UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to condemn Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four Ukrainian regions and demand that Moscow immediately reverse its actions.
The vote in the 193-member world body was 143-5 with 35 abstentions, the strongest support from the General Assembly for Ukraine and against Russia of the four resolutions it has approved since Russian troops invaded their smaller neighbor Feb. 24.
Western nations engaged in intense behind-the-scenes lobbying ahead of the vote while Russia’s ally Syria warned against isolating Moscow.
— Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant loses external power
— Belarus army would likely have little impact in Ukraine war
— Bodies exhumed from mass grave in Ukraine’s liberated Lyman
— NATO cautious to avoid war, struggles with dual challenges
— German government: Economy to shrink in 2023 as war bites
— EU countries turn to Africa in bid to replace Russian gas
— Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https:/ /apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday’s meeting of military officials in Brussels to discuss providing Ukraine with air defense systems was “quite productive.”
“The more audacious and cruel Russian terror becomes, the more obvious it is to the world that helping Ukraine to protect the sky is one of the most important humanitarian tasks for Europe in our time,” he said in his nightly video address.
The Ukraine Defense Contact Group brings together defense ministers and other military officials from 50 countries to assess Ukraine’s military needs and drum up weapons and supplies.
WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund’s managing director says the IMF will create a group to focus on Ukraine’s economic needs as it battles the Russian invasion.
Kristalina Georgieva, who spoke during a roundtable that was part of the IMF and World Bank annual meetings this week in Washington, said the IMF anticipates that Ukraine needs about $3 billion to $4 billion each month to finance its budget.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Wednesday’s gathering and said the money was necessary for his country’s economic stability.
“When the terrorist state is trying to intimidate us even more, we have to respond with an even stronger collaboration,” Zelenskyy said.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has promised that France will soon deliver more cannons, radars and anti-aircraft missiles to support Ukraine.
Macron told France 2 television on Wednesday evening that France is working with Denmark to send an additional six Caesar self-propelled howitzers cannons — which had initially been produced for the Danish military. Paris already delivered 18 similar Caesar cannons to Kyiv.
France will also send “anti-aircraft systems and missiles” to help protecting the country from drone and missile attacks in the coming weeks, he said.
Macron insisted several times on the need for peace talks between the two countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin must “end the war, respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and get back to the discussion table,” he said, adding that he will speak to the Russian president “every time it will be necessary.”
“I hope as soon as possible, we will need all parties to get back to the discussion table and there will be peace discussions with, on the one side, Ukraine, and on the other side, Russia,” he said.
Asked about whether he thinks Ukraine will be willing to negotiate with Russia, he said “negotiating does not mean giving up.”
BRUSSELS — At NATO headquarters in Brussels, U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Ukraine wants its Western partners to provide it with a complete air defense system to defend against Russian warplanes and missiles.
“What Ukraine is asking for, and what we think can be provided, is an integrated air missile defense system. So that doesn’t control all the airspace over Ukraine, but they’re designed to control priority targets that Ukraine needs to protect,” Milley told reporters.
It would involve short-, medium- and long-range systems capable of firing projectiles at all altitudes, he said after a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, a gathering of about 50 nations that meets regularly to assess Ukraine’s needs and drum up equipment.
“It’s a mix of all these that deny the airspace to Russian aircraft” and missiles, Milley said. “They’re trying to create a defensive system.”
HELSINKI —Many Finnish pharmacies ran out of iodine tablets Wednesday, a day after the Nordic country’s health ministry recommended that households buy a single dose in a case of a radiation emergency amid increasing fears of a nuclear event due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“An accident at a nuclear power plant could release radioactive iodine into the environment, which could build up in the thyroid gland,” the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said Tuesday.
Pharmacies in many locations in Finland reported Wednesday they had run out of iodine tablets as citizens rushed to purchase the medicine. Drug wholesale also said their were stockpiles emptied out.
The ministry said the iodine tablet recommendation is limited to those aged 3-40 because of the potential risks that radiation exposure poses to that age group.
Russian missile attacks caused a crippled nuclear plant in Ukraine to lose all external power for the second time in five days, increasing the risk of a radiation disaster because critical safety systems need electricity to operate, Ukraine’s state nuclear operator said Wednesday. Power was restored eight hours later.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has become another European Union nation that is banning entry for Russian citizens even though they have valid tourist visas from any other state that belongs to Europe’s visa-free Schengen zone.
Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky says the measure will become effective on Oct 25.
Lipavsky says it will apply to the Russians coming from the countries outside the Schengen zone through Czech international airports for the purpose of tourism, sports and culture.
The Czech Republic is following other EU nations who have approved such a ban, including the Baltics states, Finland and Poland.
The Czechs were one of the first in the EU who stopped issuing visas to Russians on Feb. 25, just a day after Russia invaded Ukraine. Some exceptions include humanitarian cases and people persecuted.
TALLINN, Estonia — Ukraine’s state nuclear operator has warned that power outages and other emergency situations at the Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant could happen again any time.
“Russia has seized the plant and is not taking any steps to de-escalate, on the contrary, it is shelling important infrastructure daily,” the company’s press service told The Associated Press.
The plant was without external power on Wednesday in the second such incident in five days, raising fears of potential leaks because critical safety systems need electricity to operate. The only operating power line, one of eight, was damaged by the Russian shelling of an electrical substation near the city of Marhanets across the Dnieper River from the plant. The power was later restored after the plant operated on generators for the past 24 hours, Energoatom said.
The press office insisted that the generators can last for no more than eight hours. They said Kyiv has sent fuel for the generators but that the Russians refused to let it through.
There was no immediate reaction from the Russian forces in the area.
Energoatom also said Kyiv continues to control access to the key units of the plant and “communication with the station has not been lost.” There are plans to restart this week at least one of six plant reactors that were shut down on Sept. 11, it said, offering no other details.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s prime minister is urging citizens to prepare for the upcoming winter as Russia plans to use “cold as its weapon.”
Denys Shmyhal said on Wednesday that citizens should keep essentials such as warm clothes, candles, flashlights and batteries ready. He says though the power system is currently operating normally, Ukraine aims to reduce electricity consumption in the evening across the country by 25%.
Shmyhal asked Ukrainians, and especially business owners, to reduce consumption of electricity in the evening. He also explained that temporary power outages are necessary to avoid overloading some energy networks.
Repairs are still in progress after numerous Russian attacks this week on energy infrastructure, he said.
KYIV, Ukraine — U.N. monitors and Ukraine’s state nuclear operator say workers have managed to restore power for the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Ukraine’s Energoatom company reported Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant suffered a “blackout” on Wednesday morning when a missile damaged a distant electrical substation.
It was the second such incident in five days, highlighting the sensitivity of the situation and increasing the risk of a radiation disaster because critical safety systems need electricity to operate.
Energoatom wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian workers found a way how to repair the line and connected the plant to the Ukrainian power grid.
On-site monitors from the U.N.’s atomic energy watchdog reported the last remaining outside line to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was restored about eight hours after the blackout started.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian authorities say a Russian attack on a market in the eastern Donetsk region has killed seven people and wounded eight.
The deputy head of the Ukraine president’s office says the attack happened early Wednesday morning in Avdiivka.
“The Russian military needs more blood, more death and more destruction,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Telegram. “This is a hunt for the lives of peaceful citizens.”
Photos attached to the post showed dead people lying in line near one of kiosks that had potatoes and bread on the counter.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine government’s energy minister says Russian attacks in the past two days have damaged about one third of the country’s energy infrastructure.
“For the first time since the start of the war, Russia is targeting energy infrastructure,” German Galushchenko said on Wednesday. He says this is because Ukraine is exporting energy to Europe.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential office says Russian shelling in the past 24 hours has affected eight regions in the southeast, while strikes on central and western areas have eased for the moment.
Russian forces used drones, heavy artillery and missiles, according to the presidential office’s Wednesday morning update.
Three people have been rescued alive from the rubble in Zaporizhzhia after over a dozen missiles rained on the city, the report said. A six-year-old girl and two more people were wounded in the shelling of Nikopol, where the attacks damaged some three dozen residential buildings, private houses, kindergartens, a school, two plants and several shops, the report added.
Ukrainian forces say they shot down nine Iranian Shahed-136 drones and destroyed eight Kalibr cruise missiles near Mykolaiv, leaving the southern city without power.
“Russian shelling intensifies and subsides, but doesn’t stop, not for a day the city lives in tension, and the Russians’ main goal appears to be keeping us in fear,” Mykolaiv regional governor Vitali Kim said.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials and military analysts say Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the occupied regions in the south and east of the country has slowed down significantly despite Ukraine retaking five towns and villages in the Kherson area.
Russian troops have been re-enforcing the front lines and regrouping following Ukrainian successes, which has forced the Ukrainian forces to ease their advances.
The regional administrator in the eastern Luhansk region says Russian forces there have been building a multi-layered defense line and mining the front line’s first section. Serhiy Haidai says people in the Luhansk region are moving from the Russia-occupied cities to villages, where they have been settling down in empty houses to “spend the winter in warm.”
Luhansk is among the four region that Russia unlawfully annexed following referendums dismissed as sham by both Ukraine and the West.
BRUSSELS — A Belarus opposition leader says Russia is now de facto occupying her country by deploying its troops there and using authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko as its puppet.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged more support from EU leaders during a two-day visit to European Union headquarters in Brussels. She says “we face an enemy who denies the very existence of our country as a free and independent nation.”
The exiled opposition leader fears that Lukashenko could force the Belarus army to join Russian forces in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. Russia has already used Belarus as a staging ground to send troops and missiles into Ukraine earlier in the war.
Tsikhanouskaya adds the situation has become “dramatic” in Belarus, which has become totally subservient to the wishes of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin and Lukasenko, she says, have “tried to increase and legalize the constant deployment of Russian troops on Belarus territory.”
“It’s an occupation,” adds Tsikhanouskaya. “Our position is clear, Belarus must officially withdraw from participation in Russian war, and the Russian soldiers must leave Belarus unconditionally.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine Southern Operational Command says its forces have recaptured five settlements in the Kherson region.
The villages of Novovasylivka, Novohryhorivka, Nova Kamianka, Tryfonivka and Chervone in the Beryslav district were retaken as of Oct. 11, according to the speaker of the southern command Vladislav Nazarov.
The settlements are in one of the four regions recently illegally annexed by Russia.
MOSCOW — Russia’s top KGB successor agency said Wednesday that it has arrested eight people on charges of involvement in the attack on the bridge linking Russia to Crimea.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) said it arrested five Russians and three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia on charges of involvement in Saturday’s attack on the bridge.
A truck loaded with explosives blew up while driving across the bridge, killing four and causing two sections of one of the two automobile links to collapse.
The FSB charged that the arrested suspects were working on orders of Ukraine’s military intelligence to secretly move the explosives into Russia and forge the accompanying documents.
It said the explosives were moved by sea from the Ukrainian port of Odesa to Bulgaria before being shipped to Georgia, driven to Armenia and then back to Georgia before being transported to Russia in a complex scheme to secretly deliver them to the target.
Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the attack on the bridge as an “act of terrorism” and responded by ordering a barrage of missile strikes on Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have lauded the explosion on the bridge, but stopped short of directly claiming responsibility for it.
KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian official says a Russian attack blew up windows and doors on residential buildings in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia.
City council Secretary Anatoliy Kurtev on Wednesday warned the residents of possible follow-up attacks. There were no reports of injuries from the initial shelling.
Zaporizhzhia, which sits fairly near the front line, has been repeatedly struck with often deadly attacks in recent weeks. It is part of a larger region, including Europe’s largest nuclear power plant now in Russian control, that Moscow has said it has annexed in violation of international law. The city itself remains in Ukrainian hands.
Another powerful blast struck Melitopol, which is in the same region, sending a car flying into the air, said mayor Ivan Fedorov. There was no word on casualties. Also Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded in the capital Kyiv.