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Ukraine Russia news – live: US to send depleted uranium weapons as blast reported near Rostov military base

Russia has criticised the Biden administration’s plan to send arms containing depleted uranium to Ukraine as the Pentagon announced a new security assistance package worth $175m (£140m) for the war-hit country.

Russia’s deputy minister accused Washington of a “criminal act” by adding contentious depleted uranium ammunition that can pierce tanks for Abrams tanks, while Moscow’s embassy in the US said the military aid is an “indicator of inhumanity”.

Russia has, however, deployed hypersonic missiles and thermobaric weapons on civilian targets during its full-scale invasion of Ukraine that has continued for more than 20 months now.

This morning, explosions rocked the Russian city of Rostov near a military base which has played a major role in Russia’s invasion.

Russian officials said multiple drones were downed in southern Rostov, Bryansk in the early hours today.

At least one person was injured as the attack damaged three buildings and several cars. Russian officials claimed its air defences shot down two Ukrainian drones targeting the city, just 100km from the frontline.

Key Points

  • One injured as ‘Ukrainian’ drones downed near Russian military base

  • Russian attack on market kills 17 during Blinken’s Kyiv visit

  • Kyiv ‘kills almost 50’ of Putin’s elite soldiers

  • Situation remains ‘difficult’ along eastern front, Ukraine commander says

  • Supplying depleted uranium weapons ‘criminal act’, claims Russia

Drone attacks ‘shot down in three parts of Russia'

14:19 , William Mata

Explosions have been reported in three areas of Russia, including one in Moscow and another close to the headquarters of Russia's southern military district command in Rostov.

The RIA news agency reported the suspected attacks on Thursday morning and said the third blast occured in the Bryansk region - although all of the drones were shot down.

Russia's defence ministry blamed the overnight attacks on Ukraine, although Kyiv never takes credit for any strikes on its neighbour.

One drone was said to have targeted Moscow, according to city mayor Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, but was shot down south-east of the city without causing any damage.

Two more drones were shot down over the southern region of Rostov, which borders Ukraine, regional governor Vasily Golubev said, with debris causing damage to vehicles and buildings but only one person was injured.

In Bryansk, governor Alexander Bogomaz reported that drones were shot down but again it was cars and buildings damaged from falling debris.

A view shows a damaged car outside a multi-storey residential building following an alleged Ukrainian drone attack in Moscow (REUTERS)
A view shows a damaged car outside a multi-storey residential building following an alleged Ukrainian drone attack in Moscow (REUTERS)

Russia attacks Izmail for fourth time in five days

13:31 , William Mata

Russia attacked the Ukrainian port city of Izmail for the fourth time in five days, Ukrainian officials have said.

The affront is considered to be part of a sustained campaign to target Ukraine‘s ability to export grain.

The Danube River port area was attacked with Shahed drones aiming at civilian and port infrastructure, the governor of the Odesa region, Oleh Kiper said. A truck driver was wounded and grain silos were damaged, he said.

Ukrainian war crimes prosecutors inspected the wreckage at the scene close to port infrastructure on Thursday, according to a statement from the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office.

The Ukrainian military said it shot down 25 out of 33 drones launched by Russia overnight, most of them at the Odesa region, Ukraine‘s agriculture export hub, as well as the northern Sumy region.

Russia has escalated attacks on Ukraine‘s grain export infrastructure since mid-July, when it exited a UN-backed deal that had allowed for the safe shipping of Ukrainian grain during the war.

A general view of a blast near Plauru, Romania, as seen from Izmail, Ukraine (Telegram/Odesa INFO via REUTERS)
A general view of a blast near Plauru, Romania, as seen from Izmail, Ukraine (Telegram/Odesa INFO via REUTERS)

Russian commander ‘used two military helicopters to transport his pet cat’

12:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

One of Vladimir Putin’s commanders used two military helicopters to transport his pet cat during the war in Ukraine, a defected Russian pilot has claimed.

The cat was airlifted in the military-grade helicopter for around one hour, while another flew alongside it to provide cover during the 114-mile journey, according to former Russian airman Maksim Kuzminov.

Mr Kuzminov spoke out in an interview with The New Voice of Ukraine after choosing to leave Russia’s armed forces.

Russian commander ‘used two military helicopters to transport his pet cat’

No threat to Romania from Russian strikes on Ukraine overnight

12:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Romania did not face any direct threat to its territory or territorial waters from Russian attacks on Ukraine on Wednesday night, the Romanian defence ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Major Ukrainian breakthrough of Russian lines before winter sets in will be tough, Western officials say

12:28 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine’s offensive against Russian forces is making slow progress, and there may not be a major breakthrough of Russian lines in the next two months as had previously been envisaged, according to Western officials.

However, “focusing on such tactical issues” is counterproductive and there is a need to look at the bigger picture, the officials said, adding that this shows that Vladimir Putin is losing the war, as Ukraine has retaken a sizeable amount of territory overall since Russia’s invasion began.

Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that Ukraine is making progress in its efforts to regain territory that began in June, contradicting Mr Putin’s claims this week that the counteroffensive “has failed, not stalled”.

Our world affairs editor Kim Sengupta reports:

Western officials give verdict on Ukraine's chances of breaking through Russian lines

Russia detains smugglers supplying military aircraft parts,

12:08 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s FSB state security service said on Thursday it has detained a group of smugglers trading in military aircraft parts, some of which had ended up in Ukraine, TASS news agency reported.

The smugglers were from Ukraine and a Central Asian country, TASS cited the FSB as saying.

Can depleted uranium munitions cause cancer?

11:52 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The use of depleted uranium munitions is fiercely debated; the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons says ingesting or inhaling even depleted uranium dust can cause cancers and birth defects.

But a United Nations Environment Programme report on the impact of depleted uranium on Serbia and Montenegro, in then- Yugoslavia, found “no significant, widespread contamination”.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says that studies in former Yugoslavia, Kuwait, Iraq and Lebanon “indicated that the existence of depleted uranium residues dispersed in the environment does not pose a radiological hazard to the population of the affected regions”.

Some Serbian politicians have disputed this and reported an increased incidence of malignancies, and deaths from them.

Britain’s Royal Society said in a report in 2002 that the risks to the kidney and other organs from the use of depleted uranium munitions were very low, both for most soldiers in the field and for those living in the conflict area.

Britain says in its guidance that inhaling enough depleted uranium dust to cause injury would be difficult.

What are depleted uranium munitions being used in Ukraine and why are they controversial?

11:49 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The depleted uranium anti-tank rounds soon to be in Ukraine’s military stockpiles have kicked up a debate over its use in the continuing Russian invasion.

Announced by the Pentagon in the latest military tranche on Wednesday, the controversial rounds have spread alarm among Vladimir Putin’s ministers who have warned against the escalation yet again.

Britain has already promised armour-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium to Ukraine in March. Prime minister Rishi Sunak had backed drawing out the rounds from the UK military’s stockpiles ultimately “to degrade and deter – primarily – Russian aggression”.

Ukraine war: What are depleted uranium shells and why are they controversial?

Kremlin: US responsible for consequences of giving Ukraine depleted uranium shells

10:57 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin said on Thursday that the United States would have to answer for the “very sad” consequences of its decision to provide depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine.

Ingesting or inhaling quantities of uranium - even depleted uranium - is dangerous: it depresses renal function and raises the risk of developing a range of cancers.

Opponents of the weapons, such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, say the dust created by such weapons can be breathed in, while munitions which miss their target can poison groundwater and soil.

Countries such as the United States and Britain say depleted uranium is a good tool for destroying a modern tank because its high density allows it to penetrate armour. Britain says in guidance that inhaling enough depleted uranium dust to cause injury would be difficult.

US sends Ukraine controversial depleted uranium weapons that can pierce tank armour

10:23 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine will be armed with depleted uranium anti-tank rounds that can aid its troops in piercing Russian tanks, said the Pentagon.

The controversial 120mm anti-tanks shells will be used to boost the performance of 31 M1A1 Abram tanks the US will give Ukraine in the fall.

The US is looking to aid Kyiv in dismantling Russian lines in eastern, northeastern and southern regions amid a simmering counteroffensive by the Ukrainians.

The rounds, developed by the US during the Cold War, have previously destroyed Soviet tanks, including the decades old T-72 tanks dispatched by Moscow in the continuing war.

US sends Ukraine controversial depleted uranium weapons that can pierce tank armour

Ukrainian drones downed near Moscow and two more Russian cities

09:54 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian drones were downed near Moscow, the southern Rostov region and the southwest Bryansk region in the early hours of Thursday, the RIA news agency cited Russian authorities as saying.

According to another news agency, TASS, three buildings were damaged in the city of Rostov-on-Don and one person was injured when one of the drones crashed in the downtown area. Another drone in the Rostov region fell outside the city.

In Bryansk, debris from one of two destroyed drones shattered windows in a railway station building and damaged cars nearby, the Interfax news agency reported.

In the Moscow region, a drone was downed over the town of Ramenskoye southeast of the Russian capital, according to Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Several drones also struck a residential building in Enerhodar, a city in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine‘s southern Zaporizhzhia region, which is home to Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, Russian-appointed governor Yevgeny Balitsky said, adding that no one was wounded.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Nato does not see indication of intentional Russian attack on Romania

09:10 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Nato does not have any indication that drone debris found on Romanian territory was caused by an intentional attack launched by Moscow against Romania, the alliance’s chief said on Thursday.

“We don’t have any information indicating an intentional attack by Russia, and we are awaiting the outcome of the ongoing investigation,” Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told EU lawmakers.

 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Ukraine is gaining ground in its counter offensive - Nato’s Stoltenberg

08:21 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine is making progress with a counter offensive started in June to reclaim territory seized by Russia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

“The Ukrainians are gradually gaining ground...They have been able to breach the defensive lines of the Russian forces, and they are moving forward,” Stoltenberg told lawmakers in remarks at the European Parliament.

Russian attacks on Ukraine's Danube ports to slow down grain exports-Romanian president

07:56 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian attacks on Ukraine‘s Danube river ports will slow down the export of grains and other routes need to be enhanced, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said.

Since July, when Moscow abandoned a deal that lifted a de facto Russian blockade of Ukraine‘s Black Sea ports, it has repeatedly struck Ukrainian river ports that lie across the Danube from Romania.

Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta is Ukraine‘s largest alternative export route, with grains arriving by road, rail or barge on the Danube. Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters.

President Iohannis, speaking late on Wednesday at a summit of Three Seas Initiative countries in Bucharest, said: “Of course the attacks on Ukrainian ports on the Danube are a huge problem. Of course it will in a way slow down exports.”

“We will enhance the other routes, we accepted Ukrainian maritime transports through our Romanian territorial waters off the Black Sea, we will continue to enhance exports on the rail and on the road.”

Russia says US supply of depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine is 'criminal'

07:39 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that the US supply of depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine was “a criminal act”, state media reported.

The Pentagon on Wednesday announced a new security assistance package worth up to $175 million for Ukraine, including depleted uranium ammunition for U.S. Abrams tanks.

A by-product of uranium enrichment, depleted uranium is used for ammunition because its extreme density gives rounds the ability to easily penetrate armor plating. Critics say there are dangerous health risks from ingesting or inhaling depleted uranium dust, including cancers and birth defects.

“This is not just an escalatory step, but it is a reflection of Washington’s outrageous disregard for the environmental consequences of using this kind of ammunition in a combat zone. This is, in fact, a criminal act, I cannot give any other assessment,” TASS quoted Ryabkov as saying.

In a speech at a security seminar, he also reiterated previous warnings by Russia about the risk of a nuclear war, because of what he called Western “pressure” on Moscow.

“Now this pressure is dangerously balancing on the brink of direct armed conflict between nuclear powers,” he said.

 (AP)
(AP)

Russia strikes damage port and grain silo in Odesa region

06:28 , Arpan Rai

Russian drone strikes have damaged port infrastructure, a grain silo and administrative buildings in the Izmail district of Ukraine‘s Odesa region, governor Oleh Kiper said.

One person was injured in the attack, the fourth on the key Danube river port in the last five days, the governor said on his Telegram channel.

Ukraine’s military reported shooting down 25 of the 33 drones it said were launched by Russia. Most were aimed at the Odesa region, but some also targeted the northern area of Sumy, it added.

Russia has amped up its attacks on Ukraine’s grain export infrastructure as talks on resumption Black Sea grain deal to allow unhindered exports of grain from Ukrainian ports get underway.

Supplying depleted uranium weapons ‘criminal act’, claims Russia

06:11 , Arpan Rai

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington is committing a “criminal act” by supplying depleted Uranium weapons to Ukraine shortly after the Pentagon announced a new batch of military aid for the war-hit country.

The new security assistance package is worth up to $175m and includes depleted uranium ammunition for Abrams tanks, the first time the US is sending the controversial armour-piercing munitions to Kyiv. Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process needed to create nuclear weapons.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been continuing for more than 20 months now and has seen Russia deploy hypersonic missiles to thermobaric weapons on civilian targets.

Nato member Romania says drone pieces from Russian attacks found

04:56 , Arpan Rai

Romania’s defence minister has said pieces apparently of a drone from Russia’s recent attacks on Ukraine’s port on the Danube River have been found on the territory of his country.

Angel Tilvar, the minister, told local news channel Antena 3 CNN that parts of what was most likely a drone were discovered in the eastern Tulcea county, an area of the Danube that forms a natural border between Romania and war-torn Ukraine.

“I confirm that in this area, pieces that may be of a drone were found,” he said, adding that the pieces didn’t pose a threat.

It’s unclear if Romania has determined when or from where the drone was launched. There has been a series of recent attacks by Russia on Danube ports in Ukraine, which are close to Romania, a Nato member since 2004.

NATO member Romania says it has found drone pieces from Russian attacks in Ukraine on its territory

Russian attack on market kills 17 during Blinken’s Kyiv visit

04:29 , Arpan Rai

At least 17 people were killed and 32 wounded in a Russian attack on a crowded market in eastern Ukraine’s Kostiantynivka city yesterday. The attack coincided with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said.

Footage widely circulated online by Volodymyr Zelensky and other presidential officials showed people falling to the ground or running for cover after a huge explosion rocked the busy market in front of them, seconds after some look up to the sky when they hear what sounds like a missile approaching.

Mr Zelensky condemned the attack, saying a market, shops and a pharmacy had been struck in the industrial city close to the battlefield.

“This Russian evil must be defeated as soon as possible,” he said. “When someone in the world still attempts to deal with anything Russian, it means turning a blind eye to this reality. The audacity of evil. The brazenness of wickedness. Utter inhumanity.”

He later told a press conference in the capital Kyiv that he believed it had been a deliberate attack on “a peaceful city”.

Russia decries US plan to send arms with depleted uranium to Ukraine

04:12 , Arpan Rai

Russia denounced Biden administration’s plan to provide Ukraine with arms containing depleted uranium and said it is an indicator of “inhumanity”.

“The administration’s decision to supply weapons with depleted uranium is an indicator of inhumanity,” Russia’s embassy in Washington said on Telegram.

“Clearly, with its idea of inflicting a ‘strategic defeat’, Washington is prepared to fight not only to the last Ukrainian but also to do away with entire generations.”

The Pentagon announced a new security assistance package worth up to $175m for Ukraine, including depleted uranium ammunition for Abrams tanks.

This is the first time the US is sending the controversial armour-piercing munitions to Kyiv.

Around 11,000 children detained in re-education camps - says MOD

04:00 , William Mata

Around 11,000 Ukrainian children being detained at 43 re-education camps across Russia, the British ministry of defence has said.

“Their simple right to life and liberty is being impacted.,” the department said on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

The government also published a map showing the latest territorial gains from either side.

One injured as 'Ukrainian' drones downed near Moscow

03:58 , Arpan Rai

A Ukrainian drone was downed near Moscow and two over the southern Rostov region in the early hours today, the Russian defence ministry said.

Three buildings were damaged in the city of Rostov-on-Don and one person was injured when one of the drones crashed in the downtown area, Russian news agency TASS reported. The other drone in the Rostov region fell outside the city.

One of the 17 who died 'was a child’

03:00 , William Mata

Ukraine’s ministry of defence Twitter account has said that one of the 17 civilians who was killed in the Kostyantynivka attack was a child.

The update on Wednesday evening said that 34 have now been confirmed to be injured.

“Terrorist attacks against civilians are the Kremlin’s preferred approach,” the statement added.

“We must put a stop to this evil in Ukraine so that it does not spread.”

‘Grateful’ message from Volodymyr Zelensky

02:00 , William Mata

“I am grateful to the American people, both parties of the US Congress, and personally to Joe Biden for their unwavering support,” Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky said.

The US secretary of state Antony Blinked visited Kyiv on Wednesday.

Mr Zelensky’s tweet added: “Ukrainian forces are advancing on the battlefield and we discussed steps to ensure their further successes.”

Pictures from the day: Ukraine on August 6

01:00 , William Mata

Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of a Russian military strike in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region (via REUTERS)
Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of a Russian military strike in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region (via REUTERS)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gestures as he talks with Denmarks Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen prior to a press conference outside the Presidential Palace following their meeting in Kyiv (Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gestures as he talks with Denmarks Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen prior to a press conference outside the Presidential Palace following their meeting in Kyiv (Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima)
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attend a joint press conference (via REUTERS)
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attend a joint press conference (via REUTERS)
Burnt cars are seen at the site at of a Russian strike at a market in Kostyantynivka (AFP via Getty Images)
Burnt cars are seen at the site at of a Russian strike at a market in Kostyantynivka (AFP via Getty Images)

Headlines at midnight

Thursday 7 September 2023 00:00 , William Mata

Here are some of the key stories to have emerged from the day on September 6.

At least 17 dead in Russian missile strike on market in eastern Ukraine – as US secretary of state visits Kyiv

Major Ukrainian breakthrough of Russian lines before winter sets in will be tough, Western officials say

Russian commander ‘used two military helicopters to transport his pet cat’

Cubans face ‘human trafficking’ over Russian deals luring them into Ukraine war: ‘A great way to make money’

Antony Blinken in talks with other European leaders

Wednesday 6 September 2023 23:00 , William Mata

Rust Umerov was approved as Ukranian defence minister on Wednesday, the same day that US secretary of state Antony Blinken visited Kyiv.

Mr Umerov has taken over from Oleksii Reznikov in the post although officials have not confirmed if he will meet with Mr Blinken as part of the visit.

During his train ride to Kyiv, Mr Blinken held talks with Danish prime minister Mettle Fredericks, who was visiting the same day.

Mr Blinken thanked Mr Fredericks for Denmark’s donation of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and its leadership of a coalition of nations to train Ukrainian pilots, a State Department spokesperson said.

Denmark and the Netherlands announced last month they would supply more than 60 U.S.-made F-16s as soon as pilots are trained to fly them - the first countries to offer the jets.

More detail given about aid to Ukraine

Wednesday 6 September 2023 22:30 , William Mata

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has announced new aid for Ukraine totaling more than $1 billion in a visit to Kyiv, including over $665 million in new military and civilian security assistance and millions of dollars in support for Ukraine‘s air defenses and other areas.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon said the military aid would also include anti-armour systems, tactical air navigation systems and additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

It will also see depleted uranium ammunition for Abrams tanks being given, the first time the US is sending the controversial armor-piercing munitions to Kyiv.

Blinken hails Kyiv's pushback against Russia in visit clouded by attack

Wednesday 6 September 2023 22:00 , William Mata

Antony Blinken said in his visit to Kyiv that Ukraine has made important progress in its counteroffensive against Russia's invasion.

While the US secretary of state’s visit was overshadowed by the Russian attack on Kostiantynivka which has killed at least 17 people.

After a day of meetings Mr Blinken and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky held a briefing on Wednesday.

Mr Zelensky said: "This Russian evil must be defeated as soon as possible.”

"In the ongoing counteroffensive, progress has accelerated in the past few weeks. This new assistance will help sustain it and build further momentum," Mr Blinken added.

He also described the progress as important and "very, very encouraging".

President Zelensky greets US Secretary of State Blinken in Kyiv (Brenden Smialowski via Reuters)
President Zelensky greets US Secretary of State Blinken in Kyiv (Brenden Smialowski via Reuters)

EU: Russia is ‘terrorising Ukraine’s civillian population'

Wednesday 6 September 2023 21:30 , William Mata

The European Union has denounced Russia’s attack on eastern Ukrainian city of Kostyantynivka as “heinous and barbaric”.

The EU released the statement on Wednesday after at least 17 died in the attack.

An statement by the EU’s diplomatic service said Russia “continues terrorising Ukraine’s civilian population” and said those behind the attack would be held to account.

At least 17 have died in the attack on Kostyantynivka (EPA)
At least 17 have died in the attack on Kostyantynivka (EPA)

Romanian defence minister says Russia drone fragments found in Danube

Wednesday 6 September 2023 21:00 , William Mata

Romania’s defence minister has said that pieces apparently of a drone from Russia‘s recent attacks on Ukraine’s port on the Danube river have been found in Romania.

Angel Tilvar told local news channel Antena 3 CNN that parts of what was most likely a drone were discovered in the eastern county of Tulcea, an area of the Danube that forms a natural border between Romania and war-torn Ukraine.

“I confirm that in this area, pieces that may be of a drone were found,” he said, adding that the pieces did not pose a threat.

It is unclear if Romania has determined when or from where the drone was launched.

US makes £150 milion pledge for Ukraine security assistance

Wednesday 6 September 2023 20:30 , William Mata

The US has pledged £150 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including depleted uranium ammunition for US Abrams tanks.

The secretary of state Antony Blinken made the gesture on a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday.

His pledges also included over $665 million in new military and civilian security assistance and millions of dollars in support for Ukraine's air defences and other areas.

Antony Blinken (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Antony Blinken (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Antony Blinken promises $1billion in support for Ukraine

Wednesday 6 September 2023 19:57 , William Mata

US secretary of state Antony Blinken announced new aid for Ukraine totaling more than £795 million in a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday.

The fund will include hundreds of million in new military and civilian security assistance and millions of dollars in support for Ukraine‘s air defences and other areas.

“We will continue to stand by Ukraine‘s side,” Mr Blinken told reporters at a press conference with Ukraine‘s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.

President Zelensky greets US Secretary of State Blinken in Kyiv (Brenden Smialowski via Reuters)
President Zelensky greets US Secretary of State Blinken in Kyiv (Brenden Smialowski via Reuters)

Cubans face ‘human trafficking’ over Russian deals luring them into Ukraine war

Wednesday 6 September 2023 19:41 , William Mata

Cuban nationals are being offered contracts worth $2,000 (£1,600) a month and potential Russian citizenship for them and their families as part of a targeted campaign to recruit them to fight in Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Cuba's Foreign Ministry announced it was working to "neutralise and dismantle" a human trafficking ring that is coercing its citizens into fighting for Moscow.

"The Ministry of the Interior... is working on the neutralization and dismantling of a human trafficking network that operates from Russia to incorporate Cuban citizens living there, and even some from Cuba, into the military forces participating in war operations in Ukraine," the Cuban government statement said.

See Chris Stevenson’s full story here.

Vladimir Putin (Copyright 2023 Sputnik)
Vladimir Putin (Copyright 2023 Sputnik)

Zelensky condemns ‘deliberate’ attack

Wednesday 6 September 2023 18:00 , Sam Rkaina

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strike was deliberate. He has visited the town many times on trips to the front line.

“Those who know this place are well aware that it is a civilian area. There aren’t any military units nearby,” Zelenskyy said during a news conference in Kyiv with visiting Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

He said the strike reflects the situation on the battlefield.

“Whenever there are any positive advances by Ukrainian defense forces in that direction, Russians always target civilian people and civilian objects,” he said.

Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, Ihor Klymenko reported that emergency workers extinguished the flames that burned an area of 300 square meters (3,200 square feet). Eight market installations and some cars were destroyed.

About 30 pavilions were damaged, along with 20 shops, an administrative building, an apartment building and some power lines, according to Ukraine’s general prosecutor’s office.

The attack came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv, where he was expected to announce more than $1 billion in new American funding for Ukraine in the 18-month-old war.

‘Why are they trying to destroy Ukraine?'

Wednesday 6 September 2023 17:38 , Sam Rkaina

The Russian missile that struck Wednesday in eastern Ukraine turned an outdoor market into a fiery, blackened ruin where weeping civilians looked for loved ones among the mangled, burned bodies scattered across the ground.

The blast in the town of Kostiantynivka killed 17 people and wounded at least 32 in one of Russia’s deadliest strikes in months, Ukrainian officials said.

“There was no military target here. This is a peaceful neighborhood in the city center,” Stefan Slovak, who lives in Kostiantynivka, said in a trembling voice.

Behind him were the remnants of the market, where charred bodies could be seen in the street, their clothes still burning, near cars engulfed in flames. Behind a market stall holding fresh parsley, rescuers found a women in civilian clothes with her head covered in blood.

“They are shooting at peaceful civilians. Are we soldiers here? Are we shooting at them? No! So why? They are just trying to destroy Ukrainian nation,” said resident Nadezhda Negoda.

‘People who did nothing wrong’ victims of market town attack, Zelensky says

Wednesday 6 September 2023 15:39 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Twenty shops, power lines, administrative building and the floor of an apartment building were damaged in the attack in Kostiantynivka , according to the prosecutor general’s office.

“A regular market. Shops. A pharmacy. People who did nothing wrong,” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said on his official Telegram channel.

“Those who know this place are well aware that it is a civilian area,” Zelensky said later at a news conference with visiting Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

“There aren’t any military units nearby. The strike was deliberate.”

In pictures: Russian attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka

Wednesday 6 September 2023 15:14 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Pictures show the extent of the damage after Moscow hit the Ukrainian town of Kostiantynivka with missile strikes on Wednesday.

 (Ministry of Internal Affairs of)
(Ministry of Internal Affairs of)
 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)
 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Sixteen killed in Russian strike on Ukraine city

Wednesday 6 September 2023 14:34 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

At least 16 people were killed and dozens were wounded Wednesday when Russian shelling struck a market in a city in eastern Ukraine, officials said.

Associated Press journalists at the site of the attack in Kostiantynivka saw covered bodies on the ground and emergency workers extinguishing fires at market stalls, with blackened and mangled cars nearby.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at least 16 people were killed. At least 28 were wounded, according to Internal Minister Ihor Klymenko.

Emergency service workers extinguished the fire that damaged about 30 pavilions at the outdoor market, Klymenko said. Crews searched the rubble for any trapped civilians.

Twenty shops, power lines, administrative building and the floor of an apartment building were damaged, according to the prosecutor general’s office.

The deadly attack came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv and was expected to announce more than $1 billion in new American funding.

ICYMI: Wagner Group set to be declared a terrorist organisation

Wednesday 6 September 2023 14:00 , Matt Mathers

Russian mercenary group Wagner is set to be declared a terrorist organisation, as ministers condemned its “devastating” role across the world.

Defence secretary Grant Shapps defended the time it has taken to proscribe the group, ahead of a draft order being laid in parliament on Wednesday.

Dominic McGrath reports:

Wagner Group set to be declared a terrorist organisation

Romania says parts of Russian drone fell on its territory -media

Wednesday 6 September 2023 13:30 , Matt Mathers

Parts of a Russian drone fell on Romanian territory, Romanian defence minister Angel Tilvar said on Wednesday, the HotNews website reported citing Romanian broadcaster Antena 3 CNN.

Ukraine said on Monday that Russian drones had detonated on the territory of NATO member Romania during an overnight air strike on a Ukrainian port across the Danube River, but Bucharest denied then its territory had been hit.

"I confirm that pieces which might be the elements of a drone were found," Tilvar said, according to HotNews.

He added the area was not evacuated because there was nothing to suggest that the parts posed a threat.

File photo: Russian cities and regions targeted by retaliatory drone strikes in 2023 (The Independent/Datawrapper)
File photo: Russian cities and regions targeted by retaliatory drone strikes in 2023 (The Independent/Datawrapper)

Slovak liberals pledge to keep support for Ukraine after election

Wednesday 6 September 2023 12:59 , Matt Mathers

Slovakia’s liberal Progresivne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia) party will maintain the country’s support for Ukraine in line with European and NATO partners if it wins power in an election later this month, its leader said.

Progresivne Slovensko leader Michal Simecka cast the 30 September election as a decision between continuity and a sharp change if former prime minister Robert Fico’s SMER-SSD party forms the next government. Fico has promised a policy U-turn.

"It would mean a turn to the east (Russia), and a threat of Slovakia’s isolation," Simecka, 39, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"While (Hungarian prime minister) Viktor Orban has been a lone Trojan horse of (Russian president Vladimir) Putin in Europe, there is a real threat the Robert Fico would be his partner if he wins."

Slovakia, which neighbours Ukraine, has sent an air defence system, MiG-29 fighter planes and other military aid to Kyiv in response to the Russian invasion.

Slovak liberals pledge to keep support for Ukraine after election

Wednesday 6 September 2023 12:58 , Matt Mathers

Slovakia’s liberal Progresivne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia) party will maintain the country’s support for Ukraine in line with European and NATO partners if it wins power in an election later this month, its leader said.

Progresivne Slovensko leader Michal Simecka cast the 30 September election as a decision between continuity and a sharp change if former prime minister Robert Fico’s SMER-SSD party forms the next government. Fico has promised a policy U-turn.

"It would mean a turn to the east (Russia), and a threat of Slovakia’s isolation," Simecka, 39, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"While (Hungarian prime minister) Viktor Orban has been a lone Trojan horse of (Russian president Vladimir) Putin in Europe, there is a real threat the Robert Fico would be his partner if he wins."

Slovakia, which neighbours Ukraine, has sent an air defence system, MiG-29 fighter planes and other military aid to Kyiv in response to the Russian invasion.

‘Nearly 50’ elite Russian soldiers killed on way to defend key sector

Wednesday 6 September 2023 12:25 , Matt Mathers

Nearly 50 elite Russian soldiers have been killed on their way to defend a key sector on the front line.

A US think tank, citing a Russian military blogger, said some 49 soldiers of the 7th VDV Division were killed in one day of fighting near the village of Staromayorske, Donetsk.

The Institute for War added: “Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area are likely succeeding in pinning elements of the 7th Guards Mountain Airborne (VDV) Division and preventing them from laterally redeploying to critical areas of the front in western Zaporizhia Oblast.”

Germany launches attempt to develop successor to Leopard 2 - Handelsblatt

Wednesday 6 September 2023 12:04 , Matt Mathers

Germany has signed agreements with Italy, Spain and Sweden on the development of a successor to the Leopard 2 tank, German business daily Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday.

The initiative is to take place under the leadership of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, the German arms makers that jointly developed the Leopard 2, Handelsblatt reported, citing unnamed industry and political sources.

A spokesperson for Rheinmetall declined to comment on the report.

A Germany army Main battle tank Leopard 2 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
A Germany army Main battle tank Leopard 2 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

UK Wagner ban: Kremlin says group does not exist as legal entity

Wednesday 6 September 2023 11:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that the Wagner mercenary group did not exist from a legal point of view, after being asked to comment on a British decision to designate it as a terrorist organisation.

Britain’s interior minister Suella Braverman described Wagner, a private militia formerly led by the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, as “violent and destructive” and said it acted as a “military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “There’s nothing to comment on. Perhaps one can add only that, legally-speaking, there is no such group.”

Wagner has operated in Syria, Libya and a number of countries across Africa. It recruited thousands of convicts from Russian prisons to fight in Ukraine, providing the main assault force for Russia‘s assault on the city of Bakhmut.

In June this year, it launched a brief mutiny against the army top brass in Russia, condemned as treason by President Vladimir Putin. On Aug. 23 Prigozhin and his top lieutenants were killed when a private jet he used crashed in so-far unexplained circumstances.

Remnants of Wagner’s Russian fighting force are now based in Belarus. It is unclear what will become of the security services it provides to several African countries, including Mali and the Central African Republic.

Drone warfare map reveals how Ukraine is striking Russia hundreds of miles from the frontline

Wednesday 6 September 2023 11:10 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

As drone strikes continue to rain down on Russian soil, Vladimir Putin’s bloody war has reached his own doorstep.

The strikes are now daily and on Tuesday the Russian defence ministry said its air defence systems destroyed two drones over the Kaluga and Tver regions, which border the Moscow region, as well as one closer to the capital, over the Istra district.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the drones “were trying to carry out an attack on Moscow“ and that a consumer services facility was damaged in the Istra district, which is located some 65 km (40 miles) northwest of the Kremlin.

Drone map reveals how Ukraine is striking Russia hundreds of miles from the frontline

Kremlin, on Blinken’s Kyiv visit, says US is ready to fund war to ‘the last Ukrainian’

Wednesday 6 September 2023 10:53 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin, asked about US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv on Wednesday, said it was clear that Washington planned to keep funding Ukraine‘s war effort “until the last Ukrainian.”

Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday in a gesture of support as Ukraine‘s counteroffensive against Russian forces grinds into its fourth month with only small gains.

“We have heard repeated statements that they (the Americans)intend to continue to help Kyiv for as long as it takes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“In other words, they are going to continue to support Ukraine in a state of war and to wage this war to the last Ukrainian, sparing no money for this. That’s how we perceive it, we know it. It’s not going to affect the course of the special military operation.”

‘Heck of a coincidence’: Shapps on Prigozhin and Wagner

Wednesday 6 September 2023 10:25 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

New defence secretary Grant Shapps has said he is “pleased” that Wagner has been officially declared as a terrorist group by the UK.

He said: “It’s quite clear that they are absolutely ruthless.”

Commenting on the demise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, he added: “It looks like a heck of a coincidence that two months after what happened in Moscow, his plane fell out of the sky.”

Watch the full clip here:

Dodging a constant assault of Russian missiles – the war-weary keep fighting in Ukraine’s blood-soaked east

Wednesday 6 September 2023 09:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The missile aimed at the mayor’s office took an estimated 64 seconds to fly 55 miles and detonate in shrapnel and flames after being fired by Russian forces.

Thankfully for Oleksandr Goncharenko, the mayor of Kramatorsk – near the frontline in east Ukraine – it missed the target by 200 metres, hitting a garden square.

The municipal headquarters was swiftly moved to another building for safety. But that building was bombed as well, resulting in a move to yet another location, dodging the missiles coming from the city of Horlivka, which has been captured by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

There is plenty of pride in the cities around the frontline in managing to keep Putin’s forces at bay, writes Kim Sengupta from Druzhkivka. But it has come at the cost of crushing loss:

Dodging Russian missiles, the war weary keep fighting in Ukraine’s blood-soaked east

One killed in Russian air strikes on Kyiv and Odesa

Wednesday 6 September 2023 09:12 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia carried out air strikes on Kyiv and the southern Ukrainian region of Odesa early on Wednesday, killing a civilian and causing a fire and damage at a Danube River port, Ukraine‘s military said.

During a nearly three-hour drone attack on Odesa, several agricultural and port facilities were damaged, and several fires were reported in the Izmail district, an important grain exporting hub on the Danube, said regional governor Oleh Kiper.

“An employee of an agricultural enterprise, who was seriously injured, died in the hospital,” Kiper said.

Kiper did not name the port. Agriculture consultancy APK-Inform said there had been a fire at the small Kilia river port.

Ukraine‘s air force said air defence systems destroyed 23 out of the 33 air weapons Russia launched overnight. They included 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones, seven cruise missiles and one Iskander ballistic missile, it said.

 (AP)
(AP)

Situation remains ‘difficult’ along eastern front, Ukraine commander says

Wednesday 6 September 2023 08:22 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The situation along the eastern frontline remains difficult and the main task for Ukraine’s troops is to ensure reliable defence and prevent the loss of strongholds, Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said on Wednesday.

“The enemy does not abandon his plans to reach the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” the ground forces cited Syrskyi as saying on the Telegram messaging app.

“Our main task is to ensure reliable defence, to prevent the loss of our strongholds and positions in the Kupiansk and Lymansk directions, as well as to successfully move forward and reach the designated lines in the Bakhmut direction.”

Armenia says it will stage joint military exercise with US next week

Wednesday 6 September 2023 08:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Armenia said on Wednesday it would host a joint military exercise with the United States next week, a development likely to irritate Russia.

The Armenian Defence Ministry said the purpose of the Sept. 11-20 “Eagle Partner 2023” exercise was to prepare its forces to take part in international peacekeeping missions. It did not say how many U.S. and Armenian personnel would be involved.

Russia has a military base in Armenia and sees itself as the pre-eminent power in the South Caucasus region, which until 1991 was part of the Soviet Union.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a weekend interview with an Italian newspaper that Russia had failed to protect Armenia against what he called continuing aggression from Azerbaijan. He suggested that Russia‘s war in Ukraine meant it was unable to meet all Armenia’s security needs.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday he disagreed with Pashinyan’s remarks.

“Russia is an absolutely integral part of this region,” he said. “Russia plays a consistent, very important role in stabilising the situation in this region ... and we will continue to play this role.”

Why Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are desperate for each other’s help

Wednesday 6 September 2023 07:47 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The North Korean leader is said to be planning a possible visit to see the Russian president later this month to discuss weapons for Moscow’s war machine. Given the isolation both men face it is clear they need each other, writes Chris Stevenson:

Analysis: Why Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are desperate for each other’s help

UK says it will declare Russia’s Wagner mercenary group a banned terrorist organisation

Wednesday 6 September 2023 07:43 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The UK announced Wednesday it will declare Russia‘s Wagner mercenary group a banned terrorist organisation, saying it remains a threat to global security even after the death of leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The government said an order will be introduced in Parliament to proscribe the group under the Terrorism Act.

The designation, once approved by lawmakers, will bar membership in or support for Wagner, which has played a major fighting role during Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine. It also has operated in Syria and several African nations.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said Wagner “has been involved in looting, torture and barbarous murders. Its operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa are a threat to global security.”

“They are terrorists, plain and simple - and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law,” she said.

Members of the Wagner Group military company guard (AP)
Members of the Wagner Group military company guard (AP)

Russia now claims it ‘tactically’ withdrew from Ukraine’s Robotyne, official says

Wednesday 6 September 2023 06:52 , Arpan Rai

A Russian-appointed official has claimed that Moscow’s forces “tactically abandoned” the strategic Ukrainian village of Robotyne, more than a week after Kyiv announced its recapture.

The Russian army had withdrawn for tactical reasons, said Yevgeny Balitsky, the top Moscow-installed official in the Zaporizhzhia region.

“The Russian army abandoned – tactically abandoned – this settlement because staying on a bare surface when there is no way to completely dig in... doesn’t generally make sense. Therefore the Russian army moved off into the hills,” news outlet RBC quoted him as saying.

Russia has not previously acknowledged the loss of Robotyne, the recapture of which was announced by Ukraine last week.

Challenger 2 tank likely immobilised by mine, claims defence source

Wednesday 6 September 2023 06:38 , Arpan Rai

Defence sources believe the British Challenger 2 tank destroyed in Ukraine was initially immobilised by a mine.

The tank hit a mine which sparked a fire in the rear fuel tank, a Western defence source told the BBC.

Russia has heavily mined the territory it has captured in Ukraine, as well as deploying anti-tank “dragon’s teeth” concrete obstacles, since Ukraine’s Western allies started supplying it with top-tier tanks including the Challenger 2 and Germany’s Leopard.

Four members of the Ukrainian military were evacuated from the tank to safety. But the empty immobilised tank was then targeted by a Russian Lancet loitering drone which completely destroyed it, the defence source said.

While the exact location and time of the tank’s destruction is not known, it is the first verified sighting of a Challenger 2 on the battlefield since they were first supplied by Britain.