Here is the situation on August 31, 2023.
- Ukrainian officials said at least two people were killed and two injured in a “massive” Russian drone and missile attack on Kyiv. Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mikhail Podolyak, said the targeting of the capital with more than two dozen Russian cruise missiles and 15 drones was a “deliberate attack on the civilian population”.
- Ukrainian drones swept across western Russia, targeting at least six regions, according to Russian officials. At the military airbase in Pskov, 600km (373 miles) from Ukraine, the state-run TASS news agency said four Il-76 transport aircraft, long the workhorse of the Russian military, were damaged. Two of them “burst into flames”, it added.
- Russia’s defence ministry said its forces destroyed four military boats carrying as many as 50 members of the Ukrainian special forces who were operating in the Black Sea. It did not reveal where the incident took place.
- Six members of the Ukrainian armed forces were killed in an incident involving two helicopters while they were on a mission in Russian-occupied territory near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the military said.
- The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said more than 20,000 of its soldiers had been trained in Britain since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion 18 months ago.
- Russia’s foreign ministry said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan will discuss a potential alternative to the Black Sea grain deal when they meet for talks on Thursday and Friday. The proposal would allow Moscow to send one million tonnes of grain – at a discounted price – to Turkey, where it would be processed and delivered to the countries most in need. The Black Sea deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey allowed Ukraine to export grain from its southern ports, while a separate agreement minimised the impact of sanctions on the export of Russian food and fertiliser. Russia withdrew from the agreement in July.
- European Union countries increased imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia compared with before the Ukraine war. Civil society group Global Witness found that in the first seven months of the year, EU countries imported 40 percent more Russian LNG on tankers than in the same period in 2021 despite the bloc’s commitment to ending its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.
- Poland’s parliament gave the go-ahead for a “Russian influence” panel to begin work, despite EU and US concerns it could be used against opposition politicians. The conservative majority elected nine members to the panel in a vote boycotted by all opposition parties, which refused to put forward candidates for the posts, calling it “illegal” and “anti-constitutional”. No date was given for when the panel would become operational. Poland is one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies.
- Social media platforms, including TikTok and Twitter, renamed X by owner Elon Musk, failed to effectively tackle Russian disinformation online during the first year of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an independent study for the EU. As well as TikTok and X, the report focused on risks from pro-Kremlin disinformation on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Telegram. “The reach and influence of Kremlin-backed accounts has grown further in the first half of 2023, driven in particular by the dismantling of Twitter’s safety standards,” the report warned.
- Lithuania summoned the Vatican’s top diplomat after Pope Francis last week told Russian youths to remember they are the heirs of “the great Russian empire”. On Tuesday, the Vatican said Pope Francis did not intend to glorify Russian imperialism in the speech, where he also praised Peter the Great and Catherine II.
- The Badminton World Federation said Russian and Belarusian athletes would be allowed to return to international badminton competitions from next February and compete as “neutral” athletes.
- The United States urged Pyongyang not to sell Russia weapons that Moscow can use for its war in Ukraine amid increasing concern about potential arms deals between the two countries.
- EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged member countries to order more ammunition for Ukraine, as figures showed the bloc is a long way from a March target of giving Kyiv a million artillery shells within 12 months.
Prigozhin plane crash
- The Kremlin said investigators are considering all causes for the plane crash that killed Wagner mercenary chief and some of his top commanders, including that it may have been “deliberate”.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies