Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in Independence Square in Kyiv, March 10, 2023 (Yurii Stefanyak/Global Images Ukraine/Getty)
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1700 GMT:
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has confirmed that the Zapad 2023 military drills been cancelled.
“No, this year we are having exercises in Ukraine,” Shoygu said.
In September 2021, the drills were the largest in post-Soviet history, with Belarus joining Russia in an exercise of 200,000 troops.
UK military intelligence assessed last week that Russia would not hold the exercises this year because of a shortage of resources and manpower.
UPDATE 1654 GMT:
Gen. Sergey Surovikin, the former commander of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, has been seen in public for the first time since the rebellion of Wagner Group mercenaries in June.
Surovikin, perceived as close to Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin, was reportedly interrogated and put under house arrest soon after the rebellion. Last month he was stripped of his command of Russia’s Aerospace Forces.
Gen Sergei Surovikin has resurfaced. Ostorozhno Media publishes a pictures of the former aerospace commander together with his wife. The outlet says the picture was taken today in Moscow. Surovikin had not been seen since Prigozhin's rebellion pic.twitter.com/Irr15CLBQO
— Pjotr Sauer (@PjotrSauer) September 4, 2023
UPDATE 1503 GMT:
Making a verbal concession to Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Ukraine should ease its position so Russia will return to the July 2022 Black Sea grain deal.
Speaking alongside Putin in Sochi in southern Russia, Erdoğan said, “Ukraine needs to especially soften its approaches in order for it to be possible for joint steps to be taken with Russia.”
Moscow is trying to use Putin’s shredding of the deal, effectively reimposing Russia’s blockade of grain shipments, to lift international sanctions on the pretext that its food and fertilizer exports face obstacles.
Putin told the press conference, “We will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the grain deal and I told Mr President about this again today – we will do this as soon as all the agreements on lifting restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products are fully implemented.”
UPDATE 1252 GMT:
US, UK, and European Union officials will visit the UAE this week, calling on the Emirates to halt shipments of goods to Russia assisting Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Citing US and European officials, the Journal said there is a collective effort to keep computer chips, electronic components and other dual-use products out of Russian hands.
The mission appears to be an expansion of US attempts to curb the movement of the items. In January, the US Treasury’s Undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, visited the UAE, Oman, and Turkey to warn them of the loss of access to G7 markets if they broke sanctions.
But the Emirates continues to be an important route for Russian trade in goods and good, with the Gulf state importing 75.7 tons of Russian gold worth $4.3 billion between February 2022 and March 2023 — a rise from only 1.3 tons during 2021.
A UAE official insisted two weeksa ago, “The ongoing global climate has led to financial and investment inflows to the UAE, given the country’s reputation as a stable global investment hub. We will continue to take these responsibilities extremely seriously, especially given the current geopolitical landscape.
UPDATE 1243 GMT:
Meeting Vladimir Putin in Sochi in southern Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports is the leading issue.
Carefully avoiding an explicit call for Moscow to rejoin the July 2022 grain deal, Erdoğan said in his initial comments:
The most important step everyone is looking at in Turkey-Russia relations today is the grain corridor.
I believe the message at the news conference will be a very important step, especially for underdeveloped countries in Africa.
UPDATE 1001 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskiy says France has joined the international coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on US-made F-16 fighter jets.
Zelenkiy made the announcement after a Sunday phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The first Ukrainian pilots began training in Denmark on Augusst 22. Ukrainian officials are expecting the F-16s to be in operation by early 2024.
Zelenskiy said he and Macron also discuss France’s involvement in a secure corridor for shipping in the Black Sea, following Vladimir Putin’s resumption of the Russian blockade on July 17, and Paris’s “active role” in implementation of the Ukraine Peace Formula ahead of the Global Peace Summit in New York on October 25-28.
UPDATE 0933 GMT:
Ukraine’s military says it has liberated territory on both the eastern and southern fronts of its counter-offensive.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported the liberation of 3 square km (1.15 square miles) near Klishchiivka, about five km from the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Maliar said a total of 47 sq km (18.1 sq miles) has been regained in the east since the counter-offensive started in early June.
On the southern front, last week’s breakthrough with the liberation of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region has been followed with an advance to the south towards Novoprokopivka.
UPDATE 0931 GMT:
The latest Russian shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine has killed one civilian and injured five.
The fatality was in the settlement of Tykhonivka.
UPDATE 0855 GMT:
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry says that some of Russia’s Iran-made Shahed “kamikaze” drones fell on Romanian territory during the overnight attack on the Ukrainian port of Izmail.
Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook, “According to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, last night, during a Russian massive attack in the area of the port of Izmail, Russia’s Shaheds fell and detonated on the territory of Romania.”
Nikolenko said this was confirmation of Russia’s threat not only to the security of Ukraine but also to the security of neighboring countries, including NATO member Romania.
Romania’s Defense Ministry “categorically denied” the reports and said the drone attacks were not a direct military threat its territory.
UPDATE 0838 GMT:
With President Volodymyr Zelenskiy seeking his replacement, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has resigned.
I have submitted my letter of resignation to Ruslan Stefanchuk @r_stefanchuk, Chairman of the Parliament of Ukraine @verkhovna_rada
It was an honor to serve the Ukrainian people and work for the #UAarmy for the last 22 months, the toughest period of Ukraine’s modern history.
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) September 4, 2023
UPDATE 0538 GMT:
For the second night in a row, Russia has attacked ports on the Danube River in the Odesa region in southern Ukraine.
Odesa Governor Oleh Kiper said Russia attacked the city of Izmail with drones for 3 1/2 hours. While 17 UAVs were downed, “unfortunately there were also hits”.
Several buildings, including warehouses, were struck. Agricultural machinery and industrial equipment were damaged, and fires were set in civilian houses by falling debris.
The consequences of the drone attack in the #Odesa region
"In two territorial communities, warehouse and production buildings, equipment of agricultural and industrial enterprises were damaged. There were no reports of casualties," the operational command of the Armed Forces of… pic.twitter.com/LxvR5AOnzL
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) September 4, 2023
The Ukrainian Air Force said drones had also targeted the nearby district of Kili.
Early Sunday, Russia launched 25 Iran-made Shahed “kamikaze” drones. Air defenses downed 22, but there was damage in the Danube port of Reni.
On Monday, Vladimir Putin will host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Sochi in southern Russia. Discussion is expected center on Putin’s shredding of the July 2022 agreement, brokered by Turkey and the UN, which lifted Russia’s blockade of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
Since Putin’s withdrawal from the deal on July 17, Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure and grain facilities.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked Parliament to replace Oleksii Reznikov, Kyiv’s Defense Minister throughout the Russian invasion.
In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy said he is proposing Rustem Umerov, head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund, as the new Minister.
The change is motivated primarily by domestic politics, with new corruption allegations against Reznikov and the Defense Ministry.
Early this year Ministry officials were accused of taking bribes in the issuance of tenders for food supplies. Reznikov barely survived.
Last week the Prosecutor General’s Office concluded that the Ministry purchased one million sub-par meal kits for the military, in a fraudulent UAH 430 million ($11.6 million) contract with a private food supply company.
Ukrainian MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak said that Reznikov was “highly likely” to be replaced soon by Umerov.
Zelenskiy said on Sunday night:
I’ve decided to replace the Minister of Defense of Ukraine.
Oleksii Reznikov has been through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society as a whole.
He said that he expected Parliament to quickly approve Umerov, who “does not need any additional introduction”.
Umerov, 41, has overseen the privatization of state assets through the State Property Fund, which had been dogged by corruption scandals before he was installed as its head in September 2022.
The former member of Parliament has also been involved in negotiations of prisoner exchanges and over the July 2022 deal — ripped up by Vladimir Putin on July 17 — to lift Russia’s blockade of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports.