Here is the situation on Friday, September 15, 2023.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed what he described as Ukraine’s destruction of a sophisticated Russian air defence system in the annexed Crimean peninsula. “I thank you for today’s triumph,” he said in a reference to Russia’s “Triumf” air defence system. “The invaders’ air defence system was destroyed. Very significant. Well done!”
- Ukraine said it also attacked two Russian patrol ships in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. “The [Sergei] Kotov was hit,” military intelligence official Andriy Yusov told the Reuters news agency. The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed an attack on the ship, but the assault involving five sea drones was repelled.
- Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Kyiv’s forces were making gains in gruelling battles around three villages south of the eastern city of Bakhmut. Russia’s Defence Ministry said its forces had repelled eight attacks in the area.
- Maliar said Russian forces had sustained “significant losses” on the southern front that had “significantly reduced their ability to defend themselves”. Ukraine is aiming to liberate villages from Russian control in a drive towards the Sea of Azov.
- Satellite images of the Tsel military southeast of the Belarus capital Minsk appeared to show the dismantling of tents in recent weeks, which may indicate the winding down of the base for Wagner, the Russian mercenary group that played a prominent role in Ukraine until a short-lived mutiny in June. Its chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his top lieutenants were killed in a plane crash last month.
- Romania, a NATO member, imposed additional flight restrictions in parts of its airspace along the border with Ukraine, after finding elements of a possible drone. Romania is on the other side of the river to Ukraine’s Izmail port, which has been the target of successive Russian attacks.
- Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said a six-year-old boy was killed, and four other people, including his 13-year-old brother, were wounded by Russian shelling in the village of Novodmytrivka in the southern Kherson region.
- Kursk governor Roman Starovoit said one man was killed after Ukraine shelled the Russian border town of Tyotkino.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit the United States next week for talks with US President Joe Biden at the White House as he makes the case for ongoing aid. Zelenskyy will also visit the Capitol.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Pyongyang “at a convenient time”. North Korean state media said Kim extended the invitation after the leader’s first face-to-face meeting in four years, which took place at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome. The US and some allies have expressed concern Kim may agree to supply Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine.
- South Korea expressed “deep concern and regret” over the Kim-Putin meeting. Lim Soo-suk, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said cooperation that enabled the development of ballistic and nuclear weapons was in breach of UN Security Council resolutions, and that there would be “very negative impacts” on Moscow’s relations with Seoul if it maintained military cooperation with Pyongyang.
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will hold talks with Putin in Russia on Friday, according to Belarusian state news agency BelTA. The main topics will be the “international agenda and regional issues”, it said.
- The Vatican said Pope Francis’s envoy, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, had “open and cordial” talks in Beijing with China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs Li Hui on the need to find ways to achieve peace in Ukraine.
- Russia expelled two US diplomats from Moscow, accusing them of “illegal activity” in working with Robert Shonov, a Russian national who worked with the US consulate in Vladivostok until 2021. Russia has accused Shonov of espionage. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington would respond appropriately.
- Slovakia said it expelled a Russian diplomat for breaching the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and had summoned the Russian ambassador over the issue. Russia said it would give “an appropriate response”, according to the state-run RIA news agency.
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a field office in Kyiv, as part of efforts to hold Russian forces accountable for alleged war crimes. “Today marks a pivotal stride in our journey towards restoring justice,” Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin wrote on social media.
- Ukrainian pilots completed preliminary training on Gripen fighter jets, Sweden said, although it has not yet confirmed whether Stockholm will donate any of the planes to Kyiv.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies