The Biden administration is privately suggesting Ukraine’s president indicate an openness to talks with Russia as a way to help Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government address war support fatigue among some allies, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the effort.
Officials have begun planning for a potential total evacuation of Kyiv if electrical supplies are cut, the New York Times reported. For now, Ukraine’s grid operator said it was limiting power supplies to the capital and seven northern and central regions because of damage from ongoing Russian bombardment of electrical infrastructure.
A US envoy called Iran’s statement that it provided drones to Russia months before the invasion of Ukraine “not true,” saying the Tehran government transferred dozens “just this summer.” That followed Iran’s first acknowledgment of any sort that it had supplied Russia with drones.
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On the Ground
Russia launched another four missile and five other air strikes against Ukraine on Saturday, Kyiv-based military staff said without providing more detail. Shelling was reported in the Kharkiv, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. Russian forces continued to set up defensive positions along the left bank of the Dnipro River, according to the Institute for the Study of War, as the situation in Kherson remains in the balance. Kyiv’s troops continue to target Russian logistics and transportation equipment in the Kherson region. Ukraine’s southern operational command said Russian forces have destroyed dozens of civilian watercraft as part of their retreat.
(All times CET)
Kyiv Considers Total Evacuation If It Loses Electricity: NYT (8 a.m.)
Officials in Ukraine’s capital have begun planning for a possible complete evacuation of its 3 million remaining residents if it loses electricity supplies, blackout that would require the New York Times reported.
Municipal workers are setting up 1,000 heating shelters that can double as bunkers while engineers try to fix bombed-out power stations without the needed equipment, according to the newspaper.
For now, rolling blackouts continue in Kyiv and in seven other regions in a bid to keep the electricity grid somewhat stable.
US Seeks Ukraine Signal on Negotiations: Washington Post (11:40 p.m.)
The Biden administration is prodding Ukrainian leaders to signal openness to negotiations with Russia as a way to help the government in Kyiv address war support fatigue among some of its allies, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.
The people described it as a calculated attempt to maintain international support for Ukraine’s war effort, rather than pressure for Ukraine to negotiate, according to the Post.
One official told the newspaper that “Ukraine fatigue is a real thing” for some allies.
Ukraine to Boost Maritime Drone Power, Zelenskiy Says (6:45 p.m.)
Ukraine’s government is seeking to replenish its maritime drone fleet to boost its defenses in the Black Sea, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, a week after a drone strike on Russia’s new Black Sea fleet, possibly including the frigate Admiral Makarov.
“Next week, we will launch another fund-raising direction — we will raise funds for a fleet of marine drones,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. He didn’t elaborate on the proposed source of funding.
Addressing the Iranian foreign minister’s earlier comment that Tehran “gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before” the war, Zelenskiy said Ukraine shoots down “at least 10 Iranian drones every day.”
US Envoy Says Iran’s Drone Account ‘Not True’ (6:09 p.m.)
Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, said an Iranian claim that its drones were provided to Russia before the war in Ukraine began is false.
Anti-War March in Rome Draws Tens of Thousands (5 p.m.)
Tens of thousands marched through Rome on Saturday calling for efforts toward a negotiated settlement in Ukraine and urging Italy, a NATO member, to stop providing military aid to Kyiv to fight Russia’s invasion. “No to war. No to sending weapons,” read a large banner carried by protesters.
Police estimated attendance at about 30,000; organizers claimed 100,000. Italy’s government, led by right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is being watched for any change in policy toward the war in Ukraine.
Marchers included former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who heads the Five Star party. The event had the support from unions, some churches and Rome political figures. A smaller, competing rally in support of Ukraine was held in Milan.
Iran Must Realize ‘Consequences of Complicity,’ Ukraine Says (4 p.m.)
Iran “should realize that the consequences of complicity in crimes of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine will very much offset the benefit from support of Russia,” a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman said.
Oleg Nikolenko commented on Facebook after Iran said it had provided drones to Russia, reversing earlier denials.
Iran’s foreign minister said Tehran gave Russia a limited number of drones, months before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Western estimates suggest a large number of the weapons have been provided, including during the course of the conflict, now into its ninth month.
Iran Says It Sent Drones to Russia ‘Before the War’ (9 a.m.)
Iran’s foreign minister said his country had sent drones to Russia before Moscow’s invasion in February. “We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war,” Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters in Tehran, according to the Associated Press.
Iran has previous denied sending arms to Russia for its war on Ukraine. Kremlin troops have used Iranian loitering drones to strike Ukrainian energy facilities and other targets for several weeks.
On Twitter, Iran’s government said it was “completely wrong” to claim Iran has provided missiles to Russia. Iranian intelligence has indicated that Russian forces may already have received ballistic missiles from Tehran.
Kyiv, Several Other Regions Face Continued Electricity Cutoffs (8 a.m.)
Ukraine’s power grid will limit power supplies on Saturday to consumers in the capital, Kyiv, and in seven northern and central regions, said Ukrenergo, the main grid operator.
Irregular blackouts are likely during the day given higher electricity usage on Saturdays than during the workweek.
The nation continues to struggle to fix severe damage to electrical generating equipment from weeks of Russian missile and drone attacks.