An intercepted Russian drone explodes over Kyiv, Ukraine, September 10, 2023

Saturday’s Coverage: Russia Rejects UN Proposal to Renew Black Sea Grain Deal

Map: Institute for Study of War


Details have been posted about the killing of two aid workers and wounding of two others in Russian shelling of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

The four humanitarians, working with the Ukrainian NGO Road to Relief, were in a van which was struck by shells. The vehicle flipped and caught fire.

Emma Igual of Spain, the organization’s director, and Anthony Ihnat of Canada were slain. Ruben Mawick of Germany and Johan Mathias Thyr of Sweden were injured.

The volunteers were en route to the outskirts of Bakhmut to assess the needs of civilians.


Two aid workers, one Spanish and one Canadian, have been killed in Russian shelling of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

The humanitarians were slain in the vehicle in which they was travelling.

Speaking from the G20 summit in India on Sunday, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares confirmed the killing of the Spanish national.


The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture says the abuses of Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war by Russian troops are a systematic, state-endorsed policy.

Alice Jill Edwards cited credible witness accounts of a consistent pattern of torture, including rape and beatings, in detention facilities under Russian occupation.

Completing a seven-day visit to Ukraine, Edwards said on Saturday, “This is not random, aberrant behavior. This is orchestrated as part of state policy to intimidate, instill fear, or punish to extract information and confessions.”

The Rapporteur said she had reached out to Russian authorities at least seven times since her mandate a year ago. She has received no response, even when she offered to report on the conditions of Russian prisoners of war held in Ukraine.

Russian authorities have failed so far to send a directive to their soldiers and the military command informing them that torture and such types of detentions and interrogations are not acceptable. They deny they do it, but show me the military directive where torture is prohibited.

Edwards cited the 103,000 general cases for prosecution opened by Ukrainian officials. Of hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Russia and released in exchanges, 90% have suffered torture, including sexual violence, according to the officials.

“The scale is neither random nor incidental,” Edwards confirmed. “There is a structure to it. Someone is supervising it, someone is perpetrating it, and someone is interrogating and has this role to do that.”

Last week she gave details of the testimony of four individuals who said they were tortured while detained in the Izyum region in northeast Ukraine last year.

The UN official followed up with details of dangerous weight loss among Ukrainian POWs from starvation. One told her that he had lost 40 kilograms (84 pounds). Some described fellow prisoners dying in custody from beatings or the poor conditions.

Roberts also met a woman who suffered two heart attacks in detention as she endured abuse and watched her son being tortured. Even after signing a “confession”, the woman was held for another 300 days.


Following Cuba’s revelation of a Russian human trafficking network recruiting Cuban citizens to fight on the frontline in Ukraine, Meduza profiles two teenagers swept up in the effort.

Alex Rolando Vegas Díaz and Andorf Antonio Velázquez García, boht 19, came to Russia in July. They had signed contracts written in Russian, thinking they were agreeing to dig ditches and do construction work.

The teenagers told the Cuban-American influencer Alain Lambert, that they heard about job opportunities in Russia from their friends. A Cuban national and two Russians helped them obtain tickets and paperwork for the trip. About 200 other Cubans were on the same flight to Moscow expecting to find employment.

In Moscow, they were met by a Russian woman and a uniformed man who “looked Cuban”, inviting them to sign a one-year contract with the Russian army. They were offered monthly salaries of 200,000 roubles (about $2,000) and Russian citizenships for themselves and their family members. Their Cuban passports were taken away.

“They told us we were going to dig ditches and rebuild the cities destroyed in the war. Nothing more, and definitely no combat,” said one of the teenagers.

They were sent to an army base and then to Ukraine, where they were told to dig trenches in the woods: “We had no food or water; we couldn’t bathe; we slept six meters under the ground, where it was horribly damp.”

Forced to exercise and run, they and fellow Cuban nationals realized that they were being conditioned for combat. When the teens asked to be sent back to Cuba, they were beaten by a Russian soldier who threatened to send them to Russia’s most dangerous prison, the Black Dolphin.

Eventually, both Díaz and Velázquez were hospitalized and later sent to Kaliningrad, where they were interviewed.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the network had been dismantled and 17 people arrested, including an organizer and two recruiters.

The Ukrainian investigative project InformNapalm, using documents from the hacker group Ukrainian Cyber Resistance, published the identities of 198 Cubans and one Colombia national who signed contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry

The leak — with passport scans, migration cards, questionnaires, and contract templates — reveals that the oldest Cuban national recruited was 68 years old, and the youngest 18.


In a rare moment of consensus, both Russia and the US have praised Saturday’s declaration of G20 leaders on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, albeit for different reasons.

The declaration said all states must act “consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in its entirety”. This included no threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition which violated the integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any other state.

However, Moscow’s threat to veto the text ensured that Russia was not mentioned by name in the text issued in India’s capital New Delhi.

Russian negotiator Svetlana Lukash said, “There were very difficult negotiations on the Ukraine issue….The collective position of the BRICS [Brazil-Russia-China-India-South Africa] countries and partners worked — everything was reflected in a balanced form.”

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that the declaration did “a very good job” with its provision that one states cannot use force against another.

Germany and UK also hailed the resolution.

But Ukraine’s Foreign Minister spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko expressed Kyiv’s dissatisfaction that Russia was not named.

He wrote, “It is clear that the participation of the Ukrainian side would have allowed the participants to better understand the situation.”


The Ukraine military says 25 of 32 Iranian-made drones were downed, most of them over the Kyiv region, in Russia’s overnight attacks.


Just after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that Russia will try to renew its “energy war” this winter, Moscow fired more than 20 drones on Kyiv early Sunday.

The Kyiv regional military administration said air defenses destroyed more than 20 UAVs.

Serhiy Popko, the head of the administration, said the Iran-made Shahed “kamikaze” drones attacked in groups and from different directions. He said one person had been injured “without threat to life”.

The air defense forces managed to destroy more than two dozen enemy UAVs (the exact number and type will be made public by the Air Force).

Debris fell in several districts of the capital. In Shevchenkivskyi, they damaged an apartment in a high-rise building. But most of the debris fell on open, unbuilt area.

Popko added that cars, trolleybus power lines, and road surfaces were damaged.

Preparing for Russia’s Winter Strikes

On Saturday, Zelenskiy met military commanders to discuss implementation of the plan to protect the energy industry and critical infrastructure from Russian airstrikes as part of “preparations for winters”.

Zelenskyy noted agreements with allies for the provision of more German-made Gepard air defense systems to protect the power grid. He said agreements for supply of other systems will be negotiated.

From October 2022, Russia launched hundreds of missiles and the Iranian attack drones in an attempt to break Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

At one point, half of the country’s grid was off-line. However, Kyiv held out. Air defense systems were improved, with support from partners, and by spring the attacks had diminished and the grid was repaired.

The meeting also discussed protection of ports and the “grain corridor” infrasstructure in the Odesa region in southern Ukraine, amid Russia’s ongoing missile and drone assaults.

“All instructions have been issued. The work is ongoing,” Zelensky said.