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Russian air defenses intercepted drones over the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and the capital Moscow, officials said on Thursday.
In a Telegram post, Rostov Gov. Vasily Golubev said one person was injured and several cars were damaged after one drone fell in the city center and another fell on its western outskirts.
Separately, Russian air defenses intercepted a drone attack near Moscow, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a Telegram post.
"Tonight, in the Ramensky urban district, air defense forces thwarted a drone attack on Moscow. There is no damage or casualties at the site of the fall of the wreckage. Emergency services are on site," Sobyanin said in the post.
Ukraine did not make any immediate comment.
Reports of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory have become an almost daily occurrence in recent weeks as Kyiv ramps up its apparent efforts to wear down Russian domestic support for the war.
The Russian defense ministry proposed amending regulations to allow military registration for prisoners, state news agency TASS reported Wednesday.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense has proposed amending the regulations of military registration, in order to make those serving sentences get on military registration in correctional institutions,” TASS said, adding that “the draft amendment is published on the federal portal of the projects of normative legal acts.”
The current law says that “the citizens serving a sentence of imprisonment are not subject to military registration.”
It is proposed to introduce the concept of "special military registration” for conscripts and those liable for military service who are currently serving sentences, according to TASS.
"Special military registration is carried out by correctional institutions, correctional centers of the penitentiary system [...] and military commissariats at the location of institutions of the penitentiary system in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation and this regulation," the draft amendment says.
According to the draft, “installment and removal from special military registration are carried out without appearing at the military commissariats, the corresponding lists of prisoners are provided by correctional institutions as prisoners are received, transferred or released,” according to TASS.
Some background: Russian prisoners have already been used by Moscow in the war in Ukraine.
For months, Russia had been using the private mercenary company Wagner to bolster its frontline presence with prisoners – a scheme at first denied and secretive, but then openly promoted by the late Wagner’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
In one of the deadliest attacks in months, a Russian missile landed in the middle of the Ukrainian town of Kostiantynivka, killing 17 people, Ukrainian officials said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with senior Ukrainian leadership and President Volodymyr Zelensky during his third visit to Kyiv on Wednesday. It comes as Ukraine’s counteroffensive enters its fourth month, with both Blinken and Zelensky expressing that it is making process.
Here's what to know:
- Blinken in Kyiv: The US secretary of state announced $1 billion in new US support for Ukraine while at a news conference with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv. Blinken also met with Zelensky to discuss efforts on the battlefield and "longer-term sustainable security arrangements." Zelensky, who just returned to the capital from the front lines, told Bliken it is always a “great message of support” for Ukraine when US officials visit and that financial support is "crucial."
- New weapons: The new US military assistance package to Ukraine includes depleted uranium munitions for the first time, a US official told CNN. The munitions are mildly radioactive because they are made from dense metal, a byproduct from fuel production for nuclear power plants. They can be fired from the US-made Abrams tanks that are expected to arrive in Ukraine this fall.
- Ukrainian counteroffensive: The slowness of Ukraine’s counteroffensive can in part be attributed to the strength of Russia’s defensive fortifications on the southern front. But Ukrainian officials are cautiously optimistic that the subsequent lines of defense may be easier to penetrate than the first, which were shrouded by dense minefields.
- Deadly strikes in the east: At least 17 people, including one child, were killed by a Russian missile attack on a market in the eastern Donetsk region town of Kostiantynivka, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said. The strike appeared to hit a market near a shopping center, according to unofficial reports. Kostiantynivka is close to the front lines around Bakhmut.
- Concerns about supply to Russia: Representatives from the US, the United Kingdom and the European Union arrived in the United Arab Emirates this week to discuss the implementation of sanctions on Russia, the US embassy said. Concerns are mounting over goods being exported to Russia that could potentially be used in Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
- New defense minister: Ukraine’s Parliament has approved the appointment of Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar, as the new defense minister. In remarks in his new post, Umerov vowed to take back control of "every centimeter" of Ukrainian land from Russia and bring home all those in captivity. He replaces Oleksii Reznikov — defense minister since before the war began — whose tenure had been plagued by contract scandals.
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called US military aid "the most profitable investment into world's security" during a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv on Wednesday.
“Military aid that is given to Ukraine as well as financial aid is not a charity donation, I would like to underline this, it is the most profitable investment of the US into the European security and the security of the whole world,” Kuleba said.
Kuleba emphasized that the United States “continues to be a leading Ukrainian ally in repelling the Russian aggression.”
Kuleba noted that Blinken has given “a high estimate to the actions of Ukrainian soldiers.”
“It was an objective estimate, that takes into consideration a tough reality of the battlefield and these heroic actions that the soldiers are bringing forth,” Kuleba said, adding that Ukraine has no intention of asking American soldiers to join its forces in the fight on Ukrainian territory.
Kuleba said that both parties discussed integrating Ukraine’s defense industry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), increasing Ukraine’s air defense and providing Ukraine with long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, the latter topic remaining an ongoing conversation.
The leaders also discussed the grain deal, agreeing that the Danube grain corridor, which is adjacent to the territory of Romania, is the “most promising option at the moment” to be used for grain exports.
Kuleba noted that the rules to end the war “should be designated not by the third party that is an aggressor, but the country that has been invaded” and said that “some bilateral steps to make this approach work” were agreed on during the parties' earlier conversation on Wednesday.
Kuleba said he and Blinken had “an open, sincere and friendly conversation” and reiterated that the US support for Ukraine is long-standing.
“Anyone in the world who has doubted that Ukraine and the US will stand shoulder to shoulder until the end of this war have received a powerful signal today that they are wrong. We are moving forward together because we understand this war is not just about the future of Ukraine, but the future of the world,” he said.
The leaders also ate at a McDonald’s in Kyiv, which had recently reopened.
“The return of McDonald’s to Ukraine has become a symbol that it is possible to build great business in Ukraine and be with the people during hard and important time in their life,” Kuleba said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US has “no illusions” that the path forward in Ukraine will be easy, but doubled down on continued US support and pointed to the progress that Ukraine has made so far during his press conference in Kyiv on Wednesday.
He noted that in the year since he was last in Ukraine, Kyiv's forces have " taken back more than 50% of the territory that Russia has seized from it since February of 2022.”
Blinken said that Zelensky’s assessment of the ongoing counteroffensive, after having recently visited the frontlines, matches the US assessment: “real progress in recent weeks.”
Blinken’s positive tone comes after US officials have previously said that the counteroffensive was not moving as quickly as they would have liked.
Blinken also said that the US will be transferring seized Russian assets to Ukraine for the first time. He did not say how much those assets amounted to, or precisely when the transfer would happen.
“Those who have enabled Putin's war of aggression should pay for it,” Blinken said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $1 billion in new US support for Ukraine, including military, humanitarian and budgetary assistance.
“In the ongoing counteroffensive, progress has accelerated in the past few weeks. This new assistance will help sustain it and build further momentum,” Blinken said at a news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba while visiting Kyiv on Wednesday.
The package includes replenishing Ukrainians with weaponry that the US has given to the country in the past including air defense system components, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems for HIMARS, munitions, ammunition, and communications systems, according to a State Department fact sheet. These weapons will come from Pentagon stocks.
The new military assistance package also includes depleted uranium munitions for the first time, a US official told CNN. The munitions are mildly radioactive because they are made from dense metal, a byproduct from fuel production for nuclear power plants. They can be fired from the US-made Abrams tanks that are expected to arrive in Ukraine this fall.
And in terms of long-term military support the new package commits $100 million in military support, through the foreign military financing program, the department said. This comes as conversations between the US and Ukraine over long-term support continue.
“I met today with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky I discussed longer-term sustainable security arrangements, which will provide ongoing security assistance and modern military equipment across land, air, sea and cyberspace, as well as training and intelligence share. The State Department is leading these discussions, which will continue in the months ahead,” Blinken said.
More than one-fifth of the new support announced on Wednesday, totaling more than $200 million, will go toward support for transparency and reform, bolstering efforts on anti-corruption, rule of law and the justice sector, the department said. This support notably comes following the resignation of the Ukrainian defense minister earlier this week in the wake of a number of corruption scandals in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
The US will also use this bucket of funding for transparency-related efforts to direct funding towards Ukraine’s capacity to both investigate and prosecute war crimes, invest in reconstruction efforts and strengthen the country’s financial management practices.
The humanitarian assistance portion of this new assistance totaling $206 million will go towards critical support including food, water, and shelter to those in Ukraine and those forced to flee to neighboring countries. There will also be more than $90 million in humanitarian assistance specifically for demining, the department said.
Representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union arrived in the United Arab Emirates this week to discuss the implementation of sanctions on Russia as part of a broader effort with a range of “partner” countries, a US embassy spokesperson told CNN.
It comes as concerns mount over goods being exported to Russia that could potentially be used in Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the visit, said that the discussions are happening as part of “a collective global push to keep computer chips, electronic components and other so-called dual-use products, which have both civilian and military applications, out of Russian hands.”
“The UAE is working with its friends and allies to address any concerns with regards to sanctions on Russia,” a senior UAE official told CNN when asked about the matter.
Remember: Russia is under a barrage of sanctions from the US and other Western nations following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. But most of these are primary sanctions, which can only be enforced within the territory of the sanctioning country.
Western officials have visited the UAE several times over the past two years to warn the regional business hub that helping Moscow evade sanctions wouldn’t be without consequences.
The US has previously sanctioned entities and individuals in the UAE for sanctions evasion, including two UAE-based air transportation firms for collaborating with a sanctioned Iranian firm to transport Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), personnel, and related equipment from Iran to Russia.
The Gulf state has walked a tightrope between Washington and Moscow since the start of the war in February 2022, opting to remain neutral as it sees the world order moving toward multipolarity. It has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but has also expanded economic ties with Moscow.
Senior US Senate Republicans say Congress should move quickly to pass new funding for Ukraine, even as the push has faced headwinds from conservatives in the House of Representatives.
The dispute centers around if Ukraine funding will be tied to the short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown by the end of the month.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that the Ukraine aid will "probably" be attached to the short-term funding bill.
Graham had choice words for conservatives who oppose Ukraine aid:
"To these people who say it's not in our interest to support Ukraine, you're the same folks that criticize (US President Joe) Biden for getting out of Afghanistan. You're right to do that. Pulling the plug on Ukraine and letting (Russian President Vladimir) Putin get away with this invasion will destabilize the world more than Afghanistan,” he said.
Graham, who went to Ukraine with a congressional delegation in August, said Kyiv's forces are "on the offensive."
"I expect major breakthroughs by the end of October. Now's not the time to pull the plug on Ukraine and reward Putin for his invasion. So a supplemental, in my view, needs to address Ukraine because this is in our national interest,” he said.
Sen. Thom Tillis also said Ukraine funding and disaster relief should be tied together.
“I do support the disaster relief funding,” he said. “I feel very strongly that if we can, time is of the essence, we should work in the Ukraine funding at the same time. The president’s drawdown authority is probably only going to last for another month or two, and we have to replenish it to make it clear to Russia that we’re in for the long term.”
He said they will have to push for the skeptical House Republicans to recognize the importance of Ukraine aid.
“The value of the Western world waking up and understanding all of the vulnerabilities that we’ve had is hard to estimate. And I think we have to go and communicate to reasonable-minded members that we have to sustain the investment,” he said, before echoing Graham. “It would make Afghanistan, which I think was a horrible failure of American leadership, look like child’s play, if we fail to do it in Ukraine.”
The Senate’s number-two Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, said that tying Ukraine aid to government funding legislation would send a message that the US will not abandon Ukraine. “I think it’s important that we continue our assistance to Ukraine without any suggestion of our weakening resolve,” he said.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who has long been a critic of US aid for Ukraine, argued that tying it to disaster funding would be “a mistake.”
“I've said over and over again on Ukraine aid: Who we ought to be going to for Ukraine aid are our European allies. I'm against more money for Ukraine, I'm particularly against it when we don't have an inspector general, any kind of watchdog," he said.
Pressed on whether Speaker Kevin McCarthy should keep any Ukraine aid out of stopgap legislation to fund the government, Hawley replied, “I think so. Yeah, I think so. you know what he does will be up to him, but I don't support it.”