Ukraine update: Zelensky raises flag in recaptured Izyu…

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a ceremony of the national flag-raising in the reclaimed city of Izyum in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, 14 September 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Presidential Press Service / Handout)

Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Union’s executive, pledged in her annual State of the Union Address to work to guarantee “seamless” access for Ukraine to the bloc’s massive single market to help its economy recover from the war. 

The US is preparing another package of aid to Ukraine, according to John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, who cited a “shift in momentum” in the war after the government in Kyiv said it recaptured more than 6,000 sq km of occupied territory.  

Key developments 

On the ground

Ukraine was consolidating control over retaken territory, Zelensky said, following a push that shifted momentum in Kyiv’s favour. Fighting continued in the south, the Ukrainian military said. Russia again targeted civilian infrastructure, according to Ukraine’s General Staff, while local authorities said the cities of Mykolaiv and Nikopol were shelled overnight. 

Ukraine’s military destroyed several ammunition depots and was targeting Russian troops with artillery fire, military spokeswoman Nataliya Humeniuk told a briefing on Wednesday. The Russian navy has also increased the number of missile carriers in the Black Sea to five with the total number of Kalibr cruise missiles to 36. Eight Russian cruise missiles hit the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, an official said. 

Eight Russian cruise missiles hit city in central Ukraine 

The city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine was hit by eight Russian cruise missiles, Ukrainian official Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Telegram. The missiles were aimed at a waterworks and “the goal was obviously to cause an emergency”, Tymoshenko said.

Two missiles fell near the city of Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, Interfax reported, citing city council secretary Anatoliy Kukhtyev.

The Ukrainian General Staff reported that the intensity of shelling in the Kharkiv region had declined significantly and Ukrainian forces spotted several Russian convoys with S-300 and Buk missiles moving from Lutuhyne near Luhansk toward the Russian border. 

Putin still doesn’t see war as a mistake, says Scholz  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t come to regret the invasion of Ukraine “Unfortunately, I cannot report that the insight has grown that this war is a mistake,” Scholz said of his phone conversation with Putin on Tuesday.

Speaking in Berlin, Scholz made clear he still has no intention of sending heavy tanks to Ukraine, even as he said German weapons have “made the difference, which has now visibly enabled Ukraine to defend its own country”.

Biden plans to nominate Lynne Tracy as ambassador to Russia – CNN 

President Joe Biden plans to nominate Lynne Tracy, who currently serves as ambassador to Armenia, as the new US envoy to Russia, CNN reported, citing three people familiar with the plan. A State Department spokesperson declined to comment. 




Russia tallies billions in losses from financial sanctions  

Russia’s financial sector suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in “direct losses” from the sweeping sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over the invasion of Ukraine, according to an internal Finance Ministry document.

The estimate, which includes significant hits to the stock market, bank capital as well as $300-billion in foreign-exchange reserves frozen by the restrictions, was included in a presentation for a top-level meeting of officials on responding to sanctions held last month. The Finance Ministry declined to comment. 

Billions of rouble bonds stuck as Clearstream blocks settlement 

Different approaches to Russia sanction rules taken by Europe’s major clearing houses mean some international investors are now stuck with billions of dollars worth of rouble bonds while others are free to unwind. 

Bondholders using Clearstream as their depository can’t settle rouble-denominated government bond trades, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. Investors estimate that Clearstream has more than $10-billion of sovereign rouble bonds under custody, they said. The other large depositary service provider Euroclear allows for settlement of rouble bonds already in the system, free of payment, the people said.

Ukraine seeks to continue electricity export without Zaporizhzhia 

Ukraine expects to continue exporting electricity to European countries over the winter season despite the conflict and the idling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, chief executive of state-run power company Ukrenergo.

“We’re talking about more than 600 megawatts of export capacity for Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova,” Kudrytskyi said. Ukrenergo plans to increase exports and is now preparing for the winter season to ensure consumers have power. 

Zelensky raises Ukrainian flag in Izyum 

Zelensky participated in a flag-raising ceremony in Izyum, which had been a key staging point for Russian troops before they retreated in the face of a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive last week, according to a statement on the presidential website. 

The Kharkiv region city of Izyum, which was occupied by Russia since March, is one of the most strategically significant areas retaken during the counteroffensive. The speed of the Russian retreat last week was evident in the amount of military vehicles and ammunition left behind.

The Russian military said on Saturday it pulled troops out of two areas in the Kharkiv region to regroup its forces in the Donetsk region.  

Ukrainian deputy prime minister says Russia sought talks – France 24 

Russian officials reached out to Ukraine in recent days about negotiations, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna told France 24 in an interview.

Moscow doesn’t reject negotiations with Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on state television on Sunday. However, the longer they are delayed, the more difficult the talks will be, he said.

There haven’t been substantial peace talks since the early days of the war, and the prospect of a settlement appears dim following Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive this month. Billionaire Roman Abramovich attempted to revive contacts between the sides in April but failed to achieve a breakthrough.




EU’s Von der Leyen travels to Kyiv 

Von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said she would make her third trip to Ukraine since the war began later on Wednesday to discuss a plan to ensure “seamless access to the single market of the European Union” with President Zelensky.

“Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakable,” Von der Leyen told European legislators in her annual speech in Strasbourg. Sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia following its invasion “are here to stay”.

Von der Leyen said she would travel to Kyiv with Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, who attended the speech.

US says Russia gave $300m to foreign political parties  

Russia has secretly funnelled more than $300-million to foreign political parties and candidates in more than two dozen countries since 2014 to influence elections, and may ramp up its efforts in the coming months in a bid to blunt the effect of sanctions, a senior US official said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity.

Russia transfers the funds — cash, cryptocurrency and non-monetary contributions — using intermediaries including security services, oligarchs and supposedly independent foundations or think tanks, the State Department said in a note to dozens of US embassies that was shared with reporters.

Read more: US says Russia covertly spent $300m to sway foreign votes

Biden cites ‘significant progress’, with a caveat 

President Biden, asked if Ukraine’s recent battlefield successes marked an inflection point in the war, said on Tuesday evening that “the question is unanswerable right now”.

“It’s clear the Ukrainians have made significant progress,” he told reporters after voting in Wilmington, Delaware. “I think it’s gonna be a long haul.” DM


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