Here is the situation on Saturday, September 30, 2023.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on a visit to Kyiv that Ukrainian forces are “gradually gaining ground” in their counteroffensive against Russian forces. “Every metre that Ukrainian forces regain is a metre that Russia loses,” he said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- Russia said it destroyed 11 Ukrainian drones overnight in an attack that saw one combat drone drop explosives on a power substation, cutting a local power supply in Russia’s Kursk region.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree setting out his country’s routine autumn conscription campaign, which will see 130,000 people called up for statutory military service. Adult men in Russia are required to do a yearlong military service between the ages of 18 and 27 or equivalent training while pursuing higher education.
- Russia’s state TASS news agency reported that a new Russian conscription campaign will include the four Moscow-annexed regions of Ukraine: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. The departure of conscripts from collection points will begin on October 16, and each person will be expected to serve for 12 months, TASS said.
- Putin praised Russian prisoners who had died fighting in Ukraine, saying they had “fully redeemed” themselves in death. “Everyone can make some mistakes, as they once did. But they gave their lives for the Motherland, and fully redeemed themselves,” Putin said.
- Putin has tasked Andrei Troshev, a former aide of late Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, to oversee volunteer fighter units in Ukraine.
- The UK Ministry of Defence said that hundreds of fighters formerly associated with the Wagner Group have likely redeployed back to Ukraine.
- Pavel Felgenhauer, a military analyst, said Russia needs former Wagner fighters in Ukraine forces but they likely do not want to operate under the command of Russia’s Ministry of Defence.
- NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg said he was confident that Poland would find ways to address political disagreements with Ukraine without affecting support for Kyiv’s fight against Russia.
- Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence posted a message on social media expressing solidarity with Poland. The post read: “Ukraine Poland. Together we’re invincible”, and was accompanied by emojis of the two nations’ flags and a handshake, as well as a video.
- Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said his country plans to finance a quarter of the mine clearance operations needed in Ukraine. Switzerland plans to provide $100m of the $400m Kyiv has said it needs to remove the mines from its territory.
- Romania will move air defence systems closer to its villages across the Danube river from Ukraine and is adding more military observation posts and patrols to the area. Russian drones have been attacking Ukraine’s grain facilities on the Danube opposite Romanian territory on a regular basis with reports of drone debris landing inside Romania.
- Seven European Union countries have ordered ammunition under a landmark EU procurement scheme to acquire urgently needed artillery shells for Ukraine and replenish their own depleted stocks.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is “concerned about the attempts of extra-regional players to become more active in the Afghan direction”.
- The United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister James Cleverly said the UK will never recognise Russia’s claims to Ukrainian territory. He said Crimea, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson are Ukrainian territory.
- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said “very difficult questions” need to be answered before the EU begins membership talks with Ukraine. The EU is scheduled to decide in December whether to allow Ukraine to begin accession negotiations. Accession talks require the unanimous backing of all 27 members.
- The head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said the organisation provided 1.2 billion euros ($1.3bn) so far this year to help finance the rebuilding of Ukraine.
- The UK imposed asset freezes and travel bans on officials in the annexed Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Crimea as part of its broader sanctions against Russia. Russia’s emergencies minister, Alexander Kurenkov, and the secretary of the Russian Central Election Commission, Natalya Alekseevna Budarina, were added to the UK’s sanctions list.
- Switzerland adopted further sanctions related to Iran’s drone deliveries to Russia, in line with EU measures. Targeted financial and travel sanctions against people and entities connected with Iran’s drone programme are now in place.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the leaders of five Central Asian nations have pledged to cooperate closely on sanctions in a carefully worded statement that did not specifically name Russia. The announcement came after Scholz met with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan in Berlin.
- Norway said Russian-registered passenger cars will no longer be allowed to enter its territory starting next week. Norway has a 198km-long (123-mile-long) border in the Arctic with Russia.
- Athletes from Russia and Belarus can compete as neutrals at next year’s Paris Paralympics Games. The athletes can compete but without any national symbols, such as emblems, flags and anthems.
- German parasport chief Julius Beucher slammed the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals in Paris next year. “This is not a great moment for the IPC’s community of values,” Beucher said. “There is still a war going on. More terrible than before.”
- A Russian blogger was jailed for eight and a half years after a court alleged he posted “fake news” about Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine. Alexander Nozdrinov, 38, who ran a small YouTube channel, was arrested in March 2022 after investigators accused him of posting a photo of destroyed buildings on social media with the caption: “Ukrainian cities after the arrival of liberators”.
- Russia’s annual budget spending on servicing its state debt will more than double to 3.32 trillion roubles ($34bn) between now and 2026 amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine, draft budget documents showed.
- Russia may introduce quotas on overseas fuel exports if a complete export ban imposed last week does not bring down persistently high gasoline and diesel prices for Russians, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies