As the war enters its 556th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Saturday, September 2, 2023.
- The United States says it has seen notable military progress by Ukraine’s forces fighting in the Zaporizhia region over the last 72 hours. Ukrainian troops achieved “some success against that second line of Russian defences”, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.
- A recent drone attack on an airport in northwestern Russia’s Pskov region was carried out from within Russian territory, Ukraine’s intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said.
- The Pskov regional governor said Russian air defence units had “neutralised an unidentified object” spotted flying over the region, just days after a wave of Ukrainian drones destroyed military planes parked at an airfield in the region.
- A Ukrainian drone hit a building in the Russian town of Kurchatov in the Kursk region, home to one of Russia’s biggest nuclear power stations. The plant was not damaged in the attack.
- Drone attacks on Russian territory will increase and recent events demonstrate that the war is gradually shifting to Russia, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.
- Russia’s Ministry of Defence said it destroyed 281 Ukrainian drones over the past week, including 29 over western Russia.
- At least one person was killed and another wounded in Ukraine’s Kherson region after Russian shelling. Kherson’s governor Oleksandr Prokudin said Russia had launched 61 attacks “firing 290 shells from mortars, artillery, tanks, grads, UAVs and aircraft”.
- Russia hit a private business with a long-range cruise missile in Ukraine’s Vinnytsia region, wounding three people.
- Russia’s new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads, had been put on combat duty, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos was reported to have said.
- Any enterprises producing weapons used against Russian forces will become military targets, the Kremlin said after reports that United Kingdom defence contractor BAE Systems will establish a presence in Ukraine.
- Belarus said a Polish military helicopter breached its airspace, a claim quickly denied by Poland. “These are lies and provocations from the Belarusian side. There was definitely no such violation,” said Jacek Goryszewski, spokesman for the operational command of Poland’s armed forces.
- More than 2,000 troops from a Russia-led security alliance have started military exercises in parts of Belarus near the borders of Poland and Lithuania, which are both NATO members. Belarus’s defence ministry said the exercises will continue until Wednesday.
- Sweden’s foreign minister said he remains hopeful that Turkey will ratify his country’s NATO membership when Ankara’s parliament reconvenes in October.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon.
- Putin is scheduled to host his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan next week in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
- Russia plans to block the final declaration at the coming G20 summit unless it reflects Moscow’s position on Ukraine and other issues, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. Lavrov is scheduled to represent Russia at the September 9-10 Group of 20 (G20) meeting in New Delhi.
- Invitations to ambassadors from Russia and Belarus to attend this year’s Nobel Prize awards ceremony have sparked anger in Ukraine and elsewhere.
- Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson said he disagreed with the Nobel Foundation inviting the Russian ambassador to this year’s Nobel Prize banquet.
- Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Denmark’s demand that it reduce its Copenhagen embassy’s staff was an act of hostility. Denmark has capped the number of Russian diplomats allowed at the Copenhagen embassy to five and administrative staff to 20.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month and also take part in a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine. World leaders will gather in New York on September 18 for the UN General Assembly.
Black sea shipping
- Two more ships have departed the Russian-blockaded Odesa port on the Black Sea. If the port departures are successful, they would be the third and fourth vessels to do so since Moscow withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal in July.
- Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said work has begun on providing free Russian grain to six African countries, amid criticism that Moscow was responsible for global grain shortages due to its blockade of Ukraine’s sea ports. The plan is to supply up to 50 thousand tonnes of grain to six of the neediest countries in Africa.
- The Russian share of European Union trade fell below 2 percent in the second quarter of the year, new data shows. From March to June, Russia’s share of EU goods trade was consistently below 2 percent, with Russian imports at 1.7 percent in June and exports at 1.4 percent. From 2002 to 2022 – prior to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions – Russia’s share of EU imports was in the range of 7-10 percent, with exports approximately 4-6 percent.
- Czech police are looking into a criminal complaint filed against Austria’s Raiffeisenbank by a local citizens’ rights group that accuses it of financing terrorism with its activities in Russia.
- Russia plans to allocate 1.9 trillion roubles ($20bn) over the next two and a half years to the development of the four Ukrainian regions that Moscow annexed last year, Putin said.
- Russia added respected Russian journalist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dmitry Muratov to its list of foreign agents. Moscow also branded the nongovernmental organisation Free Buryatia as “undesirable”, a label that criminalises the group and puts its staff at risk of prosecution. The organisation was created in March 2022 and focuses on the rights of mobilised Buryats, an ethnic minority in Siberia, and provides them with legal advice.