Here is the situation on Saturday, August 12, 2023.
- The Ukrainian air force shot down one out of four hypersonic missiles fired by Russia at a military airfield in the western region of Ivano-Frankivsk. One missile was destroyed within the Kyiv region and three others hit near the airfield, the military said.
- An eight-year-old boy was killed when a Russian missile crashed into the grounds of a house in Ivano-Frankivsk, local officials said.
- Russia’s defence ministry said its forces hit a location where “foreign mercenaries” were quartered in Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region. Kyiv said a Russian missile struck a hotel in Zaporizhzhia city, leaving one dead and 16 injured. Local media said the Reikartz Hotel was hit in the city centre on the bank of the Dnipro.
- The mayor of Kyiv said that a children’s hospital was hit by Russian rocket fragments during an attack on the capital on Friday morning. There were no reports of injuries.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the dismissal of the heads of all of Ukraine’s regional military recruitment centres amid concerns about corruption. Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny would be responsible for implementing the decision, he said.
- Russia said it destroyed a Ukrainian drone on the western outskirts of Moscow. Drone debris fell northwest of the city centre, causing no serious damage and no casualties, officials said.
- Two Ukrainian drones were destroyed by Russian air defences on approach to Russia’s Kursk city late on Thursday, the TASS news agency reported. The city, which has a population of almost half a million, is located in the southwest of the country, just over 100km (60 miles) from the Ukrainian border.
- The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) confirmed that Russian forces have continued offensive operations northeast of Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine and reportedly made advances. Ukrainian authorities on Thursday ordered a mandatory evacuation of nearly 12,000 civilians from 37 towns and villages near the northeastern front line amid a Russian advance.
- Nearly 1,000 Ukrainian marines have completed more than six months of training “in the art of commando raiding and complex amphibious operations”, the British Royal Navy said. Training also included instruction in the use of mortars, Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons (NLAW) and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, drones for reconnaissance, and explosive demolition of obstacles such as Dragon’s Teeth anti-vehicle fortifications.
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered his government to “contact” neighbouring Poland amid border tensions between the NATO member and Minsk. “We need to talk to the Poles. I ordered the prime minister to contact them,” Lukashenko said, according to state news agency BelTA. “We are neighbours, and you don’t choose your neighbours,” he said.
- Lithuania has increased security forces and protective measures on its 680km (422-mile) border with Belarus amid the presence of mercenary fighters from Russia’s mercenary group Wagner in the neighbouring country.
- A German military officer arrested for allegedly spying for Russia had access to highly sensitive information in his work at the military’s procurement unit, including the procuring of highly modern systems for electronic warfare, local media reported.
- Hackers spied for years on embassy officials of four countries with missions in Belarus, including during the Ukraine war, security researchers at Slovakian cybersecurity firm ESET said. About 15 devices belonging to diplomats from two countries in Europe, one from South Asia, and one from Africa who worked at the embassies were targeted, ESET said in a report. The digital espionage campaign began in 2021 and is still active, the report said.
- Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine would send humanitarian aid to Slovenia after the small Alpine nation suffered its worst-ever floods a week ago.
- At least 385 Ukrainian children deported to Russia have been returned home, an Austria-based international charity has confirmed. According to Kyiv, more than 19,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the February 2022 invasion, with many allegedly placed in institutions and foster homes.
Black Sea blockade
- Ukraine is working to develop alternative export routes for grain, according to Zelenskyy. The president said that he had discussed the issue with the heads of the army, intelligence service and navy, as well as government officials.
- The White House said it was open to training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets in the US if capacity for such training is reached in Europe. White House spokesperson John Kirby said the US was eager to move forward with the training.
- Ukraine does not intend to use cruise missiles requested from Germany and US against targets inside Russian territory, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. The long-range missiles were “crucial” for Ukraine, he said, and Kyiv had asked the two countries to send the missiles “as soon as possible”.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there is no news to report after media said the German government is in talks with arms maker MBDA about the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. “Our focus remains on sending weapons for air defence, heavy artillery and also tanks,” Scholz said. “That is the course we will continue on, in close consultation with our international partners.”
- The EU has delivered 223,800 artillery shells and 2,300 missiles to Ukraine under the first part of a plan to provide a million artillery rounds to aid Kyiv’s fight against Russia, a spokesman said. Overall, the total value of the ordnance provided to Ukraine was 1.1 billion euros ($1.2bn), the EU said.
- Ukraine has begun holding consultations with the UK to obtain security guarantees. Kyiv is pushing for security guarantees from countries that include the US ahead of what it hopes will be its eventual membership in the NATO military alliance.
- Russia sentenced activist Alexander Bakhtin to six years in jail for criticism of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine. Bakhtin, a 51-year-old environmental activist and musician, was accused of spreading false information about the conflict in Ukraine.
- Ukraine is considering cancelling its visa-free programme with Israel and will request the country be excluded from the so-called Ramstein meetings due to its “unfriendly actions towards Ukraine and pro-Russian position on the international arena”, the Kyiv Post reported, citing sources in Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council (RNBO).
- The US Department of the Treasury imposed new sanctions on four Russians linked to financial and investment conglomerate Alfa Group and a Russian business association. The four people sanctioned served on the supervisory board of the Alfa Group, which is one of Russia’s largest financial and investment conglomerates. Sanctions were also imposed on the Russian Association of Employers the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
- Bacardi, the world’s largest privately owned spirits company, has been sanctioned by Ukraine for expanding its operations in Russia. Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention included Bacardi Limited, based in Hamilton, Bermuda, on its list of “international war sponsors”, accusing the company of supporting the Russian economy and sponsoring the “aggression against Ukraine”.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies