Ukraine-Russia Ceasefire Negotiations: Chapter V
This article looks at the fifth chapter of ceasefire negotiations between Russia and Ukraine that occurred from August 2022 to September 2022. For the latest on the ceasefire negotiations, see the running tracker here. Read about Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter III, and Chapter IV.
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Chapter V Summary: Fresh from the success of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the international community shifted its gaze to the next immediate problem within the broader war: a potential disaster at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. With support from the UN and Turkey, the IAEA managed to dispatch the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhia, but progress on establishing a demilitarized zone at the facility stalled. Meanwhile, Ukraine stepped up its counteroffensive and enjoyed substantial success in liberating territory, leading many to think that a complete Ukrainian victory could actually be possible. With Russian troops retreating en masse from occupied areas, Vladimir Putin decided to double down, pushing for referenda on joining Russia in the occupied territories while calling for a partial mobilization of Russian men to fight in Ukraine. At the same time, Putin conceded the largest prisoner swap of the war in a bid to tie up loose ends and eliminate potential barriers to achieving a fait accompli in Ukraine's eastern provinces. This chapter ended with Putin presiding over a ceremony in which Russia celebrated its annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi issues a statement on the situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. His comments do not attribute the 5 August shelling to either side’s forces, but notes that Russian occupation authorities have not permitted the IAEA to lead a mission of safety, security, and safeguards experts to the facility. Grossi renews his call to protect the facility and enable the IAEA to ensure the proper safeguards are in place.
Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky claims that Russia informed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres about the attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant that occurred on 5 August. Polyansky announces via social media, "We sent detailed information about this reckless provocation to the UN Secretary General. It’s time for the UN to call a spade a spade."
Senior Ukrainian officials use the attack on Zaporizhzhia as a call to action to the international community. Two of the prominent statements are included below:
Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak: "This morning in Europe became possible just because the Zaporizhzhya NPP [Nuclear Power Plant] miraculously did not explode yesterday. [The Russian Federation] has seized it and is staging dangerous provocations there. The IAEA/UN must demand [Russia] withdraw from the NPP and hand it over to the control of a special commission."
Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak: "What is happening at the Zaporizhzhya NPP is another act of nuclear terror committed by Russia. The entire nuclear industry of the Russian Federation should be under sanctions, and Russia itself should be on the list of states sponsoring terrorism."
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (photo via Twitter @AndriyYermak)
Amnesty International apologizes for the “distress and anger” caused by its recent report on the situation in Ukraine. The organization states that it “fully stands” by its findings, but that it regrets the “pain caused” by the publication.
In his nightly address, President Volodymyr Zelensky draws a redline in the negotiating process, declaring that holding referenda for joining Russia will close the door for ceasefire negotiations. He states the following:
In this summer time, every week there are more and more reports that the occupiers are preparing for pseudo-referendums in the occupied areas in the south of our country. I want to say a very simple thing: everyone who helps the occupiers in any way to help the occupiers in any way realize their intention l will be held accountable. They will bear responsibility to Ukraine. The position of our state remains the same: we will not give up anything of ours, and if the occupiers follow the path of these pseudo-referendums, they will close for themselves any possibility of negotiations with Ukraine and the free world, which the Russian side will definitely need in a certain moment.
During a press conference in Hiroshima, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounces the attacks on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. He states, "Any attack [on] a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing," and calls for Russian occupiers to grant entry for an IAEA mission to the facility.
Implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative accelerates, as additional vessels depart Ukraine. As of 8 August, twelve vessels have left the designated Ukrainian ports, and one has traveled to Ukraine to pick up goods. Ukraine’s Infrastructure ministry notes its intent to reach a level of 3-5 vessels per day within two weeks with a goal of transporting 3 million tons of agricultural products per month.
Vessels en route from Ukraine undergo inspection, August 2022 (photos via Twitter @tcsavunma)
Russia sends diplomatic notes to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer over the detention of 67 Russian sailors in Ukraine. Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia's human rights commissioner, asserts that the civilian sailors have been held in Ukraine's Izmail shipyard since February. She claims that seven women from the crews had returned to Russia, while the remaining crew members are afforded food, water, and essential goods but are banned from leaving the vessels.
Ukrainian and Russian authorities conduct another remains repatriation. Ukraine's Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories announces that they secured the return of 17 more fallen soldiers, noting that the process took place in accordance with the Geneva conventions. The Ministry conducted the repatriation in cooperation with the Commissioner of Commissioner for Missing Persons, Oleg Kotenko, and Ukrainian security agencies.
Officials conduct a remains repatriation at an undisclosed location, 9 August 2022 (photo via Ministry for Reintegration)
In response to queries from Russian state news outlet TASS, ICRC spokesperson Evan Watson states that the Red Cross is prepared to facilitate the return of detained Russian sailors in Izmail shipyard. He responds, "The ICRC is in contact with the relevant authorities on the fate of the Russian sailors through its bilateral and confidential dialogue. The ICRC considers them civilians protected under the IV Geneva Convention, and stands ready to facilitate their return home."
Head of Ukraine's Presidential office Andriy Yermak publishes an Op-ed in The Guardian discussing security guarantees for Ukraine. The key points from the piece are included below:
On the working group for developing a formula for security guarantees: "We have already started the process of securing guarantees from our allies. We have established a high-level working group co-chaired by myself and former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Members include some of our closest friends, including William Hague, the former UK foreign secretary, Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia, and Carl Bildt, the former prime minister of Sweden."
On Ukraine's interests related to security guarantees: "Although Ukraine’s long-term goal remains Nato membership, we recognise that Russia’s current belligerence makes that difficult. In the meantime, however, we need legally binding guarantees by our allies for the provision of weapons, exchange of intelligence, the support of our defence and the protection of our economy."
On the need for third party guarantees to overcome Russian commitment problems: "We know enough to be sure that there is no such peace agreement under which Russia would put its signature and keep its word. Given its actions in Syria, and its behaviour after the seizure of Crimea, it should be obvious that Moscow is using peace talks as a distraction and a trap, not as a solution. Russia violated the Minsk and Normandy agreements immediately after signing and, for eight years, has not fully fulfilled any of its commitments. To date, Russia has violated all basic norms and principles of international law. There is no shape or form that Ukraine can take as an independent nation with which Russia will ever be able to live."
The UN Security Council convenes a meeting to discuss the situation at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The plant continues to undergo shelling, with both Russia and Ukraine blaming the other for the attacks. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls for the establishment of a demilitarized zone at the facility, stating the following:
I am calling for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant to cease immediately and not to target its facilities or surroundings. I urge the withdrawal of any military personnel and equipment from the plant and the avoidance of any further deployment of forces or equipment to the site. The facility must not be used as part of any military operation. Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area.
Authorities in the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic set 15 August as the date for trial against captured foreign fighters. The DPR intends to try Matias Gustavsson (Sweden), Vjekoslav Prebeg (Croatia), and John Harding, Andrew Hill, and Dylan Healy (UK) as mercenaries, terrorists, and saboteurs under criminal law. In response, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken demands that “Russia and its proxies…respect international humanitarian law, including the rights [and] protections afforded to prisoners of war.”
Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya signals that Rusia may be willing to allow an IAEA team visit Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant by the end of August, but leaves the door open for blaming the UN and others if it does not happen. He states the following:
We hope that IAEA experts would visit the Zaporizhzhia NPP soon. We hope that in the current situation, the UN Secretary General...would not obstruct the mission through departments of his Secretariat or other elements of the UN mechanism...We, on our part, are ready to provide maximum assistance in resolving all organizational issues. We think that it would be justified for the IAEA delegation to arrive to the NPP as soon as possible, possibly even by the end of August.
During a national newscast, Ukraine's Commissioner for Issues of Persons Missing under Special Circumstances Oleg Kotenko reports that the remains of 522 service members have already been repatriated to Ukraine. Kotenko states, "There is an exact number of the bodies of our defenders that we have recovered–we managed to recover 522 bodies. We are picking up [bodies] from different fronts, not only from the Donetsk front, we are picking them up from the Luhansk and Kharkiv fronts." Kotenko clarifies that Ukrainian officials are not negotiating these repatriations directly with Russian forces, but via International Committee of the Red Cross mediation.
Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov issues a statement on Russian war crimes and Ukraine’s forthcoming appeal to international partners. In the statement, he asserts that Russia has deliberately violated (1) the Hague Convention with respect to the law of armed conflict; (2) the Geneva convention in its treatment of prisoners of war; and (3) the UN convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide. Reznikov asserts that he will be seeking assistance from international partners to address these violations:
That is why I am initiating a request through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the states-parties of Ukraine Defence Contact Group (known in Ukraine as the Ramstein format) to delegate experts in military justice and specialists in countering war crimes. The goal is to establish international groups that will help with the work on specific cases of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, and also analyze the practical aspects of punishment for war crimes containing many hybrid elements. Coordination in the sphere of punishing Russian criminals may become an important addition to the work on weapons assistance, where Ramstein has already demonstrated outstanding results.
42 countries issue a joint statement calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The statement notes, "We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions. This will also enable the IAEA to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner." The countries issuing the statement include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Head of the Russian-backed civil-military administration in occupied Zaporizhzhia Yevgeny Balitsky claims that more than 30,000 residents have applied for Russian citizenship. While it is not possible to substantiate this figure, the claim is notable as it is part of a ramp up towards a formal referendum for joining Russia.
Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the United Nations comment on prospects for an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant:
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak: “[Russia] plays with fire at the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant]. Kremlin believes that it itself is the one ‘managing risks’, but it is wrong. [The Russians] have no personnel and violate security protocols, [and the Russian] army constantly arranges provocations. ‘Controlled’ nuclear blackmail can turn into a major disaster.”
Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov: “I think the IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia NPP will be worked out in the near future. This is not an easy process, especially since Ukraine and its Western patrons put forward a number of preconditions, which may prove insurmountable in the end…The most important thing for Russia is to ensure the absolute safety of the international mission…It is absolutely impossible to do this in conditions of continued shelling…Therefore, first of all, the Western countries should urge Kyiv to stop this outrage, and the Kyiv side should cooperate with the IAEA in paving the way for this visit.”
UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric: “In the past few days, there have been repeated comments by various Russian officials accusing the United Nations Secretariat of having either cancelled or blocked a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. I want to clarify a few points. First, the IAEA is a specialized agency that acts in full independence in deciding how to implement its specific mandate. Second, the UN Secretariat has no authority to block or cancel any IAEA activities. Third, in close contact with the IAEA, the UN Secretariat has assessed that it has in Ukraine the logistics and security capacity to be able to support any IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from Kyiv, should both Russia and Ukraine agree."
Ukrainian and Russian forces conduct another negotiated remains repatriation. In the latest exchange, the bodies of 19 fallen Ukrainian personnel are returned for an undisclosed number of Russian remains.
Ahead of his meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Volodymyr Zelensky discusses the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in his nightly address. He states the following: Ukrainian diplomats, our nuclear scientists, and IAEA are in constant touch, now they are working on sending the IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Only absolute transparency and controlled situation at and around the ZNPP can guarantee a gradual return to normal nuclear safety for the Ukrainian state, for the international community, and for the IAEA. The Russian army must withdraw from the territory of the nuclear power plant and all neighboring areas, and take away its military equipment from the plant. This must happen without any conditions and as soon as possible. Ukraine is ready to ensure proper control of the IAEA, and the relevant mission can be sent to the Zaporizhzhia plant in a legal way, very fast and as efficiently as possible.
Russian forces begin pulling military aircraft out of Crimea after recent explosions across the region. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate reports that at least 24 planes and 14 helicopters have been moved from Crimea to Russian airbases.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrives in Lviv ahead of a scheduled meeting with Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The three are expected to discuss diplomatic efforts aimed at addressing near-term issues and at ending the war.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrives in Lviv, 17 August 2022 (photo via Twitter @UN_spokesperson)
Ukrainian Defence Intelligence official Andrii Yusov comments on the state of negotiations on prisoner exchanges. He states the following:
We can state: the Russian Federation has a low interest in certain groups of its own representatives and Russian prisoners of war. If we are talking about mobilized and military personnel from the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, then there is the lowest interest in them. We can see this at different levels of attitude: from the fact that they are the worst trained, they are literally forcibly mobilized, the worst dressed and with the worst weapons, to the issue of exchange…Work on the return of Ukrainian defenders continues, and we are waiting for news. The exchange fund and other instruments for the return of Ukrainian defenders to Ukraine are sufficient. In addition, it is constantly updated. And this is what Ukraine is working on and owns all the Armed Forces. When we talk about the return process, the exchange is only one of the tools for the return of our defenders. The exchange fund is a very complex, multi-level and non-linear thing, because it is not only about the number of prisoners. We will not discuss the specifics, but believe me that both the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War and the relevant working groups are doing everything possible and using all tools to return our defenders.
President Volodymyr Zelensky hosts President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for meetings in Lviv. Zelensky meets with Erdoğan for a bilateral session first, before the trio convene for dialogue on myriad issues related to the ongoing war, including the following:
They reaffirmed the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
They addressed concerns with the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Guterres announced that the UN will establish a fact-finding mission to Olevnika to determine what happened to POWs in the 29 July attack. He noted that the Terms of Reference of the mission were shared with Ukraine and the Russian Federation, as well as the make-up of the team, declaring his intention to appoint General Carlos dos Santos Cruz of Brazil to lead the mission.
Erdoğan stated that Turkey is "ready to provide all kinds of support and act as a facilitator or mediator toward the goal of reviving the negotiations over the parameters that took form in Istanbul," with indications that he will subsequently deliver the points from their trilateral meeting in Lviv to Vladimir Putin.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Antonio Guterres meet in Lviv, 18 August 2022 (photos via Telegram and Twitter)
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, issues a statement on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. He renews his call for maximum military restraint, reiterating the need to send an IAEA mission to carry out essential safety, security and safeguards activities. He asserts that the IAEA is in "active consultations with all parties" regarding sending such a mission as soon as possible, noting that his intent is to lead the mission, just as he did during two previous IAEA missions to Ukraine during the war.
President Emmanuel Macron speaks with Vladimir Putin via phone for about an hour on the situation in Ukraine. In particular, the two discuss the worsening situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Following the conversation, the Elysée and Kremlin produce conflicting readouts, with the French government asserting that Putin agreed to allow an IAEA mission to travel to the Nuclear Power Plant, and the Russian government stating that Putin expressed his readiness to allow the visit to occur.
Reports emerge that there have been assassination attempts on two senior occupation officials. In Mariupol (Donetsk Oblast), Russian-installed Mayor Konstantin Ivashchenko reportedly escaped an assassination attempt at Mariupol Zoo unharmed. In Kherson, head of the Russian-backed civil-military administration Vladimir Saldo was hospitalized after suspected poisoning. These assassination attempts come as Russia is preparing to execute referenda in occupied territories for joining the country. Right now, the target date for those referenda are 11 September, the same date as Russia's regional elections.
Daria Dugin, Kremlin apologist and daughter of well-known nationalistic philosopher Alexander Dugin, is killed in a car bombing in Moscow. Russian propagandists call for retaliation against Ukraine, trying to link the attack to the Azov Battalion. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak disavows any Ukrainian involvement in the incident, and exiled Russian lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev claims that the National Republican Army, a Russian partisan group, was responsible for the attack.
Russian-backed occupation authorities in Kherson continue their efforts to subjugate the population before a planned referendum on joining Russia in September.
Kidnapping anti-occupation community leaders. On 21 August, Nova Kakhovka Mayor Volodymyr Kovalenko announced that two college directors (Iryna Dubas and Oksana Yakubova) were kidnapped following complaints from a Russian-appointed college director. On 16 August, Russian occupiers kidnapped Verlhny Rohachyk Mayor Svitlana Korotun.
Isolating the population. One Kherson resident described the conditions that Russian-backed occupation authorities are imposing: "They [the occupation authorities] forbid paying with card, they took away cash registers in stores, except for in some the registers still work. We don’t have any ATMs to withdraw money from, only under the table of other people (at a cost) who have it, but they forbid it. They want it to be only their Russian currency. They intimidate people, force them to take Russia's passport."
The UN announces that it has finished forming the team that will conduct the fact-finding mission into the attack at Olevnika that took place on 29 July. The three leading members of the team will be Carlos dos Santos Cruz (Brazil), Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir (Iceland), and Issoufou Yacouba (Niger). UN Spokesperson could not state when the team would travel to Olevnika, noting that the mission was working to obtain security guarantees.
Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office Andriy Yermak announces the launch of the "Kyiv Initiative," a new regional multilateral format with senior foreign policy advisers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. The main purpose of the Initiative is to strengthen coordination on regional security issues and practical cooperation in countering security threats. Discussions in the inaugural meeting focused on sanctions against Russia, Ukrainian integration into Europe, and Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Andriy Yermak chairs the first meeting of the "Kyiv Initiative," 22 August 2022 (photo via Andriy Yermak)
Deputy head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department Igor Vishnevetsky states that he expects negotiations on the IAEA mission to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to commence soon. He asserts, "We do expect that all logistics and details of the visit of the international mission led by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi will be negotiated shortly,” noting, "We do expect that all these shellings will stop at least during the preparation of this visit and during the mission’s visit to the Zaporizhzhia NPP itself."
Ukraine hosts the second "Crimea Platform Summit," a multinational forum for addressing Russia's unlawful annexation of Crimea. President Andrzej Duda travels to Kyiv while others participate virtually. The participants call for restoration of Ukrainian territory to the internationally recognized borders, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noting that it is premature to sign a ceasefire deal. He states that Ukraine cannot repeat the mistakes of "Minsk-1" (2014) and "Minsk-2" (2015), adding that a ceasefire regime could drag on for years, leaving Ukraine without part of its territory and the specter of Russia's resumption of hostilities. In response to the Crimea Platform Summit, Russian Deputy and negotiator Leonid Slutsky asserts, "The issue is closed forever. Ukraine has no way to return something, the Crimeans have made their voluntary choice. And I am convinced that soon it will be done by the inhabitants of Donbass and other territories liberated from Ukrainian neo-Nazism."
View from the Crimea Platform Summit, 23 August 2022 (photo via Andriy Yermak)
The Washington Post reveals that Russia twice demanded capitulation through interlocutors on the opening day of its invasion. First, Dmitry Kozak, the Kremlin deputy chief of staff, called the head of Ukraine's Presidential Office Andriy Yermak and told him that it was time for the Ukrainians to surrender. Second, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin called his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov to pass a message from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu: if Ukraine signed an act of capitulation, the invasion would end.
Head of the Russian-back civil-military administration in occupied Zaporizhzia explains that the IAEA mission could visit the region's Nuclear Power Plant in early September. Vladimir Rogov states, "The relations between Rosatom and the IAEA have already switched to a working mode. There is hope that in a week from now, in the first days of September, we will really see [the mission to Zaporizhzhia NPP]." Rogov adds that authorities have collected all evidence from recent shellings and intends to present that to the IAEA mission upon their arrival.
Director General of the IAEA Rafael Mariano Grossi meets CEO of the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom Alexei Likhachev in Istanbul to negotiate an immediate mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The Rosatom readout of the meeting notes, "On the Russian side, emphasis was placed on the priority tasks of ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities in Russia and Ukraine in the light of the ongoing shelling of the Zaporizhzhia NPP by Ukrainian armed groups and sabotage against the Kursk NPP." From the IAEA, Grossi simply states via social media, "Important technical discussions today in Istanbul on [IAEA's] imminent mission to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya [sic] Nuclear Power Plant."
Representatives from the IAEA and Rosatom meet in Istanbul, 24 August 2022 (photo via Twitter @Rafaelmgrossi)
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak comments on the prospects for ceasefire negotiations:
Today's negotiation process will seal a temporary truce in a war that will not end. Accordingly, the Russian Federation will consider this a victory and will continue to claim to advance its expansionist policy. Therefore, the truce now will only mean the next stage of the war after a certain time…This will be a growing gray area that will constantly put pressure on Europe. Europe will be forced to constantly invest large amounts of money here in order to somehow maintain this territory in a viable state. This is not beneficial for Europe in the medium and long term…But this is the price for such an intense war, unprecedented since World War II. And this war needs to be ended properly if you don't want to pay all the time.
Ukraine informs the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the country’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) temporarily lost connection to its last remaining operational 750 kilovolt (kV) external power line. Officials explain that shelling in the area twice caused disruption in the 750 kV power line, cause the ZNPP’s two operating reactor units to become disconnected from the electricity grid and trigger their emergency protection systems. This was the first time in its history that the Nuclear Power Plant had become disconnected from the grid. In response to the incident, Director General of the IAEA Rafael Mariano Grossi states, "Almost every day there is a new incident at or near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. We can’t afford to lose any more time. I’m determined to personally lead an IAEA mission to the plant in the next few days to help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation there."
Russian Deputy and negotiator Leonid Slutsky publishes a statement from the State Duma Council on Zaporizhzhia. The text of the statement is translated below:
Russian-backed occupation administrations continue publishing rhetoric related to forthcoming referenda on joining Russia. Head of the breakaway "Donetsk People's Republic" Denis Pushilin amplifies messaging from Russian Deputy Andrei Turchak, who had stated, "The referendum will take place, and there should be no doubt for anyone: these are territories--regions of the Russian Federation. And they have a right to be included in the people's program of United Russia." Meanwhile, Deputy head of occupied Kherson Kirill Stremousov publishes a video message in which he states, "The liberated territories of Ukraine from Nazism and totalitarian schizophrenia are already heading for stability, security, and a future as part of the multinational United Russia."
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk announces that the first batch of letters from Russian-held POWs arrived in Ukraine. She states, "According to the Geneva Conventions, our prisoners of war have the right to send and receive letters. The National Information Bureau (NIB) of the Ministry of Reintegration has started the relevant work of organizing correspondence between our prisoners of war and their relatives. The first batch of letters arrived in Ukraine the other day. The NIB is working on their transfer to relatives of prisoners of war. We thank the International Committee of the Red Cross for mediation and professional work!"
In his nightly address, President Volodymyr Zelensky announces that Ukraine has been able to ship over a million tons of goods via the Black Sea Grain Initiative. This milestone comes just a month after conclusion of negotiations between Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Nations, demonstrating important progress despite initial skepticism of the implementability of such an arrangement.
The IAEA forms its team that will travel to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The composition was the subject of negotiations with Russia, leading to the appointment of 13 experts representing a mutually acceptable level of neutrality.
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak offers an updated list of maximalist positions vis-à-vis the war. By doing so, he signals that Ukraine needs to achieve a stronger position before returning to ceasefire negotiations. He posts this via social media:
There is only one way to end this war:
- Military defeat of [Russia]
- Territories returning to [Ukraine]
- Tribunal for the criminals
- The beginning of [the Russian Federation's] transformation
The will to win is needed just as much as weapons. "Compromises" will have catastrophic consequences for humanity.
Ukraine's Commissioner for Missing Persons Oleg Kotenko provides an update on the state of negotiations related to remains repatriation. He states the following:
Thanks to the international representation of the Red Cross, it was possible to organize communication with the Russian side. Negotiations with the aggressor are difficult, but we have already managed to return 541 fallen defenders. 428 bodies were brought from Mariupol, more than 300 of them–defenders of Azovstal. We are returning the dead from the Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Kharkiv, Luhansk directions–from everywhere…We hand over the locations where our dead are to the Russian side. They have to pick them up, and then we make exchanges. But the Russian Federation does not always want to go to the war zone, even though a temporary ceasefire is declared.
Russian and Ukrainian officials trade accusations over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. A day after Russia claimed to have delivered evidence of Ukraine's shelling of the facility to the United Nations, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba states, "For decades, nuclear safety has remained Ukraine’s top priority, especially given our tragic past. Russian invaders turned Zaporizhzhya NPP into a military base putting the entire continent at risk. Russian military must get out of the plant — they have nothing to do there!" Amidst it all, the grounds of the facility and the nearby town of Energodar continue to undergo shelling.
Head of Ukraine’s Presidential Office Andriy Yermak co-chairs the third meeting of the International Working Group on Security Guarantees for Ukraine with former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasumussen. Joining the group in this meeting is Former Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs Volkan Bozkir. The Working Group is working to finalize a document with recommendations on future security guarantees for Ukraine. Yermak notes that in less than two months of work, the group was able to develop a document that covers military, economic, political, and sanctions guarantees. He notes that once finalized, the document will be submitted to President Volodymyr Zelensky for decision.
Andriy Yermak co-chairs the 3rd meeting of the International Working Group on Security Guarantees, 29 August 2022 (photo via Andriy Yermak)
The IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhia (ISAMZ) begins its travel to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Led by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, the team has four key tasks: (1) assess physical damage; (2) determine functionality of safety and security systems; (3) evaluate staff conditions; and (4) perform urgent safeguards activities.
The ISAMZ crew poses for a photo before dispatching to Zaporizhzhia, 29 August 2022 (photo via Twitter @Rafaelmgrossi)
As the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhia arrives in Kyiv, Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak issues a claim that Russian forces are intentionally shelling negotiated corridors to Zaporizhzhia. He posts via social media, "[Russia] is deliberately shelling corridors for IAEA mission to reach ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant]. All to offer passage through Crimea/ORDLO [occupied portions of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts]." He continues by stating Ukraine's position vis-a-vis Zaporizhzhia: "Access only through controlled territory of [Ukraine]. Nuclear power plant demilitarization. Ru[ssian]-troops withdrawal. Only [Ukrainian] personnel at the station."
Leader of the breakaway "Donetsk People's Republic" Denis Pushilin tells reporters that the DPR is finalizing preparations to hold war crimes tribunals against captured Ukrainian soldiers. He states, "Currently, the tribunal is in its final stage. Practically everything is ready, we are relying on the investigation which will give the go-ahead when they will have all the materials completely ready in order to hold the tribunal in accordance with all international standards." DPR authorities note that they will convene tribunals for "militants of nationalist formations, such as Azov...and Aidar and Ukrainian servicemen."
Denis Pushilin speaks to reporters, 30 August 2022
The IAEA Support and Assistance Mission team arrives in Zaporizhzhia. During their journey from Kyiv, they got held up at the line of contact between Ukrainian-controlled and Russian occupied areas despite the negotiated agreement for free passage. Head of the Russian-backed administration in occupied Zaporizhzhia Yevgeny Balitsky admitted to blocking the team, stating, “This mission is not on our territory yet, they are queued up somewhere…We were asked to fast-track the process, but I refused, saying let them stand in line and have a look at the areas still not under our control…let them communicate with people in line.” Russian state media confirms that the IAEA team is composed of delegates from ten countries including Albania, China, France, Italy, Jordan, Lithuania, Mexico, North Macedonia, Poland, and Serbia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky signs Presidential Decree 621, rescinding all previous presidential decrees related to the "Trilateral Contact Group for the peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine" established shortly after Russia's Annexation of Crimea. Composed of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the group was meant to operate as a mechanism for negotiating resolution of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. This latest presidential decree dissolves Ukrainian membership in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) in Minsk.
The IAEA Support and Assistance Mission team arrives at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to begin their formal activities. Eight representatives from the mission remain at the plant overnight, while others depart the facility. IAEA Director General and mission leader Rafael Grossi states that the team will continue their work until 3 September, noting that they are working to establish a permanent presence. Meanwhile, President Zelensky laments that independent journalists were not allowed to join the mission, something that Grossi reportedly agreed to while in Kyiv.
The IAEA team arrives at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, 1 September 2022
During the 3rd UN Chiefs of Police Summit (UNCOPS) in New York, the Lithuanian delegation proposes the deployment of a permanent police force to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Deputy Commissioner General of the Lithuanian Police Arunas Paulauskas states, “Lithuania advocates the establishment of a long-term mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the Zaporizhia NPP, where the UN police could contribute by ensuring its physical security. Although the war in Ukraine may seem distant to some countries, nuclear incidents ignore national borders. Russian troops control and use for military purposes one of four nuclear power plants in Ukraine. A nuclear incident there would pose a threat even to the most distant countries of the world.” He adds that Lithuania is prepared to send Lithuanian law enforcement officials to such a mission.
Deputy Commissioner General Arunas Paulauskas speaks at UNCOPS, 1 September 2022 (photo via Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi returns to Vienna with part of the support and assistance team that traveled to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Others remained at the facility to continue their monitoring work.
The Russian government is working to allocate land from Crimea to those involved in the so-called "special military operation" against Ukraine. The Russian government has come to incorporate military, FSB (formerly, the KGB) agents, and civilian specialists (e.g., doctors and construction workers) as those eligible for special benefits associated with their actions vis-à-vis Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine conduct another negotiated prisoner exchange. The Coordination Headquarters on the treatment of prisoners of war in the Donetsk region announces that 14 Ukrainian soldiers returned from captivity in exchange for an undisclosed number of Russians.
14 Ukrainian soldiers return from captivity, 2 September 2022 (photo via the Coordination Headquarters on treatment of POWs)
Chechen governor Ramzan Kadyrov signals via Telegram that he will be leaving his post, stating, “Friends, today I learned that I, it turns out, am 'long-lived' among the CURRENT heads of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. I myself noticed that I sat too long. I think that I fully deserved an indefinite and long vacation.” Kadyrov has been heavily involved in marshaling Chechen support for Russia’s war against Ukraine while fueling anti-Ukrainian propaganda. Reports are now circulating that Kadyrov could be tapped for a senior-level job in Russia's National Guard if he resigns as Chechnya's leader.
Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant once again loses connection to its last remaining main external power line, forcing the facility to operate via its reserve line. The IAEA team in Zaporizhzhia reported this as they continued their work assessing the physical damage to the plant’s facilities, determining the functionality of the main and back-up safety and security systems, and evaluating the staff’s working conditions. Although the situation remains workable, the main power line is the last of four that had been damaged during the war. Commenting on the IAEA team's presence at Zaporizhzhia, Director General Rafael Grossi states, "Our team on the ground received direct, fast and reliable information about the latest significant development affecting the plant’s external power situation, as well as the operational status of the reactors. We already have a better understanding of the functionality of the reserve power line in connecting the facility to the grid. This is crucial information in assessing the overall situation there…The great value of finally having the IAEA permanently present at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is already abundantly clear. It is a game changer."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks with Vladimir Putin via telephone. During the conversation, Erdoğan proposes that the Turkish government facilitates negotiations over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, just like it did for the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Ukrainian forces make progress in their bid to reclaim occupied territories. During his nightly address, President Voldymyr Zelensky provides an update on the counteroffensive, noting that Ukrainian forces liberated a village in the Donetsk region, made advancements in Eastern Ukraine (in the Siversk and Lysychansk areas), and liberated two villages in southern Ukraine (including Vysokopillia in occupied Kherson).
Ukrainian forces raise their flag over liberated Vysokopillia, 4 September 2022 (photo via Andriy Yermak)
A day after posting a video in which he stated that he needed an “indefinite and long vacation,” Chechen governor Ramzan Kadyrov posts a new video asserting, “In fact, I, of course, have no right to just leave…Therefore, we will leave the talk of indefinite leave for the future. Now I won’t even take my annual leave. I have said before that at this crucial time, when our country is fighting global Satanism in the Donbas, neither the regional authorities nor military personnel of all ranks can go on vacation.”
Deputy head of occupation authorities in Kherson Kirill Stremousov states that they will pause efforts on running a referendum on joining Russia. Previously, Stremousov had signaled that the referendum would take place on 11 September, but with the Ukrainian counteroffensive gaining ground, Russian-backed administrators are reevaluating the process. Stremousov asserts, "We have got prepared for voting. We wanted to organize the referendum in the near future, but because of the current developments, I think we will take a pause. It is quite explainable from the practical point of view. We are not running before the hounds and are focused on our key task–to feed people, to ensure their security.” He also notes that the Ukrainian government’s new laws (announced by Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk) imposing a 12 year prison sentence and confiscation of property for participation in the referendum are no obstacle: “I would like to tell Iryna Vereshchuk the following: you have nothing to do with the Kherson region. It is a liberated territory and what you are doing, your threats are mere senseless cries.”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov asserts that Russia’s gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will not resume in full until the “collective west” lifts sanctions. Peskov explains that the sanctions are causing supply issues which have affected the pipeline’s operations, noting, “The problems pumping gas came about because of the sanctions western countries introduced against our country and several companies…There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu hosts a meeting with leader of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoğlu and First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzhepper. In the meeting, Çavuşoğlu reiterates Turkey’s support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the rights of Crimean Tatars.
Emine Dzhepper, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoğlu meet in Turkey, 5 September 2022 (photo via Twitter @mevlutcavusoglu)
Addressing the UN Security Council, Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls for the negotiated demilitarization of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. He states the following:
As a first step, Russian and Ukrainian forces must commit not to engage in any military activity towards the plant site or from the plant site. The Zaporizhzhia facility and its surroundings must not be a target or a platform for military operations…Specifically, that would include a commitment by Russian forces to withdraw all military personnel and equipment from that perimeter and a commitment by Ukrainian forces not to move into it. Operators at the plant must be able to carry out their responsibilities, and communications must be maintained.
The IAEA publishes a report on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, incorporating findings and recommendations from the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhia (ISAMZ). It details the harsh working conditions for the Ukrainian personnel under Russian occupation and notes the presence of Russian military equipment and vehicles within the perimeter of the nuclear facility, among other details. The full report is available for download here, and the recommendations from the ISAMZ team are included below:
Recommendation 1: The IAEA recommends that shelling on site and in its vicinity should be stopped immediately to avoid any further damages to the plant and associated facilities, for the safety of the operating staff and to maintain the physical integrity to support safe and secure operation. This requires agreement by all relevant parties to the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP.
Recommendation 2: The IAEA recommends that the physical protection system should be operated as designed and licensed, and that the continued functioning of safety and security systems and operability of the systems and equipment at ZNPP be ensured. This requires the removal of vehicles from areas that could interfere with the operation of safety and security systems and equipment.
Recommendation 3: The IAEA recommends that an appropriate work environment, including family support, for operating staff should be re-established. Furthermore, as the operator has the prime responsibility for nuclear safety and security, it should be able to fulfill its mission with clear lines of responsibilities and authorities.
Recommendation 4: The IAEA recommends that the off-site power supply line redundancy as designed should be re-established and available at any time, and that all military activities that may affect the power supply systems end (see Recommendation 1).
Recommendation 5: The IAEA recommends that all concerned parties should commit and contribute to ensuring effective supply chains for continued nuclear safety and security of the plant under all conditions including safe transportation corridors, taking advantage of the IAEA assistance and support programme as appropriate.
Recommendation 6: The IAEA recommends that (1) the emergency response functions should be drilled and exercised, and the emergency response facilities to support these functions be re-established, and (2) preparedness should be re-established through regular training, clear decision-making chains and readily available communication means and logistical support. ISAMZ can provide assistance in preparation and support for such training.
Recommendation 7: The IAEA recommends that reliable and redundant communication means and channels, including internet and/or satellite connectivity, should be ensured with all external organizations necessary for the safe and secure operation of the facility.
Ukraine and Russian conduct another negotiated remains repatriation with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Ukraine's Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War reports that they received the bodies of another 25 fallen soldiers, noting that the process took place in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
ICRC vehicles lead the return of 25 fallen Ukrainian soldiers, 6 September 2022 (photo via the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War)
The Ukrainian government establishes the "Coordination Headquarters for De-occupied Territories" within the Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk is tasked to lead the new headquarters, which is focused on the restoration of territories reclaimed from Russian forces. The announcement comes as President Volodymyr Zelensky announces additional progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive, this time in the Kharkiv region.
During her address to the UN Security Council, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary Di Carlo announces that the designated fact finding mission is set to travel to Olenivka to investigate the attack on Ukrainian POWs that took place in July. She states the following:
The Fact-Finding mission to Olenivka is set to deploy in the coming days to look into the incident on 29 July that led to the death of 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war. Between 75 and 130 more were injured. The head of the mission, Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, is accompanied by an experienced team of senior officials and experts. The mission must be able to conduct its work without any interference and have safe, secure and unfettered access to people, places and evidence. I want to thank Ukraine and Russia for their constructive approach in enabling preparations for the mission. We count on their continued support.
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya states that Russia is awaiting proposals on Zaporizhzhia from the IAEA. He notes that he is aware of the call to demilitarize the area, but retorts, "In the current circumstances, this [demilitarization] will not be a measure to protect the plant...The only reasonable way to ensure that the plant is protected from nuclear accidents is to stop Ukrainian shelling of the plant." [Note: IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi later addressed the UN Security Council, informing them of the situation at Zaporizhzhia and stating that he would be sending a formal proposal for resolving the issues at the nuclear power plant soon.]
Russian state media speculates on when referenda on joining Russia might be held in occupied territories of Ukraine. Previously, occupation authorities had been working towards conducting the referenda on 11 September, the same day as Russia's regional elections. Now, some Russian politicians are suggesting that the votes take place on National Unity Day on 4 November. When queried on the matter, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov demurs: "We keep saying that this is mainly a question that is connected to the will of those people who love in these territories." Meanwhile, local occupation officials continue to claim that they are simply waiting until it is safe to hold the referenda.
The Ukrainian government announces that it has successfully reclaimed over 1000 square kilometers of territory since 1 September. Ukrainian MP and lead negotiator David Arakhamia notes, "Our allies admire this. Our citizens are proud of this. This undermines the faith of Russians in their omnipotence. We showed the world that there is no need to fear Russia. That Western weapons and the skill of the Armed Forces produce impressive results. And the more of these weapons we have, the sooner Russia will stop keeping Europe and the whole world in fear."
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi issues a statement of concern over the worsening situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. He calls for an immediate cessation of shelling and for the establishment of a demilitarized zone, posting on social media the following: "Shelling has caused a complete blackout in Enerhodar and compromised the safe operation of the nearby Zaporizhzhya NPP. This must stop & a Nuclear Safety & Security Protection Zone (NSSPZ) agreed immediately." His full statement is available here.
Ukraine's General Staff announces that up to 1,300 paramilitary troops loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov have arrived in southern Kherson to reinforce Russian forces. This move comes just a few days after Kadyrov's flip-flopping messaging via social media his need for an "indefinite and long vacation."
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal meets via video-teleconference with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The two discuss the issue of energy security and the impending winter season that will require the assistance of American partners in purchasing gas. Ukrainian officials report that negotiations are underway for the allocation of $1.5 billion from U.S. Export-Import Bank for the purchase of gas.
Denys Shmyhal meets Janet Yellen via VTC, 9 September 2022 (photo via the Ukrainian office of the Prime Minister)
Ukrainian forces surpass over 2000 square kilometers of territory reclaimed in their counteroffensive. Currently, operations are focused on Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts, but strikes are reaching as far as into Luhansk.
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claims that Russian forces have not retreated; rather, they "regrouped and redeployed" to Donetsk. He states, "In order to achieve the declared goals of the special military operation for the liberation of Donbass, it was decided to regroup the Russian forces stationed near Balakliya and Izium to boost efforts in the Donetsk direction."
Chechen Governor Ramzan Kadyrov posts an audio statement on his Telegram channel critical of the Russian Ministry of Defense's decision-making and lack of commentary related to military operations in Ukraine. He asserts, “I am not a strategist like in the Ministry of Defense. But mistakes were made...When you tell the truth to your face, you may not like it. But I like to tell the truth…If changes are not made to the conduct of a special military operation today or tomorrow, I will be forced to contact the country's leadership, the Ministry of Defense in order to explain the situation on the ground to them."
During the 17th Yalta European Strategy meeting held in Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky comments on possible ceasefire negotiations with Russia. He states, "We want to end the war, but the space and opportunities have changed. Society does not want to talk to terrorists. Although one can communicate even with terrorists, because they know what they want…In order for us to open a diplomatic corridor with them [Russia], they must show political will, that they are ready to give back foreign land. Then we can talk at least about some corridors that open certain diplomatic steps."
The planned date for referenda on joining Russia in occupied territories passes without a single election. Russian-backed occupation authorities had targeted 11 September as it coincided with the date for Russian regional elections.
Russian forces demonstrate greater desperation amidst the Ukrainian counteroffensive. As they retreat, they strike civilian infrastructure to knock out power and other services for residents. Meanwhile, individual units respond differently to the Ukrainian advance, with some attempting to negotiate a surrender and others making last ditch efforts to shake down the local populace before fleeing. As one Kherson resident describes, "I can't really explain what's going on here, it's horrible. Russians are stealing from apartments, searching people on the street, taking away cars. It's just lawlessness going on here."
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with Vladimir Putin over the phone. The Élysée states that Macron called for immediate demilitarization of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, noting that he has also discussed the matter with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi. The Élysée adds that Macron intends to continue discussions with all parties to facilitate an agreement guaranteeing the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak publishes Ukraine's conditions for a ceasefire: "Reminding to all 'insiders' once again. Only [Ukraine] determines the negotiating agenda. It is known: 1. Liberation of all territories; 2. Reparations payments by [Russia]; 3. Punishment of war criminals.
Ukraine's Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense reports that Russian occupation authorities in Crimea have begun making preparations to evacuate. Despite the assurances of the population that it is safe to stay, representatives of the occupation administration of Crimea, FSB employees, and some military commanders have reportedly been trying to sell their homes and send relatives out of Crimea.
The Joint Coordination Center based in Istanbul publishes a report on implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative since August 1st. The report includes the following details:
Since 1 August, the JCC has enabled the safe movement of 122 voyages from Ukraine and 144 voyages to Ukraine.
2.7 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs were moved from Ukraine. 53% of the cargo was corn, 23% wheat, 12% sunflower products, 6% barley, 5% rapeseed, 1% soya beans, with other products making up the remainder.
The destinations for the exports were as follows: 28% to low and lower-middle income1 countries: Egypt (10%), Iran and India (5%), Sudan and Kenya (2%), and Djibouti, Lebanon, Somalia, and Yemen (1%); 27% to upper-middle income countries: Türkiye (19%), China (8%), and Bulgaria (<1%); and 44% to high-income countries: Spain (13%), The Netherlands (8%), Italy (7%), Republic of Korea (5%), Romania (4%), Germany (2%), and France, Greece, Ireland and Israel (1%).
The FAO Cereal Price Index decreased by 1.4% since the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative began.
There were three UN World Food Programme-chartered vessels that transported grain and food stuffs under the Initiative, the destinations of which included Yemen and the Horn of Africa.
Russian Deputy and negotiator Leonid Slutsky denounces the proposed "Kyiv Security Compact." He posts the following via Telegram:
The draft "Kyiv Security Compact" is about how the West can continue its confrontation with Russia on the Ukrainian foothold. Absolutely all of its points are aimed only at further escalation, and not at resolving the current situation. In fact, it is a document that proposes the advancement of the military infrastructure of Western countries up to the Russian borders, the pumping of Ukraine with Western weapons, from which the Nazis will continue to kill the children of Donbass and shoot at the Russians, the consolidation of sanctions pressure on our country. In other words, in fact, there is no question of any security in general.
Well, the point that this "does not cancel Kyiv's intention to join NATO" is another confirmation of the correctness and timeliness of the decision to conduct a special operation by Russia. These are no guarantees of "security," this is a draft pact to involve NATO countries and their allies in the conflict in Ukraine--a project against Russia, against a nuclear power. I hope that all Western owners of Zelensky are well aware of what they are invited to sign. And the consequences, if implemented...
And these so-called "guarantees" are in direct opposition to the tasks of denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine. Rather, on the contrary, this is a list of things that Russia will never agree to. The special operation will be continued and brought to an end.
Ukraine publishes the report of the International Working Group on Security Guarantees for Ukraine. The report entitled the "Kyiv Security Compact" details the working group's recommendations for establishment of a new system of military and non-military security guarantees for Ukraine to be implemented following the cessation of hostilities. The full report can be viewed in the images below (or downloaded via the link beneath it):
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to Vladimir Putin by phone. The two discuss possible expansion of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to include ammonia exports meant to support fertilizer production. Guterres also raises the issue of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and the desired UN fact finding mission at Olenivka POW detention facility. Guterres explains to the press after the call, “I believe that there are negotiations still taking place…I strongly hope that the problem of prisoners of war will be entirely solved, and I strongly hope that all prisoners of war from both sides will be exchanged.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells domestic state media that the "Kyiv Security Compact" will do nothing more than enslave Europe to Ukraine. She states, "This compact, these so-called working groups would get EU countries caught in such a knot, tying their hands so that they would end up hellishly enslaved and subsequently never restore their economic growth and development, nor even their former glory for that matter as well."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes a surprise visit to Izium in Kharkiv oblast. Ukrainian forces had just liberated the city as part of its counteroffensive against Russian occupiers. During his trip, he pledges to liberate Ukraine’s occupied peoples:
We should send signals to our people who, unfortunately, are still under occupation. And my signal to the people in Crimea: we know that these are our people, and it is a terrible tragedy that they have been under occupation for more than eight years. We will return there. I don't know when exactly. But we have plans, and we will return there, because this is our land and our people,
Volodymyr Zelensky delivers remarks in liberated Izium, 14 September 2022
During an awards ceremony, leader of the breakaway "Luhansk People's Republic" Leonid Pasechnik addresses members of the public and press. He informs them that Ukrainian forces have pushed the battleline to Luhansk but urges them not to panic. He posts the following via Telegram after the meeting:
The events in the Kharkiv region and the fakes replicated by the Ukrofascists cause concern. People are afraid of the threat of genocide that the Ukrainian Nazis bring with them...there is no reason to panic. Allied troops fully guarantee the security of our borders and the enemy will not trample the Luhansk soil! Any attempt at a counteroffensive will be repulsed. The republic lives in a normal mode: enterprises, factories are operating, wages, pensions and social benefits are paid. Russian specialists continue to restore infrastructure and prepare for the heating season. Luhansk region returns to peaceful life. It will continue to be so!
An explosion occurs in the building of the "General Prosecutor's Office of the Luhansk People's Republic." As a result, the Prosecutor General of the breakaway LPR Sergey Gorenko and his Deputy Ekaterina Steglenko are killed. The incident is confirmed by LPR leader Leonid Pasechnik, who claims that Ukrainian officials perpetrated the attack. He adds, "The situation in the republic is under control. We, the inhabitants of the LPR, should not give in to panic."
The scene of the incident which killed the Prosecutor General and his Deputy in the breakaway LPR, 16 September 2022
The Kremlin rejects Ukraine's "ammonia exports-for-POW return" formula. In response to media queries, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov punctuates this point by asking, "Are people and ammonia the same?"
The Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of POWs affirms Ukraine's "ammonia exports-for-POW return" formula. It posts the following online:
Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline stopped its work after the start of a full-scale invasion. The Kremlin is interested in restoring exports, because the supply of ammonia gives 2.4 billion dollars annually. Due to the shutdown of the ammonia pipeline, world prices for fertilizers produced from this gas have increased significantly. This threatens to reduce the yield of agricultural crops... The UN is trying to agree with Ukraine and Russia on the resumption of ammonia transportation. However, in an interview with Reuters, President Volodymyr ZELENSKY stated that this will happen only if Russia releases Ukrainian prisoners of war: "I am against the supply of ammonia from Russia through our territory. I would do it only in exchange for our prisoners. This is what I proposed to the UN."
Militarized conflict in and among former Soviet republics persist. Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan remain high after clashes beginning on 12 September led to 155 deaths. Meanwhile, border skirmishes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan intensify heading into the third day of fighting. Now, the Foreign Minister of the breakaway Abkhazia claims that "the likelihood of a military conflict [on the part of Georgia] is estimated as fairly high."
Ukrainian forces discover mass graves near liberated Izium. Ukrainian Presidential Adviser and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak posts the following on social media: "450 graves...Only one of the mass graves discovered near Izyum. For months a rampant terror, violence, torture and mass murders were in the occupied territories. Anyone else wants to 'freeze the war' instead of sending tanks? We have no right to leave people alone with the Evil."
Photo of mass grave site near Izium taken 15 September 2022 (photo via Andriy Yermak)
In an interview with Reuters, President Volodymyr Zelensky re-asserts that Ukraine's goal is to reclaim all occupied territory, including Crimea. However, he signals that Ukraine may be willing to accept the return of Crimea via negotiations. Zelensky states, "We have no other chance.There is no way out, we must de-occupy the territories. It may happen that Crimea will be returned diplomatically."
Russian state media reports that the POW detention facility at Olenivka has once again been attacked, killing one and wounding four Ukrainians. The Russia side blames the attack on Ukrainian forces, while Ukraine's Coordination Headquarters on the Treatment of POWs publishes the following: "Rosmedia reports that one Ukrainian prisoner of war was killed and four wounded as a result of the morning shelling. No one is surprised that not a single representative of the occupiers was injured, and the Russian Federation again accused Ukraine of shelling. We already heard it in the summer. At the moment, we have not received information about the names of the victims, but we are asking about it both directly - to Ms. Moskalkova, and through the mediation of the UN and the ICRC. As before, I, as the Ombudsman, am ready to personally arrive in Olenivka to assess all the facts and communicate with witnesses to the shelling, injured and detained citizens. The motives with which the Russian Federation attacks POW camps today are definitely not known to me. Perhaps this is banal revenge for defeats at the front, or perhaps purposeful terror and demonstrable impunity of the military leadership of the Russian Federation."
The Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority announces that 10 more vessels will be departing the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhne on the 18th under the auspices of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. To date, 165 ships have left Ukrainian ports under the Initiative, carrying over 3.7 million tons of agricultural products.
Three vessels prepping for departure from Ukrainian ports, 18 September 2022 (photo via Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority)
The Public Chambers of both the breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic call for immediate referenda on accession to the Russian Federation. The previously targeted date for such referenda was 11 September, but occupation officials called it off citing “security” reasons.
The IAEA issues another statement related to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, noting that Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will travel to the United Nations for “high-level consultations” on the establishment of a “security protection zone” around the nuclear facility. Director General Grossi remarks, “The situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remains fragile and precarious. Last week, we saw some improvements regarding its power supplies, but today we were informed about a new setback in this regard. The plant is located in the middle of a war zone, and its power status is far from safe and secure. Therefore, a nuclear safety and security protection zone must urgently be established there.”
Energoatom, the Ukrainian operator of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, report that a Russian missile landed 300 meters away from the plant’s nuclear reactors. They state that the attack took place at 0019 hours, damaging the plant’s buildings, breaking over 100 windows, shutting down one of the hydropower units, and rendering three high-voltage power lines non-functional.
Screenshot from CCTV footage of the missile blast adjacent to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, 19 September 2022
Russian state media announces that occupation authorities in four areas of Ukraine will hold referenda on joining Russia between 23 to 27 September: Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. These referenda will reportedly include voters who had evacuated from those areas to Russia.
Ukraine and Russia conduct another negotiated remains repatriation. The Coordination Headquarters on the Treatment of Prisoners of War announces that Ukraine and the International Committee of the Red Cross secured the release of 25 fallen soldiers. The operation was carried out with the cooperation of the Commissioner for Missing Persons under Special Circumstances, Oleg Kotenko, the Coordination Staff for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and other law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, and took place in accordance with the norms of the Geneva Conventions.
ICRC representatives facilitate another negotiated remains repatriation, 20 September 2022
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union issue a joint statement calling for the withdrawal of Russian military forces from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and the rest of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. A key excerpt is below, and the full statement is available for download via the link that follows:
We emphasize that Russia’s seizure and militarization of the ZNPP is the root cause of the current threats in the field of nuclear safety and security. We recall that the heightened risks of a nuclear incident will remain dangerously high as long as Russia remains present on the site of ZNPP. The Russian Federation must immediately withdraw its troops from within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Should the Russian Federation conduct any sham referenda within occupied territories of Ukraine, we reiterate that these would have no legal and political effect, including on the status of the ZNPP.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi meets with world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to negotiate the establishment of a demilitarized zone at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Billed as a “Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone,” the proposal calls for the removal of Russia military equipment from the vicinity of the facility and the creation of a ceasefire area surrounding the power plant. Grossi meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, French President Emmanuel Macron, and several other foreign ministers to gain support for the initiative. Grossi announces that in the meantime, the IAEA intends to expand its mission to Zaporizhzhia. He states, “We are going to enlarge the mission. We are going to make it bigger in the coming days.”
Rafael Grossi meets with foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, 21 September 2022 (photos via Twitter @Rafaelmgrossi)
Ukraine and Russia conduct their largest POW exchange of the war with 215 Ukrainian prisoners returning home. Among them was members of the Azov Battalion, previously announced to be subject to prosecution in occupied territories as "neo-nazi criminals." Also returning were defenders of the besieged Azovstal steel complex, a group that President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to return home. Andriy Yermak provides insight into the negotiated formula for exchange: "We exchanged 200 of our heroes for Medvedchuk, who has already given all possible evidence to the investigation. And 5 heroes-commanders of 'Azovstal' - for 55 Russian prisoners who are of no interest to us."
Ukrainian soldiers celebrate their return from captivity, 21 September 2022
Russia releases 10 foreign fighters to Saudi Arabia. Among them was at least one (UK national Aiden Aslin) who had been sentenced to death by authorities in the breakaway "Donetsk People's Republic." The return was mediated by Saudi officials, with prisoners from Croatia, Morocco, Sweden, the UK, and United States arriving in Riyadh on the night of 21 September. Ukrainian Deputy and negotiator Rustem Umerov notes that Turkey also played a role in mediating the negotiations that secured the release.
Foreign fighters arrive in Riyadh after being released from detention in Donbas, 21 September 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin issues a decree for the partial mobilization of military forces to deploy to Ukraine. Putin elaborates during a televised address that "only those citizens who are currently in the reserve and primarily those who served in the army and have particular military specialties will be called up for military service," but the Russian Ministry of Defense notes that upwards of 300,000 soldiers will be called up for service. Putin justifies this move by stating the following: "After today’s Kiev regime publicly rejected peaceful solution of the Donbass problem and, moreover, announced its claim to nuclear weapons, it became absolutely clear that another large-scale offensive against Donbass was inevitable. And later another offensive against Russia’s Crimea, against Russia would inevitably follow as well."
Representatives of the G7 issue a joint statement on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly denouncing the referenda set to be held in occupied territories. The statement reads, "The G7 Foreign Ministers and the High Representative strongly condemned Russia’s announcement to conduct sham referenda on sovereign Ukrainian territory, which is temporarily under Russian control. Any referenda held under conditions of Russian military presence, intimidation, and forced deportation cannot be free or fair. Any annexation of Ukrainian territory would be a gross violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and the UN Charter. They called on all states to unequivocally condemn any referenda and not to recognize the results. The G7 will also pursue further targeted sanctions and are committed to sustained economic and political pressure on Russia. They deplored deliberate Russian escalatory steps, including the partial mobilization of reservists and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric. Russia must immediately stop its aggression, withdraw its troops and military equipment from Ukraine and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and the territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The G7 further called on Russia to immediately cease its filtration operations and forced deportations of Ukrainian civilians to Russia."
In an interview with Turkish domestic media, Presidential Advisor Ibrahim Kalin reveals details on the negotiation that contributed to the release of 215 Ukrainian prisoners. He states, "As a result of Turkey's negotiations with both sides in the war, important gains such as the grain corridor agreement and prisoner exchange were achieved. Prisoner exchange negotiations started 3, 3.5 months ago. We did not make a public statement until the issue was resolved. Our President was in constant contact with the leaders for the exchange of prisoners. MIT played a very important role in the exchange process. The prisoner exchange was to take place when we went to Lviv, Ukraine [Note: this refers to the meeting between President Erdoğan, President Zelensky, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 18 August]. There were 200 names, 15 names could not be agreed upon. Then that list narrowed down and was not doable by the time we went to Lviv. In the end, it fell to 5 names. We made an offer to bring those 5 persons to Turkey. The process would be blocked for 5 people, but it was solved with our formula. 5 specific individuals were brought to Turkey and they will remain under our charge until the war is over." [Note: Russian state media later reveals that the prisoners that were sticking points were commanders in the Azov Battalion.]
Occupation authorities in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson open polls for referenda. Russian state media notes, "For security reasons, people in the four regions will be invited to vote near their homes, rather at polling stations, or rounds of citizens will be made, in the first four days of referendums." Voting will end by 27 September.
Leader of the breakaway DPR Denis Pushilin addresses staff at a voting station, 23 September 2022 (photo via Denis Pushilin)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba denounces recent rhetoric from senior Russia officials. Kuleba posts via social media, “Putin’s and Lavrov’s irresponsible statements on the possible use of nuclear weapons are absolutely unacceptable. Ukraine won’t give in. We call on all nuclear powers to speak out now and make it clear to Russia that such rhetorics put the world at risk and will not be tolerated.”
Ukrainian Presidential Advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak presents Ukraine’s recommendations for how its foreign partners should respond to Russian mobilization:
How Western allies must response [sic] to conscription in [Russia]?
1. Ramstein Activation
2. HIMARS and shells for artillery
4. No "taboo" on tanks and armored personnel carriers
5. Military training centers
Ukraine defends not only itself, but also European borders. Isn’t it obvious?
During an engagement with the media following his address to the UN General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov comments on Russia’s intent following the completion of referenda in occupied areas of Ukraine. He states, "Following those referendums, Russia of course will respect the expression of the will of those people who for many long years have been suffering from the abuses of the neo-Nazi regime.” When asked how Russia would react if those areas are annexed by Russia, Lavrov asserts, “All of the laws, doctrines, concepts and strategies of the Russian Federation apply to all of its territory."
Ukrainian Deputy and negotiator Rustem Umerov meets Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman al Saudi to thank him for Saudi Arabia's assistance in mediating the exchange of prisoners that led to over 200 prisoners being released from Russian custody, 10 of whom were foreign fighters that were transported to Riyadh on 21 September. Umerov posts, "On behalf of Ukraine, we thanked our Saudi partners, in particularly His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, for their support in mediation efforts and humanitarian assistance."
Rustem Umerov meets the Saudi Crown Prince, 24 September (photo via Twitter @rustem_umerov)
During a televised interview, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan comments on Russia’s recent rhetoric related to the possibility of using nuclear weapons to defend its territory (including that which Russia might annex):
It’s not the first time President Putin has made a nuclear threat in this conflict. He started way back in February when Russian tanks first rolled across the border brandishing that nuclear card. And that has not deterred us from providing more than $15 billion in weapons to Ukraine, helping them be able to defend their country, and it won’t deter us now. And we have communicated directly, privately to the Russians at very high levels that there will be catastrophic consequences consequences for Russia if they use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. We have been clear with them and emphatic with them that the United States will respond decisively alongside our allies and partners. And we have protected those communications which we have done privately to the Russians, but they well understand what they would face if they went down that dark road…We have communicated to the Russians what the consequences would be, but we’ve been careful in how we talk about this publicly, because from our perspective we want to lay down the principle that there would be catastrophic consequences but not engage in a game of rhetorical tit-for-tat.
In addition to protests breaking out across the country, Russia experiences an exodus following the order to mobilize soldiers to fight in Ukraine. Kazakhstan reports that 98,000 Russians crossed the border since Vladimir Putin signed the decree on mobilization on 21 September, while Finland notes that 17,000 Russians crossed into the country over the weekend. Meanwhile, lines of Russian cars remain backed up at the border heading into Georgia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the UN Security Council. In addition to cataloging Russia’s war crimes, accusing the Kremlin of threatening nuclear disaster both through its occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and rhetoric related to nuclear weapons, and calling upon the international community to isolate and punish Russia, Zelensky delivers a key signal related to potential ceasefire negotiations. He asserts that the recent referenda conducted in occupied areas of Ukraine are invalid, and any attempt to annex Ukrainian territory crosses a negotiating red line for his administration. He states, “Russia's recognition of these sham referenda as allegedly normal, implementation of the so-called “Crimean scenario” and another attempt to annex the territory of Ukraine will mean that there is nothing to talk about with this President of Russia. Annexation is the kind of move that pits him alone against the whole of humanity. Such a clear signal is now needed from every country in the world.”
Voting ends for referenda held by occupation authorities in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. Russian-backed authorities assert that preliminary results will be available by the end of the day, but final tallies will take between one to three days depending on the region. Russian state media claims that the four occupied areas attained the following voter turnouts: Donetsk, 86.99%; Kherson, 63.58%; Luhansk, 90.64%; and Zaporizhzhia, 66.43%. [Note: there is no independent verification of those numbers.]
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov signals that President Vladimir Putin is ready to return to the negotiating table. He states that Putin expressed this willingness to negotiate with Kyiv in his dialogue with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a week ago. Peskov adds, "The President said that, of course, Russia remains ready to negotiate, but as the situation changes, so do the conditions."
In a phone call with President Volodymr Zelensky, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offers to mediate an agreement on demilitarizing the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The Turkish Presidential Office reports, "President Ergodan expressed deep satisfaction that a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine which they had been working on for a long time had successfully concluded. Stating that the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea was functioning, President Erdogan said that a similar approach may be displayed in the context of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and that the offer of the necessary mediation and assistance in creating a demilitarized zone around the power plant was in effect."
Russian Deputy and negotiator Leonid Slutsky posts the purported results of the referenda conducted by Russian-backed authorities in occupied areas of Ukraine, claiming the following percentage of votes for joining Russia: Kherson, 87.05%; Donetsk, 99.23%; Luhansk, 98.42%; Zaporizhzhia, 93.11%. Slutsky declares, “The adopted decision saves millions of people from genocide. Gives us the opportunity TOGETHER to make plans for the future.”
NATO issues a statement on the recent damage to the Nord Stream pipelines. The full text is below:
1. The damage to the Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2 pipelines in international waters in the Baltic Sea is of deep concern. All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage. These leaks are causing risks to shipping and substantial environmental damage. We support the investigations underway to determine the origin of the damage.
2. We, as Allies, have committed to prepare for, deter and defend against the coercive use of energy and other hybrid tactics by state and non-state actors. Any deliberate attack against Allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres presents his position on Russia's plan to annex Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia:
In this moment of peril, I must underscore my duty as Secretary-General to uphold the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter is clear. Any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the Principles of the UN Charter and international law…Any decision to proceed with the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned…It flouts the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations. It is a dangerous escalation. It has no place in the modern world. It must not be accepted…Any decision by Russia to go forward will further jeopardize the prospects for peace. It will prolong the dramatic impacts on the global economy, especially developing countries and hinder our ability to deliver life-saving aid across Ukraine and beyond…It is high time to step back from the brink. Now more than ever, we must work together to end this devastating and senseless war and uphold the UN Charter and international law.
Four leaks occur in the underwater Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines off the coast of Denmark, the operators state that it was the result of sabotage. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov comments on the incident, noting that it is "impossible to answer the question about the possibility of cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States in the investigation of the emergency, since we don’t have any substantive contacts and cooperation between security agencies. At the same time, the unprecedented nature of this event–it seems that this is some kind of terrorist attack, possibly at the state level–of course, requires very active, intense cooperation. This is an extremely dangerous situation that requires urgent investigation."
Ukraine and Russia conduct another negotiated prisoner exchange. The Coordination Headquarters on the Treatment of Prisoners of War announces that six Ukrainians–four Marines and two civilians–were repatriated for an undisclosed number of Russians. The Coordination Headquarters also notes that "work is already underway on the next exchanges."
Russia and Ukraine conduct another negotiated prisoner exchange, 29 September 2022 (photos via Ukraine's Coordination HQ on treatment of POWs)
Head of Ukraine's Presidential Office Andriy Yermak summarizes Ukraine's position on returning to the negotiating table with the Kremlin: "There will be no negotiations with Russia while Putin is the president. We are moving forward. To victory."
Hours after Russia's ceremony to formalize the annexation of occupied Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia, President Volodymyr Zelensky chairs a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council. There, Zelensky signs an application to accelerate Ukraine's accession to NATO. He states, "We must de jure record everything we have already achieved de facto…We are de facto allies. This has already been achieved. De facto, we have already completed our path to NATO. De facto, we have already proven interoperability with the Alliance’s standards, they are real for Ukraine - real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction. We trust each other, we help each other and we protect each other. This is what the Alliance is. De facto. Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure."
Volodymyr Zelensky holds Ukraine's application for accelerating its accession to NATO, 30 September 2022 (photo via Ukraine's Presidential Office)
Vladimir Putin presides over a signing ceremony to formalize the annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. He delivers a speech in which he states, "I want the Kyiv government and their real bosses in the west to hear me...Residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson are becoming our citizens forever." He calls on Ukraine to cease hostilities and return to negotiations, noting that these four territories are off table: "We will defend our lands with all the means at our disposal and do everything to protect our people. This is our great liberating mission."
Vladimir Putin delivers remarks at the ceremony held to formalize Russia's annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia, 30 September 2022