A Ukrainian soldier near the frontline in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine, August 2023 (CNN)
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1346 GMT:
Echoing Foreign Ministry Dmytro Kuleba (see Original Entry), Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has posted on Twitter:
Ukrainian forces are moving forward. Despite everything and no matter what anyone says, we are advancing, and that is the most important thing. We are on the move.
Українські сили рухаються вперед. Попри все, хоч би що хто казав – уперед. І це найголовніше: ми рухаємося. pic.twitter.com/wfJrv3D87G
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 2, 2023
UPDATE 1200 GMT:
Valery Garbuzov, the director of the US and Canada Studies Institute at Russia’s Academy of Sciences, has been fired, according to two of Garbuzov’s acquaintances.
Garbuzov was removed on Saturday morning, said a source of the independent Russian publication Meduza.
Last Wednesday, Garbuzov recently published a column, in the publication Nezavisimaya Gazeta, debunking myths about the West spread by a State propaganda machine of “well-paid professional political manipulators and participants in a number of televised talk shows”.
He added that Russia has not left behind “the charge of foreign policy expansionism”.
The purpose of all of this is quite obvious — plunging society into a world of illusions, accompanied by the rhetoric of great power and patriotism. It is the undisguised and deliberate indefinite retention of power at any cost, the preservation of property and the political regime by the current ruling elite and the oligarchy that is fully integrated with that elite.
UPDATE 1123 GMT:
Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky has reportedly been charged with financial manipulation over his oil and gas holdings.
The Kyiv Independent posted a photo of Kolomoisky being handed the charges at his home by security forces before a search of the property.
The Prosecutor General's Office states he fraudulently obtained over UAH 570 million and legalized the illicit funds.
📸: Ssu pic.twitter.com/as7uph8pDT
— SUSPILNE NEWS 📰 (@suspilne_news) September 2, 2023
The State security service said Kolomoisky laundered more than $13.5 million in 2019-2020.
The tycoon controlled Ukraine’s largest refining company until the government seized the “critical national resource” in November.
Kolomoisky is under US sanctions for involvement in “significant corruption”.
In February, his homes and businesses, as well as those of former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and the head of the Kyiv tax authority, were raided over allegations of bribery and evasions of customs payments.
UPDATE 1015 GMT:
Russian authorities have added Nobel Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov, the editor of the independent publication Novaya Gazeta, to the list of “foreign agents”.
The Justice Ministry declared that Muratov “used foreign platforms to disseminate opinions aimed at forming a negative attitude towards the foreign and domestic policy of the Russian Federation”. It asserted that Muratov had created and distributed content from other foreign agents.
Novaya Gazeta’s website responded, “What is there to comment on? For comments, contact the Ministry of Justice.” It noted that the foreign agents list includes 674 “worthy” people and organizations.
Despite the intimidation and the closure of Novaya Gazeta in Russia, Muratov has refused to leave the country. He is on the legal team defending Oleg Orlov, co-chair of Russian human rights organisation Memorial, against the charge of “discrediting the army”.
Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said in a statement on Saturday, “Mr. Dmitry Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for his efforts to promote freedom of speech and freedom of information, and independent journalism. It is sad that Russian authorities are now trying to silence him.”
Reiss-Andersen added, “The accusations against him are politically motivated.”
UPDATE 1002 GMT:
Poland has closed the largest center for Ukrainian refugees, saying that most of the displaced have found homes.
The exhibition center in Nadarzyn, south of Warsaw, once hosted 9,000 Ukrainians. About 300 were moved to other refugee centers this week.
Around 1.5 million Ukrainians registered for temporary protection in Poland in 2022. More travelled through the country to other destination.
Dagmara Zalewska, the spokesperson for Mazovia province said that “the number of refugees from Ukraine arriving in Mazovia is negligible” and that the closure is part of a “reorganization of the entire refugee assistance system”.
But Alina Oniszczuk, an aid worker at another center in Warsaw, said the move was hasty and caught refugees unawares:
It made me cry, when a [Ukrainian] woman called me yesterday saying that at 5 p.m. the door to the center was closed and they weren’t allowed inside. Some people didn’t even have a chance to pack all their stuff. They gave them some food in bags and that was it.
UPDATE 0728 GMT:
The Ukraine Prosecutor General’s Office has concluded that the Defense Ministry purchased one million sub-par meal kits for the military.
In a statement on Telegram, the office said it has proof that a UAH 430 million ($11.6 million) contract with a private food supply company was fraudulent.
An additional contract led to sub-standard food supplies being delivered to Ukrainian troops.
The finding could put additional pressure on Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
Reznikov survived a scandal earlier this year in which Defense Ministry officials were accused of taking bribes to purchase food at inflated prices.
However, this week Ukrainian MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak said that Reznikov is “highly likely” to be replaced soon by Rustem Umerov, head of the State Property Fund.
UPDATE 0623 GMT:
The US is sending armor-piercing munitions with depleted uranium to Ukraine, according to two American officials.
The munitions, which can assist Ukraine’s counter-offensive with the destruction of Russian armored vehicles, are capable of being fired from Abrams heavy battle tanks.
US officials said this week that the first 10 of 31 US-supplied Abrams will be on the battlefield in mid-September. Training of about 200 Ukrainian troops has been completed on a US base in Germany.
The UK began sending depleted-uranium munitions to Kyiv this spring.
UPDATE 0556 GMT:
Ukraine’s State security service SBU says it has identified a Russian commander “involved in mass murders of civilians”.
Senior Lt. Vadym Ovchinnikov, who led a Russian intelligence group, is accused of giving the order to open fire on two cars with civilians during the Russian occupation of northern Ukraine in March 2022.
A Ukrainian family was in the car, and they were trying to leave Severynivka for Uman in Cherkasy region. A man, his wife and their 15-year-old daughter were killed on the spot.
Only a 9-year-old daughter survived the shootings.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: In an interview with CNN, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that Ukraine is “moving forward” in its counter-offensive.
Kuleba challenged those, particularly unnamed sources in Western outlets, who have criticized the pace of the three-month Ukrainian advance in the south and east of the country.
He was supported by the Biden Administration, whose national security spokesperson John Kirby cited “notable progress” in the south in the 72 hours and said anonymous officials claiming the contrary were “not helpful”.
Ukraine’s counter-offensive initially struggled against Russian fortifications, built up for months with heavily-seeded minefields, wire, and trenches and supported by artillery and air power.
However, this month Ukrainian troops have broken through the first line of defenses in the Zaporizhzhia region. Last weekend they liberated the village of Robotyne, 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Orikhiv. They have continued the advance to the south and to the east, in the direction of the strategic hub of Tokmak and then the port city of Melitopol.
In the east, the counter-offensive has made incremental progress around the city of Bakhmut, seized by Russian mercenaries in May after a year-long assault. Ukraine’s forces are also trying to hold back a Russian counter-attack near the city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region.
“We Are Not Failing”
Kuleba told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv, “If Ukraine was failing, I would probably be the first one just to speak the truth. But we are not failing — we are moving forward.”
He continued with his denunciation of the pundits sniping at the counter-offensive, considering the effect of their words on the frontline.
How does it feel when you come back from your mission and you take back your phone, you open it, and you start reading all the smart people saying how slow you are and that you’re not doing well enough?
You just lost two of your buddies. You were almost killed. You crawled one kilometer on your belly demining the field. You sacrificed yourself — you took the damn Russian trench in a fierce fight. And then you read someone saying “Oh guys, you’re too slow”?
Our partners who are helping us, including the United States, they understand that things are moving in the right direction. And they understand that there’s no tragedy or no kind of slowdown. It’s just happening because it’s tough. It’s a tough fight.
This week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister @DmytroKuleba told critics of the pace of the counteroffensive to “shut up.”
In making those comments, Kuleba tells me, “I defended the Ukrainian soldier, in saying that, and I will continue to do so, because they deserve it.” pic.twitter.com/dVYLUev5rt
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 1, 2023
In Washington, US spokesperson Kirby spoke of the “southern line of advance coming out of the Zaporizhzhia area” which had “achieved some success against that second line of Russian defenses”.
Kirby said, “We’ve all seen the criticism by anonymous officials out there, which frankly is not helpful.”
He responded, “Any objective observer of this counter-offensive — you can’t deny…that they have made progress now.”
“I feel well because I know one simple truth: pessimists never win wars. If you want to win a war, you have to believe in victory, against all odds,” says Ukrainian Foreign Minister @DmytroKuleba, speaking to me today in Kyiv. pic.twitter.com/2KdhlLpt9F
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) September 1, 2023