A banner from Russian proxy official,”Let’s vote for Donbas!”, ahead of elections for Moscow’s “annexation” of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, August 14, 2023. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Thursday’s Coverage: Europe Still Buying Russian Oil and Gas

Map: Institute for Study of War


India is sharply reducing its purchases of Russian oil, says Energy Minister Hardeep Puri.

Indian dependence on imports from Moscow “will be significantly reduced”, Puri said.

Since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, India has increased its purchases by 40 times, taking up to half of all Russian oil exports.

But Puri said oil prices from Persian Gulf countries “have become much more attractive”, after Vladimir Putin demanded that discounts on Russian crude should be limited.

The Russian Finance Ministry said the price of Russia’s Urals grade was $64.37 per barrel — exceeding the $60 ceiling set by G7 countries — compared to about $50 at the start of 2023 and just over $40 in late 2022.

Puri also said Indian authorities have instructed refineries to strictly comply with Western sanctions against Russia.

His statement followed the revelation that India, as well as Turkey and China, have been bypassing sanctioning by refining Russian crude and shipping it to Europe.

Russian oil supplies to India have fallen in each of the last three months, dropping more than 25% since May and reaching a seven-month low of 1.6 million barrels per day.


Ukraine will receive the first 10 of 31 US-supplied Abrams battle tanks in mid-September, according to a “Defense Department official and another person familiar with the discussions”.

About 200 Ukrainian soldiers have completed a program on the tanks at a US training ground in Germany, including a combined arms, battalion force-on-force exercise at the Hohenfels Training Area.

The soldiers will develop proficiency on the tanks at Grafenwoehr Army base in Germany until the Abrams are ready for the battlefield.


Scenes from the opening of the school year in Ukraine….


A 34-year-old man has been killed by Russian shelling of Kherson city in southern Ukraine.


Wednesday’s drone attacks on the Pskov airbase in northwest Russia, damaging or destroying four Il-76 heavy transport warplanes, were launched from Russian territory, says Ukraine military intelligence head Kyrylo Budanov.

Budanov said of the warplanes “Two were destroyed and two were seriously damaged,” reinforcing information from satellite imagery.

He did not say the type of drones, how many were used, and who oversaw the attack.

Located near Estonia, Pskov is about 800 km (500 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

Asked about Budanov’s revelation, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov referred questions to Russian Defense Ministry.


The Kremlin has threatened to attack the UK’s BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defense contractor, if it opens a production facility in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, Of course, any facilities for the production of weapons, especially if these weapons fire at us, they become objects of special attention for our military.”

On Wednesday, BAE announced that it was opening an office in Kyiv. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed BAE’s CEO Charles Woodburn, “You are an example for other companies to develop their presence in Ukraine and develop weapons production.”

Woodburn responded, “BAE Systems wants to be a reliable partner of Ukraine in the war for freedom and independence, as well as in building a strong, sustainable technological defense industry to effectively prevent future aggression attempts.”

BAE said it will co-operate with Ukraine to find potential partners for production of 105mm light artillery guns and to better understand Kyiv’s requirements.


Two more cargo vessels have left a port near Odesa in southern Ukraine, hoping to break the Russian blockade in the Black Sea.

Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the bulk carriers Anna-Theresa and Ocean Courtesy have left the port of Pivdennyi through a temporary corridor for civilian vessels. The Anna-Theresa and Ocean Courtesy, respectively, are carrying 56,000 metric tons of pig iron and 172,000 tons of iron ore concentrate.

Since August 16, two other cargo vessels have defied the Russian blockade, reimposed by Vladimir Putin on July 17 when he ripped up the July 2022 deal allowing shipments of grain, foodstuffs, and other essential items. One went to Turkey and the other to Romania.


Ukraine has opened more than 3,000 criminal cases over Russia’s war crimes against children, say Ukrainian prosecutors.

Allegations include “murders, mutilations, abduction of children, forced displacement, deportation, sexual violence against children, and kidnapping”, said Yulia Usenko, head of the Department for the Protection of Children’s Interests and Combating Violence in the Ukraine Proesecutor General’s office.

She noted that the crimes are “often combined with torture and illegal deprivation of liberty”.

Prosecutors have documented 75 children tortured by Russian forces, Usenko said.

Sixty-nine are in the village of Yahidne the Chernihiv region in northern Ukraine They were held in the basement of a school with adults.

Cases were also documented in the Kherson region in the south and the Kharkiv region in the northeast.


A Russian missile strike has damaged a private enterprise in the Vinnytsia region in central Ukraine.

Governor Serhiy Borzov said, “Unfortunately, there are victims, they are being provided with all necessary assistance.” Officials later said three people were injured.

The Ukraine Air Force said a cruise missile was downed over the Kirovohrad region, also in central Ukraine.


The UK Defense Ministry says Russia is “employing a range of passive defenses such as smoke generators and underwater barriers”, as well as air defense systems, for bridges that have been damaged by Ukrainian attacks.

It singles out the Kerch Bridge from Russia’s Krasnodar region to Russian-occupied Crimea. The bridge, a flagship project of Vladimir Putin which he opened in May 2018 to mark his seizure and “annexation” of Crimea, has been struck three times since last October.

See also Ukraine War, Day 509: Russia’s Kerch Bridge To Crimea Is Damaged Again

The British analysts, citing imagery, say Russian defense include an underwater barrier of submerged ships and containment booms to block unmanned naval drones.

At the southern part of the bridge, at the site of Ukraine’s naval attacks on July 17, several vessels have been placed 160 meters apart.

The analysts explain, “The bridge’s importance for both logistics and symbolism of Russian occupation mandates these extensive protection measures.”


Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said air defenses downed a drone approaching the capital overnight. There were no casualties or damage.

Moscow’s Vnukovo, Domodedovo and Zhukovsky airports again restricted arrivals and departures, with 14 airplanes leaving for alternate sites.

The governor of the Kursk region in western Russia, Roman Starovoit, said a drone damaged the facade of a building in the town of Kurchatov.

“There are no casualties,” he said.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s proxy officials have begun staging “elections” to implement Vladmir Putin’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions: Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south and Donetsk and Luhank in the east.

Since Putin announced the annexations almost a year ago, Ukraine has liberated much of the Kherson region. Its three-month counter-offensive is advancing in Zaporizhzhia and near the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk. About 3/4 of countries in the UN General Assembly have condemned the “attempted illegal annexation” of almost 20% of Ukraine.

But Moscow is persisting through its proxies, ensuring there is only nominal opposition in occupied areas to a Yes outcome. Residents have been threatened with denial of social benefits if they do not apply for Russian citizenship and passports.

“Early voting” has begun in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, and the process begins in Kherson and Luhansk on Saturday. The show will be staged until September 10, when Russia’s regional elections are scheduled.

On Tuesday, a Ukrainian partisan group, Atesh, attacked the election headquarters of the United Russia party in Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region. It claimed the killing of three Russian soldiers in a bombing.

This morning, a trickle of residents have been seen in Mariupol, the port city in southeast Ukraine that surrendered after 12 weeks of Russian bombing, ground assaults, and siege killing tens of thousands of civilians.

They cast ballots after showing their new Russian passports to officials, as police officers stood by.

Exiled Mayor Vadym Boichenko said residents told him that there are no lists of candidates or voters.

It is clear that there is no trust from the people toward this process, which should be called a sham election.

[Russian proxy officials] are going to walk from apartment to apartment, as they did before, talking to people. There are two soldiers standing nearby, carrying machine guns, and they tell the people that they must vote.