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Russia-Ukraine war: Putin changes mobilisation rules as Kremlin defends retreat from occupied regions

Summary of the day so far …
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has signed the four laws ratifying the Russian Federation’s claimed annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Russian forces do not fully control any of the four areas, and it remains unclear where Russia is attempting to set its new external border.
Ukraine has made major and rapid advances this week, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying in an address on Tuesday night that “dozens” of towns had been recaptured. Ukrainian forces captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River in their major advance in Kherson region, and in the east, Ukrainian forces were advancing after capturing Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province.
Pro-Russian leaders in the occupied regions have claimed that the situation is stabilising this morning. Denis Pushilin, installed as governor in Donetsk by Russia, has said “the situation on the front line in the Lyman direction is stabilising, the defence line is being strengthened”, while Kirill Stremousov, part of the occupation administration imposed on Kherson, has been quoted saying that Russian forces were “conducting a regrouping in order to gather their strength and deliver a retaliatory blow” in the region, and that “the advance of the armed forces of Ukraine in the Kherson direction has stopped”. None of the claims could be independently verified.
Asked about the proposed borders, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said: “In general, of course, there we are talking about the territory in which the military-civilian administration operated at the time of admission [to Russia]. But I repeat once again: certain territories there will be returned, and we will continue to consult with the population that expresses a desire to live with Russia.”
The UK ministry of defence has said in its daily operational briefing that “Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River.”
Putin said in televised comments that he had signed a decree making “corrections” to the partial mobilisation drive he announced 21 September. The Russian president said the decree would defer conscription for additional categories of students, including those enrolled at accredited private universities and certain postgraduate students.
The EU has agreed to set a price cap on Russian oil and ban trade in numerous technical and consumer goods, as part of further sanctions designed to counter Putin’s ability to wage war on Ukraine. The latest round of sanctions, the eighth since February, were signed off by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, a week after the measures were proposed, a timescale regarded as lightning speed in Brussels.
Russia’s foreign ministry has said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) would operate under the supervision of Russian agencies after the annexation declaration. Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the earliest days of the war. Energoatom, the Ukrainian state-enterprise that owns the plant, has said it may restart it to ensure safety.
Oleksandr Starukh, Ukraine’s governor of Zaporizhzhia, said that overnight “the enemy fired rockets at the regional centre and the outskirts of the city. Infrastructure facilities were destroyed.”
Zelenskiy has posted a series of images of damaged buildings across social media from recently liberated Lyman, with the message “Our Lyman after the occupier. All basics of life have been destroyed here. They are doing so everywhere in the territories they seize. This can be stopped in one way only: liberate Ukraine, life, humanity, law and truth as soon as possible.”