Here is the situation on Thursday, September 28, 2023.
- The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said “a concerted new Russian offensive [wa]s less likely over the coming weeks” based on its daily assessment of the war in Ukraine.
- Ilya Yevlash, spokesperson for the Eastern Group of Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told the RBC-Ukraine outlet that mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group had returned to the front line in the east. Wagner was instrumental in the Russian capture of Bakhmut earlier this year, but its troops were pulled out after a short-lived mutiny and the death a month later of leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash. Yevlash said that while the mercenaries were among the “most prepared” in the Russian military, they were not a “significant threat, a ‘game changer’”.
- Moscow accused the UK and the United States of involvement in last week’s Ukrainian attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in annexed Crimea. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed Western reconnaissance data, satellites of NATO countries, and spy planes were used. Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
- Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said it detained two Kyiv residents for aiding Russia by revealing information about military facilities and the capital’s critical infrastructure. The two had been working for Moscow for two months for financial gain, the SBU said in a statement.
- Russian Ambassador to Cuba Viktor Koronelli said Moscow and Havana were “in contact” after Cuba arrested 17 people over the alleged trafficking of its citizens to fight for Russia’s forces in Ukraine.
Diplomacy and politics
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country will mark October 1 as the “Day of its Defenders” and hold a minute’s silence to “honour those who gave their lives in defence of our country and people”.
- The Ukrainian government named three new deputy defence ministers – Yuriy Dzhyhyr, deputy finance minister between 2018-2020; Natalia Kalmykova, who was most recently executive director of the Ukrainian Veteran Fund; and Kateryna Chernohorenko, head of Ukraine’s “Army of Drones” project.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised after a man who served in a Nazi unit during World War II was honoured in parliament. “Paying tribute to this individual, without knowing who he was, was a terrible mistake and a violation of the memory of those who cruelly suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime,” Trudeau said. Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was given two standing ovations last week during a special session attended by Zelenskyy.
- Russia announced it was blacklisting 23 more people in Britain, including senior military and political officials as well as journalists and think tank experts, over the country’s “anti-Russia policy” and “all-round support for the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv”. The Foreign Ministry did not publicly name all those sanctioned but said it included Chief of the Defence Staff Antony Radakin, Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee Madeleine Alessandri, and Cressida Hogg, who chairs defence firm BAE Systems.
- At least three pro-war Russian journalists have been sent pig heads, according to The Moscow Times. The three journalists – including state media columnist Timofey Sergeitsev, military expert Konstantin Sivkov and TASS news agency photojournalist Mikhail Tereshchenko – said they had previously received death threats. It was not clear who sent the heads.
- Russia’s Defence Ministry said its forces had destroyed thousands of pieces of Ukrainian military equipment since its February 2022 invasion including nearly 13,000 tanks, 250 helicopters and more than 6,500 field artillery guns and mortars.
- European-made components were found in Iranian kamikaze drones used by Russia to attack Ukraine in recent weeks, according to a report compiled by Ukraine and obtained by the UK’s Guardian newspaper. The 47-page document revealed that 52 electrical components manufactured by Western companies had been found in the Shahed-131 drone and 57 in the Shahed-136 model. The report was submitted by the Ukrainian government to the Group of Seven (G7) countries, the paper said.
- Bulgaria’s parliament approved the provision of additional military aid to Ukraine including defective surface-to-air missiles for the Russian-made S-300 air defence system and small-calibre automatic weapon ammunition discarded by the Interior Ministry, the state-run BTA news agency reported. Experts said while Bulgaria was not able to repair the missiles, Ukraine had the facilities to do so.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies