Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy are each courting major allies, seeking to prop up their efforts in fighting that has entered its 204th day.

A Ukrainian soldier inspects a continuous track of a Russian tank destroyed during a counteroffensive operation in the Kharkiv region.
A Ukrainian soldier inspects a continuous track of a Russian tank destroyed during a counteroffensive operation in the Kharkiv region. (Reuters)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Pope Francis: Sending weapons to Ukraine morally legitimate

Pope Francis has said it was morally legitimate for nations to supply weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from Russian aggression.

Speaking to reporters aboard a plane returning from a three-day trip to Kazakhstan, Francis also urged Kiev to be open to eventual dialogue, even though it may "smell" because it would be difficult for the Ukrainian side.

In a 45-minute-long airborne news conference, a reporter asked if it was morally right for countries to send weapons to Ukraine. "This is a political decision which it can be moral, morally acceptable if it is done under conditions of morality," Francis said.

Germany to deliver two more multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine

Germany will supply two more multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has said.

"We have decided to deliver two more MARS II multiple rocket launchers including 200 rockets to Ukraine," she told a Bundeswehr conference.

The training of Ukrainian operators was expected to start in September, she said. "On top of this, we will send 50 Dingo armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine," Lambrecht announced, referring to an armoured vehicle that the German military extensively used during NATO's military operation in Afghanistan.

IAEA board passes resolution calling on Russia to leave Zaporizhzhia

The UN nuclear watchdog's 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution demanding that Russia leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, diplomats at the closed-door meeting said.

The text, which says the board calls on Russia to "immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine", was passed with 26 votes in favour, two against and seven abstentions, diplomats said.

Russia and China were the countries that voted against the resolution, the diplomats added.

Air defence systems are priority for Ukraine - Zelenskyy

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said air defence systems were a priority for his country as it attempts to protect its cities and towns from Russian strikes.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Kiev with the visiting president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Zelenskyy also said Ukraine had not yet received a positive response from Israel on the possible supply of aerial defence systems.

Zelenskyy said air defence systems promised previously by Germany and the United States had not yet arrived in Ukraine. 

Von der Leyen in Kiev says EU will support Ukraine for 'as long as it takes'

EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that Ukraine would have the backing of Brussels for as long as necessary as Russia's offensive in Ukraine nears its seventh month.

"We will never be able to match the sacrifice that the Ukrainians are making... but what we can tell you is that you'll have your European friends by your side as long as it takes," she told reporters during a joint press conference with Ukraine leader Zelenskyy. 

Over 3M tonnes of grain shipped from Ukraine under Istanbul deal

More than three million tons of grain have been safely shipped from Ukrainian ports since August under a landmark grain deal, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said.

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

A Joint Coordination Center with officials from the three countries and the UN was set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments from Yuzhny, Chornomorsk, and Odessa ports.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine wants to join EU single market

Zelenskyy said his country wanted to join the European single market ahead of a decision on whether to grant Kiev full EU membership.

He was speaking at a press conference with EU president Ursula von der Leyen who came to Kiev to work out a roadmap for Ukraine's long-standing aspiration to join the union.

"For us, a pressing issue is the question of Ukraine joining the EU single market while we're on the way to EU membership status. I'm sure it will happen and it will be one of our country's most important victories," Zelenskyy said. 

EU chief in Kiev for talks on closer cooperation

EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen is in Kiev for meetings with officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to discuss closer cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union.

"In Kiev, for my 3rd visit since the start of Russia's war. So much has changed. Ukraine is now an EU candidate," von der Leyen said on Twitter on Thursday.

"I'll discuss with Zelenskyy and (Prime Minister) Denys Shmygal how to continue getting our economies and people closer while Ukraine progresses towards accession," she added.

Putin, Xi gather with world leaders for talks defying West

Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping have gathered with other world leaders in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand for a summit touted as a challenge to Western global influence.

Putin and Xi were being joined by the leaders of India, Iran, Pakistan, Türkiye and several other countries for the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Uzbek city on Thursday and Friday.

The main summit day will be Friday, but a meeting of the Chinese and Russian leaders later on Thursday is set to be closely watched, with talks about the conflict in Ukraine expected. Earlier on Thursday, Putin sat down with the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, while Xi met Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Russia says its navy in joint patrols with China in Pacific

The Russian and Chinese navies are holding joint patrols in the Pacific Ocean, the Russian defence ministry has said, deepening military and diplomatic ties between Moscow and Beijing when their relations with the West have soured.

A ministry statement on Thursday on Telegram said crews from both sides were conducting joint tactical manoeuvres and carrying out exercises involving artillery and helicopters.

"The tasks of the patrols involve the strengthening of naval cooperation between Russia and China, upholding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, coastal monitoring and safeguarding Russian and Chinese nautical economic sites," it said.

India's trade with Russia in rupees to start soon: Trade body

India will soon start trading with Russia in rupees as top lender State Bank of India has agreed to facilitate the new mechanism, the president of India's exporter group said.

"State Bank of India has come forward for facilitating trade in rupees with Russia and some other banks have also shown interest," A Shaktivel, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), a body set up by the trade ministry to promote exports, told reporters on Wednesday.

India's exports to Russia have slowed since the imposition of Western sanctions against Moscow following its late-February military campaign against Ukraine began.

Ukraine's president suffers no serious injuries after car accident in Kiev

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s car was involved in a traffic accident in the capital Kiev early on Thursday, but he was not seriously hurt.

His spokesperson, Sergii Nikiforov, said on Twitter that a private car collided with Zelenskyy’s vehicle and his escort vehicles.

Nikiforov said the driver of the private vehicle was taken to the hospital after medics accompanying Zelenskyy’s motorcade administered emergency aid.

Noting that Zelenskyy was not seriously injured in the accident, the spokesperson said the cause of the accident would be investigated.

Ukraine continues to consolidate its control in Kharkiv area, UK says

Britain's defence ministry has said that Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their control of newly recaptured areas of Kharkiv Oblast.

Russian forces have largely withdrawn from the area west of the Oskil River, the British Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Thursday on Twitter.

High-value equipment abandoned by retreating Russian forces included capabilities essential to enable Russia's artillery-centric style of warfare, the tweet added.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy seeks to address UN; Russia opposes

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly is due to consider a proposal for Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address the annual gathering of world leaders next week with a pre-recorded video.

Diplomats expect Russia to call a vote on the proposed decision, which has been drafted by Ukraine. Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that Russia opposed allowing Zelenskyy to speak via video.

"Zelenskyy travels perfectly well around the country ... but he can't come here. And if you can't come, that means you send your representative to speak at the General Assembly," Nebenzia told reporters.

US senators' bill designates Russia a 'terror sponsor'

Democratic and Republican US senators have introduced a bill that would designate Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism", a label pushed for by Ukraine but opposed by President Joe Biden's administration.

"The need for this measure is more pressing now than ever before," said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, citing the killings of civilians and other "brutal, cruel oppression" in Ukraine. 

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the designation would send a strong signal of support for Kiev but also to US allies while imposing stiff penalties on Russia like allowing it to be sued in US courts for its actions in Ukraine and tightening sanctions.

For live updates from Wednesday (September 14), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies