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Breaking news about Russia and the war in Ukraine

Prosecutor at Russia’s Court of Appeal says Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence is ‘fair’

Brittney Griner, a U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player who was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, stands in an accused’s cage before a court hearing in Khimki, outside Moscow, August 4, 2022 .

Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | Getty Images

The Russian prosecutor in US WNBA star Brittney Griner’s appeal hearing told judges hearing her case that the nine-year sentence for drug possession and smuggling was “fair,” according to Reuters.

Griner, who was convicted of drug-related offenses earlier this year, heard a live translation of the trial via video link from a detention center outside Moscow.

A lawyer for Griner said her nine-year sentence was excessive and urged the court to acquit her, Reuters reported.

Griner’s attorneys told NBC News before the hearing that the two-time Olympic gold medalist was “pretty pessimistic” that the judge would overturn the court’s original ruling.

– Sam Meredith

New British Prime Minister Sunak says war in Ukraine must be brought to a successful conclusion

Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech outside Number 10 Downing Street on October 25, 2022 in London, Britain.

Hannah McKay | Reuters

Rishi Sunak said in his first speech as British Prime Minister that the Ukraine war must be brought to a successful conclusion.

“I understand how difficult this moment is after the billions of pounds it has cost us to fight Covid, after all the disruption caused in the midst of a terrible war that must be brought to a successful conclusion,” Sunak said from outside 10 Downing Street.

“I fully know how difficult things are,” he added.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Sunak on becoming Britain’s new prime minister and said via Twitter he looked forward to working with him on common challenges like the war in Ukraine.

– Sam Meredith

The German President pays a surprise visit to Kyiv

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, his first since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

In a bid to save himself, Steinmeier stressed his support for Ukraine, having previously been criticized by Kyiv for his previous role in forging closer economic ties between Russia and Germany.

“My message to the Ukrainians: You can rely on Germany,” said the President.

In the months following the start of the war, Steinmeier regretted his cooperation with Russia, saying in early April: “My adherence to … Nord Stream 2, that was definitely a mistake. We held on to bridges that Russia no longer believed in and that our partners warned us about.” Nord Stream 2 was a multi-billion dollar Baltic Sea pipeline project that would have allowed more Russian gas to flow to Germany Project was suspended in the days before the Russian invasion.

— Natasha Turak

All remaining men in occupied Kherson were encouraged to join the Russian-backed militia

A damaged car stolen by Russian soldiers pictured in front of a damaged hospital building September 27, 2022 in Vysokopillia, Ukraine.

Global Pictures Ukraine | News from Getty Images | Getty Images

The remaining men in occupied Kherson are encouraged to join a new local Russian-backed militia that would fight incoming Ukrainian forces gradually retaking land.

Russian authorities are urging civilians to leave the area as Ukrainian forces approach and say 25,000 residents have left in the last week.

It is not clear whether the men remaining in Kherson will be forced to fight on the Russian side, but allowing civilians to serve in an occupying country’s armed forces is considered a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Kherson is one of four areas in eastern Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia at the end of September.

— Natasha Turak

Russia will accuse Ukraine of ‘dirty bomb’ at UN, diplomats say

On Tuesday, Russia plans to accuse the United Nations Security Council of planning a “dirty bomb attack” by Ukraine and called on UN chief Antonio Guterres to do everything possible to “prevent this heinous crime”.

“We will consider the use of the ‘dirty bomb’ by the Kiev regime as an act of nuclear terrorism,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia wrote in a letter to Guterres and the Security Council, seen by Reuters.

“We call on Western countries to use their influence on the regime in Kyiv to give up its dangerous plans that threaten international peace and security,” he wrote. “We call on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to do everything in his power to prevent this heinous crime from happening.”

As Ukrainian forces advance into the strategic, Russian-held province of Kherson, senior Russian officials called Western counterparts on Sunday and Monday to say Moscow suspects Ukraine of planning to use a so-called “dirty bomb” loaded with nuclear material.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy then accused Russia of planning such an attack itself and blamed Ukraine. Western countries also dismissed Russia’s claim as a pretext to intensify the eight-month war that began in February when Russian troops invaded neighboring Ukraine.

Russia has told counterparts in the Council that it will raise the issue at a behind-closed-doors meeting on Tuesday, diplomats said.

– Reuters

Ensures inspectors visit two nuclear sites in Ukraine, IAEA’s Grossi says when asked from Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shakes hands with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi, who is tasked with leading a planned mission to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant amid Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine, August 30, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency will visit two nuclear sites in Ukraine after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asked to refute Russian claims that Ukraine was planning to use a “dirty bomb”.

“The IAEA inspected one of these sites a month ago and all of our findings were consistent with Ukraine’s security declarations,” IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement. “No undeclared nuclear activity or materials were found there.”

Both sites are under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog and are regularly visited by IAEA regulators, according to the agency. The IAEA said the purpose of the upcoming visit is to uncover any undeclared nuclear activity or materials that may match Russia’s “dirty bomb” allegations.

– Rocio Fabbro

The World Bank is providing Ukraine with an additional $500 million

A Ukrainian helicopter flies in the Donetsk region on September 22, 2022.

Anatoly Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

The World Bank has allocated an additional US$500 million to Ukraine to fund the country’s critical spending needs.

The funding, provided by its lending arm, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was supported by $500 million in loan guarantees from the UK announced on September 30, the bank said.

In total, the bank said it approved $13 billion in emergency financing for Ukraine, of which $11.4 billion was distributed.

A report released in September by the World Bank, the Ukrainian government and the European Commission estimated total reconstruction and recovery costs as of June 1 at $349 billion. However, this number is expected to increase further as the war progresses.

– Natalie Tam

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