- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom says it may halt gas deliveries to Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, if it fails to pay its latest bill by Oct. 20 as its contract stipulates.

In a statement Tuesday, Gazprom said it had repeatedly allowed Moldovan national gas supplier Moldovagaz this year to pay its monthly bills with delay, but may not continue that practice.

Gazprom further said it reserved the right to annul completely its 5-year supply contract with the tiny country over its failure to settle its old debts.



The director of Moldovan natural gas supplier Moldovagaz, Vadim Ceban, said his company “will make every effort to fulfil its contractual obligation.” Moldovagaz has struggled this year to meet its payment commitments to Gazprom after prices under its long-term contract rose sharply.

Separately, Gazprom claims Moldovagaz owes it over 700 million euros for gas deliveries before 2019, over 40% of the sum due to late-payment penalties. Moldovan authorities have asked for an audit to determine the debt.

Moldova has condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, its neighbor, and barred its citizens from displaying pro-Russia symbols. But it did not fully join European Union sanctions on Russia for fear of being cut off from Russian gas.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

- International experts guess at Putin’s nuclear plans

- Russian losses evident in city liberated by Ukraine

- The AP Interview: Ukraine aims to restart occupied reactors

- Frustration with retreat reaches Kremlin-friendly television

- 10 torture sites in 1 town: Russia sowed pain, fear in Izium

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

Russia’s defense chief says the country’s military has recruited over 200,000 reservists as part of a partial mobilization launched two weeks ago.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that the recruits were undergoing training at 80 firing ranges before being deployed to the front lines in Ukraine, where Russian forces are on the retreat in some areas.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilization on Sept. 21 to beef up his troops in Ukraine.

Shoigu previously said that up to 300,000 reservists were to be called up for service, but Putin’s order left open the possibility of an even larger recruitment effort. Some Russian media have speculated that the military plans to call up 1 million reservists or more.

The mobilization sparked protests in many areas across Russia and drove tens of thousands of men to flee Russia.

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DAKAR, Senegal - Ukraine’s foreign minister has promised that his embattled country will do all it can to send more grain to Africa.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba began a tour of the continent this week in Senegal. He met with Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, who is the current chairman of the African Union, on Monday.

Ukraine will be sending “boats full of seeds for Africa,” Kuleba said said at a joint press briefing with his Senegalese counterpart, Aissata Tall Sall. “We will do our best until the last breath to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to Africa and the world for food security.”

Many African countries depend heavily on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine. Amid market shortages, Russia has sought to portray the West as the villain, blaming it for rising food prices.

Western leaders, meanwhile, have accused the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and waging an imperial-style war of conquest.

KYIV, Ukraine - The head of the company operating Europe’s largest nuclear plant says Ukraine is considering restarting the Russian-occupied facility to ensure its safety as winter approaches.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Energoatom President Petro Kotin said the company could restart two of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant’s reactors in a matter of days.

“If you have low temperature, you will just freeze everything inside. The safety equipment will be damaged,” he said.

Fears that the war in Ukraine could cause a radiation leak at the Zaporizhzhia plant prompted the shutdown of its remaining reactors. The plant has been damaged by shelling, prompting international alarm over the potential for a disaster.

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BERLIN - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reiterated that, in his view, “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine are inviolable.”

“The sham referendums and the Russian initiative to annex parts of Ukraine are in breach of international law and without value. They are null and void for us,” he said during a Tuesday news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Scholz said Germany and the Netherlands will continue to stand by and support Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression.

He said both countries are training Ukrainian mine removal teams and will continue to work closely to provide weapons to Ukraine, as they have already done with howitzers.

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KYIV, Ukraine - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has formally ruled out talks with Russia following its illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories.

Zelenskyy’s decree released Tuesday declares that holding negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin has become impossible after his decision to annex four regions of Ukraine. The decree enacted a decision by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council to bolster Ukrainian defenses and seek more weapons from the country’s Western allies in response to Moscow’s move.

Russia’s upper house of parliament on Tuesday ratified the treaties that make the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine part of Russia. Putin is expected to sign their official adhesion later in the day, completing the annexation.

The Kremlin responded to Zelenskyy by saying that it will wait for Ukraine to sit down for talks on ending the conflict, noting that it may not happen until a new Ukrainian president takes office.

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ANKARA, Turkey - Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Perebyinis has called for the deployment of more weapons from Western allies to Ukraine following the partial mobilization of reserve troops announcement by Russia.

In a video address to a conference in Turkey’s capital on Russia’s war against Ukraine on Tuesday, Perebyinis said the additional weapons would not lead to an escalation but help to end the war sooner.

“We need additional long-range artillery and ammunition, combat aircrafts, and armed vehicles to continue the liberation of the occupied territories,” the deputy minister said. “We need anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems to secure our civilians and critical infrastructure from the terrorist attacks on the Russian forces.”

Perebyinis said: “such assistance doesn’t lead to escalation; it will only bring the end of the war closer. The sooner Ukraine receives weapons, the sooner the war will be over and more lives of Ukrainians will be saved.”

Western weapons have helped Ukraine launch a counterattack that has forced a Russian retreat from some previously conquered terrain.

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KYIV, Ukraine - The city council of Kyiv says it is providing evacuation centers with potassium iodine pills in preparation for a possible nuclear strike on the capital, Ukraine’s largest city.

Potassium iodine pills can help block the absorption of harmful radiation by the thyroid gland if taken just before or immediately after exposure to nuclear radiation.

The pills will be distributed to residents in areas contaminated by nuclear radiation if there is a need to evacuate, the city council said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he would “use all the means at our disposal” to win the war while his ground forces retreat from a Ukrainian counterattack.

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KYIV, Ukraine - Tesla CEO Elon Musk has proposed his own peace plan for Ukraine that would include a redo of referendums in Russian-occupied regions, triggering a wave of criticism from Ukrainians including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Musk argued Monday that Russia should be allowed to keep Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula that it annexed in 2014 and that Ukraine adopt a neutral status, dropping its bid to join NATO. The tech billionaire also argued that the four Ukrainian regions that Russia has just moved to annex following Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” denounced by the West as a sham should hold repeat votes organized by the United Nations.

Musk launched a Twitter poll to ask whether those regions should remain part of Ukraine or become part of Russia.

In a sarcastic response, Zelenskyy suggested a Twitter poll of his own: “Which Elon Musk do you like more? “One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.”

And Andrii Melnyk, the outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, responded to Musk’s proposal with a four-letter word.

Musk replied to Zelenskyy that “I still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world.”

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WASHINGTON - Ukrainian troops are making “substantial gains” in both the east and south of the country, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War says.

In the east, the institute said, Ukrainian forces pushing from Lyman in the Donetsk region may have gone as far as the border of neighboring Luhansk as they advance eastward toward the city of Kreminna.

The gains in the east and on the southern front around Kherson are noteworthy because Russian troops there “were previously considered to be among Russia’s premier conventional fighting forces,” the institute said.

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MOSCOW - The upper house of the Russian parliament has ratified the treaties with four Ukrainian regions to absorb them into Russia.

The Federation Council voted quickly Tuesday to endorse the treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. The vote came a day after the lower house endorsed the pacts following the Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in the four regions that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now expected to quickly sign the ratification treaties to complete the process of absorbing the regions even as intense fighting is raging in those areas.

The move by Russia is seen as an escalation of its war effort since it could interpret attacks by Ukrainian forces in those areas as aggressions on its own territory.

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KYIV, Ukraine - Ukraine’s presidential office says at least five civilians have been killed and another 10 have been wounded in the latest Russian shelling.

It said Tuesday that one person was killed when Russian missiles struck Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. A doctor was killed and two nurses were also wounded when Russian shelling hit a hospital in the Kharkiv region.

The southern city of Nikopol across the Dnieper River from the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant came under intense shelling that damaged more than 30 houses, a school and several stores. The shelling interrupted water supplies and led to partial blackouts.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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