Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and troops watch the raising of the national flag in liberated Izyum in the Kharkiv region, September 14, 2022
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 2131 GMT:
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has endorsed a war crimes trial of Vladimir Putin in the International Criminal Court.
“That Putin must lose this war and must face up to his actions, that is important to me,” she said in an interview on German TV. “We support the collection of evidence.”
Von der Leyen reaffirmed, “That is the basis of our international legal system, that we punish these crimes. And ultimately, Putin is responsible.
UPDATE 2122 GMT:
While supplying Ukraine with armored vehicles and anti-aircraft guns, Germany has repeated that it will not provide tanks.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht confirmed the supply of two Mars II multiple-rocket launch systems, 200 missiles, and 50 armored “Dingo” troop carriers, said, Agence France-Presse reports. That follows this week’s delivery of four more Gepard anti-aircraft guns, bringing the total to 24.
Lambrecht said Soviet-made BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles will “very quickly” be sent to Ukraine from Greece, with Germany close to resupplying Greek stocks with the more modern Marder armoured vehicles.
But Lambrecht reiterated that Germany will not “go it alone” over supply of battle tanks, noting that no ally has done so yet.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted, “We are helping….because their fight is a fight that we are supporting….Weapons deliveries from us — but also from our allies – have contributed to things turning out differently to how the Russian President planned.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba countered that there was “not a single rational argument on why these weapons [battle tanks] cannot be supplied”.
In Kyiv on Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen supported the Zelenskiy Government (see 1658 GMT): “To all member states: it’s absolutely vital and necessary to support Ukraine with the military equipment they need to defend themselves.”
UPDATE 2111 GMT:
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governor has demanded that Russian forces end their occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
The 35-member board adopted the text, drafted by Canada and Poland on behalf of Ukraine, on a vote of 26-2 with 7 abstentions. Only Russia and China objected, and Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, Burundi, Vietnam, India and Pakistan abstained.
The resolution calls on Russia to “immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine”.
Having converted the site into a military base and used it to shell Ukrainian-held territory across the Dnipro River, Russia has repeatedly pushed back the calls of the UN and IAEA to demilitarize and withdraw forces.
UPDATE 1733 GMT:
The US has sanctioned another 22 Russian individuals and two Russian entities.
Those listed include Maria Alexeyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Presidential commissioner for children’s rights. The US Treasury says she led Russia’s deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children, with forced adoption into Russian families.
Task Force Rusich, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group which has participated in combat alongside Russia’s military in Ukraine, is also sanctioned.
UPDATE 1658 GMT:
At a joint press conference alongside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that Kyiv’s “ascension process” to the European Union “is well on track”.
It’s impressive to see the speed, the determination, the preciseness to which you are progressing. We support you wherever we can. I cannot say to speed up the process because you are speeding it up. That is very good.
Ukraine was granted candidate status by the EU in July. In her third trip to Kyiv since the Russian invasion, von der Leyen said, “We have agreed that we need to work as much as possible to make sure that Ukraine has more business, more income and that it’s as seamless access to the European single market as possible for Ukraine.”
She said it was impressive how “life has come back to Kyiv” since her last visit in June.
Von der Leyen announced another €150m ($150m) in EU aid for internally displaced Ukrainians to shelter through the winter, and €100m for reconstruction and repair work for schools.
She added, “To all member states: it’s absolutely vital and necessary to support Ukraine with the military equipment they need to defend themselves. They have proven that they are able to do that if they are well equipped. This is the general recommendation to all member states.”
The Commission President concluded:
We will never be able to match the sacrifice that the Ukrainians are giving when they lose their homes or they cry for their beloved ones that have gone. We will never be able to compensate what you do with your fight for democracy, for humanity, for the respect of the international rule of law.
But what we can tell you is that you have your European friends by your side as long as it takes, and we are friends forever.
UPDATE 1223 GMT:
Russian forces have again fired a missile on Kryvyi Rih in south-central Ukraine, a day after strikes damaged hydraulic structures and caused widespread flooding.
Thursday’s attack was on an industrial site in the city. Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration said there is “serious” destruction and emergency services are assessing losses.
Wednesday’s strikes with eight cruise missiles led to a 2 1/2-meter rise in the Inhulets River, damaging at least 112 homes.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted:
Russian missile strike on Kryvyi Rih hydraulic structures is a war crime and an act of terror. Beaten by Ukrainian army on the battlefield, Russian cowards are now at war with our critical infrastructure and civilians. Russia is a terrorist state and must be recognized as such.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) September 14, 2022
UPDATE 1125 GMT:
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is meeting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv.
On Wednesday, von der Leyen told the European Parliament in her State of the Union address that she was travelling to the Ukrainian capital. She continued:
Never before has this Parliament debated the State of our Union with war raging on European soil.
And I stand here with the conviction that with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Europe will prevail. Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable….
This is the time for us to show resolve, not appeasement. We are in it for the long haul.
Dear Volodymyr @ZelenskyyUA, thank you so much for the award of the First Class of the Order of Yaroslav the Wise.
This is a great honour.
I accept it in the name of all EU citizens.
And as a symbol of our strong bond. pic.twitter.com/6W8JPLTao3
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 15, 2022
UPDATE 0558 GMT:
Nikita Yuferev, a municipal deputy in St. Petersburg, is maintaining his call for Vladimir Putin to resign.
Yuferev has been fined and is being threatened with prison. However, he said he is protesting for his children, wanting them to be able to speak their minds.
“I don’t want them to fear retaliation from the police,” the deputy said.
At least 47 municipal deputies have signed a petition demanding Putin’s resignation.
UPDATE 0529 GMT:
With Vladimir Putin still holding out against a general mobilization, the Kremlin is turning to “Putin’s Chef” Yevgeny Prigozhin — the financier of the paramilitary Wagner Group — for recruitment drives.
On Tuesday, Prigozhin delivered a recruitment speech declaring that Russian prisoners have been involved in the war since July 1, when they helped seized the Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
English subtitles for the video of #Russia|n oligarch Prigozhin, who is close to Putin & runs the Wagner private military company, pitching to prison inmates, while trying to recruit them for his PMC to deploy in the #war against #Ukraine:
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) September 14, 2022
Some Russian military bloggers are calling for Prigozhin to replace Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
UPDATE 0521 GMT:
UK military intelligence further summarizes the flight of the Russians in the Kharkiv region:
Some units retreated in relatively good order and under control, while others fled in apparent panic.
High-value equipment abandoned by retreating Russian forces included capabilities essential to maintain Russia’s artillery-centric style of warfare. Among these are at least one ZOOPARK counter-battery radar and at least one IV14 artillery command and control vehicle.
Such abandonment highlights the disorganised retreat of some Russian units and likely localised breakdowns in command and control.
UPDATE 0510 GMT:
Irina, who worked for the local administration set up by Russia in the town of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv occupiers, tells The Guardian of the rapid collapse of the occupiers last week:
Everyone had told us we’re here now, we’re here, you have nothing to be afraid of.
Five days ago they were telling us they would never leave. And three days later we were under shelling…And we don’t understand anything.
We don’t understand what the point of this [Russian invasion] is then.
Andrei Turchak, a leading figure in the ruling United Russia party, said during a visit to Kupiansk in July, “The fact is obvious that Russia is never leaving. Russia will never leave here. And all the necessary aid will be provided.”
In the Russian city of Belgorod, just across the border from the Kharkiv region, Alexander — forced to leave his Ukrainian village because of lack of work and schools under the occupation — says:
People there believed the Russian troops, they said we won’t leave you, that we lost so many people and we won’t leave you.
Then they suddenly retreated. They took several months to gather all this territory and then they abandoned it in two days. They don’t understand what happened.
UPDATE 0501 GMT:
Despite the turn on the battlefield with Ukraine’s counter-offensive, Vladimir Putin has maintained his tough line in conversations with global leaders.
UN Secretary General António Guterres said, after speaking by phone with Putin on Wednesday:
I have the feeling we are still far away from peace. I would be lying if I would say it could happen soon.
I have no illusion; at the present moment the chances of a peace deal are minimal.
Following his 90-minute call with the Russian leader, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “Sadly, I cannot tell you that the impression has grown [for Putin] that it was a mistake to begin this war.”
UPDATE 0458 GMT:
Germany has delivered four more Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.
Berlin has now provided 24 Gepards to Kyiv, with a pledge to send six more.
The guns fire 35 mm shells at a rate of up to 1,000 rounds per minute.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Marking the turn in Ukraine from resistance to advance against Russia’s invasion, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited the city of Izyum, liberated last week in the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region.
Zelenskiy’s tour on Wednesday was not announced in advance. He thanked the liberating troops, viewed the devastation wrought by the Russians, and spoke to the remaining residents.
As he greeted the soldiers, he set Izyum as a marker of eventual triumph over Vladimir Putin’s assault:
Earlier, when we looked up, we always looked for the blue sky. Today, when we look up, we are looking for only one thing – the flag of Ukraine.
Our blue-yellow flag is already flying in the de-occupied Izyum. And it will be so in every Ukrainian city and village. We are moving in only one direction – forward and towards victory.
But he also spoke of what Izyum’s civilians have endured and the long road to recovery, as he viewed scores of bombed apartment blocks, debris in craters streets, and the remains of destroyed Russian tanks. Comparing the scene to that in Bucha and other locations near Kyiv, where occupying Russian forces carried out mass killings of civilians before withdrawing in early April, he said:
The view is very shocking but it is not shocking for me because we began to see the same pictures from Bucha, from the first de-occupied territories so the same destroyed buildings, killed people.
Zelenskiy in Izium is again a sharp contrast with Putin, who hasn't been anywhere near front, made brief visit to a military hospital once in May, and otherwise (as far as we know) has got no closer to troops than looking at them through binoculars at exercises. (pics AP&Reuters) pic.twitter.com/X66OBTch1R
— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) September 14, 2022
As bodies are recovered from rubble, prosecutors are gathering evidence of Russian war crimes. Oleksandr Filchakov, the chief prosecutor of the Kharkiv region, said:
After the counter-offensive, we have found a few burial sites of local residents that were murdered by the Russian military. Some of them even tortured.
As for Izium, well, we have just started.
In Balakliia, the first town liberated in the counter-offensive last Thursday, he Ukraine military said it found a torture chamber, set up by Russia and its proxies.
Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the Kharkiv Region National Police Investigation Department, said 40 people were detained and one death had been confirmed.
One resident — held because Russians found a picture of his brother, a soldier — spoke of torture with electrocution and screams from other cells.
However, in a sign of liberation and the hope for recovery, the Ukrainian Railways sent a test train into the town on Wednesday.
The railway said service from Kharkiv city to Balakliia will resume on Thursday, after workers rapidly repaired bridges and dozens of damaged tracks.
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) September 14, 2022
Ukraine’s forces have retaken about 8,000 sq km (3,100 square miles) so far in the counter-offensives in the northeast and in the south.
The advance in the northeast has reached the border with Russia in northern Kharkiv. To the south, Ukrainian forces are challenging the Russian offensive in the Donbas, closing on areas held by Russia and its proxies in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy summarized:
Ukrainians once again managed to do what many considered impossible….
The 150,000 Ukrainians who remained in this territory feel again what an ordinary, safe, normal life is like.