. SPUTNIK TOP STORY OF THE DAY

WASHINGTON, September 29 (Sputnik) -

ATTACKS ON NORD STREAM PIPELINES

* The Russian Prosecutor General's Office said on Wednesday that it has initiated a case on an act of international terrorism after the explosions damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, and an investigation into the case has started.

* The Swedish police handed over the investigation into the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines to the country's security service given that the incidents may have targeted Swedish interests, the government said.

* The recent gas leaks from the Nord Stream pipelines are not posing a significant risk to the Baltic Sea maritime environment, a spokesperson for the German environment ministry told Sputnik.

* Russia has requested a UN Security Council meeting in connection with recent acts of sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, Deputy Envoy to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy said.

* Ukrainian troops launched a missile attack on the center of Kherson, destroyed one of the buildings of the Polytechnic University, there are casualties, a spokesperson for the city's emergency services told reporters.

* Eight explosions were heard in the city of Melitopol and its suburbs in the Zaporizhzhia region, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the main council of the Zaporizhzhia regional administration, said.

* More than a dozen High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) included in a new $1.1 billion Ukraine security package will take a few years to deliver to Ukraine, a senior US defense official said.

* US President Joe Biden sought to prevent Russia's Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline from becoming operational but did not engage in any act of sabotage against the infrastructure, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

* The process of setting a price for the price cap deal for Russian oil has started, US Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

* The United States will impose sanctions against participating countries that do not comply with the price cap on Russian oil, Rosenberg said.

* The European Commission is preparing a legislative framework that will allow the European Union to impose a price cap on Russian oil, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

* The United States believes there needs to be a channel to carry out payments under the Russian oil price cap scheme, Rosenberg told a Senate hearing, when asked about the possibility of imposing full-blocking sanctions on Gazprombank.

REFERENDUMS IN DONBASS, KHERSON AND ZAPORIZHZHIA

* The referendums in the DPR, LPR, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, were held in full compliance with the norms and principles of international law, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

* Any Russian-backed institution established in the allegedly occupied areas of Ukraine will very likely be targeted by US sanctions, State Department Office of Sanctions Coordination head James O'Brien said.

* The heads of the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Russian-controlled part of the Kherson region have asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider accession to Russia.

* The lifting of EU sanctions related to the supply of Russian fertilizers to world markets would be a logical continuation of the implementation of the grain deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

* Moscow considers the decision of Turkish state-owned banks to abandon the use of Russia's payment system Mir as forced, as it was made under "unprecedented" US pressure and Washington's threats of imposing secondary sanctions against Ankara, Peskov said.

* The European Commission, as part of a new package of sanctions against Russia, proposes to ban citizens of EU countries from holding senior positions in Russian state-owned companies, European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.

* A missile launched by North Korea toward the Sea of Japan already fell, the Japanese maritime security service said on Wednesday, citing the national defense ministry.

* North Korea has launched two short-range ballistic missiles near Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing South Korean military.

* Hurricane Ian, which is set to make landfall in Florida tomorrow, is nearing a category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds now up to 155 mph, the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday.

* US President Joe Biden warned against using Hurricane Ian, which is approaching Florida, as an excuse to raise gas prices.