Ukrainian President Zelenskyy visits the recently retaken eastern city of Izyum on the 203rd day of the conflict and the Kremlin reiterates that Kiev's ambitions to join NATO present a threat to Russia's security.

Seven Russian Kh-22 missiles fired from an aircraft
Seven Russian Kh-22 missiles fired from an aircraft "seriously damaged" the infrastructure, officials say. (Reuters)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Ukraine: Flood risk in central city after Russian strike

Floods could hit the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine after a Russian strike damaged infrastructure causing the Inhulets River to flood, the Ukrainian presidency has warned.

"At the point of impact, we have observed a water flow of 100 cubic metres per second, which is a large volume," said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office. "The water level of the Inhulets River is changing every hour," he added.

The centre and another district of the city of 600,000 people were "at risk of flooding", he said. "It is a challenge for us all, but the situation is under control. All services are involved to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible," he said via Telegram. Regional governor Valentin Reznichenko said seven Russian Kh-22 missiles fired from an aircraft "seriously damaged" the infrastructure.

EU extends sanctions against 1,200 people 'responsible' for offensive in Ukraine 

The EU extended with another six months sanctions of travel ban and asset freeze targeting individuals and entities "responsible" for Russia's offensive on Ukraine.

“The Council (of the European Union) decided today to prolong the duration of the restrictive measures targeting those responsible for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months, until 15 March 2023,” the EU institution representing member states said in a statement.

With the decision, as many as 1,206 people continue to be banned from travelling to the EU while their European assets remain frozen, as well as the funds of further 108 entities. 

Putin welcomes cooperation with IAEA over Zaporizhzhia plant - Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin told United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he welcomed "constructive" cooperation with the IAEA nuclear watchdog following its visit to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin also said in its readout of the phone call that Putin and Guterres discussed a deal on exports of Ukrainian grain from its Black Sea ports as well as exports of Russian food and fertilizers.

Putin says 'priority' to send Ukraine's grain to countries in need

Putin told Guterres during a phone call that the "priority" should be to send Ukrainian grain to countries in greatest need, the Kremlin said.

During the two men's conversation, "the attention was mainly focused on implementing the Istanbul agreements on exporting Ukrainian grain... Both sides emphasised the importance of meeting the needs, as a priority, of those in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America who need food," the Russian presidency said in a statement.

UN chief says he spoke with Putin about expanding Istanbul grain export deal

UN chief Guterres said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about expanding a recently-brokered deal that opened Ukraine's Black Sea ports to grain exports.

Since the first vessel sailed under Türkiye-brokered deal on August 1, more than 120 ships have carried over 2.5 million tons of agricultural products through the grain corridor.

Ukraine confirms UN involvement in ammonia pipeline deal

Ukraine's foreign minister confirmed that the United Nations had started talks on reopening an ammonia pipeline from Russia to Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa.

The pipeline has been shut as a result of Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

"Ukraine did not initiate these talks; this is an initiative from the UN," foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said at a news conference in Odesa, adding that Ukraine would not approve any deal that contradicted its national security interests. 

EU pledges $100M to rebuild schools in Ukraine

The EU Commission chief said that the European Union will provide €100 million ($100 million) for rebuilding schools damaged in Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Ursula Von der Leyen gave the State of the European Union speech in which she outlined the main lines of action for the EU in the upcoming year at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

She reassured that Europe's solidarity with Ukraine will remain “unshakable,” promising that the bloc will maintain sanctions against Russia and financial support for Ukraine. 

Ukraine's Zelenskyy visits recently retaken, devastated city

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has visited the east Ukraine city of Izyum, the military has said, one of the largest cities recently recaptured from Russia by Kiev's army in a lightning counter-offensive.

The Ukrainian military said in a statement on social media Zelenskyy and military officials "took part" in a ceremony raising the Ukrainian flag over the captured city which was key for Russia's ambitions to capture the Donbass region.

Russian forces left the city last week as Ukraine pressed forward in the sweeping counteroffensive that has reclaimed vast swaths of territory in the country’s northeastern Kharkiv region in a matter of days. Much of Izyum has been devastated. Apartment buildings are blackened by fire and pockmarked by artillery strikes.

Kremlin: Ukraine's NATO ambitions remain threat to Russia

The Kremlin has said Ukraine's ongoing ambitions to join the Western NATO military alliance presents a threat to Russia's security, highlighting the necessity for Russia to conduct what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

In a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the idea of Ukraine joining NATO was "the main threat" to Russia which "emphasises the relevance and urgent need to ensure our security and our national interests".

Before Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February, Moscow was demanding legal guarantees that Ukraine never be admitted to the military alliance.

EU chief von der Leyen to visit Ukraine to stress support

European Union Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen has announced a visit to Kiev to show the bloc’s support for Ukraine as it fights back against Russian forces.

Dressed in the colours of Ukraine, von der Leyen said in her State of the European Union address that the bloc would come to the aid of Ukraine by opening its seamless single market more to Ukrainian products and said she would "discuss all this with President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy."

Von der Leyen's trip symbolises the EU's increasing opposition to Russia's actions, which she called an attack of “autocracy against democracy," pushed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The European Union is not complete without Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Western Balkan countries, she said.

Five more grain ships leave Ukraine under Istanbul deal: Türkiye

Five more ships have left Ukrainian ports under the Istanbul grain export deal, the Turkish National Defence Ministry has said.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia and Ukraine signed an Ankara-brokered agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine conflict erupted in February.

Since the first vessel sailed under the deal on August 1, more than 120 ships have carried over 2.5 million tonnes of agricultural products through the grain corridor.

Kremlin: EU not the only region that can buy Russian gas

The Kremlin has played down the impact of lost gas sales to Europe on Russia's economy and said there are plenty of other countries that want to buy Russia's energy resources.

"Europe is not the only consumer of natural gas and not the only continent that needs natural gas," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call.

"There are regions developing at a much faster pace ... they can compensate for the (reduced) demand for (Russian) gas in Europe," he said.

New frontline in Ukraine is close to Luhansk separatist 'border'

The frontline in eastern Ukraine is approaching the borders of territory claimed by the separatist so-called Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), a senior Russian-backed LPR military commander has told the TASS news agency.

Russian forces have seized control of the entire Luhansk — one of two regions that make up Ukraine's eastern Donbass region — since first entering Ukraine on February 24 with a stated aim of wresting the entire Donbass from Kiev's control.

But a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive over the last week has driven Russian forces back and is bringing the new frontline closer to the LPR's self-proclaimed borders, commander Andrey Marochko has said.

Ukraine now on offensive in both south and east

Ukraine has set its sights on freeing all territory occupied by Russian forces after driving them back in a speedy counter-offensive in the northeast, a goal US President Joe Biden said would be "a long haul" to achieve.

In his address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said around 8,000 square km have been liberated by Ukrainian forces so far this month, apparently all in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.

Reuters was not able to immediately verify the full scope of battlefield successes claimed by Ukraine. 

Asked whether Ukraine has reached a turning point in the six-month war, Biden said it was hard to tell. "It's clear the Ukrainians have made significant progress. But I think it’s going to be a long haul."

For live updates from Tuesday (September 13), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies