine. 

It was the first time in public the pope had mentioned Putin’s role in the war. He also called on Ukraine’s president to be “open” to serious peace proposals.  

Israel Approves Funding for New Russian Immigrants (1:31 p.m.)

Israel’s cabinet approved $25 million in funding to help pay for the absorption of an expected new wave of Russian immigrants. Special funding needed since many are leaving Russia in a hurry following Vladimir Putin’s recent mobilization order, without making preparations as they normally would. 

An estimated 24,000 Russian immigrants have arrived in Israel since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. 

Lyman ‘Fully Cleared’ of Russian Troops, Zelenskiy Says (12:30 p.m.)


UN Agency in Touch With Russia Over Ukraine Nuclear Official’s Detention (9 a.m.)

The International Atomic Energy Association is in touch with Russian authorities about what Ukraine has called the kidnapping of Ihor Murashov, director of the Zaporizhizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. 

The UN agency “has been informed that Mr Murashov is in temporary detention,” its director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said in a statement on Saturday.  

“Such a detention of any member of the plant staff would be a source of grave concern in itself, but also for its psychological impact and pressure on the rest of the staff -- which is detrimental to nuclear safety and security,” Grossi said.  

US Eyes Regular Aid Payments to Ukraine, Wants EU Commitment (8:45 a.m.)

The US is willing to support Ukraine’s finances with $1.5 billion a month in aid throughout the war against Russia and is pushing its European allies to commit to similar amounts, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Biden administration, which signed off last week on $4.5 billion in grants to cover the rest of the year, has held conversations with European Union officials -– including in recent days -- and has pressed Europe to do more, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. 

Read more: US Eyes Regular Aid Payments to Ukraine, Pushes EU to Do More

Zelenskiy Vows to Push on In Donbas Campaign (8 a.m.) 

After Kyiv’s troops forced a Russian retreat from Lyman on Saturday, Ukraine’s president vowed to press on with efforts to recapture land in the east claimed by Moscow last week after sham referendums. 

“During this week, there were more Ukrainian flags in Donbas. It will be even more in a week,” Voldymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation. 

Russian officials “have already started biting each other” in a bid to assign blame for military setbacks, he said.  

Russia Probably Suffered Heavy Casualties in Lyman Retreat, UK Says (7:30 a.m.) 

Russian troops withdrawing from Lyman in Ukraine’s east “probably experienced heavy casualties” on the only road out of town still in Moscow’s hands, the UK defence department said in an update. 

Lyman “was likely being defended by undermanned elements of Russia’s Western and Central Military Districts,” the UK said. It added that the withdrawal has led to a “wave of public criticism of Russia’s military leadership by senior officials

Attack on Civilians in ‘Gray Area’ Killed 24, Ukraine Says (6 p.m.)

Russian forces attacked a civilian convoy in Kupyhansk district of the Kharkiv region on Sept. 25, shooting people in private cars, Security Service of Ukraine officials said Saturday.

Video from the scene, in the so-called “gray zone” between occupied Svatove in Luhansk, and liberated Kharkiv, has just come to light. Russian hasn’t commented on the incident. 

“Seven cars were shot, 24 people died, including 13 children and one pregnant woman,” Interfax-Ukraine reported. 

Moscow’s Troops Out of Lyman in Battle Setback (5:25 p.m.)

Ukrainian forces on Saturday recaptured Lyman, a strategic town in the country’s east, the second major victory in weeks and one that challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim to have annexed the area the day before.

The Russian defense ministry said its forces had “pulled out, amid a threat of encirclement, to more favorable positions.” 

Retaking Lyman, which Russian troops occupied in May, restores Kyiv’s control over a key road and rail junction. It could pave the way for Ukraine’s military to push deeper toward cities such as Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in the neighboring Luhansk region. 

Russian Troops Flee Key Eastern Ukraine Town in Latest Setback

Gazprom Cuts Off Supplies of Gas to Italy (3:40 p.m.)

Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom PJSC suspended natural gas deliveries to Italy on Saturday, escalating the energy crisis in Europe. 

“As of today Gazprom is no longer delivering gas to Eni,” said a spokesman for Eni SpA, Italy’s largest oil company. 

Gazprom supplies Italy with gas through a pipeline that passes through Austria. The cutoff appeared to target just Italy, with Austria continuing to receive gas. Higher volumes of Russian gas were allocated to OMV than had been recently, a company spokesman said. 


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