Sat, 30 Sep 2023

The White House on Wednesday announced a new aid package for Ukraine that includes up to $300 million worth of defence equipment, including Patriot air defence batteries and Stinger anti-aircraft systems. Read our live blog to see how all the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2)

This blog is no longer being updated. For more coverage of the war in Ukraine, please click here.

3:09am: Three dead in new night-time Kyiv attack - city officials

A new night-time attack on an eastern district of Kyiv on Thursday killed three people and injured several others, city officials said.

The Kyiv military administration, in a post on the Telegram messaging app, said two of the dead were children in the attack that struck the Desnyanskyi region on the capital's eastern outskirts.

8:35pm: US does not know who is responsible for Russia drone attack, White House says

The Biden administration does not know who is responsible for a drone attack in Moscow this week, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

The US does not have "specific information that tells us who is responsible," Kirby said, adding that the US did not plan to investigate.

8:09pm: White House announces fresh military aid package for Ukraine

The White House on Wednesday announced the latest in a series of aid packages for Ukraine that includes up to $300 million worth of air defence systems, ammunition and other defense equipment.

The security assistance package represents the 39th drawdown of equipment from the Department of Defense inventories, the Pentagon said. The package includes Patriot air defence batteries, Stinger anti-aircraft systems, tank ammunition and a list of other equipment, according to the Pentagon.

In total, the US has committed more than $38.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including more than $37.6 billion since Russia's invasion in February 2022.

7:50pm: EU wants to sanction Russians involved in child abductions, Dutch PM says

The EU is looking to broaden sanctions against Russia to target people involved in the abduction of children from Ukraine, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday.

7:01pm: Russia says will respond to Germany closing consulates

Russia said on Wednesday that it would respond to what it called Germany's "provocative" decision to shut down four out of five Russian consulates in the country by revoking their licences.

Berlin's decision came after Moscow announced it would limit the number of German officials in Russia to 350.

"There can be no doubt in Berlin that these ill-considered, provocative actions will not go unanswered by us," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

2:44pm: Prigozhin asks prosecutors to investigate 'crime' by top Russian defence officials

Russia's most powerful mercenary, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Wednesday that he had asked prosecutors to investigate whether senior Russian defence officials had committed any "crime" before or during the war in Ukraine.

Prigozhin's request is his most blatant public challenge to date against President Vladimir Putin's top military brass, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

>> Read more: Wagner Group's bloody year in Ukraine: From murder squad to cannon fodder

The 61-year-old restaurateur-turned-mercenary has spent months insulting both Shoigu and Gerasimov, who are leading Russia's war effort, for alleged treachery. Neither has responded publicly to his criticism.

Prigozhin's private army, the Wagner Group, has been fighting alongside Russia's regular forces in Ukraine and spearheaded the months-long assault on the eastern city of Bakhmut.

2:35pm: Russia evacuates children from border villages amid 'alarming' situation

Russia said it would evacuate hundreds of children from villages due to intensifying shelling in the border region of Belgorod, where the situation was deemed "alarming" by the Kremlin.

Russia has seen intensifying attacks on its soil over a year into its Ukraine campaign, with an unprecedented incursion last week in the southern region of Belgorod and a drone attack on Moscow on Tuesday.

"We are starting today to evacuate children from the Shebekino and Graivoron districts," regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram, referring to the most affected border areas.

1:20pm: Kremlin says Moscow's air defences have room for improvement

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Moscow's air defences were working effectively but had room for improvement, a day after Russia said Ukraine had conducted its biggest-ever drone strike on the Russian capital.

Work will continue on improving Moscow's air defences, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

1:14pm: Kremlin 'notes' lack of US, UK condemnation of drone attack

Russia has noted "the lack of condemnation" by the US and Britain of a drone attack on Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

Russia said eight drones targeted civilian areas of Moscow and the Moscow region in the early hours of Tuesday but were either shot down or diverted with special electronic jammers.

Moscow blamed Ukraine for the attacks. Kyiv denied involvement.

1:58pm: Germany orders closure of four out of five Russian consulates in tit-for-tat move

The German government said Thursday that it has told Russia to close four out of five consulates in Germany in a tit-for-tat move after Moscow set a limit on the number of staff at the German embassy and related bodies in Russia.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christofer Burger told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that the measure is intended to create a "parity of personnel and structures" between the two countries.

The Russian government recently said that an upper limit of 350 German government officials, including those working in cultural bodies and schools, can remain in Russia. Burger said this means Germany will have to shut its consulates in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Kaliningrad by November. Only the embassy in Moscow and the consulate in St. Petersburg will remain open, he said.

He said Russia will be allowed to continue operating the embassy in Berlin and one further consulate after the end of the year.

1:56pm: Germany sees Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory as legitimate

Germany deems Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory to be legitimate in terms of international law, a government spokesperson in Berlin said on Wednesday.

1:19pm: Russia claims to have destroyed Ukraine's 'last warship'

Russia on Wednesday claimed it had destroyed the last major warship of the Ukrainian naval forces, which it said was stationed in the southern port of Odesa.

"On May 29, a high-precision strike by the Russian Air Force on a ship anchorage site in the port of Odesa destroyed the last warship of the Ukrainian Navy, the 'Yuri Olefirenko'," the Russian army said in its daily briefing.

AFP was not able to independently confirm the claim.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Naval Force declined to comment.

12:19pm: Ukraine says EU bans on its grain help Putin

Ukraine on Wednesday warned that bans on its grain exports imposed by some EU countries were helping Russian President Vladimir Putin divide Europe.

Several of Ukraine's neighbours, including staunch ally Poland, imposed temporary restrictions on Kyiv's agricultural products last month.

"Continuation of restrictions means putting additional weapons in Putin's hands against unity in Europe," the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said on Twitter.

"Current restrictions must be cancelled."

12:14pm: Kremlin says it is 'concerned' about reports of Ukrainian shelling of Belgorod

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that it was "concerned" about Ukrainian shelling of Belgorod region, a border province that has repeatedly come under attack from Kyiv's forces in recent weeks.

12:13pm: Russia says its forces have taken Ukrainian positions near Donetsk region's Avdiivka

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that its forces had pushed Ukrainian units out of positions around the settlements of Krasnohorivka and Yasynuvata in Donetsk region.

In its daily briefing, the ministry said that "fierce fighting" was ongoing around Avdiivka, a large town located between the two settlements, which has been largely razed to the ground in months of fighting.

12:10pm: Putin, Erdogan to meet in foreseeable future, says Kremlin

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan would hold a meeting in the foreseeable future, although it was not yet agreed when and where the meeting would take place.

Putin congratulated his "dear friend" Erdogan after the latter's victory in the second round of Turkey's presidential election on Sunday.

Ankara has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February last year, opposing Western sanctions on Russia while retaining close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbours.

10:59am: UK officials helping Ukraine war are 'legitimate target', says Russia's Medvedev

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that Britain was Moscow's "eternal enemy" and that any British officials who facilitated the war in Ukraine could be considered legitimate military targets.

Medvedev, responding to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly's remark that Ukraine had a right to project force beyond its own borders, said Britain's "goofy officials" should remember that Britain could be "qualified as being at war".

"The UK acts as Ukraine's ally providing it with military aid in the form of equipment and specialists, i.e., de facto is leading an undeclared war against Russia," Medvedev said on Twitter.

"That being the case, any of its public officials (either military, or civil, who facilitate the war) can be considered as a legitimate military target."

9:09am: Most Kyiv residents 'relieved' not to have been woken up by sirens in the night

Kyiv residents have reportedly experienced a rare night of respite from the sound of sirens and explosions. Reporting from the Ukrainian capital, FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg said that the city had endured "17 massive attacks with drones, missiles or a combination of drones and missiles" over the course of the month of May alone.

"It has almost become the exception, rather than the rule, to have the possibility of sleeping the whole night through," he said.

Cragg added that many Ukrainians had been anticipating "a Russian revenge attack" after yesterday's drone assault on Moscow.

8:59am: Drone crashes into southern Russian oil refinery, local officials say

A drone crashed into the Ilsky oil refinery in southern Russia's Krasnodar region on Wednesday, causing no casualties or damage to infrastructure, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported, citing local officials.

Russian officials have previously reported drone strikes on the Ilsky refinery, which is located across the Azov Sea from Ukraine. On Tuesday, Russia blamed Ukraine for a wave of attempted drone strikes on Moscow.

8:57am: Gazprom to ship 40.5 mcm of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Wednesday

Russia's Gazprom said that it would ship 40.5 million cubic metres of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Wednesday.

5:40am: Five dead in Ukrainian shelling of Luhansk village, says Moscow-installed coordination centre

At least five people were killed and 19 wounded in what a Moscow-installed coordination centre has described as the Ukrainian shelling overnight of a village in the Russian-controlled east Ukrainian region of Luhansk.

"The strike on the village of Karpaty by Ukrainian armed groups ... killed five and wounded 19," Russian security authorities in the Luhansk region posted on Telegram.

A poultry farm and temporary accommodation for workers were damaged in the attack on Karpaty, 35 kilometres (22 miles) west of the city of Luhansk, the authorities added.

The Russians did not specify whether the killed and wounded were civilians or military personnel, although they had listed four workers killed in an earlier toll.

"The enemy fired four rockets" from one of the HIMARS mulitple launchers delivered to Kyiv by the US, the administration said.

9:41pm: IAEA chief asks Russia, Ukraine to protect Zaporizhzhia power plant

UN International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday asked Ukraine and Russia to respect five core principles to safeguard the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, suggesting that he had not yet secured their agreement on protecting the facility.

Among the principles was that the power plant not be used as a base for heavy weapons such as multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems and munitions and tanks or for military personnel that could be used for an attack from the plant.

9:39pm: One dead in Russia after Ukrainian strike on centre for displaced people, governor says

One person was killed and two others injured on Tuesday in a Ukrainian bombardment on a centre for displaced people in the Russian border region of Belgorod, the regional governor said.

"Ukrainian armed forces fired artillery at a centre for displaced people housing elderly civilians and children ... a security guard was killed and two people were injured," governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.

Key developments from Tuesday, May 30:

The Russian capital was targeted by a rare drone attack Tuesday morning, causing "minor" damage to buildings and no casualties, the city's mayor said.

Moscow, located more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from Ukraine, has only rarely been targeted by drone attacks since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, even though such attacks have become more common elsewhere in Russia.

Ukraine's air defence forces destroyed more than 20 drones in Russia-launched overnight air attacks on Kyiv, the military administration of the Ukrainian capital said early on Tuesday.

Calling it a "massive" attack launched in several waves, Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app that Russia conducted the assault using Iranian-made Shahed drones only.

Read yesterday's live blog to see how the day's events unfolded.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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