A snapshot of recent news from sources around the world on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
“The future of Ukraine is in our Union,” EU President Ursula Von der Leyen said in her State of the Union address on Wednesday, signaling strong support for Ukrainian accession. She noted, however, “Accession is merit-based – and the commission will always defend this principle. It takes hard work and leadership. But there is already a lot of progress.”
In an interview with The Economist, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the country needed to be prepared for a prolonged conflict. He told the magazine, “I have to be ready, my team has to be ready for the long war, and emotionally I am ready.”
Ukraine will grow its defense budget to UAH1.7 trillion ($46.0 billion) in 2024, according to draft documentation released this week. This figure is over 20 percent of GDP and half of the government’s overall expenditures for the upcoming year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin poured cold water on the idea of peace negotiations at the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok. He said that any ceasefire would enable Kyiv “to replenish their resources and restore the combat capability of their armed forces.” He said that as many as 270,000 Russians had signed service contracts with the Ministry of Defense this year.
South African nonprofit groups have called for the release of the full inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Lady R‘s docking in Simon’s Town last year. The sanctioned Russian cargo vessel was suspected of loading arms destined for Russia, prompting an official government inquiry into the incident. The government released an executive summary of the investigation earlier this month that denied any military goods were loaded onto the vessel.
President Zelensky plans to visit the White House and Capitol Hill next week during his trip to the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly. Congress is currently debating the disbursal of $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid requested by the Biden administration.
Military Assistance to Ukraine
The U.S. announced a $600 million security assistance package on September 7, just one day after unveiling a separate $175 million weapons donation that included depleted uranium tank rounds. The latest aid deal is funded through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, meaning resources will be procured directly from manufacturers rather than sourced from U.S. inventory. The aid package includes equipment to help sustain and integrate air defense systems, as well as HIMARS ammunition, 105mm artillery rounds, and electronic warfare equipment.
The head of the U.S. Air National Guard said on Tuesday that Ukrainian pilots could be flying F-16s on training missions by the end of the year, depending on their proficiency.
Berlin said on Wednesday that it had delivered a new batch of military equipment to Ukraine, including 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), 3,000 155mm shells, 1.5 million small arms ammunition rounds, and several utility vehicles and trucks. Germany confirmed it has now delivered 60 Marder IFVs to Ukraine in total.
Rheinmetall, meanwhile, delivered a mobile field hospital to Ukraine this week. The hospital is worth about EUR9 million, according to the company’s press release.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock are discussing providing military aid – in particular, air defense weapons – to Ukraine during the latter’s visit to the U.S. this week. Both ministers recently visited Ukraine.
Germany remains undecided on the supply of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Monday that potential U.S. approval of the delivery of ATACMS missiles to Ukraine would not automatically lead to Berlin approving the Taurus.
Denmark will provide DKK5.8 billion ($835.6 million) worth of military assistance to Ukraine through 2025, the country’s Ministry of Defense announced this week. The aid will include main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, as well as anti-aircraft weapons.
“After more than a year and a half of war, we have almost exhausted our defense stocks. Therefore, we are now looking into more targeted joint procurement and international cooperation, tailored to Ukraine’s needs here and now.” — Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Ukrainian pilots have finished testing the Swedish Gripen fighter jet, though Stockholm has not yet decided whether to supply the combat aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov has opened up a new drone production facility to assist the country’s armed forces in ramping up UAV production.
Ukraine said this week that its special operations forces recovered the “Boiko Towers,” which are offshore oil and gas platforms in the Black Sea. The platforms had been under Russian control since 2015, following the annexation of Crimea the previous year.
Along the main frontlines with Russia, Ukraine reported “partial success” in advancing against Russian positions this week, though the offensive remains a slow process.
In an interview with the BBC, U.S. Gen, Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that winter will make it much harder for Ukraine to conduct offensive operations against Russia. Ukraine might only have around a month or so left before the change of weather becomes a factor.
On Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency warned about a potential nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as fighting draws closer to the plant. Several explosions occurred close to the plant recently but have not damaged it, the IAEA said.
The British Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update this week that Russia has stationed additional SA-22 Pantsir air defense systems in Moscow, to protect against Ukrainian attacks on key sites around the capital.
Overnight on Tuesday evening, Ukraine carried out strikes on Sevastopol’s shipyard. The attack damaged Ropucha-class landing ship Minsk and Improved Kilo-class submarine Rostov-on-Don, according to open source information.
Ukraine has conducted a drone attack on a Russian factory that builds microchips for missile systems. The plant was reportedly destroyed by a resulting firing.