With the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipeline and the annexation of territories to the east of Ukraine, the war seems to have turned a corner. In his official speech, Vladimir Putin tried to present the West as "satanic" and once again waved nuclear weapons. US President Joe Biden immediately raised his voice: Washington has made it known, in essence, that NATO could retaliate if necessary. The confrontation continued at the UN, where Russia naturally used its right of veto. And meanwhile, the fighting raged, especially in Zaporizhia and Lyman.
As Ukrainian counter-offensives continue in the northeast and southwest of the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the formal annexation of four currently occupied Ukrainian regions, promising victory in front of several thousand people gathered on Red Square, Moscow. On the sidelines of a festive concert, the autocrat harangued: “the victory will be ours”.
Map of the Ukrainian territories whose annexation Russia officially announced on Friday, September 30, 2022.
Dario Ungiusto / L'Express
At the same time, his army was experiencing difficulties in Lyman, a strategic lock in Ukraine, the city now being surrounded by Ukrainian troops. The Russian soldiers who defend this important railway junction are fighting "at the end of their tether", recognized Friday, September 30 a senior pro-Russian separatist official, Denis Pouchiline.
These contradictions do not stop the propaganda: "welcome home", also declared the Russian president to the address of the inhabitants of the annexed Ukrainian territories, affirming that Russia opened "its heart" to them. On the same day, a particularly deadly missile strike killed at least 30 civilians in an area under Ukrainian control near Zaporizhia in the south of the country.
During this speech, Putin once again mentioned the use of nuclear weapons, statements that made the United States jump. 'America and its allies will not be intimidated' and Vladimir Putin 'will not scare us', US President Joe Biden replied during a speech at the White House, promising that NATO would defend 'every inch' of its territory.
In this stern warning, the United States also warned that it would sanction in agreement with the G7 countries "any country, individual or entity" which provides support to Russia's attempts to "illegally" seize territories in Ukraine. A little earlier in the day, the American Congress also voted a new tranche of aid of 12.3 billion for Ukraine, including 3.7 billion euros of military equipment, bringing the total envelope American to 65 billion euros since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
A risk but not an emergency. On Friday, Biden's services also wanted to qualify about a possible use of atomic weapons. “There is a risk, given the levity and the warlike attitude with which Putin talks about it, that he is considering this, and in the same way we have been very clear about what the consequences would be,” told the press. urges White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “We currently see no indications of an imminent use of nuclear weapons,” he added, however.
Russia has arrested Igor Murachov, the general manager of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, located under Russian control in southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom announced on Saturday. Occupied since March 4 by Russian troops, this plant, the largest in Europe, has been targeted many times in recent months by bombings of which kyiv and Moscow accuse each other, raising fears of a nuclear accident.
Igor Murachov was arrested by a "Russian patrol" on Friday at around 4:00 p.m. local time as he was traveling from the plant to the Russian-controlled town of Ernogodar, said Petro Kotin, the boss of Energoatom, on a social network. According to him, the vehicle transporting the director of the plant was stopped and the latter was extracted from the car then "drove, blindfolded, to an unknown destination".
Russia unsurprisingly used its veto to prevent the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the annexations, a text that will be submitted to the General Assembly where all member states have a voice. Apart from the Russian veto, the resolution garnered 10 votes in favor and four countries abstained - China, India, Brazil and Gabon - in a result Westerners have described as evidence of isolation of Russia.
The World Bank announced on Friday that it would grant an additional $530 million in support to Ukraine to enable it to "meet the urgent needs caused by the Russian invasion". This support, which takes the form of a new loan via the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), is guaranteed by the United Kingdom to the tune of 500 million dollars and by Denmark for 30 million, specified the institution in its press release.
"The toll of destruction and damage in Ukraine is impressive and continues to rise. The support of the international community has so far been impressive (...). The Ukrainian people face a long road towards reconstruction and partners will continue their support," World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Anna Bjerde said in the statement. According to estimates made by the institution, "the long-term costs of reconstruction are enormous and well in excess of 100 billion dollars over the next three years", she added. This new tranche brings the aid granted by the World Bank to Ukraine to 13 billion dollars since the start of the conflict, of which 11 billion have already been disbursed.