Oct 24 (Reuters) – 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” in a flurry of telephone calls to Western defence ministers.
* 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 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.
* Russia continues to use Iranian drones in Ukraine due to shortages of long-range precision weapons, although Ukrainian counter-measures have been successful, Britain’s defence ministry said.
* 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.
* Ukraine branded Russian state-controlled broadcaster RT as an inciter of genocide after a presenter said Ukrainian children who saw Russians as occupiers under the Soviet Union should have been drowned. RT later suspended the presenter.
* In a joint statement, 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.
* French President Macron said the Russian Orthodox Church was allowing itself to be manipulated by the country’s authorities to justify their war in Ukraine and urged it to resist such pressure.
* U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi will attend a forum in Zagreb this week aimed at supporting Ukraine’s independence and the return of the Crimean peninsula to Kyiv.
* “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.
(Compiled by Stephen Coates; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)