Ukrainian troops in the liberated village of Klishchiivka in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, September 17, 2023

Sunday’s Coverage: Is Putin’s Chechen Warlord Kadyrov Seriously Ill?

Map: Institute for Study of War


Germany has announced a €400 million ($427 million) military aid package for Ukraine.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the assistance includes high-explosive ammunition, mortar ammunition and rockets, protected vehicles, demining systems, warm clothing, and generators.

The minister said:

Ammunition is what Ukraine needs most in its defensive struggle against the brutal war of aggression. In addition, we will help with armored vehicles and mine-clearing systems.

Pistorius said Berlin has not decided on the provision of Taurus cruise missiles, with a range of 500 km (310 miles), to Kyiv.

He said the matter is “not easy”: “A multitude of political, legal, military and technical aspects have to be clarified.”


A fifth trapped vessel has left the port of Odesa in southern Ukraine, using a Black Sea corridor to run a Russian blockade.

The Ukrainian Government says the Cayman Island-flagged bulk carrier PUMA left Odesa on Monday morning and is heading to the Bosporus in Turkey.

The carrier has 16,000 tons of metal and 14,000 tons of rapeseed.

PUMA arrived in Odesa on February 19, 2022, five days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Four other ships that were trapped in the port have left since August 16.

Two merchant ships reached Odesa last weekend to collect about 20,000 tons of wheat for Africa and Asia. They are the first vessel 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.


Hungary has not only extended its ban on Ukrainian agricultural products, including grain, but also blocked 25 more products such as meat.

Ukraine Deputy Economics Minister Taras Kachka said:

These arbitrary bans are ridiculous. I think Hungary is making a political statement here that it wants to block trade with Ukraine and also completely ignore Brussels [the European Union]. And that’s why I think this is a very bold move against both of us by Budapest.

Last week Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia unilaterally extended bans on Ukrainian grain after the EU refused to sanction the blocking of imports until the end of 2023.

Bulgaria lifted its ban, while Romania reserved its position.

Kachka said Kyiv plans to sue Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia, and will retaliate by targeting fruit and vegetable exports from Poland.


The Russian proxy head of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, Denis Pushilin, has confirmed an explosion at the administration headquarters in Donetsk city. He said there are no casualties.


The Red Cross has confirmed that Russia has been holding the mayor of Kherson in southern Ukraine, Ihor Kolykhaiev, in detention.

Kolykhaiev has been missing for over a year. His son said:

I contacted the Red Cross and they told me that the Russian side has included my father Ihor Kolykhaiev in a list of prisoners, he is on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The location of Kolykhaiev and his condition are unknown.

Kherson city was seized in the first days of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It was liberated last November by Ukrainian forces.


The Zelenskiy Government is replacing six Deputy Defense Ministers, following the appointment of Defense Minister Ruslan Umerov on September 6.

No reason was given for the removals, including that of Hanna Maliar, a prominent spokesperson for the state of the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

However, unnamed government sources said the ministers resigned voluntarily after a request by Umerov.

“Rebooting. We started. We continue. Ministry continues to work as usual,” Umerov said on Facebook.


A UN Human Rights Council report, by Special Rapporteur Mariana Katzarova, has documented a “systematic crackdown” on human rights and civil society in Russia since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russian authorities have severely curtailed the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, both online and offline, and have fundamentally undermined the independence of the judiciary and the guarantees of fair trial.

An array of administrative sanctions is being applied arbitrarily against dissenters and force used against peaceful protesters.

The Special Rapporteur’s report is the first examination of a permanent Security Council member in the 16-year history of the Human Rights Council.

Katzarova was granted no access to Russia and said Russian officials tried to “obstruct” her work. She based her report on consultation with more than 60 Russian and international rights groups and individuals and on almost 100 written submissions.


A Russian military court has sentenced Corporal Madina Kabaleva, who is pregnant, to six years in a prison colony for failure to appear before leadership of the military unit after the announcement of mobilization.

Kabaloeva had contacted the medical company of her unit and received a recommendation for temporary release from military service due to the pregnancy and her child born in 2018. But Russia’s Investigative Committee of Russia proceeded with the prosecution.

In court, Kabaleva highlighted the medical certificate which gave her an exemption from service. The military prosecutor insisted that she had not left because of pregnancy and continued to receive a military allowance and benefits.

Because of Kabaleva’s child, her summons to the prison colony was postponed until 2032.


The commander of Russia’s elite 31st Airborne Storm Brigade, Col Andrey Kondrashkin, has been killed in a Ukrainian strike, say Russian officials.

Kondrshkin had a leading role in Russia’s 12-week bombing, ground assaults, and siege of the port city of Mariupol in spring 2022.


The Ukraine Air Force says it downed all 17 missiles and 18 of 24 Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones fired by Russia overnight.

However, a 72-year-old man and an elderly woman were killed, and three other people were injured, including a 60-year-old man and a 63-year-old woman.

A recreational facility in the Odesa region in the south was set on fire, but there were no casualties. In the neighboring Mykolaiv region, debris from a downed drone hit a residential building, again with no reports of injuries.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine’s 3 1/2-month counter-offensive has liberated a second village in four days on the eastern front in the Donetsk region.

On Sunday, Ukrainian forces took control of Klischiivka, south of the city of Bakhmut.

“Klishchiivka was cleared of Russians,” announced Oleksandr Syrsky, commander of Ukraine ground forces.

Ukraine has made gradual progress both to the north and south of Bakhmut, which was seized by Wagner Group mercenaries in May after a year-long Russian assault. However, it was only last Thursday that the counter-offensive broke through with the capture of Andriivka, 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Bakhmut and just to the south of Klishchiivka.

The Russian Defense Ministry insisted on Saturday that Andriivka had not been lost and that it was defeating the “enemy”. It has made no comment this morning.

In his nightly address to the nation on Sunday, Ukraine President Voldoymyr Zelenskiy said:

Today I would like to particularly commend the soldiers who, step by step, are returning to Ukraine what belongs to it, namely in the area of Bakhmut….

Well done!

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar posted a video of Ukrainian forces holding the blue and yellow national flag against a background of ruined buildings and the sound of ongoing clashes. She explained that Russia was still trying to regain the lost positions: “Today we had to fight off enemy attacks all day.”

In a video filmed in front of a damaged church, one of six soldiers speaks as the sound of artillery explosions is heard: “The enemy does not give up attempts to re-capture [the village], using all possible means of fire. But we are standing firm and confident.”

Ilia Yevlash, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military in the east, said the counter-offensive had inflicted “powerful damage” on Russian airborne units, the Akhmat battalion of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the Storm-Z unit made up of freed Russian convict, the Russian general staff’s military intelligence, and motorized rifle units.

He posted on Telegram, “So now we have gained a base that will allow us to continue to develop offensive actions and liberate our land from the invaders.”

Map: Institute for Study of War

The Effect on the Southern Front

The gains in the east may also be benefitting Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south in the Zaporizhzhia, pinning down elite Russian forces near Bakhmut. The Institute for the Study of War assesses:

The liberation of Klishchiivka, as well as continued Ukrainian tactical gains northwest of Bakhmut, are tactical gains of strategic significance because they are allowing Ukrainian forces to fix a considerable portion of Russian airborne (VDV) elements in the Bakhmut area.

UK military intelligence notes that five VDV regiments from the 7th and 76th Divisions have been redeployed to the south. However, “almost all units are highly likely dramatically under strength”.

Moreover, the moves will have an effect on morale, say the analysts.

The current situation is likely to be seen as highly unsatisfactory by the VDV hierarchy. Throughout the war, Russian commanders have attempted to regenerate the airborne forces as a highly mobile, striking force for offensive operations. [But] once again they are being used as line infantry to augment over-stretched ground forces.