As the war enters its 576th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Friday, September 22, 2023.
- Ukraine warned that winter could be hard after a barrage of Russian missiles targeted civilian infrastructure. “Difficult months are ahead: Russia will attack energy and critically important facilities,” said Oleksiy Kuleba, the deputy head of Kyiv’s presidential office. Ukraine’s energy operator Ukrenergo said 398 settlements were without power after the attacks. Temperatures can fall as low as 20 degrees below zero Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) in Ukraine during the winter months when it usually snows heavily.
- General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said air defences shot down 36 of 43 missiles launched by Russia. Zaluzhnyi said the missiles were launched in several waves from 10 Russian warplanes. At least two people were killed and 21 wounded. A number of fires were also reported.
- Russia said it shot down all Ukrainian missiles fired in an attempted attack on the Saky airbase in Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014. Ukraine’s military said its forces had inflicted “serious damage” on equipment struck at the Russian base.
- The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a US-based think tank, said it appeared Ukrainian forces were operating armoured vehicles beyond Russian anti-tank defences in a key stretch of the front line near Verbove in Zaporizhia in an “important sign of progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive”.
- Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence said Junior Sergeant Sarah Ashton-Cirillo had been suspended from her duties as the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces pending an investigation. The 45-year-old New Yorker appears to have been removed after saying in a video that “Russian devils [will] pay for their crimes”.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made his second visit to Washington, DC, since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of his country. Zelenksyy, who addressed the Senate and met key officials during his visit, struck a note of gratitude, saying talks in the United States capital had been “productive” and “strong” and thanking the US government and people for their support. He also welcomed a new package of military assistance. “It has exactly what our soldiers need now,” he said, calling it a “very powerful package”.
- Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, DC, took place amid increasing scepticism on the right of the Republican party about the US providing continued aid to Ukraine. “Yesterday at a classified briefing over Ukraine, it became clear that America is being asked to fund an indefinite conflict with unlimited resources,” Ohio Republican Senator JD Vance wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Enough is enough. To these and future requests, my colleagues and I say: NO.” He attached a letter, signed by 28 Republicans, protesting against increased aid.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Zelenskyy would visit Ottawa from September 21 – 22, and address the country’s parliament.
- US President Joe Biden condemned Russia’s attempt to secure new weapons supplies from Iran and North Korea. “Russia alone stands in the way of peace. It could end this today. Instead, Russia is seeking more weapons from Iran and North Korea that would violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions that Moscow itself voted to put in place,” he said.
- Five Bulgarian nationals accused of spying for Russia will appear in court on September 26. The three men and two women, aged between 29 and 45, are accused of “conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy”, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
- Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland, was quoted saying the country would stop supplying weapons to Ukraine amid a growing dispute over grain exports. Polish President Andrzej Duda said the prime minister’s comments had been taken the wrong way. Morawiecki’s “words were interpreted in the worst way possible”, Duda told TVN24 television, saying the prime minister was speaking about the plan for equipment being bought to modernise Poland’s military. Poland has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters.
- Zelenskyy met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, General Mark Milley, the chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other officials at the Pentagon. “We discussed the deliveries of artillery systems and long-range capabilities, as well as strengthening air defence,” he wrote on X, as he shared a video of the meeting.
- Werner Hoyer, the head of the European Investment Bank (EIB), warned his soon-to-be-announced successor against bowing to pressure from some European Union capitals to fund weapons for Ukraine. “If we use their [our partners’] money to buy ammunition, we’re on the wrong track,” Hoyer told the Reuters news agency.