Here is the situation on Friday, September 8, 2023.
- Russia continued its attacks on Ukraine’s Danube ports. Governor Oleh Kiper said Russian drone attacks lasting three hours damaged port infrastructure, a grain silo and administrative buildings in the Izmail district of Ukraine’s Odesa region. One person was injured.
- NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said there were no indications that drone debris found on Romanian territory was caused by a deliberate Russian attack, but that air attacks close to NATO borders posed a risk. Romania lies just across the river from Izmail.
- Stoltenberg also said that Ukraine was making progress in its counteroffensive and started to reclaim territory seized by Russia. “They have been able to breach the defensive lines of the Russian forces, and they are moving forward,” Stoltenberg told the European Parliament.
- At least five Ukrainian combat drones were brought down over Russian territory – two were shot down on approach to Bryansk city in Russia’s southwest, two over the southern Rostov region, while one was intercepted near Moscow, according to Russian officials and state news agencies.
- United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised Ukrainians’ “extraordinary resilience” in the face of the Russian invasion during a visit to the Chernihiv region, which was occupied by Moscow for about a month at the beginning of the war.
- India proposed that a G20 statement condemning the war in Ukraine also accommodate the views of Russia and China in an attempt to avoid an impasse. The world’s 20 biggest economies have been divided over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and divisions have deepened since last year’s summit in Bali. Western countries want a strong condemnation, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who will lead Moscow’s delegation, has said Moscow will block the final declaration if it does not reflect its stand.
- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN was “actively engaged” in efforts to bring Russia back to the Black Sea grain deal, which it abandoned in July. Guterres said it was necessary to create a system of “mutual guarantee” for Russia and Ukraine. The original deal was brokered by the UN and Turkey in 2022 and allowed for the safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
- Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said Kyiv had started exporting grain through Croatian seaports because of the blockade of its Black Sea ports. “Although it is a niche trade route, it is already popular,” she said in a written statement. Svyrydenko did not say how much Ukrainian grain had been shipped through the new route.
- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would discuss with G20 leaders the progress towards helping Ukraine circumvent Russia’s Black Sea grain blockade. Sunak said the effort would ensure “vulnerable countries can access vital grain shipments”.
- The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin was not planning to make a video address at the G20. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “all the work” would be led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is leading Russia’s delegation to the summit in New Delhi.
- Some 20 new staff arrived at the Russian embassy in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang for the first time in four years. North Korea is opening up after closing its borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been developing closer ties with Moscow. Russia is the second embassy known to be allowed new staff after China’s new ambassador entered the country in March.
- Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets called for more international pressure on Moscow to help Kyiv bring home thousands of children it says have been taken to Russia. “When Russia feels international pressure, that’s when we can bring more Ukrainian children back,” Lubinets told the Reuters news agency days after several youngsters were reunited with their parents in western Ukraine.
- French President Emmanuel Macron said no Russian flag would fly at next year’s Paris Olympics. “Of course, there can be no Russian flag during the Paris Games. I think there is a consensus on that matter. Because Russia, as a country, is not welcome at a time where it has committed war crimes and deported children,” Macron told French sports daily L’Equipe.
- The US and Britain sanctioned more members of a Russian hacking group known as Trickbot, and US officials indicted nine people with ties to the group’s malware and Conti ransomware schemes.
- Vienna summoned Martin Selmayr, the European Commission’s envoy to the country, after he was quoted saying Austria was paying “blood money” for Russian fuel. According to the latest government data, for June, 60 percent of Austria’s natural gas imports came from Russia, compared with about 80 percent before the war.
- Russia claimed the US’s provision of depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine was a “criminal act“.
- US Vice President Kamala Harris said it would be a “huge mistake” for North Korea to provide military support to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine. “The idea that they would be supplying ammunition to that end … would be a huge mistake. I also believe very strongly that for both Russia and North Korea, this will further isolate them,” Harris said in an interview with CBS News.
- Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it had detained a group of smugglers trading in military aircraft parts, some of which ended up in Ukraine, according to the state news agency TASS. The FSB said the group purchased and repaired military planes and helicopter parts in Russia to export them to foreign buyers, including those acting on behalf of the Ukrainian military.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies