Li Hui, China’s envoy for Eurasian Affairs, attended last weekend’s Ukraine summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Maxim Shepenkov/EPA-EFE)
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1703 GMT:
The toll from the explosion at the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant near Moscow has been raised to one dead and more than 50 wounded.
UPDATE 1033 GMT:
More than 45 people have been injured in an explosion at the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant at Sergiyev Posad, near Moscow, which supplies the Russian military.
Russian State media is claiming that pyrotechnics caught fire “in the area of the boiler room”. But observers are questioning that explanation.
Ukrainian political advisor Anton Gerashchenko posted:
Regarding the explosion at a factory near Moscow.
Russian media rushed to say that it was pyrotechnics that exploded. But if we look at videos of pyrotechnics exploding, we'll see that the explosion on the plant doesn't look like pyrotechnics.
The factory was used to… pic.twitter.com/aFzgbs0AmV
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) August 9, 2023
UPDATE 0759 GMT:
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says two Ukrainian drones headed toward the capital were shot down by air defenses Wednesday.
Sobyanin said one drone fell in the Domodedovo area on the southern outskirts of the city, while the second was downed in the Minsk highway area west of the capital.
UPDATE 0748 GMT:
The office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General says it has confirmed the killing of 499 children, with more than 1,594 injured, during Russia’s invasion.
The office issues its standard statement that the actual toll is likely to be far higher, with the difficulties of verifying casualties near frontlines or in Russian-occupied territory.
UPDATE 0738 GMT:
Chechnya’s Grozny — levelled by Russian attacks in 1999-2000 — and Ukraine’s Mariupol, destroyed by Moscow’s forces in spring 2022 are now “sister cities”, according to Russian and Russian proxy officials.
Grozny’s Mayor Khas-Magomed Kadyrov and the Russian proxy head of Mariupol, Oleg Morgun, made the announcement on Tuesday during a trip of Chechen officials to Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine.
An estimated 5,000 to 8,000 civilians were killed in Grozny by Russian airstrikes and artillery. Tens of thousands are estimated to have perished in Mariupol, with more than 50,000 deported.
The relevant agreement was signed by Grozny's Mayor Khas-Magomed Kadyrov and Gauleiter of Mariupol Oleg Morgun.
It is symbolic that both cities were once destroyed by the Russians – in 1995 Grozny and in 2022 Mariupol. pic.twitter.com/vhuNEWiYOU
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) August 9, 2023
UPDATE 0644 GMT:
A Russian attack near Nikopol in southern Ukraine has killed an 18-year-old boy and wounded three men.
A church and private houses were damaged.
Nikopol is across the Dnipro River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
UPDATE 0637 GMT:
The German manufacturer Rheinmetall has reportedly purchased 49 second-hand Leopard battle tanks from a private company for use in Ukraine.
Freddy Versluys, CEO of OIP Land Systems, said he sold the tanks to a European Government without disclosing the nation or the price. He said it could be up to six months before the tanks are refurbished and on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Versluys had bought 50 Leopard 1 tanks for €37,000 (about £29,600) each that the Belgian government decommissioned in 2014.
UPDATE 0630 GMT:
The toll from Monday night’s Russian missile strikes on an apartment block and hotel in Pokrovsk in eastern Ukraine has risen to nine killed and 82 injured.
At least one rescuers was slain and dozens of emergency responders and police officers were injured in the “double tap” attack. A second Russian missile hit 37 minutes after the first strike, as rescuers gathered to help victims.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy paid tribute to the emergency services in his nightly address to the nation, “I am grateful to everyone who saves lives and eliminates the consequences of Russian strikes.”
ORIGINAL ENTRY: China is continuing to maneuver over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, distancing itself from military operations — and promoting a political resolution — while emphasizing that its “strategic relationship” with Moscow continues.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke by phone with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, a day after China participated in a Saudi-hosted summit of 43 countries — but not Russia — seeking a resolution of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
There is a subtle but significant difference between the two sides in the portrayal of the call. The Russian Foreign Ministry emphasized an ongoing conflict in Ukraine, saying the discussion “touched on a series of ‘hot’ regional topics”. The Chinese Foreign Ministry preferred the less dramatic phrase of “exchanged views” about Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Beijing has followed up with a lengthy commentary in the English-language Global Times. The article begins with the headline that Wang Yi declared China and Russia are “trustworthy and reliable good friends”. It highlights that Lavrov was “shattering the Western narrative of a ‘rift'” between the two countries.
However, this is in the context of China maintaining its involvement in the international effort to end Russia’s invasion, with further talks planned within six weeks.
Wang Yi spoke of Beijing maintaining “a fair position”: “China will uphold a fair position on any multilateral occasion, make objective and rational observations, actively promote peace and encourage talks, and seek political solutions.”
Using an academic for authority, the commentary upholds China’s involvement in the summit in Jeddah:
It is appropriate for China to convey the dialogue’s message to Russia, otherwise the dialogue would lose its value and become a mere Western “trial”….It demonstrates the unique role China has played in the Ukraine issue.
According to the Chinese portrayal, Lavrov said “Russia appreciates and welcomes China’s constructive role in resolving the crisis”.
A Shifting Chinese Position
In February, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned Wang Yi that China must not send military aid to prop up Russia’s invasion.
Since then, Beijing has signalled its distance from an ongoing assault. While Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared “strategic cooperation” during his visit to Moscow in March, he avoided any specific commitments.
Two weeks later, China’s envoy to the European Union, Fu Cong, said Beijing did not support the invasion. Moreover, the Chinese did not recognize Putin’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions in the east and south of the country.
In late April, Xi Jinping spoke with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the first time during the 17 1/2-month invasion. The conversation was followed by the visit to Kyiv of Li Hui, China’s envoy for Eurasian affairs, with the Chinese putting Ukraine on the same level of “strategic relationship” as Russia.
Fu Cong went further in June, indicating that China could back Ukraine regaining all of its territory from Russia. Asked at the 2023 Europe-China Business Summit if Beijing supported Kyiv’s aims, including the liberation of occupied regions, he said: “I don’t see why not.”
Chinese entities have sent non-lethal military aid to Russia, according to Western intelligence services, and have been sanctioned by the US. American officials also say Beijing has provided technology which could assist Russia on the battlefield.
But the Chinese State continues to deny any provision of military support for Moscow, and Western countries have not claimed any provision of lethal assistance by Beijing.