595 Day of the Russia-Ukraine War
Russian forces are closing in on Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, prompting Kyiv to issue a warning about increased strikes, with the goal of fully encircling the front-line town. Vitaliy Barabash, the head of the town’s administration, stated that the situation in Avdiivka has rapidly deteriorated over the past year, and Russian forces are employing all means to besiege the town. Before the war, Avdiivka had a population of approximately 31,000, but now only about 2,000 residents remain.
In response to the latest air raid by Russia, Ukraine’s Air Force reported that its defense systems successfully destroyed 27 out of 36 drones. These drones, of Iranian origin (Shahed drones), were targeting the regions of Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson in Ukraine.
Kherson’s regional administration reported that 79 instances of Russian shelling using mortars, artillery, and drones resulted in four people being injured and several buildings damaged.
The State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) in Ukraine has launched investigations into 260 criminal cases related to suspected “violations” at military recruitment offices. Out of these cases, 21 indictments involving 35 individuals have been forwarded to the courts, and an additional 58 individuals have been identified as suspects. Notably, the heads of regional recruitment centers were dismissed in August following widespread allegations of criminal misconduct and corruption.
Furthermore, the SBI has taken into custody two high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Defense under suspicion of embezzling $7 million earmarked for the purchase of bulletproof vests. The specific names of these officials have not been disclosed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for action to prevent Russia from disrupting shipping in the Black Sea, following Russia’s withdrawal from a United Nations-Turkey-brokered deal in July that ensured safe Ukrainian grain exports. During his first visit to Romania since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Zelenskyy met with President Klaus Iohannis. He mentioned receiving “good news” regarding artillery and air defense supplies and expressed that Romania would assist in training Ukrainian pilots in operating F-16 jets.
Meanwhile, Russia’s attempt to regain a seat on the UN’s top human rights body was unsuccessful. In a secret ballot to fill two seats for Eastern Europe on the Human Rights Council, Bulgaria secured 160 votes, Albania received 123 votes, and Russia obtained 83 votes. Russia had been removed from the council shortly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In another development, Finland reported damage to an undersea gas pipeline and a telecommunications cable connecting it to Estonia. The Balticconnector pipeline, which stretches 77km (48 miles) beneath the Baltic Sea, was temporarily shut down due to a leak, with concerns of possible deliberate damage.
The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s complaint against his continued pre-trial detention was dismissed by a Russian court. Gershkovich was detained on March 29 and is facing espionage charges that could result in a prison term of up to 20 years. However, no trial date has been set.
Vyachelav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s State Duma, made a controversial statement suggesting that Russians who left the country and showed support for Ukraine should be sent to the far eastern region of Magadan if they ever returned. It’s worth noting that Magadan is historically associated with the Soviet-era gulag system, which consisted of forced labor camps during Joseph Stalin’s rule.
In terms of military support for Ukraine, Germany announced a new package worth approximately 1 billion euros, which includes additional Patriot air defense missile systems, weapons, and ground vehicles. The goal is to enhance the operational readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces in the coming months.
Additionally, a group of European countries led by the United Kingdom will provide Ukraine with a military support package worth 100 million pounds. This package includes equipment for clearing minefields, as Ukraine has become one of the most mined countries in the world, posing a significant obstacle in their counteroffensive efforts.
The United States plans to step up military support for Israel after a surprise assault by Hamas, and according to NATO envoy Julianne Smith, this decision will not hinder Washington’s ability to continue arming Ukraine.