Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Oct 3 (Reuters) - Ukrainian troops recaptured villages along the west bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine on Monday in a major new breakthrough, opening a second big front that is forcing Moscow to abandon ground just days after claiming to annex it.

BATTLEFIELD ADVANCES

* Ukrainian forces have made some breakthroughs in the southern Kherson region and taken control of some settlements, a Russian-installed official said.

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

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

* Ukraine on Sunday claimed full control of Russia's eastern logistics hub of Lyman, its most significant battlefield gain in weeks, setting the stage for further advances aimed at cutting Russia's supply lines to its battered troops to a single route.

* Ukraine's capture of a city within territory of Russian President Vladimir Putin's declared annexation demonstrates that Ukrainians are making progress and are able to push back against Russian forces, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

* Russia said its troops had withdrawn from Lyman to avoid being surrounded by Ukraine's army.

RUSSIAN DEVELOPMENTS

* The lower house of Russia's parliament approved laws on annexing four occupied Ukrainian territories into Russia, following hastily organised votes that Ukraine and the West denounced as coercive and illegitimate.

* The military commissar of Russia's Khabarovsk region in the far east was removed from his post after half of newly mobilised personnel were sent home as they did not meet the draft criteria, the region's governor said.

DIPLOMACY

* The head of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Ihor Murashov, has been released, U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said, after a detention that Kyiv blamed on Moscow and called an act of terror.

* The Kremlin said it favoured a "balanced approach" to the issue of nuclear weapons, not based on emotion, after a key ally of President Putin called over the weekend for Russia to use a "low-yield nuclear weapon" in Ukraine.

* The leaders of EU member states will ask the European Commission to propose a cap on gas prices when they meet on Friday, according to a draft joint statement, amid soaring global energy costs caused by the war in Ukraine.

Compiled by Gareth Jones

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