Officials say Ukrainian troops have secured another victory as the counteroffensive continues. Meanwhile, pictures have emerged of Kim Jong Un’s latest trip in Russia’s far east. Listen to a Daily podcast on the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un as you scroll.
Friday 15 September 2023 06:54, UK
Russia is “downplaying” the damage caused to two of its naval vessels in a Ukrainian attack on occupied Crimea, the UK’s defence ministry (MoD) has said.
The significant attack against the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at the Sevastopol shipyard was carried out using British cruise missiles, Sky News exclusively revealed this week.
Moscow insisted a Minsk landing ship and Rostov submarine damaged in the strike would be restored.
But the MoD said open-source evidence shows the ship has “almost certainly been functionally destroyed”, while the submarine has “likely suffered catastrophic damage”.
“Any effort to return the submarine to service is likely to take many years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” it added.
The loss of the Rostov removes one of the Black Sea fleet’s missile-capable submarines “which have played a major role in striking Ukraine”.
South Korea and the US have agreed that military cooperation between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un would violate UN sanctions.
Senior diplomats and defence officials from both countries have urged Moscow to acknowledge its responsibilities as a UN Security Council member.
It comes after South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC) said yesterday that North Korea and Russia would “pay a price” if they violate council resolutions.
Kim Jong Un arrived in the far eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur this morning for a tour of a plant that builds fighter jets.
The visit is one of several the North Korean leader is making on a several-days long trip to Russia.
It follows his major summit with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, which is widely speculated to have involved talks on a possible arms-for-technology deal.
Mr Kim largely disappeared from view yesterday after a flurry of media interest around the summit, but footage published by Russian news agency RIA showed his armoured train pulling into Komsomolsk-on-Amur station as officials waited to greet him.
He was then whisked away by car – with some residents spotted peering from their balconies as his convoy drove past.
Military authorities have confirmed that Ukrainian troops have captured a village in the east.
According to the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, the troops seized Andriivka in the Donetsk region.
It follows some confusion yesterday, when Ukrainian deputy defence minister appeared to report that Andriivka had been taken before saying that fighting was still raging around the village.
Andriivka lies south of Bakhmut, where one of the fiercest battles of the war took place over many months before Russia took the city in May.
Ukraine’s general staff also reported “partial success” near another village south of Andriivka – Klishchiivka.
This is the latest territorial picture in Donetsk – accurate as of yesterday morning – from the Institute for the Study of War thinktank:
Welcome back to our live coverage of the Ukraine war.
Just days after a rare summit with Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin is set to meet another of his close allies today.
The Russian president and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, who arrived in Russia yesterday, are expected to hold talks on “the international agenda and regional issues” as well as other matters.
It comes after the European Commission adopted a resolution calling Mr Lukashenko an “accomplice” to Mr Putin’s “crimes”.
Here’s a reminder of the key events from the past day.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko and Berlin mayor Kai Wegner met today to sign a new city partnership to connect the two cities.
The pair met at Brandenburg Gate in the German capital before heading to the city hall to sign the agreement.
According to the Senate Chancellery, Berlin has 17 other twin cities.
The EU has removed three Russian business leaders from its sanctions targeting Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the EU’s Official Journal shows.
Russian entrepreneur Grigory Berezkin, billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov, and Alexander Shulgin, former head of Russian e-commerce firm Ozon have been removed.
“Whether this decision can be seen as a sign of a shift from total sanctions policy to a more discretionary one or whether that would be ‘wishful thinking’ is difficult to say at this stage,” said the team of lawyers representing Berezkin and Shulgin.
A lawyer representing Akhmedov said his client was still pursuing legal action at the European Court of Justice and was waiting for a hearing date.
“This is a recognition that our client should never have been included in the EU sanctions regime,” Akhmedov’s lawyer said.
“As we have argued relentlessly for 18 months, both before the EU Council and the Court of Justice.”
Ukraine expects the European Commission to “keep its word and lift all restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural exports tomorrow”, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said.
In a message on X, Mr Kuleba also said that no form of continuing the ban was acceptable.
Yesterday, Hungary agreed with Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria to bar Ukrainian grain imports to protect their markets if the European Union does not extend the ban that expires tomorrow.
For context: Ukraine has become entirely dependent on alternative EU export routes for its grain exports since Russia in July abandoned a year-old deal that had allowed Ukrainian grains to be shipped safely via its Black Sea ports.
As a result, farmers in neighbouring states – Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia – have faced increased competition and bottlenecks in their own markets.
The European Commission in turn announced “temporary preventive measures” in May that would ban sales into five states.
Pope Francis’ envoy cardinal Matteo Zuppi, had “open and cordial” talks in Beijing with a Chinese government official on the need to find ways to peace in Ukraine, the Vatican has said.
Meeting with Li Hui, the Italian cardinal also addressed the issue of food security and blocked grain exports from Ukraine.
The meeting, which “took place in an open and cordial atmosphere, was dedicated to the war in Ukraine and its dramatic consequences”, a statement said.
The two sides underlined “the need to combine efforts to encourage dialogue and find paths that lead to peace,” the Vatican added.
For context: Since Russian forces swept into Ukraine in February 2022, China has refrained from condemning its ally Moscow, although it has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and a political solution to the crisis.
Before his Beijing mission, Mr Zuppi visited Kyiv and Moscow in June and Washington in July as part of the Holy See’s so-far unsuccessful attempts to bring Ukraine and Russia closer to the negotiating table.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed what he described as Ukraine’s destruction of a Russian air defence system in the annexed Crimea peninsula.
“A special mention should be made to the entire personnel of the security service of Ukraine as well as our naval forces,” the Ukrainian leader said in his nightly video message.
“I thank you for today’s triumph,” he said, a reference to Russia’s “triumf” air defence system.
“The invaders’ air defence system was destroyed. Very significant, well done!”
It comes a day after Ukraine said it struck Russian naval targets and port infrastructure in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, in what appeared to the biggest attack of the war on the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The attack on Crimea, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014, was confirmed by Moscow.
It highlighted Kyiv’s growing missile capabilities as Russia continues to bombard Ukraine from afar with long-range missiles and assault drones.
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