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Russian air defenses thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow early Wednesday, Russia's defense ministry said, the latest in a string of aerial assaults targeting the Russian capital.
"Two of the UAVs [...] were shot down over the territory of the Mozhaisky and Khimki districts of the Moscow region. A third was jammed before crashing into a building under construction in the Moscow City complex," the ministry said in a Telegram post.
There were no casualties, it said.
CNN is unable to independently verify the ministry's claims.
The alleged attack marks the fourth time in recent weeks that Moscow's financial district has been targeted by suspected Ukrainian drones, according to a CNN tally.
International support for Ukraine is pouring in on the heels of a Ukraine-Balkans summit held in Athens, Greece.
Ten Balkan and European countries signed a joint declaration to express their support for Ukraine on Tuesday. And Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said his country respects Ukraine's territorial integrity on the sidelines of the summit in Athens.
Meanwhile back in Kyiv, the Netherland's Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren assured in a meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart that the Netherlands will remain a loyal partner of Ukraine and will continue providing support.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is returning home "with new political support and new agreements," after concluding his trip through Europe.
Here are other headlines you should know:
- Funding for Ukraine: US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday that President Joe Biden's administration is confident it’ll be able to secure additional funding for Ukraine, despite pushback from some House Republicans backing an amendment last month that would’ve stripped all Ukraine funding. Also, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday that the US was “prepared to support” F-16 fighter pilot training for Ukrainian pilots in the continental US if needed.
- On the ground developments: Two Ukrainian drones that were conducting reconnaissance near Crimea changed their course after Russia activated fighter jets to counter reconnaissance activities and prevent a possible violation of the state border, Russia's defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday. At least five people were killed and three others injured as a result of Russian shelling on Ukraine’s Donetsk region, according to the region's military administration on Tuesday.
- Black Sea discussions: Zelensky discussed alternate Black Sea routes and defense with the Croatian, Moldovan and North Macedonian leaders in Greece, according to Zelensky's office. The talks come after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Also, leaders of Ukraine and Bulgaria discussed their countries’ cooperation on the Black Sea to secure a "grain corridor."
- ICJ update: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hear Russia’s preliminary objections in the case concerning “Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” next month, the court said in a statement Tuesday. The public hearings will be held in the Hague between September 18 and 27 and will include oral arguments by Russia, Ukraine and 32 intervening states.
At least five people were killed and three others injured as a result of Russian shelling on Ukraine’s Donetsk region, according to the region's military administration on Tuesday.
The shelling happened in the Lyman district, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration.
Three residents were killed while sitting on a bench near a private house in the village of Torske, while another Torske resident “suffered multiple chest, shoulder and hip injuries," according to the Donetsk regional prosecutor's office.
In the village of Zakitne “a 26-year-old man suffered a skull fracture and a brain contusion,” the office said.
The Russian shelling killed two civilians and wounded another in the Donetsk region's Yampil settlement on Tuesday as well, Kyrylenko said in an interview with Ukrainian media.
Russia also launched an airstrike on the Niu-York village in the Donetsk region, using aerial bombs that weigh 250 kilograms (551 pounds) each, according to Kyrylenko. There were no casualties following the strike, he added.
Kyrylenko said “171 children still remain on the frontline territories of Donetsk region.” However, local authorities plan “a forced evacuation” for them and their parents “in the next two weeks.”
A total of 492,000 people remain in the Donetsk region as Ukraine continues evacuation efforts, according to Kyrylenko.
Two Ukrainian drones that were conducting reconnaissance near Crimea changed their course after Russia activated fighter jets to counter reconnaissance activities and prevent a possible violation of the state border, Russia's defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
"On 22 August 2023, two unmanned aerial vehicles, MQ-9 Reaper and TB2 Bayraktar, conducting aerial reconnaissance over the waters of the Black Sea close to Crimean Peninsula, were detected by the airspace control means of the Russian Aerospace Forces," the ministry said.
After fighter jets were raised into the air "the UAVs changed their flight direction and left the areas of aerial reconnaissance," the ministry said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Russian defense ministry said Ukraine attempted a drone attack on facilities in Russia late Monday, but the drones were jammed by electronic warfare and crashed into the Black Sea northwest of Crimea.
Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov met in Kyiv with his counterpart from the Netherlands, Kajsa Ollongren, who is in Ukraine on a working visit, according to Ukraine's Defense Ministry.
This is Ollongren's third visit to Ukraine since February 24, 2022, "and it is a strong signal to all our defenders that we have such a powerful friend in the international arena," Reznikov said.
"It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the decision of the Government of the Netherlands to launch an 'aircraft coalition' first to train our pilots, engineers and technicians, and eventually, after the completion of this training, to transfer F-16 combat aircraft to us," he said.
"I would like to remind everyone that air defense remains our number one priority to ensure that our children go to schools and universities and that the sky over Ukraine is peaceful. Therefore, the decision on the F-16 is a powerful decision that will make our air defense even stronger," Reznikov said.
Ollongren assured the Netherlands will remain a loyal partner of Ukraine and will continue providing support. She said she feels "admiration and respect" for Ukraine as well as it's leadership and military.
The Netherlands official said F-16 jet training will begin for Ukrainian pilots at a center in Romania.
"We all know how quickly the Ukrainian military learns, there is no doubt that the training will take place, but it will also need to be integrated into the support system and the system of the Armed Forces, including the Air Force," she said. "This is not only a matter of training, but also a matter of capabilities and technical support. But we are already working on this. We have made a commitment to do this as soon as possible," she added.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday that the US was “prepared to support” F-16 fighter pilot training for Ukrainian pilots in the continental US if needed.
“We are prepared to support a training effort here in the continental United States if capacity is reached in Europe,” Ryder said. “I don't have any specifics to provide right now in terms of which bases that training could occur at, but certainly if the decision is made to do that, and we move forward, we'll be sure to provide you with updates on that.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on the sidelines of a Ukraine-Balkans summit in Athens on Tuesday, according to both sides.
"The parties noted that mutual support for territorial integrity and sovereignty is an important part of the partnership between Ukraine and Serbia," Zelensky's office said in a statement.
Vucic said he had "a good and open conversation" with Zelensky about the important issues both countries face.
"We touched on the events in Ukraine and Kosovo and Metohija, and I once again pointed out that Serbia respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which we have been saying clearly and unequivocally since the start of the conflict," Vucic said in a post on Instagram.
Zelensky thanked Vucic for the humanitarian assistance provided by Serbia to Ukraine, as well as for the support for Ukrainians who have found refuge in Serbia after the start of the war, Zelensky's office said.
Some background: Traditionally one of Moscow’s closest allies in Europe, Belgrade has long tried to tread the line between its historical ties to Russia and a potential future of closer European integration.
Western diplomats have sought to pull Vucic from the orbit of his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, by pledging a swifter path to EU membership while simultaneously warning of isolation if they break rank.
But, 18 months on, some observers say the current approach has been all carrot and no stick, and as a result, is failing to achieve both of its aims.
Serbia has refused to participate in all rounds of EU sanctions against Putin. And Serbia has continued to pursue its own interests in the region with diminishing accountability, stirring conflicts abroad to distract from discontent at home, safe in the knowledge it will not be rebuked in the West.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is returning home "with new political support and new agreements," after concluding a trip through Europe Tuesday.
"We are returning home with new political support and new agreements. Everyone clearly reaffirms the territorial integrity of Ukraine," Zelensky said in his evening address.
"There will be airplanes for Ukraine. We will have additional armored vehicles. We will strengthen air defense, economy, our exports, European and Euro-Atlantic integration," he said.
Zelensky said that at "almost all the meetings," protecting export routes "through the Black Sea and through 'solidarity corridors' on land" was discussed.
Some more context: Over the last few days, Zelensky traveled to Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Greece, where he attended a Ukraine-Balkans summit. He said he held talks on the sidelines of the summit with Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Moldova and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
"A very important agreement with Greece, for which I am particularly grateful to the Prime Minister, is Greece's willingness to take patronage of the restoration of our Odesa. The decision is not only substantive but also very symbolic. It is filled with many historical and cultural meanings," Zelensky said.
"The overall result of these days is that Ukraine has become stronger," Zelensky said, adding he is grateful to Luxembourg for joining the Group of Seven declaration on security guarantees for Ukraine.