Last week (October, 17–23) was marked by massive russian terrorist attacks. The energy system of Ukraine has suffered some of the most severe strikes since October, 10, but Ukrainians have not been intimidated. In particular, according to a recent KIIS survey, 86% of respondents believe that it is necessary to continue the military struggle, even if russians continue their strikes to destroy the infrastructure and claim human lives.

The poll findings clearly demonstrate that the European Parliament decided to award the Sakharov Prize — the main EU human rights award — to the Ukrainian people: “To the brave people of Ukraine risking their lives for Europe to safeguard their values: freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.”

Even more symbolic was the gesture of the actor, Mark Hamill, known for his role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars film universe trilogy, who helped raise funds for 500 drones for the Ukrainian army. “May the force be with you,” the actor wrote, wishing Ukrainians victory. We will certainly need the force in the fight against russian evil.

Read more in our review about how Ukraine resisted the kremlin's aggression this week.

Iranian Lies

Despite another massive russian strikes at Ukrainian cities by kamikaze drones, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that official Tehran did not hand over drones to russia to be used in the war against Ukraine. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaan, reported the following: “The published news report saying that Iran has provided russia with drones has political ambitions and is disseminated by Western sources. We did not provide weapons to any side of the belligerent countries”.

For the civilized world, these statements came as the confirmation for yet another Iranian lies. On October, 17, near the Iranian Embassy in Kyiv, a protest "Stop Terror" tookj place demanding to stop selling Shahed-136 kamikaze drones to russia. The next day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, said that he was submitting a proposal to the President to cut diplomatic relations with Iran: “Iran's actions are about meanness and lies that we will not tolerate. Iran became an accomplice in the crime of aggression and crimes of russia on our territory ”.

The statements of Iranian officials "about the non-involvement in the war in Ukraine" seem even more cynical in view of the reports of Reuters journalists that Iran had promised to provide russia with surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to an even larger number of drones. Although the Pentagon has not yet confirmed the sale of additional drones and missiles to russia, the pressure on official Tehran should be increased. In particular, new sanctions against Iran for supplying Shahid were approved by the European Union, and NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, announced the provision of Ukraine with means to combat drones: "The most important thing we can do is to fulfill what the members of the Alliance have promised, such as to activate and provide even more air defense systems. In the coming days, NATO will hand over systems against the drones to counter the specific threat of drones, in particular the threat coming from Iran.”

Also, in response to the attacks of kamikaze drones, the state concern "Ukroboronprom" implied that they were completing the design and development of a Ukrainian drone with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers, and the "Return Alive" fund, together with the Chief Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense, launched a new project under the pilot name "Cotton in Moscow" related to long-range operations.

However, the AFU acted most resolutely. According to the Air Force, as of October, 23, defenders had taken down more than 273 Iranian drones. In addition, according to Israeli media, 10 Iranian instructors who trained russians were killed by Ukrainian strikes. The alleged presence of those Iranian military in Crimea was recently confirmed by the coordinator of the White House National Security Council for Strategic Communications, John Kirby: "Today, we can confirm that the russian military based in Crimea managed Iranian UAVs, using them to strike Ukraine, including the attacks on Kyiv in recent days. We believe that the Iranian military stayed in Crimea and assisted russia in these operations. ”

We hope that the decisive actions of civilized countries against Iran will continue, and russia's supply of kamikaze drones will cease. It will be supported, among other things, by the recent Israeli air strike, which “directly hit with rockets in the area of Dimas airport, in western Rif Dimashq Governorate in Syria, and destroyed equipment used for the assembly of Iranian-made drones”.

Northern threat to Ukraine and “mediocre response” from russia

For the deployment of the belarus-russian group of troops, about 170 tanks, up to 200 armored combat vehicles, and up to 100 cannons and mortars of above 100 mm caliber will arrive to belarus from the russian federation. The head of  the department of international military cooperation, Assistant Defense Minister of belarus, valery revenko, said. According to him, up to 9,000 people will arrive in belarus in response to the deployment of the NATO group near the borders of the Union State.

The growing threat from the north has been also confirmed by the General Staff of the Armed Forces. However, the department notes that "this time the direction of the offensive can be changed to the west of the belarusian-Ukrainian border, to cut the main logistics arteries supplying weapons and military equipment to Ukraine from the partner countries." Despite this, Ukraine monitors the situation and reliably covers its borders.

Interestingly, a draft resolution on recognition of belarus as a temporarily occupied country was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada this week.

To increase the intimidation of Ukraine, putin also introduced martial law in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine — in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya regions. According to him, "now it is necessary to formalize the martial law within the framework of russian legislation." In addition, the territories of the occupied Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Krasnodar Krai, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk, and Rostov regions have introduced a medium-level response regime. Other subjects of russia that are part of the Central Federal District and the Southern Federal District introduced a regime of high-alert readiness.

According to putin, “the Kyiv regime refused to negotiate, they continue to shell more russian territories using terrorist methods.”

As you can see, the "special military operation" of the kremlin continues to follow the plan precisely. However, according to the adviser, Mykhailo Podoliak, for Ukraine "the introduction of ‘martial law’ does not change anything: we continue to liberate and de-occupy our territories." The same opinion is upheld in Washington: "russia does not have any legitimate claims to sovereign Ukrainian territory." Biden's office called the introduction of martial law in russia a “desperate tactic.”

Volodymyr Zelensky called this tactics of russia "the hysterics of the Chekists" — the closer the defeat of the rf, the greater the hysterics will grow. On the other hand, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, called on the UN to condemn the "martial law of putin" because "it is a preparation for the mass deportation of the Ukrainian population to depressed areas of russia to change the ethnic composition of the occupied territory."

Allies help Ukraine, while russia steals grain

In view of the new russian provocations, the threat from belarus, and potentially new assistance to the kremlin from Iran, assistance to Ukraine from allies, general world attention to the needs of our state and condemnation of russia's terrorist tactics remain extremely important.

The week began with the European Union establishing a Military Assistance Mission to Ukraine and approving an additional EUR 500 million under the European Peace Facility to further support the capacity and resilience of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In addition, EU ministers approved a military training mission for Ukraine, which should cover up to 15,000 soldiers. The European Union has also transferred EUR 2 billion of macrofinancial assistance to Ukraine in support of economic stability.

On the same day, Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, announcedthat Ukraine would soon receive the latest air defense systems — Norwegian NASAMS anti-aircraft missile systems designed to destroy maneuvering targets at low and medium altitudes. Subsequently, it was confirmed that Germany had transferred another five BREM Bergepanzer 2, winter uniforms, and ammunition to Ukraine. The day before, the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, announced the beginning of the transfer of the Greek BMP-1 to Ukraine.

The reaction of the UK Defense secretary, Ben Wallace, followed. In his address in the House of Commons on Thursday, he announced the preparation of a military assistance package for the Ukrainian military for the winter period, which, in particular, will include winter uniforms and additional missiles for air defense systems. It is worth noting that this week the russians staged a provocation against our British allies — a Russian fighter fired a missile near a British aircraft over the Black Sea.

There was also positive news from the United States, where members of Congress are discussing the possibility of adopting a law to allocate $50 billion in aid to Ukraine “ahead of time” — due to fears that “after the elections, lawmakers may be more sceptical about supporting Kyiv.”

Unfortunately, Israel delays their support to Ukraine. Defense Minister, Benny Huntz, said that his state would not supply weapons to Ukraine to resist the russian invasion, but they could provide an early warning system about the approach of missile strikes or drone strikes.

Another provocative statement was made by Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. He announced that at the summit of the EU leaders he would encourage them to review their sanctions policy against russia. On the other hand, Italy's new prime minister, Georgia Meloni, has clearly outlined her policy of supporting Ukraine: “Italy will never be a ‘weak link’ in the Western alliance against the russian invasion of Ukraine. Italy is fully and proudly part of Europe and NATO ”.

It is obvious that not being able to disrupt assistance to Ukraine, russia tried to create another crisis. Thus, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky: "russia deliberately delays the passage of ships from Ukrainian ports within the framework of the grain initiative and artificially created a queue of 150 ships. The enemy is going all lengths to hinder our food exports. I believe that with these actions, russia is absolutely deliberately fomenting the food crisis”.

Such provocation is also included in the rationale behind the stealing of Ukrainian grain. This is stated in the investigation of the German media “NDR”. In particular, according to the publication, "russia intends to export a total of almost 1.8 million tons of grain from the occupied territories of Ukraine in 2022, which will allow it to earn about USD 600 million."

However, as it turns out, russians can not only “steal” but also buy. To be precise, we are talking about real estate in Norway, but it is also designated for espionage. Dagbladet reported that the russian Orthodox Church has bought some property on the Norwegian coast in recent years, located near one of the most important sites of the Norwegian armed forces — the Hawkonsvern base, the headquarters of the JWC, the NATO Joint Combat Center — and close to the border with russia. We hope that the Norwegian Ministry of Defence will respond adequately to the threats from the kremlin who must be offended by the fact that this Scandinavian country has helped the EU successfully achieve energy independence from russia, announced this week the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton.

New russian provocations and “raising the stakes”

This week, russia continued the terrorist shelling of Ukrainian cities and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The enemy attacked Ukraine with massive blows from the sky at the beginning of the week (October, 17) and repeated the prohibited methods of war on Saturday (October, 22). The number of russian strikes on the power system of Ukraine has long exceeded the 300 mark. As a result, a large number of Ukrainians were without access to electricity, and others started saving on this resource. However, the russians continue to plan new crimes and catastrophes.

Thus, the President of Ukraine said that the russians planted explosives on the dam and units of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant, and they are planning a terrorist attack under a foreign flag: "russia is deliberately creating the preconditions for a large-scale disaster in the south of Ukraine. We have information that russian terrorists have planted mines on the dam and on the units of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant. " Volodymyr Zelensky added: “If russian terrorists blow up the dam, then more than 80 settlements, including Kherson, will be in the zone of rapid flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people could be affected. In addition, this russian attack could leave the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant without water for cooling.”

This information has been confirmed by the American Institute for War Studies, who believes that "russians create an information field for an attack under a false flag on the Kakhovska HPP in order to justify or cover their retreat in Kherson region." In addition, the Chief Intelligence Board of Ukraine clarifies that "the demolition of the dam had been planned in advance — the key mining work was carried out in April. This week, additional mine planting was carried out for locks and supports of the Kakhovska HPP. There are 2 military tented ‘Kamaz‘ trucks stationed on the dam without drivers. Both machines are fully loaded with “explosives boxes”.

Despite the obvious preparation for a possible crime, the self-proclaimed deputy of the occupation administration of Kherson region, Kirilo Stremousov, called the Ukrainian president a "liar" and reported that "information about the mines of the Kakhovska HPP is not true". Instead, “the danger of flooding of territories in connection with the planned destruction of the dam of the Kakhovska HPP and the discharge of water from the cascade of power plants upstream of the Dnieper” was reported by the Governor of the occupied part of the Kherson region, Volodymyr Saldo. It is quite possible that just because of the preparation of a catastrophic provocation, the russians announced the "organized relocation of the civilian population" to the left bank of the Dnieper.

The new commander of the russian occupation forces in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, announced almost the same statements. According to him, "due to the preparation of the missile strike of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Kherson and on the dam of the Kakhovska HPP, people will be evacuated  from the city."

Finally, in order to somehow divert the world's attention from their own barbaric actions, the russians again produced false statements about Ukraine's alleged manufacture of a "dirty nuclear bomb". Such nonsense was spread by the Minister of Defense of russia, sergei shoigu, in the telephone conversations with the Ministers of Defense of France, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In fact, the russian Minister repeated the narratives recently published in Ria Novosti. Propagandists invented the story that, allegedly, "under the leadership of Western curators, Kyiv has already begun to implement this plan. The task of producing the same ‘dirty bomb’ was given to the management of the Eastern Mining and Enrichment Plant located in the city of Zhovti Vody, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, and to the Kyiv Institute for Nuclear Research. ”

Interestingly, these propaganda clichés are not new at all — russians have been lying about Ukraine's "intentions" since the beginning of March. Thus, the head of the russian delegation to Vienna, Konstantin Gavrilov, said that the invasion of Ukraine by the russian federation was aimed at preventing Kyiv from creating a "dirty nuclear bomb".

At the same time, Ukrainian high-ranking officials completely refuted crazy russian statements. In particular, the Minister of Foreign Affairs ,Dmytro Kuleba, said: "First of all, Ukraine is a committed party to the NPT: we do not have any ‘dirty bombs’ and do not plan to have them. Secondly, russians often blame others of something they “plan themselves”. Moreover, the Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, invited the UN and IAEA monitoring missions to visit Ukraine, and Volodymyr Zelensky sharply condemned such provocations of the kremlin.

We hope that russian provocations will not go beyond the kremlin’s propaganda.

This publication was prepared within the framework of the project "Civil Society for Ukraine's Post-war Recovery and EU-Readiness", which is implemented with the financial support of the European Union. Its content is the sole responsibility of the Civil Network OPORA and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.