Ukraine live briefing: Kyiv breaks through in south and east; U.S. authorizes new military aid

A Ukrainian soldier on Monday stands atop a T72 tank on the outskirts of Lyman, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian soldier on Monday stands atop a T72 tank on the outskirts of Lyman, Ukraine. (Heidi Levine/FTWP)

Fierce fighting continued as Ukrainian forces extended their battlefield gains against Russian troops in the east and south. The advances, including in some areas Moscow has sought to illegally annex, came as Russia’s upper house of parliament voted Tuesday to approve so-called “accession treaties” for those regions.

President Biden and Vice President Harris, in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, assured him that the United States would not recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territory and pledged $625 million in new security assistance, according to a White House readout.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • The State Department on Tuesday authorized $625 million in new security assistance to Ukraine. The new assistance means that the United States will have contributed a total of $16.8 billion to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, according to the State Department.
  • A Russian diplomat at the United Nations said Tuesday that the level of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine was pushing “the situation closer to a dangerous point of a direct military confrontation between Russia and NATO,” the state-owned Tass news agency reported.
  • Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, ratified the illegal annexation of the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine on Tuesday. The lower house approved the annexations Monday.
  • A Russian court set Oct. 25 as the appeal date for Brittney Griner, the WNBA star held in Russia for drug possession, the Associated Press reported. In August, Griner was sentenced to 9½ years in prison after being accused of having vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner’s attorneys say the penalty is excessive and that she was prescribed cannabis to treat pain.

Battleground updates

  • Ukrainian forces in the south and east are “throwing problems at the Russian chain of command faster than the Russians can effectively respond,” according to a Western official who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security information. “And this is compounding the existing dysfunction within the Russian invasion force.”
  • Russian forces are continuing offensive operations in Ukraine’s north and east, a senior U.S. military official said Monday, also in a briefing with reporters. Russian troops are firing artillery shells into Kupiansk, a Ukrainian-held town near Luhansk. There is heavy fighting near Bakhmut as Russian forces try to push west, the official said, but Ukrainian troops are holding their lines.

Global impact

  • The Kremlin praised Elon Musk’s four-point “peace plan” for ending the war in Ukraine. Musk outlined the “plan” in a Twitter poll that sparked a wave of criticism. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Russia considers it “very positive that such a person as Musk is looking for ways out of the situation around Ukraine.”
  • Japan deemed a Russian consul in Sapporo persona non grata and ordered the diplomat to leave the country by Oct. 10. Japan issued the declaration after Russia detained a Japanese diplomat in Vladivostok last week and ordered him to leave.
  • The war in Ukraine has hurt prospects of a post-pandemic economic recovery in developing economies in Europe and Central Asia, the World Bank said Tuesday. Economic activity will remain “deeply depressed through next year... as energy price shocks continue to impact the region,” the organization said.

From our correspondents

Refuting annexation, Ukrainian forces push on from Lyman toward Luhansk: Ukrainian soldiers cheered as they drove out of Lyman on Monday, passing Russian corpses being placed into black bags. Just two days after Ukrainian troops claimed victory in the vital transport hub in Donetsk, there was almost no military presence left there — a sign of how quickly Ukrainian forces are advancing after months of incremental gains.

After Putin’s “partial mobilization” of troops, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Louisa Loveluck write, Kyiv appears to be making a major push to recapture as much occupied territory as it can before Russian reinforcements arrive.

John Hudson, Mary Ilyushina, Emily Rauhala, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Michelle Ye Hee Lee contributed to this report.