Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers his nightly address to the nation, Kyiv, August 27, 2023

Sunday’s Coverage: Counter-Offensive Advances Farther in South

Map: Institute for Study of War


Ukraine military intelligence says partisans have set off an explosion at a Russian base in the occupied city of Enerhodar, close to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The intelligence service said Monday morning’s blast was at the headquarters of Russia’s special riot police force, OMON.

As a result of the operation of the local resistance movement coordinated by the DefenSe Intelligence of Ukraine, an improvised barracks of the Russian Guard [Chechen] unit Akhmat-1 was damaged….

[The explosion] resulted in injuries to the occupiers’ personnel and cars parked in the courtyard. A fire broke out in the building. Fire crews and ambulances arrived at the scene. Information on the number of killed and wounded Kadyrovites is currently being clarified.

The statement said the Chechen fighters had seized and converted a building on the site of a Ukrainian bank branch after Enerhodar was occupied.

Video from the intelligence service showed a drone flying towards the front entrance of the building. There were no civilian casualties or injuries, the Ukrainians said.

Russian proxy official Vladimir Rogov acknowledged that the military-civilian administration building was hit by a drone, but he he insisted, “Preliminarily, there are no dead or injured. Employees of the administration have already been evacuated.”


Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has criticized five central and east European countries — Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria — for demanding the extension of a ban on imports of Ukrainian grain imports.

The quintet have called on the European Union to approve an extension from September 15 until the end of 2023.

During a visit to Prague, Kuleba said:

We are absolutely adamantly against it because this move will violate the rules of the common market.

This rule will violate the Ukraine-EU association agreement, but most importantly this move will go against the principle of solidarity that the European Union is based on.

Kuleba said Kyiv will work with the five countries on a solution, aksing them “not to take the issue of the export of grain hostage of their domestic political processes”.

He cautioned, “If they behave like this, they will leave us with no chance but to fiercely defend our rights and the rights of Ukrainian farmers.”


Syrian human rights activists have visited Ukrainian officials in Kyiv to exchange information on war crimes, including those by Russian forces.

Fadel Abdul Ghany, the Executive Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, met Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. The activist delivered a list of about 7,000 Syrian citizens, including about 2,000 children, who were killed by Russian forces after Moscow’s intervention in September 2015 to prop up the Assad regime. He submitted SNHR’s latest report with statistics on victims, mass killings, Russia’s use of cluster munitions and incendiary weapons, and other violations by Moscow’s forces.

SNHR has documented Russia’s bombing of 223 schools, 207 medical facilities, and 60 markets.

Kostin also conferred with Raed al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets civil defense.


The death toll from Russia’s missile strike on a vegetable oil factory in the Poltava region in central Ukraine (see 0758 GMT) has been raised to three.


The UK Ministry of Defense assesses that “it is highly likely” that Russia has cancelled its flagship joint strategic military exercise, ZAPAD, “because too few troops and equipment are available”.

The exercise between Russia and Belarus was supposed to be held in September.

In 2021, Russia held ZAPAD in the west of the country, portraying its preparations for the threat from NATO”. The exercise was the largest since the Soviet era, with 200,000 military personnel, more than 80 aircraft and helicopters, and 15 ships.


Russia’s State security service FSB has charged a former employee of the US Consulate in Vladivostok with “confidential collaboration” with a foreign state, on the pretext that the Russian citizen was passing information about the invasion of Ukraine to American diplomats.

The FSB said it had “suppressed the illegal activities of Robert Robertovich Shonov”. It claimed he began passing information to the Americans last September, as Vladimir Putin announced a mass mobilization for the Ukraine battlefield.

The FSB also said Shonov was tasked with gauging protest sentiment in Russia’s regions ahead of Presidential elections in 2024.

If convicted, Shonov faces three to eight years in prison.

When Shonov was detained in May, the US State Department said he performed routine activities as a private contractor, compiling press accounts from publicly accessible Russian media. He worked for the consulate for more than 25 years until 2021, when Moscow imposed restrictions on Russians working for foreign missions.

The FSB posted a video in which Shonov “confessed”, “I had to collect negative information, seek out discontent, and reflect it in my reports.”


Vladimir Putin has ordered the production of propaganda films praising the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin commanded the Culture Ministry to glorify the “special military operation”, with themes such as “heroism and selflessness of Russian warriors” and “battling modern manifestations of the Nazi and fascist ideology”.


Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar has confirmed the liberation of the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, on the southern front of the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Maliar told State TV that troops are advancing southeast, in the direction of the port city of Melitopol, towards the settlements of Novodanylivka, Novoprokopivka, and Ocheretuvate.

Robotyne is 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Ukrainian-held Orikhiv. Geolocated footage this weekend shows an advance of another 1.5 km towards Novoprokopivka, 13 km south of Orikhiv.

Significantly, the lead Ukrainian units appear to have passed the first line of Russian fortifications, with trenches and minefields holding up armored units.


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has confirmed that a second cargo vessel has broken Russia’s renewed blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

He said the Primus, a bulk carrier sailing under a Liberian flag, had reached Romanian waters.

The Primus, loaded with steel for African countries, set off on Saturday morning. It had been blocked since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

On August 16, the Hong-Kong registered container ship Joseph Schulte left Odesa and successfully navigated past the blockade, reaching Turkey’s Bosporus Strait.


At least two people have been killed and five injured in a Russian missile strike on a village in the Poltava region in central Ukraine.

Presidential Chief of Staff Andrii Yermak said the strike caused an explosion at an vegetable oil factory in Hoholeve.

Search operations and the removal of rubble are ongoing.

The Ukraine Defense Ministry said Poltava was attacked with four Kalibr cruise missiles and two Kh-59 guided aviation missiles. Four of the six missiles were intercepted.


Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says a drone was destroyed by air defenses near Lyubertsy, southeast of the capital, with no casualties.

Moscow’s Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports again temporarily halted departures and arrivals. Ten flights were diverted to other airfields.

The Russian Defense Ministry also claimed the destruction of two drones overnight over the Bryansk region bordering Ukraine.

And the Russian proxy head of occupied Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said one drone was downed in the northern part of the peninsula and another in the west.


Russian shelling of residential areas overnight have killed a 63-year-old woman and injured two other civilians in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.

Oleksandr Prokudin, head of Kherson’s military administration. said there were 69 attacks over the past 24 hours, with 395 shells from mortars, artillery, tanks, Grad rocket systems, drones, and aircraft.

In central Ukraine, Russian strikes hit infrastructure in the Poltava region and damaged homes in the city of Kryvyi Rih and in Nikopol, across the Dnipro River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has effectively set out Kyiv’s political and military strategy amid its 11-week counter-offensive to defeat Russia’s invasion.

In an interview with State news agency Ukrinform, Zelenskiy discussed the counter-offensive’s objective of liberating four regions “annexed” by Vladimir Putin last September: Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.

However, he implicitly indicated that the assault would stop at the border of Crimea, seized by Russia in 2014. Instead, Kyiv will use political maneuvers to regain the peninsula.

I believe it is possible to push Russia’s demilitarization on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea through politically. I believe it would be better. I think so. First of all, trust me, I care about those who will do it.

The statements match Ukraine officials’ discussions with US CIA Director William Burns in June, at the outset of the counter-offensive.

They expressed confidence that they could liberate “substantial territory” by the autumn, pushing farther into the east. In the south, artillery and missile systems would be positioned near the boundary of Crimea. Negotiations with Moscow could then be pursued.

In return for Ukraine’s agreement not to take Crimea by force, Russia would accept that Kyiv can secure security guarantees from Western countries.

Two weeks ago, Ukraine military commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi and his staff met NATO commanders in a secret location on the Polish-Ukrainian border for a “council of war”. The agenda included not only the state of the counter-offensive but also plans for the winter and strategy for 2024.

That conference followed Zelenskiy’s 45-minute meeting with Adm. Tony Radakin, Britain’s most senior military officer and a de facto liaison with Kyiv.

“No War Inside Russia”

Zelenskiy also drew a firm line against any Ukrainian offensive in Russian territory.

The President explained that many countries backing Ukraine against the invasion would oppose any threat by Kyiv to Russia’s territorial integrity.

If I, let’s say, send our troops and decide to go for Russia’s territory, I must know for sure that these countries will not stand with me….

I believe that this is a big risk. We will definitely be left alone.

In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy spoke of the week ahead:

There will be decisions that will allow us to further strengthen our warriors. Allow military commanders to prepare the infrastructure for new Ukrainian aircraft more actively. Allow diplomats to promote everything that our warriors need more actively in communication with partners.

The requests from each of the units are very clear. This is exactly what the results of Ukrainian diplomacy should be.