Damage in Kostyantynivka in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine after a Russian missile strike, September 6, 2023
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1956 GMT:
During his visit to Kyiv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced an aid package worth more than $1 billion.
The assistance includes anti-tank weapons with depleted-uranium munitions for the first time. There are also air defense equipment, artillery munitions, and communications systems.
More than $200 million is devoted to support for transparency and reform for rule of law, the justice sector, and initiatives against corruption. Ukraine’s capacity for investigation and prosecution of war crimes, investment in reconstruction efforts, and financial management will be bolstered.
The US has now committed more than $43.2 billion to Kyiv during Russia’s invasion.
Blinken said alongside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, “We will continue to stand by Ukraine’s side.”
UPDATE 1608 GMT:
At a press conference alongside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed “very, very encouraging” progress in Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the east and south of the country.
President Biden asked me to come, to reaffirm strongly our support. To ensure that we are maximizing the efforts that we’re making and that other countries are making, for the immediate challenge of the counter-offensive, as well as the longer-term efforts to help Ukraine build a force of the future that can deter and defend against any future aggression.
Blinken continued with a reference to Zelenskiy’s visit to troops in both the south and the east on Monday-Tuesday:
I know you were just on the front lines, and we are all ready to hear your assessment. But certainly, we see the important progress that’s been made now in the counter-offensive and that’s very, very encouraging.
Zelensky expressed gratitude to President Joe Biden and to Congress for showing “great unity” in bipartisan support of American assistance. He thanks Blinken for his visit during a “tough period” for Ukrainians.
When you speak about Ukraine you are always together, thank you so much. We are happy that we can count on you.
UPDATE 1601 GMT:
The toll from Russia’s missile strike on an outdoor market in Kostyantynivka in eastern Ukraine has been revised to 17 killed and 32 wounded.
UPDATE 1430 GMT:
Russia has killed at least 16 civilians and wounded at least 34 in a strike on an outdoor market in Kostyantynivka in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
About 30 pavilions were set on fire. Twenty shops, power lines, administrative building, and the floor of an apartment building were damaged.
Reporters saw bodies covered on the ground and blackened, twisted cars as emergency services put out the blaze.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal broke the news of the casualties, “Russian troops are terrorists who will not be forgiven and will not be left in peace. There will be a just retribution for everything.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted footage of the attack:
At least 16 people have been killed by Russian shelling in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region. Russian terrorists have attacked a regular market, shops, and a pharmacy, killing innocent people. The number of casualties could rise further.
Anyone in the world who is still dealing… pic.twitter.com/PRfuGih2JD
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 6, 2023
First Lady Olena Zelenska also commented:
Horrific cruelty. Russians attacked local market in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region. We already know about 16 dead and 31 wounded. Deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims. Each attack on 🇺🇦 is an attack on all of us. We have to be strong and stand up against all odds.
— Олена Зеленська (@ZelenskaUA) September 6, 2023
UPDATE 1131 GMT:
Romania has confirmed that parts of a Russian drone fell on its territory on Monday.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said at the time that a downed Iran-made Shahed “kamikaze” drone, attacking the Danube River port of Izmail, had fallen across the river into Romanian territory.
Romania’s Defense Ministry denied the report.
But Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilvar changed the statement as he visited the area on Wednesday.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said Wednesday’s Russian attacks were 800 meters from the border with Ukraine. He added, “I can tell you no piece, no drone, and no part of a device landed in Romania.”
He added, “If it is confirmed that the components belong to a Russian drone, such a situation would be inadmissible and a serious violation of Romania’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
UPDATE 1120 GMT:
Standing alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said:
We’ve seen good progress in the counteroffensive, which is very heartening.
We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs, not only to succeed in the counteroffensive, but has what it needs for the long term, to make sure that it has a strong deterrent.
We’re also determined to continue to work with our partners as they build and rebuild a strong economy, strong democracy.
On the train to Kyiv with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Blinken thanked her for Denmark’s leadership in provision of US-made F-16 aircraft and of the coalition training program for Ukrainian pilots.
In August, Frederiksen said Copenhagen intends to provide 19 F-16s: six around New Year, eight in 24, and 5 in 2025.
UPDATE 0850 GMT:
The Moscow Times posts detail on the Russian operation to recruit Cubans — in Russia and in Cuba — to fight on the frontline in Ukraine.
On Monday, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry revealed the operation, saying that they had uncovered a human trafficking ring coercing Cuban citizens to fight for Moscow.
The Times found several social media groups recruiting Cuban men. One, Cubanos en Moscú (Cubans of Moscow), was created by a woman named Elena Shuvalova, who said one-year contracts with the Russian army would provide a monthly income of 204,000 rubles ($2,090) and Russian citizenship for the recruit and his family. Only a photo and immigration letter is needed to sign up.
Shuvalova, who speaks Spanish, said she had arranged the journeys of several Cubans to the front in Ukraine. She claimed to be providing the service for free but declined to say if she is working for the Russian Defense Ministry.
One member of the Cubanos en Moscú Facebook group, posting photos of himself n Russian military fatigues, exulted, “Daily payments without commission, [and] the company takes care of the visa issues.”
A Spanish translator, working with the Cuban diaspora, confirmed:
A lot of young guys come straight from Cuba to earn money here. They’re not local Cubans. They don’t stay in Moscow — they sign contracts right away and then go off to fight.
And then they disappear. Their relatives try to find them through the Cuban diaspora or social media. But we don’t have anything to do with this. Most likely, they’ve been killed.
UPDATE 0747 GMT:
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Kyiv for discussions with Ukrainian officials.
A “senior State Department official” accompanying Blinken told reporters, ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting later this month:
The Ukrainians have an important mission in New York to continue to explain – to their allies and partners around the world – what’s going on and their continued need for support. And it’s important for us to continue to lead that global effort to support them.
Having a chance to consult and align before we get to New York is very, very important.
UPDATE 0651 GMT:
Warplanes on Russian airfields are apparently being covered with car tires in an attempt at protection from Ukrainian drone strikes.
Satellite imagery of Engels Airbase, in the Saratov region 300 miles from the Ukraine border, shows at least five Tu-95 and three Tu-160 strategic bombers with tires atop their airframes.
The satellite imagery in question shows various bombers at Engels-2 airbase, roughly 300 miles from the Ukrainian border. Imagery obtained by The War Zone shows at least five turboprop-powered Tu-95MS Bear-H aircraft and at least three examples of the swing-wing Tu-160 Blackjack, all with tires arranged around their upper fuselages, with those on some of the Bears also extending further down the wings.
Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers with car tires on top, which are used as protection against kamikaze UAVs in Russia’s Engels Air Base. pic.twitter.com/dxWSjmmaUe
— Clash Report (@clashreport) September 3, 2023
A NATO military official confirmed the imagery, “We believe it’s meant to protect against drones. We don’t know if this will have any effect.”
On August 20, drones struck two Russian warplanes —- including a Tu-22M3 long-range supersonic bomber — in the Novgorod region, 650 km (403 miles) inside Russia. Last week a strike on the Cheryokhino base in Pskov, near Estonia 500 miles from the Ukraine border, damaged four Il-76 heavy transports.
UPDATE 0639 GMT:
A Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine in August has spoken about his flight across the border in an Mi8 combat helicopter.
Maxim Kuzminov said in the recording posted by Ukraine Defense Intelligence on Monday:
I contacted representatives of Ukrainian intelligence, explained my situation, to which they offered this option: “Come on, we guarantee your safety, guarantee new documents, guarantee monetary compensation, a reward.”
Ukraine military intelligence head Kyrolo Budanov said last month:
We were able to create the conditions to get his whole family out undetected, and eventually create the conditions so that he could take over this aircraft with a crew that did not know what was happening.
Two more people were with him – a full crew of three persons in total. When they realized where they had landed, they tried to escape. Unfortunately, they were eliminated. We would prefer them alive, but it is what it is.
Kuzminov recounted how, during the climactic flight:
I realized that I was near the border. I relayed my location. I said: “Let’s give it a try, I’m not that far away.” And, having made a final decision, I flew at an extremely low altitude in radio silence mode. No one understood what was going on with me at all.
UPDATE 0626 GMT:
A UK-made Challenger 2 heavy battle tank was lost in the Ukrainian counter-offensive, after it was disabled by a mine and then struck by a Russian drone.
The crew safely evacuated the tank before the drone strike.
The Challenger was one of 14 delivered by Britain to Ukraine in January. It was first destruction of the heavily-armored battle vehicle since “friendly fire” in the Iraq War in 2003.
A UK Defence Ministry official said the episode highlighted “the quality of the kit we are giving Ukraine” with the crew’s survival.
UPDATE 0619 GMT:
Russia also attacked Kyiv with missiles early Wednesday.
The Kyiv military administration said air defense systems downed all missiles before they reached their targets. There were no reported casualties, and fires caused by fragments of downed missiles were extinguished.
The systems were deployed about 5:50 am. Air raid alerts across Ukraine lasted about an hour.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Less than 48 hours after Vladimir Putin discussed Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Moscow has renewed its drone attacks on the Danube River port of Izmail.
Seventeen drones were fired across the Odesa region in the three-hour attack. One civilian was killed in Izmail.
Odesa Governor Oleh Kiper said the agricultural worker was seriously injured and died in hospital. “Destruction and fires were recorded in several settlements,” he added, with damage to port and agricultural infrastructure and to administrative buildings.
Since July, Russia has recurrently fired missiles and drones on Izmail, including during the two nights before Putin’s meeting with Erdoğan in Sochi in southern Russia.
Moscow is hoping to prevent any creation of a protected corridor for Ukrainian shipping to navigate through the Black Sea blockade.
On Monday, Putin maintained Russia’s demand that international sanctions be lifted — on the pretext that Moscow’s grain and fertilizer exports are being hindered — before any easing of the blockade.