Ukraine latest: US says it does not support drone strikes inside Russia

The war in Ukraine, which broke out in February 2022 with Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, shows no sign of ending as both sides intensify their attacks to control disputed territories.

Read our latest updates here. For all of our coverage, visit our page on the war in Ukraine.

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NB: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until additional information is available regarding the scope of the revised criminal law. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Wednesday, August 23 (Tokyo time)

3:30 p.m Russia has appointed an acting head of its air force to replace General Sergei Surovikin, who disappeared after Wagner’s mercenaries mutinied in June, RIA news agency reported. During the June Revolution, Surovikin, who once led Russia’s overall war effort in Ukraine, appeared in a video, appearing uncomfortable and without a badge, urging Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to step down. Unconfirmed Russian and foreign news reports stated that Sorovikin was being investigated for possible complicity in the rebellion and was being held under house arrest. An unnamed source told RIA: “Sorovikin has now been relieved of his post, while Colonel-General Viktor Avzalov, Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force, is temporarily holding the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force.”

11:30 am A State Department spokesman said the United States does not encourage or allow attacks inside Russia, after Russian authorities said they shot down drones that attempted to attack Moscow early Wednesday. The spokesman said it is up to Ukraine to decide how to choose to defend itself from the Russian invasion, adding that Russia can end the war at any time by withdrawing from Ukraine. Drone strikes on the Russian capital have become increasingly common in recent months. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said via messaging app Telegram that a drone struck a building under construction in central Moscow early on Wednesday.

9:50 am RIA news agency reported that an explosion was heard in Moscow’s business district early Wednesday, and smoke was also seen in the area. A building in the Central District, 5 kilometers from the Kremlin, was hit by a Ukrainian drone early on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Russian news agency Tass, citing unnamed officials, reported that Moscow airports suspended flights early Wednesday. Major airports around the Russian capital have been repeatedly closed to departing and arriving flights in recent days due to drone attacks from Ukraine.

12:30 am Britain’s Ministry of Defense tweeted in its daily intelligence update that a Tu-22M3 bomber was “likely destroyed” in a drone attack over the weekend on an airbase 650km inland in Russia.

“If true, this adds weight to the assessment that some drone attacks against Russian military targets are being launched from within Russian territory,” given that the drones are “unlikely to have the range” to reach the Novgorod region base. air from abroad. country, explains the ministry.

Russia’s defense ministry blamed Ukraine for the attack, saying one plane was damaged but no one was injured. Ukrainian media is crediting Ukrainian saboteurs for the weekend attack and another attack on a different Russian air base earlier this week.

3:30 p.m The Russian Ministry of Defense said that Russia shot down two Ukrainian drones over the Moscow region without causing injuries, and shot down two other drones over the Bryansk region bordering Ukraine. A Reuters correspondent in the Moscow region town of Krasnogorsk saw minor damage to the tiles of a high-rise apartment building and shattered exterior windows in a few apartments.

1:40 p.m Diplomatic sources told Kyodo that China and Russia, which oppose Japan’s planned release of treated radioactive water from Thursday from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, urged Tokyo last month to consider a steam disposal strategy instead. Beijing and Moscow claimed in a document submitted to Tokyo in late July that evaporating water and releasing it into the atmosphere would have less impact on neighboring countries than the plan to drain water into the oceans. The sources said Japan rejected their proposal, saying it was “impossible” to accept it.

12:40 p.m The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that a Russian warplane destroyed a Ukrainian reconnaissance boat in the Black Sea. The military said the ship sailed close to Russian gas production facilities.

9:30 am Russia’s Tass news agency reported that Moscow’s three largest airports had suspended arrivals and departures early on Tuesday. “The airspace over Vnukovo, Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo is closed,” an unnamed official told the agency, adding, “Flights are not being received, and departures are delayed.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner Group, appears in an undisclosed location in this photo from a video posted to Telegram on August 21. (Razgruzka_Vagnera Telegram channel via AP)

7:00 am Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has posted his first recruitment video for the Wagner Group since staging a short-lived insurrection against Russia’s defense officials, according to information on the messaging app Telegram. In the video, someone who appears to be the 62-year-old mercenary leader says the group is conducting reconnaissance and research activities, and “making Russia bigger on all continents, and Africa more free.”

“We employ real strong men and continue to carry out the tasks that have been set and that we have promised to do,” the spokesman said in the video, holding a rifle and wearing a military uniform. There are pickup trucks and other people in uniform in the background. Prigozhin catapulted into the global spotlight in June with a dramatic and short-lived rebellion, posing the most serious threat to President Vladimir Putin’s 23-year rule.

Monday 21st August

3 o’clock Russian officials said two Ukrainian drones were destroyed on Monday in the Moscow region, briefly disrupting flights at two of the capital’s airports. The Russian Defense Ministry said it had disabled a Ukrainian drone in the Ruzsky district, west of the capital, and then destroyed another in the nearby Istrynsky district. Arrival and departure flights from Moscow’s Vnukovo and Domodedovo airports were briefly suspended but later resumed.

06:00 The Netherlands and Denmark have announced they will provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a long-awaited announcement that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described as an important incentive for his country’s forces engaged in a difficult counteroffensive against Russia. The timeline depends on how quickly the Ukrainian crews and infrastructure are ready for the powerful US-made jets, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Zelensky during a visit Monday to a Dutch air base. Zelensky welcomed the “historic” announcement and praised Protea for making the Netherlands the first country to offer the aircraft.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, greets interim Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Eindhoven, Netherlands on August 20. ©AP

Sunday 20 August

7:10 p.m Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday in an ongoing effort to bolster Ukraine’s air defences, days after the United States approved the possible delivery of F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands and Denmark. The Netherlands, along with Denmark, has in recent months led international efforts to train Ukrainian pilots on the F-16s and eventually deliver the planes to help counter the air superiority of Russia, whose forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“The main issue is the F-16s that Ukraine will send to protect our people from Russian terrorism. We are getting stronger,” Zelensky said in a post on Telegram.

06:00 Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said training had begun for Ukrainians to operate US F-16 fighter jets, but that it would take at least six months, or possibly longer, to complete the training, two days after a US official said the fighter jets would be transferred to Ukraine. Ukraine once trained its pilots.

Reznikov says that six months of training is the minimum for pilots, but it is not yet known how long it will take to train engineers and mechanics. Ukraine wants the advanced US warplanes so it can counter Russia’s air superiority. “So, to build reasonable expectations, keep six months in mind as a minimum, but don’t be disappointed if it takes too long,” he says in a TV interview.

Saturday 19 August

Rescue workers at the site of the Russian missile attack in Chernihiv, Ukraine. © Reuters

8:30 p.m Seven people, including a 6-year-old child, were killed and more than 120 others injured in a Russian missile attack on the northern city of Chernihiv, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is on a working visit to Sweden, wrote in a telegram: “A Russian missile hit the city center, in our Chernihiv. A square, a polytechnic university, a theatre.”

7:15 p.m The Russian Ministry of Defense said that a Ukrainian drone targeted a military airport in the Russian region of Novgorod, which led to a fire and damage to a warplane. According to the ministry, no one was injured and the fire was quickly put out.

5:30 p.m Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is visiting Sweden, saying he is there to meet Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, the royal family and other officials to thank them for Ukraine’s support amid the Russian invasion.

1:30 p.m The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin visited the commander of Russia’s operation in Ukraine and other top military leaders, a meeting that came after Ukraine declared counter-offensive gains on the southeastern front. “Vladimir Putin held a meeting at the headquarters of the Special Military Operations Group in Rostov-on-Don,” the Kremlin said in a statement. Russia, which launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, describes its actions as a special military operation. The Kremlin added that Putin, the supreme commander of Russia’s armed forces, had heard reports from Valery Gerasimov, chief of the army’s general staff responsible for Moscow’s operations in Ukraine, and other senior military leaders and officers.

For previous updates, click here.

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