Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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G-7 ministers call on China to press Russia to stop aggression in Ukraine

The Group of Seven (G-7) on Tuesday called on China to press Russia to stop its aggression in Ukraine after foreign ministers of the bloc met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and released a joint statement.

The statement, released by the foreign ministry of G-7 chair Japan, said the members hoped China would push for the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, pose for a photo after laying a wreath in front of the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, after Zelenskiy was invited to the Group of Seven nations’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan, May 21, 2023. The Atomic Bomb Dome is seen in the background. 

Eugene Hoshiko | Reuters

The statement comes as China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, visits Russia for a four-day trip during which both nations are expected to pledge deeper political ties, with a possible visit by President Vladimir Putin to Beijing on the horizon.

The G-7 members also welcomed China’s participation in the Ukraine-led meeting in Jeddah and “further encouraged China to support a just and lasting peace, including through its direct dialogue with Ukraine,” the statement said.

Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week in Moscow for talks that included closer military ties, alarming the United States and other western-aligned countries.

Pyongyang and Moscow have denied that North Korea could supply arms to Russia, which has expended vast stocks in more than 18 months of war.

The G-7 joint statement did not name any countries, but said its members “reiterated their call on third parties to cease any and all assistance to Russia’s war of aggression or face severe costs.”

— Reuters

Zelenskyy due to address UN, could come face to face with top Russian officials

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could be coming face to face with top Russian officials this week as he prepares to address global leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

Zelenskyy is also due to speak at a U.N. Security Council meeting about Ukraine on Wednesday, an event that could see him in the same room as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is also expected to address the Council.

When asked on Monday whether he would stay to listen to Lavrov’s remarks, Zelenskyy said “I don’t know how it will be, really,” AP reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

Russia is one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and like its other permanent members (the United States, Britain, China and France), it has the power of veto U.N. resolutions; Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution last year condemning the attempted annexation of four Ukrainian regions, for example.

Ukraine has repeatedly questioned how and why Russia continues to occupy a top position in the U.N. when it has itself invaded its neighbor and fostered war and instability.

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy said “territorial integrity of the state is a key principle of all basic international documents, including the UN Charter. And it is necessary to return to it the full force destroyed by the Russian invasion, and to increase the capabilities of the UN to stop aggressions and prevent them. Ukraine will make a clear proposal in this regard to UN members.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits wounded Ukrainian soldiers at the Staten Island University Hospital in New York on Sept. 18, 2023.

Bryan Woolston | Afp | Getty Images

Zelenskyy arrived in New York on Monday, where he visited Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital to recognize efforts to support medical providers in Ukraine. He also met wounded Ukrainian soldiers who had received advanced prosthetics and critical rehabilitation after being severely injured in the Russian invasion.   

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine plans lawsuit against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over agricultural import restrictions

Ukraine intends to sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over their restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural imports, officials said.

Ukrainian Trade Representative Taras Kachka told Politico in an interview it was “important to prove that these actions are legally wrong,” and that an appeal would be made through the World Trade Organization.

A senior Ukrainian official said an appeal could be sent “in the near future,” Reuters reported Monday.

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia on Friday announced import curbs after European Commission-led restrictions on Ukrainian imports into the countries — as well as Romania and Bulgaria — expired. All five are EU members which are close to or border Ukraine.

The EU deal allowed products to transit via the countries but required them to be sold elsewhere. The three new national restrictions cover domestic imports and will still allow transit, Reuters reported.

Land exports from Ukraine have increased since the suspension of the Black Sea grain initiative by Russia in July, creating tensions with local farmers as goods prices fell.

Ukraine has agreed to introduce measures intended to prevent a “surge” in EU imports, however the details have not been specified.

Hungarian President Viktor Orban on Saturday wrote on social media website X that Ukrainian agricultural products destined for Africa were “flooding Central European markets.”

A Polish government spokesperson said it was introducing the ban in the “interest of Polish farmers and consumers;” while Slovakia’s Prime Minister Ľudovít Ódor said it would “prevent excessive pressure on the Slovak market in order to remain fair to our farmers as well.”

— Jenni Reid

Explosions reported at Russian administration building in occupied Donetsk

Explosions have been reported around the headquarters of the Russian authorities in Donetsk, news agency RIA Novosti said Monday.

The report said there was at least one hit on the building housing the authorities of the pro-Russian, so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR. CNBC was unable to confirm the information reported by the Russian news agency.

Shortly after, RIA Novosti published an update in which a DPR representative claimed that Ukrainian forces had fired three missiles at the center of Donetsk. Ukraine has not commented on the incident which represents the latest effort to strike at the heart of Russian occupying forces in Ukraine.

Military vehicles of the DPR army are seen in Yasynuvata, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on May 28, 2022. 

Leon Klein | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was preceded by Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of the DPR, and the neighboring Luhansk People’s Republic, as independent states. Russia has supported and fomented pro-Russian separatism in both regions for years.

Russia has since tried to justify its invasion of Ukraine by saying it did so to protect the regions, which it has since incorporated into the Russian Federation following disputed referendums held last year on whether to join Russia. Russia said a majority of residents voted to join Russia but the votes were largely seen as coercive and bogus.

— Holly Ellyatt

Counteroffensive is ‘not very fast’ but is making progress, Zelenskyy says

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged that the counteroffensive is not proceeding quickly but insisted Ukrainian forces are advancing and liberating Russian-occupied areas every day.

“It’s a difficult situation, I will be completely honest with you,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with CBS News published on Sunday.

“We have the initiative. This is a plus. We stopped the Russian offensive and we moved onto a counter-offensive. And despite that, it’s not very fast. It is important that we are moving forward every day and liberating territory,” Zelenskyy added.

He noted that Ukraine needs to liberate its territory as much as possible. Time is of the essence in the south and east of Ukraine, where fighting is intense along a 900-mile long front line; Ukraine’s infamous muddy season will return around October, making movement and progress more difficult.

“We need to liberate our territory as much as possible and move forward, even if it’s less than [half a mile or] a hundred [yards] we must do it. We mustn’t give Putin a break,” Zelenskyy noted.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine liberates two villages in the east as grueling counteroffensive continues

Ukraine recaptured two villages in the area around Bakhmut in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, in recent days as its grueling counteroffensive continues in the south and east of the country.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Monday that Kyiv’s forces had liberated Andriivka and Klishchiivka over the weekend but said Russian was “trying with all his might to regain lost positions.” 

“Our fighters hold back the enemy’s attacks there and are entrenched at the achieved frontiers,” she said in a post on Telegram. Two square kilometers, or 0.77 miles, of territory had been regained in the past week around Bakhmut, an epicenter of fighting for months.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated his forces in the region in his nightly address Sunday, saying “I would like to especially recognize the warriors who are gradually regaining Ukraine’s territory in the area of Bakhmut.”

A Ukrainian serviceman walks near a destroyed Ukrainian tank, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the village of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Aug. 25, 2023.

Viacheslav Ratynskyi | Reuters

Ukrainian forces are also trying to push southward to regain towns and cities toward, and on, the Sea of Azov.

Maliar said Ukraine is continuing its “offensive operation in the Melitopol direction” and that there was success in the area south and east of Robotyne, a town in the southern Zaporizhia region that Ukraine said it had recaptured in late August.

In the past week, defense forces in the south have liberated 5.2 square km of territory. Since the start of the counteroffensive, 261.7 square km has been retaken in the region.

— Holly Ellyatt

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