Day 218 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Half of the Nord Stream Gas Leaked into the Baltic Sea
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Half of the Nord Stream gas leaked into the Baltic Sea
More than half of the gas that was in the two pipelines - Nord Stream-1 and Nord Stream-2 - has already leaked into the waters of the Baltic Sea, after the two facilities were hit by explosions earlier in the week, the causes for which they are still unknown.
This was reported by DPA, referring to a statement by the Danish Energy Agency, BTA reports.
At the rate gas is being released from the two pipelines, which have a total of three leaks, they are expected to remain empty on Sunday, agency chief Christopher Botsau said.
According to the Danish agency's calculations, the climate impact of the leak corresponds to about one-third of Denmark's total climate impact for an entire year. The leaked gas is mostly methane.
However, there is no specific health risk for the population, as well as for the residents of the island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea, the agency adds.
Denmark, the European Union and NATO have expressed their belief that the pipelines were likely damaged in a deliberate act of sabotage.
Against this background, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gare Store expressed his country's readiness to protect its oil and gas installations after the alleged sabotage.
"Although there is no specific threat, we are now particularly focused on security," he said, adding that indications that this was a deliberate act were growing.
More drones than usual have been spotted near offshore installations recently, particularly in September, and the incidents are being investigated by the police.
Norway will deploy its military to protect its oil and gas installations against possible sabotage, Store said.
The country is already Europe's largest supplier of gas, as well as the world's leading supplier of oil. It has over 90 offshore oil and gas fields, most of which are connected to a network of gas pipelines stretching nearly 9,000 kilometers.
"The army will be more visible near the Norwegian oil and gas installations, and the attacks will be responded to together with our allies", added the prime minister of the country, which is a member of NATO.
Navy ships will be sent at sea to protect offshore facilities, while on land the police will increase their presence, he said.
Sweden reported a fourth leak
Earlier this week, the Swedish Coast Guard discovered a fourth gas leak on the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, its spokeswoman for Svenska Dagbladet reported.
"Two of these four (leaks) are in Sweden's exclusive economic zone," Coast Guard spokeswoman Jenny Larsson told the publication.
Two other leaks are in Denmark's exclusive economic zone.
The European Union suspects sabotage behind the gas leak from Russian seabed pipelines and has vowed a "firm" response to any deliberate destruction of its energy infrastructure, Reuters noted.
CNN: Europeans see Russian warships near pipeline
European security officials observed Russian navy ships on Monday and Tuesday near leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines, possibly caused by underwater explosions, according to two Western intelligence officials and one other source familiar with the matter, CNN reported.
It's unclear whether the ships had anything to do with those explosions, those sources and others said — but it's one of many factors investigators will look into.
Russian submarines were also spotted near those areas last week, one of the intelligence officials was quoted as saying by the TV channel.
The US believes it is too early to say whether it was sabotage
The United States believes it is still too early to say whether the Nord Stream gas pipeline has been sabotaged, a US military official said, despite concerns from Washington's allies that it was deliberate.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty," the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. "As far as I know, many of our partners have come to the conclusion that this is sabotage. I'll be honest - I can't tell you anything for sure at this stage."
Asked to comment on whether any US involvement in the leaks could be ruled out, the US military spokesman said: "We are not involved in any way".
The White House was coy when asked to comment on possible retaliation, but admitted it was worried about any attacks on critical infrastructure of NATO allies.
"I don't want to pre-empt the investigation," said US presidential spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.
Asked if the Pentagon was providing any assistance to the investigation, such as submarines or other underwater military capabilities, the unnamed U.S. military official said no one had requested such help from the U.S. so far.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has offered help in a telephone conversation with his Danish counterpart, a senior US military source said on condition of anonymity.
The spokesman of the US State Department, Ned Price, said that the US will not speculate on the causes of the leaks from the Nord Stream gas pipelines, DPA reported.
In his speech, he spoke of "what appears to be obvious acts of sabotage against the Nord Stream pipeline" and added that in his assessment of the situation, the American authorities are based mostly on the data from their European partners. But also on "information, that we know," Price added.
The US Navy has announced that it is ready to assist allies on the Nord Stream "in close coordination" with them.
The European Union yesterday promised a tough response to any deliberate disruption of its energy infrastructure after saying it suspected sabotage following the discovery of leaks on Russian underwater pipelines to Europe.
The Russian embassy in Denmark said that any sabotage against the Nord Stream gas pipelines is an attack on the energy security of Russia and Europe.
Russia has restricted access to the border with Georgia
Russia has restricted access to the border with Georgia. Tens of thousands of Russians are fleeing to the neighboring country to avoid being mobilized for the war in Ukraine.
The restriction was framed as a decision of the Republic of North Ossetia. Its administration has announced that it will not allow vehicles with registrations from other parts of the Russian Federation into its territory. This should stem the huge influx that forms a 15-kilometer queue at the most frequently used border crossing.
Georgia is just one of the destinations to which Russians are fleeing. There are also queues at the border with Kazakhstan and Finland. And plane tickets are snapped up the moment they appear, often at a cost of several thousand US dollars.
Ukraine surrounds Lyman, the US gives it another $1.1 billion in military aid
Ukrainian troops have almost surrounded the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region. This was reported by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) based on observation and combat data.
Lyman is considered to be the main objective of the Ukrainian army in Donbas at the moment, weeks after the surprise recapture of large areas of Kharkiv region.
The city, captured by Russia in the summer, according to maps prepared by ISW, Ukrainian forces have almost surrounded Lyman and the only possibility of supplying the Russian army is through the populated point of Torske (Торское in Russian), shelled by Ukrainian military.
The BBC's Russian service notes that ISW's assessments of the situation at the front are generally conservative and information may even arrive with some delay.
Yesterday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced, without much detail, that the Ukrainian operation around Lyman had failed and 70 soldiers had been killed. The Ukrainian army did not confirm this, and the ISW, which yesterday also reported tightening the noose around the city, confirmed the encirclement data with the latest assessment of the situation.
Lyman was absent from the latest announcement by the Ukrainian military. The adviser in the Ukrainian presidential administration, Oleksiy Arestovych, said a few hours ago that Ukraine's advance in the region continues, and the occupier is in for a "cauldron".
Why Lyman is important
Lyman is a city with a pre-war population of only 20,000 people, but according to ISW, its fall could allow Ukraine to threaten Russian positions in the western part of the Luhansk region and in the area of the two cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk (for the former it was one of the most difficult battles in Luhansk region in late spring).
The encirclement of Lyman coincides with preparations for the annexation of the "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the Russian-controlled parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in southern Ukraine. This is despite the fact that Russia still only controls about two-thirds of the Donetsk region; there were signals that declaring it Russian territory would turn the Ukrainian counter-offensive into an invasion of Russia. Yesterday, the press secretary of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, announced that the "special military operation" (as Russia calls the war) will continue at least until the full control of the Donetsk region.
NEW: Russian military leadership has likely failed to set information conditions for the potential defeat of Russian forces in #Lyman despite increasingly concerned discourse among Russian milbloggers regarding its potential envelopment by Ukrainian forces https://t.co/PgxSbjvRL6 pic.twitter.com/VYaVlrRDw8— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) September 29, 2022
"Russian military bloggers discussed the Ukrainian successes around Lyman with heightened concern on September 28" as a sign that "Russian forces in the area may be facing imminent defeat," according to ISW.
The Russian military leadership appears to have failed to set the informational conditions for a potential debacle in the Lyman area and this could affect morale, explained an assessment of the situation on the ground released last night.
It is recalled that the situation was similar before the success of the counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region, and probably the subsequent dissatisfaction in the Russian nationalist information space prompted the Kremlin to order the partial military mobilization.
Meanwhile, the United States has announced that it will provide an additional $1.1 billion in military aid to Ukraine. The announcement is not a surprise after yesterday's Reuters publication, which quoted US officials who wished to remain anonymous.
For these funds, 18 HIMARS rocket launchers and ammunition will be ordered, Titan anti-drone systems and others will be ordered from manufacturers. After this package, American military aid to Ukraine will amount to nearly 17 billion dollars.
"We will not stop supporting Ukraine and will continue to stand behind the Ukrainian people as necessary and provide them with the military assistance they need to defend themselves," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.
In addition, Ukraine will acquire about 300 combat vehicles, dozens of trucks and tractors for transporting heavy equipment, various types of radars, communication and reconnaissance equipment, and personal protective equipment. Explosive detection equipment and support and training equipment are also included.
British intelligence: Partial mobilization caused 'significant exodus' from Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin's partial mobilization orders have led to a "significant exodus" from the country, according to the latest British intelligence report released by the UK Ministry of Defense on Thursday.
"In the seven days since President Putin announced the so-called 'partial mobilization,' there has been a significant exodus of Russians trying to avoid conscription. Although the exact numbers are unclear, they likely exceed the size of the total military invasion force that Russia sent to Ukraine on February 24, 2022," the Ministry of Defense said.
The most affluent and well-educated Russians are most strongly represented among those trying to leave the country, the latest intelligence report also states.
The British War Office concluded that "combined with these reservists being mobilized, the domestic economic impact (in Russia) of reduced labor availability and an acceleration of the 'brain drain' is likely to become increasingly significant".
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 29 September 2022— Ministry of Defence ???????? (@DefenceHQ) September 29, 2022
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/qYt3fqzP7y
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The EU does not recognize the "referendums" in Ukraine
The EU does not and will never recognize the illegal "referendums" in the occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and their falsified results, nor any decision made on the basis of those results.
This was stated in a statement by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, on behalf of the EU.
Europe calls on all UN member states to act in the same way.
By organizing these fake "referendums", Russia seeks to forcefully change Ukraine's internationally recognized borders. This is a serious violation of the UN Charter. The results of these polls are null and void and therefore cannot produce any legal effect, the statement added.
The "referendums" are organized while Russia is waging its war of aggression against Ukraine and aiming to annex the occupied territories. They were held against the background of massive and systematic violations of human rights, as well as intimidation of Ukrainian citizens by Russia and its appointed illegal authorities in the occupied territories. Therefore, these illegal "votes", held in haste and under pressure, do not represent the free will of the people living in these regions.
Everyone involved in the organization of the "referendums", as well as those guilty of violating human rights, will be held accountable, assures Josep Borrell.
He and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the proposal for an eighth package of sanctions against Russia.
The EU sanctions Alexandr Dugin and the singer of "Lyube" Rastorguyev
"Lyube" singer Nikolay Rastorguyev, philosopher Alexandr Dugin and the largest shareholder in the Kalashnikov arms company Alan Lushnikov are among the EC's proposals for the EU's eighth sanctions package, Politico reported.
Included in the Commission's draft is the ban on the import of steel products from Russia and the export of certain semiconductors. One key item missing from the list is Russian diamonds - this will please Belgium, which is a kind of diamond hub of Europe. Instead, Brussels wants to ban the import of "certain elements used in the jewelry industry, such as stones and precious metals," and to sanction Alrosa, Russia's largest diamond mining company.
The EC will also consider proposals to stop the import of goods deemed to generate significant revenue in Russia, such as "beauty or make-up preparations", "shaving preparations including pre- and after-shave products, personal deodorants", as well as and soap and toilet paper.
As for exports, semiconductor components and chips will no longer be allowed to be offered on the Russian market. Exports of aircraft parts to Russia will also be banned if the new sanctions package is passed.
In the services sector, the ban on "the provision of architectural and engineering services, legal consulting services and IT consulting services" to companies and individuals in Russia is foreseen.
The draft, which the Commission presented to EU ambassadors on Wednesday, still needs the approval of the 27 member states.
In total, Brussels intends to add to the "blacklist" about 30 individuals and eight companies.
Volodin: Let's close the borders to everyone meeting the conditions for mobilization
To close the borders to everyone meeting the conditions for mobilization. This was called for by the speaker of the Russian Parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, with a publication on his Telegram profile.
He addressed some of the complaints of Russian citizens who, despite factors such as advanced age, health problems or marital status, received summonses.
"We are trying to solve the problems you are facing. There are many reports of the mobilization of people who are older than intended. The military commissariats admit mistakes.
They bring everything into line with the regulations."
Volodin then opined on whether a ban should be imposed on Russian citizens who meet the criteria for mobilization from leaving Russia. He refers to the "Law on Mobilization Preparation and Mobilization".
"Citizens registered for military service, from the moment mobilization is announced, are prohibited from leaving their place of residence without the permission of the military commissariats (Article 21).
There is such a norm in the law and all military personnel must be guided by it," he emphasizes.
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