Ukraine and Russia launched new strikes on each other Saturday.
Ukrainian shelling killed one person in the Russian border region of Belgorod, according to regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
Russia, meanwhile, launched a missile strike on Ukraine’s Odesa region overnight. Local officials say four people were wounded in the attack, which was launched from Russian-occupied Crimea.
Russian forces downed a Ukrainian drone near Moscow early Saturday, according to Tass, a Russian state news agency.
North Korean-Russian border activity
Meanwhile, analysts say satellite imagery shows “an unprecedented number of freight railcars” at North Korea’s Tumangang Rail Facility, located at the North Korean-Russian border.
The analysts at Beyond Parallel, a unit of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the rail traffic is larger than any they have seen in the past five years. They said the traffic “likely indicates North Korea’s supply of arms and munitions to Russia,” following the two countries’ recent summit.
They said tarps covering the containers made it impossible to identify what is in them. But the organization said that it is “probable that these shipments are to support Russia in its war with Ukraine,” in line with the recent U.S. statement that North Korea has begun transferring artillery to Russia.
Nuclear test ban treaty
On Friday, the Russian parliament’s speaker said lawmakers will reevaluate whether to revoke the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Volodin’s statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow could consider rescinding its ratification of the international pact since the United States never ratified it.
The 1996 treaty prohibiting “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” anywhere in the world has been signed by 187 nations but not ratified by eight of them, including the United States.
The U.S. did not ratify the treaty, but it has observed a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions since 1992 that it says it will continue to abide by.
“We are disturbed by the comments of Ambassador Ulyanov in Vienna today,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters. “A move like this by any State Party needlessly endangers the global norm against nuclear explosive testing.”
“It would be concerning and deeply unfortunate if any State Signatory were to reconsider its ratification of the CTBT,” Robert Floyd, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization executive secretary, said in a statement.
There are widespread concerns that Russia could move to resume nuclear tests to try to discourage the West from continuing to offer military support to Ukraine.
Asked Friday whether rescinding the ban could greenlight the resumption of tests, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “it doesn’t mean a statement about the intention to resume nuclear tests.”
Peskov said a possible move to revoke Russia’s ratification of the ban would “bring the situation to a common denominator” with the U.S.
Speaking Thursday at a forum with foreign affairs experts, Putin said that while some experts have talked about the need to conduct nuclear tests, he hasn’t yet formed an opinion on the issue.
Kharkiv and Hroza attacks
The United Nations and partners are mobilizing humanitarian assistance — including medical supplies and health support, shelter maintenance kits, nonfood items, cash and hygiene assistance — as well as mental health and psycho-social support after Russian strikes Thursday and Friday killed at least 54 civilians in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, said Denise Brown, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.
“These are barbaric consequences of this war that 20% of the community can be wiped out in seconds,” Brown remarked in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter.
A Russian missile strike killed a 10-year-old boy and his grandmother Friday in the same region where at least 52 people, including a child, were killed Thursday, from another Russian attack, this one in the eastern village of Hroza.
Ukrainian officials bitterly condemned the attack, which blew apart a cafe where a wake was being held for a soldier from Hroza who died last year. He was being reburied in his hometown.
During his nightly video address Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the attacks and stressed the importance of Ukraine bolstering its air defense and strengthening its infrastructure in view of the approaching winter.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.