Image from Ukraine’s 3rd Separate Assault Brigade of the devastated village of Andriivka in the Donetsk region in the east of the country, September 15, 2023
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1730 GMT:
Russian attacks on the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine killed two civilians and wounded at least eight on Saturday.
In Strilecha, a man and a woman were slain when their car was hit by a Russian missile. Another man was wounded and hospitalized in the village, near the border with Russia.
Five civilians were wounded by Russian missiles fired on Kharkiv city. A 23-year-old man was injured in the village of Petropavlivka.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said more school classes will be moved into shelters in metro stations.
UPDATE 1441 GMT:
Two merchant ships are approaching Ukrainian ports to collect about 20,000 tons of wheat for Africa and Asia, according to a Ukrainian official.
The ships are the first seeking to travel to and from the ports since July 17, when Vladimir Putin ripped up the July 2022 Black Sea grain deal and reimposed a Russian blockade.
Four ships that were already in the ports on July 17 have run the blockade with grains for destinations in Africa and Asia.
Ukraine Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the ships Resilient Africa and Aroyat are headed to Chornomorsk in the Odesa region.
At 2 p.m. local time, the ships were each about 10 miles off Ukraine’s southwest coast.
UPDATE 1338 GMT:
The Russian Defense Ministry has finally commented on Thursday’s Ukrainian liberation of the village of Andriivka in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
The Ministry insisted:
“The enemy did not abandon plans to capture the city of Artyomovsk [Bakhmut] of the Donetsk People’s Republic and continued to conduct assault operations…unsuccessfully trying to oust Russian troops from the population centres of Klishchiivka and Andriivka.
UPDATE 1037 GMT:
A photo of the Russian missile ship Samum being towed in the Black Sea, after it was damaged by a Ukrainian Sea Baby naval drone.
Officials in Ukraine’s State security service said the drone struck the Samum in the rear right side, slowing and eventually disabling the ship.
UPDATE 1027 GMT:
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub and American astronaut Loral O’Hara docked with the International Space Station on Friday.
The trio lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft and linked with the ISS three hours later.
They join three Russians, two Americans, a Japanese astronaut, and a representative of the European Space Agency.
Kononenko said in a pre-flight press conference on Thursday that, “unlike on earth”, cosmonauts and astronauts took care of each other in space.
“We hear each other there, and we understand each other, and we are very sensitive to our relationships,” he explained.
UPDATE 1006 GMT:
Russia has carried out at least four strikes on the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine, says Governor Oleh Synyehubov.
A Russian airstrike on Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region has wounded two women, aged 71 and 53.
UPDATE 0646 GMT:
The European Union has ended a ban on imports of Ukrainian grain in five member states — Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania.
The ban was imposed in the spring amid protests by farmers in the five states that the Ukrainian imports were undercutting prices for their produce. Poland led a call for the measure to be extended from September 15 to the end of the year.
The EU issued its announcement on Friday after Ukraine agreed to introduce an export licensing system within 30 days to “avoid grain surges”.
Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia said they would maintain unilateral bans. But Bulgaria said it would not extend its prohibition on Ukrainian imports.
UPDATE 0634 GMT:
Lt. Gen. Andrei Gurulev, a deputy in the Duma and former Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District, has declared that a “culture of lying” within the Russian military is undermining the defense against Ukraine’s counter-offensive.
Gurulev said false reports are leading to poor decision-making at all levels. He indicated that Ukraine had gained the initiative in its 3 1/2-month counter-offensive, with its air defenses effective against Russian helicopters and preventing them from using anti-tank missiles.
The general also reiterated his concern about Ukraine’s ability to conduct drone strikes on Russian rear areas and about insufficient Russian counter-battery capabilities.
in July, Gurulev leaked the audio message of Maj. Gen. Ivan Popov, who was fired as Commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army.
Popov, who led Russian defenses in the Zaporizhzhia region on the southern front of Ukraine’s counter-offensive, detailed the lack of support for Russian forces on the frontline.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: In a breakthrough in the east for their 3 1/2-month counter-offensive, Ukrainian forces have captured the village of Andriivka, south of the city of Bakhmut.
Ukraine’s advance in the Donetsk region has been gradual, with about 50 square km (19.3 sq miles) regained around Bakhmut, the city which Wagner Group mercenaries seized in May after a year-long Russian assault.
But on Friday, the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade moved into the center of devastated Andriivka, 10 km (6.2 miles) from Bakhmut. As troops “continue to consolidate their positions”, the Brigade announced, “Taking and holding Andriivka is our way to a breakthrough on the right flank of Bakhmut and the key to the success of the entire offensive.”
In the village of #Andriivka near #Bakhmut, liberated by 🇺🇦 forces, every house is damaged. Residents had evacuated before the #Russian occupation. According to Olena Danko, the local county head, 77 people, mostly elderly, lived there before the invasion.#UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/LvVqRqsLpW
— SUSPILNE NEWS 📰 (@suspilne_news) September 15, 2023
“A Much-Needed Result”
On Thursday afternoon, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar posted that Andriivka had been liberated.
The 3rd Separate Assault Brigade quickly said that the statement was “false and premature” as “serious and heavy fighting continues”: “Such statements are harmful, threaten the lives of personnel, and harm the performance of combat missions.”
Maliar deleted the reference to liberation and wrote that the situation in Andriivka was “very complex and changeable”.
On Friday, the General Staff broke the news that control had been established in Andriivka, and it also claimed ”partial success” in the Klishchiivka area just to the north.
The 3rd Separate Assault Brigade said that a “lightning operation” had finally defeated Russian officers: “It was difficult and the situation changed very dynamically several times….But now it is confirmed that our troops captured Andriivka yesterday.”
After the commanders of the 72nd Separate Mechanised Brigade of the Russian Federation were killed, some of the occupiers were still hiding in the encircled village.
Soldiers of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade launched a UAV with a loudspeaker into the sky and the commander of the 2nd Assault Battalion issued the enemy with an ultimatum: captivity or death.
Some of the occupiers surrendered as a result of the combat operation.
In his nightly address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy referred to the “significant and much-needed result”, as part of a meeting with military commanders about the frontlines.
He added, “Active operations in the Klishchiivka and Kurdiumivka areas continue.”
Today, I held another Staff meeting with a focus on the frontlines.
Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhnyi and commanders reported on the situation in the main directions. Defense Intelligence Chief Budanov presented a separate report. Minister of Strategic Industries Kamyshin reported… pic.twitter.com/a96fHgtjVx
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 15, 2023
Russian officials — including Vladimir Putin, who met Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Friday, made no reference to the retreat of their forces.