Russia Ukraine war latest: Zelensky sacks defence minister as Putin suffering ‘mounting casualties’

Pskov Airfield: Sky glows orange during largest drone strike on Russian territory since war began

Russia is suffering “mounting casualties” on the battlefield in Ukraine and is trying to recruit foreigners to replace its depleted troop numbers, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

The Kremlin has tried to sign up salaried recruits from Armenia, Kazakhstan and Uzbek migrant builders, the MoD said in a statement.

“Russia likely wishes to avoid further unpopular domestic mobilisation measures in the run-up to the 2024 presidential elections,” it added.

Earlier, Russia targeted Ukraine’s Odesa region with a sustained three-and-a-half-hour drone attack in the early hours yesterday morning, the Ukrainian military says, hitting key port infrastructure on the Danube River.

The Danube River is Ukraine’s main route for exporting grain to the world, after Russia pulled out of a UN deal allowing it to safely ship its produce via the Black Sea.

And, Volodymyr Zelensky announced he would replace defence minister Oleksii Reznikov setting the stage for the biggest shake-up of his defence team since Russia’s invasion.

“I believe the ministry needs new approaches,” he said on Sunday.


Zelensky to replace wartime defence minister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday he had decided to dismiss Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov from his post and would ask parliament this week to replace him with Rustem Umerov, head of Ukraine‘s main privatisation fund.

The announcement, made in his nightly video address to the nation, sets the stage for the biggest shakeup of Ukraine‘s defence establishment during the war launched by Russia in February 2022.

Reznikov, who was named defence minister in November 2021, has helped secure billions of dollars of Western military aid to help the war effort, but been dogged by graft allegations surrounding his ministry that he described as smears.

“I’ve decided to replace the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. Oleksii Reznikov has been through more than 550 days of full-scale war,” Zelenskiy said.

“I believe the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society as a whole.”

The change of defence minister must be approved by parliament, but is likely to be supported by a majority of lawmakers in the Verkhovna Rada. Zelensky said he expected parliament to approve Umerov’s appointment.

Umerov, a 41-year-old ex-lawmaker who is a Crimean Tatar, has headed Ukraine‘s State Property Fund since September 2022 and has played a role in sensitive wartime negotiations on, for instance, the Black Sea grain deal.

Arpan Rai3 September 2023 22:05


Russia claims Ukraine launched drone attacks on Kursk region

The Russian defence ministry has blamed Ukraine for launching drone attacks on the Kursk region of Russia overnight from yesterday to this morning.

The ministry claimed its forces had shot down two drones after midnight today.

Kursk region, bordering Ukraine to its west, saw attacked around 1am, the ministry said on its Telegram channel.

Last evening, regional governor claimed debris from a downed drone sparked a fire at a non-residential building in the city of Kurchatov.

The site of attack is about 4km from one of Russia’s biggest nuclear plants, but there were no reports the plant was affected or targeted.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 04:48


Who is Oleksii Reznikov, the war-time defence face of Ukraine?

Volodymyr Zelensky has said time has come for Ukraine for new changes, which will involve exit of Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister since November 2021.

The 57-year-old former lawyer turned defence minister has helped secure billions of dollars of Western military aid to help the war effort, but has been dogged by graft allegations surrounding his ministry that he has described as smears.

In the continuing war, Mr Reznikov’s defence ministry lobbied the West to overcome taboos on supplying powerful military gear to Ukraine, including German-made main battle tanks and HIMARS rocket artillery. And after much bidding and pushing, Kyiv now looks poised to receive US-made F-16 fighter jets soon.

An English-speaker, Mr Reznikov is seen as having built up a strong rapport with allied defence ministers and military officials.

One member of parliament has tipped him as Ukraine’s possible new ambassador to London.

His apparent exit appears to bring an end to months of domestic media pressure that began in January when Mr Reznikov’s ministry was accused of buying food at inflated prices.

Though he was not personally involved in the food contract, some Ukrainian commentators said he should take political responsibility for what happened.

Last month, a Ukrainian media outlet accused his ministry of corruption during the procurement of winter coats for the army. He has denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly said he was being targeted by a smear campaign.

Arpan Rai4 September 2023 04:38


Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Ukraine has fought back courageously against Mr Putin’s warped bid to restore territory lost to Moscow with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued to defy the odds by defending itself against Russian onslaughts with the help of Western military aid.

Eleanor Noyce4 September 2023 03:00


The key to Ukraine punching through Russia’s defences – and putting Putin’s forces on the back foot

Long-range strikes by drone and missile and a raid on territory in occupied Crimea that took Russian forces by surprise – all part of Kyiv’s recent push towards the peninsula that is a symbol of Vladimir Putin‘s territorial ambitions.

Perhaps most significant of all is the capture of the key village of Robotyne, about three hours drive east of Crimea. Gaining that foothold will help Ukraine build a foundation to punch through to the coastline of the Sea of Azov.

Kyiv has been stepping up drone attacks on Crimea as it looks to break key supply lines from the Russian-occupied peninsula, writes Askold Krushelnycky in Ukraine:

Eleanor Noyce4 September 2023 02:00


What is Russia’s ‘Satan II’ hypersonic intercontinental nuclear missile?

Russia has said that Moscow’s RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), nicknamed “Satan II” – capable of carrying ten or more nuclear warheads – has been rolled out on “combat duty”.

The head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said that the missiles had entered active duty, the state-run news agency RIA reported. In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Sarmat missiles would be deployed for combat duty “soon”.

Prior to that, defence committee deputy chairman Aleksey Zhuravlyov had used it as a threat when he was interviewed by state broadcaster TV Russia 1 in May regarding Sweden and Finland’s aspirations towards joining Nato in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland joined the alliance earlier this year, while Sweden is still waiting to be ratified.

Eleanor Noyce4 September 2023 01:00


Dodging a constant assault of Russian missiles – the war weary keep fighting in Ukraine’s blood-soaked east

The missile aimed at the mayor’s office took an estimated 64 seconds to fly 55 miles and detonate in shrapnel and flames after being fired by Russian forces.

Thankfully for Oleksandr Goncharenko, the mayor of Kramatorsk – near the frontline in east Ukraine – it missed the target by 200 metres, hitting a garden square.

The municipal headquarters was swiftly moved to another building for safety. But that building was bombed as well, resulting in a move to yet another location, dodging the missiles coming from the city of Horlivka which has been captured by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

There is plenty of pride in the cities around the frontline in managing to keep Putin’s forces at bay, writes Kim Sengupta from Druzhkivka. But it has come at the cost of crushing loss:

Eleanor Noyce4 September 2023 00:01


Zelensky says he struck key deal on pilot training in France

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had struck a “very important agreement on training our pilots in France” in conversation with President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.

“Our coalition of modern fighters is becoming stronger,” he said in his nightly video address.

He did not elaborate on what training would be undertaken. France does not have the F-16 fighter jets Ukraine has recently been promised by Denmark and the Netherlands. It does have French-made Rafale warplanes and previous-generation Mirage 2000 jets.

Zelensky said he and Macron had also discussed what France could do to help protect the Ukrainian city and region of Odesa, critical to grain exports, but did not elaborate.

The French foreign ministry said last month that it would reinforce its military support for Ukraine, notably in strengthening air defence capabilities.

Eleanor Noyce3 September 2023 23:00


Ukraine drone sparks fire in Russia’s Kurchatov – governor

A non-residential building in the western Russian city of Kurchatov caught fire on Sunday after an attack by a Ukrainian drone but emergency services put the fire out and there were no casualties, Roman Starovoit, governor of the Kursk region, said.

In a post on the Telegram messaging app, Starovoit did not say which building was affected. Ukraine‘s Babel online outlet quoted an unnamed source as saying a drone hit a building belonging to the FSB security service.

Starovoit also blamed a Ukrainian drone for damage to a building facade in Kurchatov on 1 September.

Kurchatov is home to one of Russia’s biggest nuclear plants, but there were no reports it was affected in either incident.

Eleanor Noyce3 September 2023 21:25


South Africa says inquiry found no evidence of arms shipment to Russia

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday an inquiry into a U.S. allegation that a Russian ship had picked up weapons in South Africa late last year found no evidence the vessel had transported weapons to Russia.

“None of the allegations made about the supply of weapons to Russia have been proven to be true,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation.

Eleanor Noyce3 September 2023 20:45

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