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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit the US Capitol next Thursday, according to a GOP source familiar with the matter. He will not address a joint session of Congress and is instead expected to meet individually with lawmakers and members of leadership.
The visit comes as Congress is weighing a White House request for additional aid to Ukraine, but its passage remains in doubt, with the GOP fiercely divided over the issue. Zelensky addressed a joint session last December, but opposition to Ukraine funding has grown particularly inside the House GOP.
In response to the news, hardliner Rep. Eli Crane tweeted: “Is there a faster way to shut down the government?”
This week's talks between North Korea and Russia were “a manifestation of Russia's incapacity,” according to Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office.
“Moscow's need to beg for help from North Korea is certainly a reason for jokes, a manifestation of Russia's incapacity, and a verdict on Putin's 23-year policy,” Podolyak said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Thursday.
He noted that Ukraine was taking the actions of Moscow and Pyongyang "very seriously and making its own calculations.”
The Russia-North Korea summit covered a range of topics, including transport infrastructure, logistics, and agriculture, according to officials.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described the initial discussions, which lasted over five hours Wednesday, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “highly productive,” involving a “candid exchange of views” on both regional matters and bilateral relations.
Putin also said Moscow was considering and discussing some military cooperation with North Korea.
Prior to the summit, the US officials warned Pyongyang would “pay a price” if it struck an arms deal with Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the destruction of a Russian air defense system in Crimea a triumph during his nightly address Thursday.
“I thank you for today's triumph – the destruction of the occupiers' air defense system on the land of our Crimea. It is a very significant achievement, well done!” Zelensky said.
The destroyed complex was also called "Triumph."
A Security Service of Ukraine source said the complex’s radars and antennas were hit with UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. "After the radio-location stations were disabled, the Navy used two Neptune cruise missiles to hit S300/400 Triumph launching complexes," the source said.
The Russian defense ministry said air defenses shot down 11 Ukrainian drones over Crimea early Thursday morning. The Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to the Russian mainland, was also closed to traffic Thursday but has since reopened.
Early Wednesday, Ukraine launched an extensive assault on a Russian naval repair base in occupied Crimea, damaging two Russian warships and injuring 24 people – in what was Kyiv’s most ambitious strike on the Sevastopol port since the war began. A Ukrainian military official said the vessels were beyond repair.
The attacks are the latest to hit Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
Ukraine's strategy to regain control of Crimea is focusing on three main "tasks" that include attacking "occupation military objects," according to Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office.
Here are other headlines you should know:
- On the ground: The Ukrainian military has seen "some success" on the front lines near Bakhmut, but fighting continues south of the city, in the area of the village of Andriivka, according to a defense official. In Russia's Belgorod region, which neighbors Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has unleashed shelling nearly 100 times over the past 24 hours, the region's Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said Thursday.
- Biden and Zelensky: Biden plans to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky next week around the UN General Assembly meetings, according to multiple officials familiar with the plans. It remained unclear whether the meeting would occur in New York or later in the week at the White House. One source familiar with the matter told CNN that Zelensky is expected to travel to Washington, DC, after his stop in New York.
- Sanctions: US President Joe Biden's administration announced its latest tranche of sanctions against the Kremlin over its invasion of Ukraine in a move that targets Russian elites profiting off the war as well as sectors critical to Moscow’s military effort. Also, the national security advisors of the United States, South Korea, and Japan issued a stern warning regarding potential violations of international sanctions by North Korea and Russia following their recent summit.
- ICC office: The International Criminal Court has opened a field office in Kyiv to help it investigate war crimes in Ukraine. Announcing the move in the Ukrainian capital Thursday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said the war was a moment of huge responsibility for the court which required perseverance and endurance.
- Grain restrictions: Ukraine expects the European Commission to “keep its word” and lift all restrictions on Ukrainian grain exports on Friday, when the restrictions are set to expire, according to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in the eastern Russian city Komsomolsk-on-Amur, according to state media.
“Kim Jong Un arrived by train at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur railway station, our correspondent reports,” Russian state media TASS said in the early hours of Friday local time, without giving any further details.
The North Korean leader is on his way to an aircraft plant in the city, it added.
A Ukrainian missile attack Wednesday destroyed two Russian vessels in a Sevastopol shipyard, according to Ukraine's military.
Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, named the vessels as the landing ship Minsk and the submarine Rostov-on-Don.
Yusov said Wednesday that the vessels were beyond repair, and Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence doesn’t want to get into the details of what weapon was used to hit the shipyard.
Yusov called the destruction of the landing ship an “irreparable loss” to the Russian fleet, because, as he claimed, Russians do not produce such ships any longer.
CNN cannot independently verify Ukraine’s claims.
Earlier Thursday, a new video published by pro-Wagner PMC Telegram channel Grey Zone, and Russian military bloggers Voenkor Kotenok and Military Informant (Voenniy Osvedomitel) purports to show the Minsk get attacked.
So far, the Russian defense ministry reported that two naval vessels were damaged by a Ukrainian missile attack, without naming the vessels.
CNN has not been able to verify the location or date of the video.
Ukrainian fighters regained control of oil and gas drilling platforms off the coast of Crimea in inflatable boats, a commander said. The platforms, known as the Boyko Towers, have been controlled by the Russians since soon after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
On Monday, Ukraine’s defense intelligence released a video of the operation to take the platforms back.
The commander of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine's Special Forces, who is codenamed "Pein,” spoke about the operation in an interview with Ukrainian journalists from 1+1 TV channel.
"The special operation was being prepared for about a month and a half. We realized that it could be a one-way trip, because only a fool and a dead man are not afraid. We went on an inflatable boat because it is more maneuverable and less visible to air support means," Pein said.
During the operation, a group of Ukrainian intelligence officers encountered a Russian combat aircraft and shot it down with a man-portable air defense system, Pein said.
"When we started to dock, the plane started to fire at our fighters. The boat was slightly damaged. One such shell could have sunk us. There was one shot, it hit the tail section. We saw a peculiar smoke — first white, then black," the intelligence officer recalled.
He added that on the drilling platforms, the Ukrainian special forces found Russian ammunition and valuable equipment for reconnaissance in the western part of the Black Sea.
Pein said the return of the towers to Ukrainian control was a painful blow the Russians.
"We have severely restricted the Russians' actions in the Black Sea, namely in the waters of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island. We pushed them back to the shores of Crimea," he said.
Video of what appears to be a Russian patrol ship coming under attack from naval drones in the Black Sea was released Thursday by Ukraine’s defense intelligence arm.
Ukraine says it attacked two Russian ships in the early hours of Thursday.
The night vision footage appears to have been recorded from one of the naval drones as it moves toward one vessel. It then appears to open fire as it gets closer.
A statement from the Ukrainian military said its forces had attacked two patrol ships in the southwestern part of the Black Sea.
“The strikes caused “some damage,” the statement said.
Earlier, Russia’s defense ministry acknowledged that one of its vessels, “Sergei Kotov,” had come under attack overnight.
“In the course of repelling the attack, five enemy unmanned boats were destroyed by [the ship’s] fire,” a ministry statement said, though it did not make reference to any attack on a second patrol ship.
The Ukrainian assault came a day after a missile strike on a shipyard in Sevastopol caused significant damage to a Russian submarine and a landing ship, both undergoing repairs at the time they were targeted.