A Ukrainian tank on a road near Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine, August 2023
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1257 GMT:
Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak has responded to the latest Russian missile and drone attacks on port facilities, this time on the Danube River in the Odesa region in the south of the country (see 0702 GMT).
Russian terrorists continue to attack port infrastructure in the hope that they will be able to provoke a food crisis and famine in the world.
The main task for us and our partners today is to eliminate the ability of the Russian military-industrial complex to produce weapons for strikes against Ukraine. And to increase responsibility for those who help the enemy to circumvent sanctions.
On Monday in Sochi in southern Russia, Vladimir Putin is finally meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss the situation.
Putin had rebuffed Erdoğan’s attempts at an encounter after the Russian leader ripped up the July 2022 grain deal — brokered by Turkey and the UN — which lifted Moscow’s blockade of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
Both Romania and Moldova condemned Russia’s attack on Sunday.
The Romanian National Defense Ministry said the assaults, near Romania’s territory, were “unjustified”: “[We] reiterate in the strongest terms that these attacks against civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine are unjustified and in deep contradiction with the rules of international humanitarian law.”
Moldovan President Maia Sandu posted:
I strongly condemn Russia's brutal attack on port infrastructure in Odesa region. Russia must be held accountable for every piece of infrastructure destroyed. My thoughts are with all those affected. Moldova stands firmly with Ukraine.
— Maia Sandu (@sandumaiamd) September 3, 2023
UPDATE 1011 GMT:
Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry has opened a criminal investigation into one of the country’s leading actors, 85-year-old Liya Akhedzhakova.
Akhedzhakova, a People’s Artist of Russia, is accused of “discrediting the armed forces” because she reportedly appeared on stage in Bremen, Germany on June 27 with the Ukrainian flag.
Russian official Vitaly Borodin proposed adding Akhedzhakova to the register of “foreign agents” and opening three criminal cases against her, including a charge of treason.
Borodin has also threatened cases against celebrities such as Diana Arbenina, Valery Meladze, Alla Pugacheva, Semyon Slepakov, Laima Vaikule, and actor Danila Kozlovsky.
UPDATE 0928 GMT:
UK military intelligence notes that Russia is recruiting citizens of neighboring countries, as Moscow tries to maintain defenses against Ukraine’s counter-offensive amid heavy casualties.
Since late June, Russia has taken out online ads in Armenia and Kazakhstan declaring an initial payment of 495,000 roubles ($5,100) and salaries from 190,000 roubles ($2,000). Recruitment drives have been held in Kazakhstan’s northern Qostanai region, and central some of Russia’s 6 million Central Asian migrants are being promised fast-track citizenship and salaries of up to $4,160.
In Russian-occupied Mariupol in southeast Ukraine, Uzbek migrant builders have reportedly had their passports confiscated upon arrival and been coerced to join the Russian military.
UPDATE 0919 GMT:
Russian shelling killed one person and injured three others in the city of Seredyna-Buda in the Sumy region in northern Ukraine on Saturday.
UPDATE 0702 GMT:
Russia again tried to break Danube River port infrastructure in the Odesa region in southern Ukraine early Sunday, with a 3 1/2-hour drone attack that injured at least two people.
Air defenses shot down 22 of the 25 Iran-made Shahed “kamikaze” drones.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) September 3, 2023
UPDATE 0650 GMT:
Russian shelling of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine killed a husband and wife on Saturday.
Two other people, including the couple’s 19-year-old daughter, were wounded in the attack on the high-rise residential building.
The Russians attacked elsewhere in the region, including rocket fire on Kramatorsk.
Instead of a thousand words.
A Russian rocket hit Kramatorsk today. Very close to a residential building.
Terrorist state continues terrorizing civilians.
📷: Radio Svoboda pic.twitter.com/B9CQUIB6a2
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) September 2, 2023
UPDATE 0635 GMT:
Russia’s first feature film about its invasion of Ukraine, The Witness, is failing to attract viewers.
Pjotr Sauer of The Guardian reports on a Friday-evening audience of four in a Moscow cinema with capacity for more than 100 people.
With a budget of 200 million roubles ($2.07 million), the film earned less than 14 million ($150,000) in its first two weeks.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: The commander of Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south of the country says troops have broken Russia’s first and main defensive line in the Zaporizhzhia region, and are now heading towards the second line.
In an interview with London’s The Observer, Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskiy said, “We are now between the first and second defensive lines.” Troops are consolidating their hold on territory and pushing out on both sides.
In the centre of the offensive, we are now completing the destruction of enemy units that provide cover for the retreat of Russian troops behind their second defensive line.
Tarnavskiy explain that Russia had devoted 60% of its time and resources to the months-long fortifications of the first line, not expecting the counter-offensive to make it through the minefields, wire, and trenches. He said only 20% each had been devoted to the second and third lines.
Last weekend the counter-offensive liberated the village of Robotyne, 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Orikhiv. Troops are advancing to the south and to the east, in the direction of the strategic hub of Tokmak and then the port city of Melitopol.
Trying to hold the second line, Russian forces are spreading inflammable agents on mined fields and igniting them with drone-launched grenades to hinder mine-clearing efforts. But analysts, such as Estonia’s Defense Forces Intelligence Center Commander Colonel Margo Grosberg, assess that Ukraine’s artillery capabilities are now “equal or even better” than those of Russian forces, pushing back Moscow’s units.
Tarnavskiy observed that the Russians have been redeploying troops from the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, from the frontline near in the northeast, and from inside Russia.
The enemy is pulling up reserves, not only from Ukraine but also from Russia.
But sooner or later, the Russians will run out of all the best soldiers. This will give us an impetus to attack more and faster.
Everything is ahead of us.
“The Closer to Victory, The Harder It Is”
The commander reflected on the slow initial progress when the counter-offensive began in early June, leading some observers as well as Russian propagandists to declare the “failure” of the long-anticipated Ukrainian effort.
When we started the counteroffensive…we spent more time than we expected on de-mining the territories. Unfortunately, the evacuation of the wounded was difficult for us. And this also complicated our advance.
In my opinion, the Russians believed the Ukrainians would not get through this line of defense. They had been preparing for over one year. They did everything to make sure that this area was prepared well.
With the initial minefields finally passed, “There is a very big difference between the first and second line of defense,” said Tarnavskiy. Russians forces are in clusters rather than a single defensive front.
Still, Tarnavskiy cautioned:
The closer to victory, the harder it is. Why? Because, unfortunately, we are losing the strongest and best. So now we have to concentrate on certain areas and finish the job. No matter how hard it is for all of us.