July 15, 2024

As the war enters its 575th day, these are the main developments.

Here is the situation on Thursday, September 21, 2023.

Fighting

  • Ukraine and Russia launched waves of drone attacks overnight with a fire reported at the Kremenchuk oil refinery in Ukraine’s Poltava region and four Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) shot down over two regions in Russia’s west. The Kremenchuk refinery has been attacked repeatedly by Russia since it invaded Ukraine last year.
  • Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office said Russian forces shelled the city of Toretsk in eastern Ukraine, killing four people.
  • Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, said one man was killed and at least two people injured in Ukrainian shelling, which also cut power supplies to three villages.
  • Russia said it brought down several drones near Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014. Ukraine, meanwhile, said its forces mounted a successful attack on a Russian Black Sea fleet command post near Sevastopol. It gave no further details.
  • The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said the recent redeployment of Russia’s airborne forces from the eastern city of Bakhmut to Zaporizhia in southern Ukraine had probably “weakened Russia’s defences around Bakhmut”.

Diplomacy

  • Opening a United Nations Security Council special meeting on the war in Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the war was “aggravating geopolitical tensions and divisions, threatening regional stability, increasing the nuclear threat, and creating deep fissures in our increasingly multipolar world”.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the council that Russia’s veto had rendered the world body “ineffective” in responding to the invasion. Russia is one of five permanent members of the council with a veto. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later defended the veto as an “absolutely legitimate tool” of international relations.
  • Zelenskyy also told the security council it needed to take “specific actions” to end the war in Ukraine – ensuring Russia’s complete withdrawal of troops and proxies from within Ukraine’s internationally recognised 1991 borders as well as Ukraine’s effective control over its entire state border and exclusive economic zone in the Black and Azov Seas, including the Kerch bridge linking Crimea to Russia.
  • Also in New York, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska called on world leaders to help ensure the return of thousands of Ukrainian children forcibly taken by Moscow from Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin formally accepted an invitation to visit China in October, the Kremlin said. It would be Putin’s first known trip abroad since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is currently in Moscow.
  • South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, meanwhile, said that if Russia helped North Korea enhance its banned weapons programmes in return for providing weapons for its war in Ukraine, it would be “a direct provocation” that Seoul and its allies would not be able to ignore.
  • Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called for calm amid rising tension after Poland, Hungary and Slovakia imposed bans on Ukrainian grain and food imports to protect their own farmers. The appeal came after Warsaw, which has been one of Ukraine’s most ardent supporters since the Russian invasion, objected to Zelenskyy’s criticism of the bans at the UN, and summoned Kyiv’s ambassador.
  • All 32 states who spoke at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) urged judges to determine that it has jurisdiction in a case brought by Kyiv alleging that Russia abused the Genocide Convention to provide a pretext for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The states asked the ICJ, the highest UN court for disputes between states, to take the case forward to the merits stage. Moscow has argued the case should be thrown out.

Weapons

  • United States President Joe Biden plans to announce a $325m military aid package for Ukraine on Thursday to coincide with Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, DC, a US official told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
  • Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited an exhibition organised by Iran’s aerospace forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran. Shoigu “got acquainted with missile weapons, unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] as well as Iranian-made air defence systems”, and said that relations between the two countries were “reaching a new level”, the defence ministry said in a statement.
  • Alice Edwards, the UN rapporteur on torture, wrote to Biden and the US government urging him to reconsider the decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions. She said such weapons should not be used because they “indiscriminately and seriously injure civilians both at the time of use and in post-conflict”.

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