Here is the situation on Sunday, August 27, 2023.
- A Ukrainian commander fighting in the south said he believes Ukrainian forces have broken through the most difficult Russian defensive line and will now be able to advance more quickly. “We don’t stop here,” said the commander, who led some of the troops into the village of Robotyne and uses the nom de guerre “Kombat”. “Next we have (the town of) Berdiansk, and then more. I made it clear to my fighters at once: our goal is not Robotyne, our goal is [the Sea of] Azov.”
- The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, DC-based think tank, said that Ukrainian forces were pushing forward in the Zaporizhia region after taking Robotyne earlier this week. The ISW also cited pro-Kremlin military bloggers expressing concern over a lack of Russian reinforcements and troop locations in the area.
- Three Ukrainian pilots were killed after two L-39 trainer aircraft collided in midair in central Ukraine, the country’s air force said in a statement. Among the dead was Andrii Pilshchykov, one of the country’s most well-known fighter pilots.
- Two people were killed and a third wounded when Russian shelling hit a cafe in the village of Podoly in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, according to local governor Oleh Syniehubov.
- Russia said air defences brought down a drone over Moscow in an attack that forced authorities to briefly shut down all three major airports serving the capital.
- Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, accused Ukraine of using “cluster munitions” in an attack on the town of Urazovo, about 10km (6 miles) from the border, that injured six people.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered fighters from the mercenary Wagner group to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state. The introduction of a mandatory oath for all private military contractors is seen as a clear move to bring such groups under tighter state control.
- German magazine Der Spiegel published a lengthy and detailed investigation into the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines in the weeks following Russia’s full-scale invasion, saying that “a striking number of clues point to Ukraine”.
- Ukraine’s foreign ministry condemned as “categorically unacceptable” any continuation of European Union import restrictions on its grain when the current ban expires on September 15. There is particular opposition in Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary towards Ukrainian grain imports due to fears they could undercut local farmers.
- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov reiterated Moscow’s intention to maintain ties with Iran, after a report Washington had asked Tehran to stop selling drones to Moscow. “There are no changes and cooperation with Iran will continue,” Ryabkov said, according to a report from Russian state news agency RIA. “We are independent states and do not succumb to the dictates of the United States and its satellites.”
- Finland arrested an alleged member of an extreme right-wing military sub-unit of the Wagner mercenary force on charges of participation in a “terrorist group” following a request from Ukraine, according to Finnish public broadcaster Yle. Finnish police are requesting that the 36-year-old Russian national, identified as Yan Petrovsky, be detained in preparation for his extradition.
- German prosecutors said they were investigating whether Russian journalist Elena Kostyuchenko, who is now living in hiding, was the victim of an attempted murder when she became ill last October. Kostyuchenko was one of three Russian independent journalists who were apparently poisoned while abroad in a similar period.
- Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appealed against a Russian court’s decision to extend his pre-trial detention by three months, according to documents published by a Moscow court. The 31-year-old US citizen was arrested in March on espionage charges, which he has denied.
- New Zealand Immigration Minister Andrew Little said the country would offer a new pathway to residency for people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Permanent residency will be available to people who travel to New Zealand on the temporary Special Ukraine Visa before March 15 next year, Little said.
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