UPDATED: Russia’s Putin signs law annexing four Ukrainian regions

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MOSCOW, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a law formally annexing four partly Russian-controlled Ukrainian regions, state-owned news agency TASS reported.

A senior Pentagon official said she had no information to corroborate reports suggesting Russia might be moving tactical nuclear weapons by rail, and added the U.S. military had not seen anything to change its own nuclear posture.

“I don’t have anything else but the open source reports,” said Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense focusing on Russia and Ukraine.

The Pentagon closely monitors Russia’s nuclear forces, a core part of its mission since the Cold War.

The Times reported that President Putin is set to demonstrate his willingness to use weapons of mass destruction with a nuclear test on Ukraine’s borders, Nato is believed to have warned its members.

In Other Developments:

BATTLEFIELD ADVANCES

* Ukrainian forces captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River in their major advance in Kherson region, according to the Russian-installed head of the administration of occupied areas in the province.

* Russian military bloggers described a Ukrainian tank advance through dozens of kilometers of territory along the west bank of the Dnipro. Kyiv has maintained almost complete silence about the situation in Kherson.

* In the east, Ukrainian forces were advancing after capturing Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province. The pro-Russian leader in Donetsk said forces were forming a new defensive line around the town of Kreminna.

* Russia has sacked the commander of its Western military district, news outlet RBC reported, after battlefield reverses.

* U.S. President Joe Biden told Zelenskiy that Washington will provide Kyiv with , including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, the White House said.

ANNEXATION, MOBILISATION

* Russia’s Federation Council upper house of parliament ratified the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

* Russia said 200,000 reservists out of a planned 300,000 have already been called up since President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilisation 10 days ago.

* Russian lawyers say they have been overwhelmed by requests for support from Russians seeking help to avoid being drafted in the call-up.

NUCLEAR CONCERNS

* The Kremlin said it did not want to take part in spread by the West after a British media report that Russia was preparing to demonstrate its willingness to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.

* The head of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine who was detained over the weekend to that job, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said.

DIPLOMACY

* Billionaire Elon Musk asked Twitter users to weigh in on a plan to end the war, including proposing U.N.-supervised elections in the four occupied regions and formally recognising Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014. The plan drew immediate condemnation from Ukrainians. The Kremlin applauded it.

* The International Monetary Fund’s executive board will consider Ukraine’s request for $1.3 billion in additional emergency funding on Friday, two sources said.

A Russian conscript attends a military training at a ground training range in the Rostov-on-Don region in southern Russia. EPA-EFE/ARKADY BUDNITSKY

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