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Ukraine Continues With Counteroffensive10/02 11:10

   Russia attacked the Ukrainian president's hometown and other targets Sunday 
with suicide drones, and Ukraine took back full control of a strategic eastern 
city in a counteroffensive that has reshaped the war.

   KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Russia attacked the Ukrainian president's hometown and 
other targets Sunday with suicide drones, and Ukraine took back full control of 
a strategic eastern city in a counteroffensive that has reshaped the war.

   Russia's loss of the eastern city of Lyman, which it had been using as a 
transport and logistics hub, is a new blow to the Kremlin as it seeks to 
escalate the war by illegally annexing four regions of Ukraine and heightening 
threats to use nuclear force.

   Russian President Vladimir Putin's land grab has threatened to push the 
conflict to a dangerous new level. It also prompted Ukraine to formally apply 
for NATO membership, a bid that won backing Sunday from nine central and 
eastern European NATO members fearful that Russia's aggression could eventually 
target them, too.

   Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Sunday that his forces now 
control Lyman: "As of 12:30 p.m. (0930 GMT) Lyman is cleared fully. Thank you 
to our militaries, our warriors," he said in a video address.

   Russia's military didn't comment Sunday on Lyman, after announcing Saturday 
that it was withdrawing its forces there to more favorable positions.

   The British military described the recapture of Lyman as a "significant 
political setback" for Moscow, and Ukraine appeared to swiftly capitalize on 
its gains.

   Hours after Zelenskyy's announcement, Ukrainian media shared an image of 
Ukrainian troops carrying the country's yellow-and-blue flag in front of a 
statue marking the village of Torske, 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Lyman and 
within sight of the Russian-held Luhansk region. Shortly later, a video posted 
online showed one Ukrainian soldier saying that Kyiv's forces had begun to 
target the city of Kreminna, just across the border in Luhansk. Outgoing 
artillery could be heard in the background. Russian military correspondents 
also acknowledged Ukrainian attacks targeting Kreminna.

   In another online photo, an Ukrainian soldier stood before giant watermelon 
landmark just south of the village of Novovorontsovka on the banks of the 
Dnieper River, along the Russian-controlled province of Kherson's northern 
edge. A Ukrainian flag flew above the statue as several apparently deactivated 
landmines lay beside it.

   While Ukrainian forces did not immediately acknowledge a breakthrough, 
writers close to the Russian military have described a new offensive by Kyiv in 
the Kherson region.

   In southern Ukraine, Zelenskyy's hometown of Krivyi Rih came under Russian 
attack by a suicide drone that destroyed two stories of a school early Sunday, 
the regional governor said. The Ukrainian air force said Sunday it shot down 
five Iranian-made drones overnight, while two others made it through air 
defenses.

   A car carrying four men seeking to forage for mushrooms in Ukraine's 
Chernihiv region struck a mine, killing all those inside, authorities said 
Sunday.

   Russian attacks also targeted the city of Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian 
authorities said Sunday. And Ukraine's military said Sunday it carried out 
strikes on multiple Russian command posts, ammunition depots and two S-300 
anti-aircraft batteries.

   The reports of military activity couldn't be immediately verified.

   Ukrainian forces have retaken swaths of territory, notably in the northeast 
around Kharkiv, in a counteroffensive in recent weeks that has embarrassed the 
Kremlin and prompted rare domestic criticism of Putin's war.

   Lyman, which Ukraine recaptured by encircling Russian troops, is in the 
Donetsk region near the border with Luhansk, two of the four regions that 
Russia illegally annexed Friday after forcing what was left of the population 
to vote in referendums at gunpoint.

   In his nightly address, Zelenskyy said: "Over the past week, there have been 
more Ukrainian flags in the Donbas. In a week there will be even more."

   In a daily intelligence briefing Sunday, the British Defense Ministry called 
Lyman crucial because it has "a key road crossing over the Siversky Donets 
River, behind which Russia has been attempting to consolidate its defenses."

   The Russian retreat from northeast Ukraine in recent weeks has revealed 
evidence of widespread, routine torture of both civilians and soldiers, notably 
in the strategic city of Izium, an Associated Press investigation has found.

   AP journalists located 10 torture sites in the town, including a deep pit in 
a residential compound, a clammy underground jail that reeked of urine, a 
medical clinic and a kindergarten.

   Recent developments have raised fears of all-out conflict between Russia and 
the West.

   Putin frames the recent Ukrainian gains as a U.S.-orchestrated effort to 
destroy Russia, and last week he heightened threats of nuclear force in some of 
his toughest, most anti-Western rhetoric to date.

   The leaders of Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, 
Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Slovakia issued a joint statement Sunday 
backing a path to NATO membership for Ukraine, and calling on all 30 members of 
the U.S.-led security bloc to ramp up military aid for Kyiv.

   Germany's defense minister on Sunday announced the delivery of 16 wheeled 
armored howitzers produced in Slovakia to Ukraine next year. The weapons will 
be financed jointly with Denmark, Norway and Germany,

   Russia moved ahead Sunday with steps meant to make its land grab look like a 
legal process aimed at helping people allegedly persecuted by Kyiv, with 
rubber-stamp approval by the Constitutional Court and draft laws being pushed 
through the Kremlin-friendly parliament.

   Outside Russia, the Kremlin's actions have been widely denounced as 
violating international law, with multiple EU countries summoning Russian 
ambassadors since Putin on Friday signed annexation treaties with Moscow-backed 
officials in southern and eastern Ukraine.

   Meanwhile, international concerns are mounting about the fate of Europe's 
largest nuclear plant after Russian forces detained its director for alleged 
questioning.

   The International Atomic Energy Agency announced Sunday that its 
director-general, Rafael Grossi would visit Kyiv and Moscow in the coming days 
to discuss the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Grossi is 
continuing to push for "a nuclear safety and security zone" around the site.

   French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Zelenskyy, denouncing the 
detention of the plant's director and saying the situation there "remained very 
worrying."

   The Zaporizhzhia plant is in one of the four regions that Moscow illegally 
annexed on Friday, and repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the war. 
Ukrainian technicians have continued running the power station after Russian 
troops seized it but its last reactor was shut down in September as a 
precautionary measure.

   Pope Francis on Sunday decried Russia's nuclear threats and appealed to 
Putin to stop "this spiral of violence and death."

 
 
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