This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (September 22)

A snapshot of recent news from sources around the world on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Map of Ukraine. Image – U.S. DoD

Political Developments

Following the appointment of Rustem Umerov as defense minister earlier this month, Ukraine has dismissed six deputy defense ministers as well as the state secretary of the Defense Ministry. No reason was provided, but the move comes as Ukraine seeks to crack down on allegations of corruption in the Defense Ministry.

President Joe Biden expressed continued support for Ukraine during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly. “No nation wants this war to end more than Ukraine,” Biden said. “We strongly support Ukraine in its efforts to bring about diplomatic resolution that delivers just and lasting peace. Russia alone bears responsibility for this war.”

In a statement, the G7 countries called on Beijing to push Moscow to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. The G7 added that it “welcomed China’s participation in the Ukraine-led meeting in Jeddah and further encouraged China to support a just and lasting peace, including through its direct dialogue with Ukraine.”

Russia recently hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for talks regarding the two nations’ bilateral relations. Moscow is believed to seek artillery shells and related weaponry from Pyongyang.

Military Assistance to Ukraine

U.S. officials revealed to NBC News on September 22 that President  Biden  told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the U.S. will provide “a small number of long-range missiles” to Ukraine. Kyiv has been requesting approval for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

The U.S. announced a new $325 million aid package for Ukraine. The aid consists of weapons that will be donated directly from U.S. inventories, including a mix of anti-armor and air defense missiles, artillery rounds, tactical vehicles, small arms ammunition, and other equipment.

A potential U.S. government shutdown in two weeks stemming from budgetary gridlock in Congress threatens to disrupt the delivery of equipment to Ukraine, as well as ongoing training efforts. The Department of Defense has some funding overhead remaining from the current fiscal year, meaning shipments could continue even during a shutdown. However, the furlough of government employees could result in shipping delays or other problems.

Ukrainian troops will “soon” begin receiving the M1 Abrams main battle tank, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Washington has promised 31 tanks in total for Kyiv.

Germany announced a military aid package for Ukraine valued at EUR400 ($428 million). The aid deal includes munitions, armored vehicles, mineclearing equipment, winter gear, and training for Ukrainian soldiers. Germany has not yet agreed to provide Ukraine with the long-range Taurus cruise missile sought by Kyiv.

Kyiv will receive 100 “next-generation tactical drones” from German company Quantum Systems, according to city mayor Vitali Klitschko. The drones, financed by the city’s budget, will be delivered to troops on the frontlines.

The U.K. has delivered over 300,000 artillery shells to Ukraine and is committed to delivering tens of thousands more artillery shells this year.  The U.K. also held a bilateral meeting with the U.S. to discuss shared security interests and ongoing work to align international defense industrial output and optimize supply chains to ensure a steady and increased flow of munitions to Ukraine.

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin called for allies to provide additional air defense systems to Ukraine, which has been subject to an increasing rate of Russian missile attacks. Austin said air defense systems are playing a critical role in saving Ukrainian lives, and urged other countries to “dig deep” on ground-based air defense. So far, the U.S. and partner nations have provided Ukraine with air defense systems such as the Patriot, HAWK, IRIS-T, NASAMS, and Gepard.

Canada will contribute to the U.K.-led partnership that is delivering high-priority air defense equipment to Ukraine. This initiative was established in June 2023 by several countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Canada will contribute CAD33 million to the partnership.

Canada also planned to announce another military assistance package worth up to CAD482.6 million on Friday.

Spain committed to a new assistance package for Ukraine at this week’s Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting. The aid will include armored personnel carriers, anti-air missiles, and tactical equipment.

Denmark and the Netherlands will finance the procurement of Czech weapons and their delivery to Ukraine, the countries announced this week. The Czech military said in a statement:

“Specifically, this will involve deliveries of additional tanks, howitzers, small arms, infantry fighting vehicles, air defence capabilities and electronic warfare systems from our defence industries…. Kyiv will obtain both modern Czech weaponry and refurbished equipment already in use with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

Norway is donating around 50 M548 tracked cargo carriers to Ukraine. The vehicles can be used to transport cargo such as ammunition, food, and other equipment over difficult terrain. The M548 is designated the NM199 in Norway.

South Korea delivered a pair of K600 “Rhino” mine clearance vehicles to Ukraine. Advancing Ukrainian troops have encountered vast Russian minefields ensnaring their path.

Estonia’s Ministry of Defense indicated on September 18 that it has not yet delivered any cluster munitions to Ukraine. “Estonia will communicate the details of aid provided to Ukraine once the corresponding donations and deliveries have taken place,” Defense Ministry media official Andra Nõlvak told ERR. The Estonian government has previously considered sending 155mm cluster munitions to aid Kyiv’s forces.

Battlefield Updates

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said at a press conference in Germany that Ukraine has taken back more than 54 percent of territory seized by Russian forces. He said Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been progressing slower than anticipated, but he added that Ukraine has no plans to stop fighting as winter approaches.

Kyiv recently announced the recapture of the villages of Andriivka and Klishchiivka,  close to the town of Bakhmut, site of large battles earlier this year.

The British Defence Ministry has confirmed that a missile strike targeted the Russian naval headquarters in Crimea.  The missiles struck the landing ship Minsk and Kilo 636.3 class submarine Rostov-on-Don at the Sevmorzavod Shipyard in Sevastopol.  This pre-dawn attack also severely damaged the shipyard’s dry docks.

Russian airstrikes overnight on September 18 killed four people, according to Ukrainian officials. On September 19, Russia conducted strikes throughout Ukraine, killing nine. A warehouse in Lviv containing over 300 tons of humanitarian aid was hit and destroyed, according to reports.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed to have destroyed Ukrainian drones over Belgorod and Oryol. But a Ukrainian drone may have hit a Russian oil depot in Sochi, a resort area on the Black Sea.  The storage tank contained 1,200 tonnes of diesel fuel.

The Ukrainian government has carried out an attack on a command center of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.  The facility, located near Sevastopol, a Black Sea port, came under attack on September 20.

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