Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
USA: Stopping Nord Stream has nothing to do with sanctions against Russia
The Russian decision to stop the Nord Stream gas pipeline has nothing to do with Western sanctions, said a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House.
According to him, the United States and Europe are cooperating to ensure the availability of sufficient gas supplies.
Europe's gas storage will be full for the winter heating season, the spokesman said.
The Kremlin blamed Western sanctions for the shutdown, saying the restrictions prevented proper maintenance of the pipeline.
At the same time, the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, warned that Europe should be ready for a complete shutdown of Russian natural gas in the winter and announced his government's proposal for a ceiling on gas prices, which would protect part of the heavy industry.
In Italy, the authorities ordered businesses, households and the administration to reduce heating by 1 degree to save gas.
Russia's main gas pipeline to Europe, Nord Stream 1, remained shut down for the seventh day in a row as Russia's Gazprom and Germany's Siemens argue over whether or not repairs to the Portovaya compressor station are necessary.
Ukrainian forces shot down five Russian cruise missiles
Ukrainian forces have shot down five Russian cruise missiles in the southern part of the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his address last night. He did not, however, mention a new military success in the east, which had been hinted at earlier by his entourage. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency's long-awaited report on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant did not blame either Russia or Ukraine for the damage to the plant, but described the situation as unsustainable and warned that there was a risk of catastrophe if the shelling did not stop.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency mission, which was presented to the UN Security Council, and which called for the immediate creation of a nuclear safety zone around the facility, which is controlled by Russian forces but is staffed by Ukrainians technical team.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for demilitarization of the headquarters, which would include a halt to shelling in the area and a commitment from the Russian side to withdraw troops. Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vasyl Nebenzya, described the idea as frivolous.
The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency found a number of damages to buildings for nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, as well as near the reactors of the Zaporizhzhia plant, as well as the shortage of personnel and the constant stress of employees, which increases the risk of human error.
"We are playing with fire and something catastrophic could happen," said the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi.
At the same time, the Russian and Ukrainian sides once again exchanged accusations of artillery fire on the nuclear plant and the nearby town of Energodar. Fighting was also reported around Balakliia, an eastern town between Kharkiv and Russian-occupied Izyum, used as a railway hub from Moscow. And a pro-Russian governor in a southern Ukrainian city was seriously injured in an explosion that Reuters described as part of a series of suspected assassination attempts in the occupied territories.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has made a final decision against designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, something Kyiv has been pushing for. Russia warned that such a decision would lead to a severing of Russian-American ties. According to the White House, designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism could slow down food exports and jeopardize deals for the passage of goods across the Black Sea. And the head of the Russian state bank VTB stated that the national banking sector has largely overcome the most serious effects of Western sanctions and capitalization of Russian banks will not be needed.
Liz Truss spoke first with Zelensky, accepted an invitation to visit Kyiv
New British Prime Minister Liz Truss spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and accepted an invitation to visit Ukraine. She reiterated her support for the country in its war with Russia, Reuters reported.
Zelensky became the first foreign leader Truss spoke to on the phone in her capacity as British prime minister.
"The Prime Minister said she looks forward to working with the President in the coming weeks and months and welcomes an invitation to visit President Zelensky in Ukraine soon," the statement said.
Great Britain is one of the most outspoken international supporters of Ukraine. London has sent Kyiv almost 7,000 anti-tank weapons, hundreds of missiles and armored military vehicles, and also trains Ukrainian soldiers, BTA recalls.
Ukraine started a counteroffensive on the Kharkiv front, reports of surrounded Rosgvardia near Balakliia
The armed forces of Ukraine went on the offensive on the Kharkiv front, the Russian service of the BBC reported. On Tuesday morning, the Ukrainians delivered a strong blow to the flank of the so-called Izyum group of the Russian army in the direction of Balakliia. Without giving the name of the settlement, the adviser in the presidential office of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovich reported that a large part of the Russian group had been captured.
According to numerous, although officially unconfirmed reports, Russian forces, consisting mainly of mobilized residents of Donetsk, are urgently crossing the Seversky Donets River from the other side.
Pro-Russian Telegram channels are full of alarming messages. According to their information, the Ukrainian army has captured the village of Verbivka near Balakliia, where the largest Russian arsenal is based. Other sources report that the VSU has already occupied Balakleia itself.
This evening there will be excellent news from President Zelensky on the occasion of the counter-offensive operation in the Kharkiv region, the adviser to the head of the office of the Ukrainian president Serhiy Leshchenko announced.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, commenting on the operation in the South, hinted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had launched a counterattack from different directions.
"I will not say that this is only a counter-offensive in the Kherson region... There are directions or directions, in the plural, and we are obliged to move forward," Zelensky said. According to him, for now he cannot discuss details of the military actions, so that the enemy "may get a few surprises from us."
According to Swedish Twitter account Fria Ukraine, the main fighting is taking place north of Ryzyum. The same user claims that in Balakliia, a part of the Rossguardia was surrounded by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Samara SOBR - the special purpose unit of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs - was also surrounded and its situation was, to put it mildly, bad.
The BBC also analyzes what the loss of Balakliia means for the Russian army. Balakliia is located northwest of Izyum and through it pass the supply corridors for the units of the Russian group fighting towards Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. The route to Kupyansk also passes from there - the railway station, where the main volume of military cargo arrives from Russian territory. To the east of Izyum flows the fairly wide river Oskol, which greatly complicates the supply of the Izyum group. If the reports about the capture of Balakliia by the Ukrainian Armed Forces are confirmed, it will seriously complicate the situation of the Russian troops: firstly, this town covered the rear of the Russians, secondly, the road to Kupyansk and Vesoloye opens from here. And this “smells of an encirclement”, commented the BBC.
Everyone knows about Balakliia, but until the General Staff reports it, there is an informational silence, said the adviser in the office of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Oleksiy Arestovich. Arestovic was still tempted to give some details on the Fagin LIVE show on Tuesday night, but without specific toponyms.
“There is a city whose name we do not pronounce, and there is trouble with Putin's soldiers. Big trouble. How can I say it so that I don't give anything away, but everyone understands. Such a calamity befell them that they fled to the East with great force. Even further from the city we can't say. Way beyond the city. But the manly Russian command is trying to restore the situation, they are transferring reserves and all that, but a bunch of surprises are waiting for them, and some of them have the honor of already being captured.
Russian military microbloggers comment on the situation from the Russian side. Here is the Russian account of what happened, as seen by the Russian Peace (Руский мир) page in the Russian social network VKontakte:
Chronology according to the Russian side
“VSU advance towards Balakliia. The enemy could not enter the city.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces have been preparing the strike for a long time, in recent weeks constantly shelling the positions, and after another powerful shelling in the morning, they went on an assault.
The attack began in several directions, trying to surround the city.
The first defensive line before the city was abandoned, ours moved to the second on the outskirts.
At Verbivka, the enemy captured the stronghold, ours retreated into the town.
Ours blew up the bridge over the Balakleika River to make it difficult for the enemy's equipment to pass into the city.
The enemy is trying to go out along the route Balakliia-Volokhov Yar-Shevchenko-Kupyansk to surround our troops.
The fiercest fighting is on the Balakliia - Volokhov Yar section.
In the battle, mercenaries are involved in the attack.
There are dead, wounded, captured.
In the evening, the enemy stopped the assault attempts.
Another assault is expected in the morning.
The city is being defended by fighters from the mobilization reserve of the LPR and DPR, by fighters of the Russian Armed Forces and the Wagner Private Company.
The boys in town have a connection and are waiting for backup.
Information about heavy fighting on the Izyum Front does not correspond to reality, the situation there is normal.
The fact that OMON and SOBR repelled the offensive is some kind of nonsense in the media.”