© Reuters. Ukrainian servicemen drive near Bakhmut, as Russia’s attack in Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, September 7, 2022. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
(Reuters) – Western countries accused Russia on Monday of plotting to use a threat of a bomb laced with nuclear material as a pretext for escalation in Ukraine, as Moscow evacuated civilians from a southern city in anticipation of a major battle.
* Russia fired missiles and drones into the Ukrainian-held southern town of Mykolaiv, destroying an apartment block, and said the war was trending towards “uncontrolled escalation”.
* Russia told people in the occupied city of Kherson to flee as more residents joined an exodus to escape an anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive. Russia said its forces had prevented a bid by Ukraine to break through its line of control.
* Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told his French counterpart that the situation in Ukraine was trending towards “uncontrolled escalation” and said Moscow had concerns Ukraine could use a “dirty bomb”, but gave no evidence.
* The Russian-installed administration of Kherson region announced the formation of a local militia, saying all men remaining in the city could join.
* Britain, France and the United States said they were committed to supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and rejected Russia’s warning about a “dirty bomb”.
* Iran condemned a call by Britain, France and Germany for the United Nations to investigate accusations that Russia had used Iranian-origin attack drones.
* Russia’s Gazprom (MCX:) said it will ship 42.6 million cubic metres of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Monday, in line with recent days’ volumes.
* A U.N spokesperson said “much more needs to be done” to clear a backlog of more than 150 ships involved in a Black Sea grain-export deal, and Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations had all acknowledged the problem.
* Ukraine said seven vessels sailed from its ports laden with grain for Asia and Europe, but accused Russia of blocking full implementation of a Black Sea grain deal.
* “Of course we don’t have the technical ability to knock down 100% of the Russian missiles and strike drones. I am sure that, gradually, we will achieve that, with help from our partners,” Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy said.