Ukrainian forces have achieved some “success” in three areas of the Russian-occupied Kherson region, a Ukrainian regional official said today, two days after Kyiv announced the start of a southern counter-offensive to retake territory.
Yury Sobolevsky, deputy head of the regional government in Kherson, told Ukrainian National Television that Ukrainian troops had achieved success in the areas around the cities of Kherson, Berislav and Kakhovka. Sobolevski declined to give further details.
A grain silo in the port of the city of Nikolaev was hit by Russian shelling
A grain silo in Ukraine’s second largest port, Mykolaiv, was hit by Russian shelling on the city yesterday. A fire broke out, which has not yet been extinguished, Reuters reported, citing the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
“As a result of the shelling against Nikolaev, a grain silo in a facility in the Korabelny region caught fire,” she announced today on “Facebook” and added that “the fight against the fire continues.”
An area of 200 square meters was affected, the service said, without giving details.
There are several large grain terminals in the city of Nikolaev. Some of them have already been attacked since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Ukraine is waging a counter-offensive in the area, which has come under constant fire in recent weeks, in an attempt to push Russian troops from Kherson back to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, from which they advanced on the city at the start of the war.
Ukraine’s grain exports fell sharply after Russia invaded the country on February 24 and blockaded its Black Sea ports. This has led to a significant rise in food prices worldwide and raised fears of food shortages in Africa and the Middle East, Reuters notes.
Ukraine’s Black Sea ports reopened on July 22 following an agreement between Moscow and Kyiv. According to the Ukrainian authorities, between 100 and 150 cargo ships can be loaded and set sail on them per month.
Kyiv expressed a desire to open the port of the city of Mykolaiv for the export of grain, Reuters recalls.
After criticizing Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, a Russian soldier has sought asylum in France
After criticizing the Russian offensive in Ukraine, a Russian military officer is now seeking political asylum in France, France Press reported.
Thirty-four-year-old Pavel Filatiev, who fought in Ukraine for two months before criticizing the Kremlin online, fled his homeland via Tunisia and arrived at Paris Roissy airport on Sunday. He has already met with representatives of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees.
In early August, Filatiev, who is a paratrooper with the 56th Regiment of the Russian Airborne Forces based in Crimea, published a 141-page story on the Russian social network Vkontakte criticizing the state of Russian troops and the war in Ukraine.
“When I learned that the command wanted me to be sentenced to 15 years in prison for spreading false information against the Russian army, I realized that I would not achieve anything here and that my lawyers would not be able to do anything for me in Russia,” Filatiev told France Press. On Monday, an agency journalist met him in the asylum seeker area at Roissy Airport.
Filatiev’s text, published on the Internet and entitled “Zov” (translated from Russian: Call), criticizes the Russian offensive in Ukraine. “We do not have the moral right to attack another country, even more so a nation that is closest to us,” wrote the soldier, who is also the son of a Russian soldier who served in the same regiment in which he now serves.
In his account, Filatiev describes a disorganized Russian army, barely equipped and lacking in training, which he says is in the same state as Russia has been in recent years.
“From year to year, the confusion and corruption become more and more impressive,” Filatiev explained to AFP. “Corruption, disorder, nepukism have crossed the limits of what is acceptable,” he added.
“The first months I was shocked. I said to myself: ‘It’s not possible’ and at the end of the year I realized that I don’t want to serve in such an army,” says Filatiev, who joined the 56th regiment last year after some time ago was in the army and then left it for a while.
However, Filetiev did not resign at the end of last year, as he had planned, and thus ended up at the front in Ukraine. His regiment first went to Kherson, then to Nikolaev. He says that in times of war, the problems in the army, the lack of professionalism, corruption, confusion and nepotism became even more obvious. The Russian adds that the Russian government has played a major role in destroying the army inherited from the USSR.
After two months of combat, during which, as Filatiev assures, his regiment did not engage in any abuse of civilians or prisoners of war, he himself was evacuated due to an eye infection and admitted to a hospital in Sevastopol, Crimea. He tries to resign for health reasons, but his commanders want him to return to the front and threaten to open an investigation against him if he does not. In early August, he left Crimea, published his diary on the Internet, then traveled from city to city in Russia to avoid capture and finally left the country.
“Why am I telling all this in detail? I want people in Russia and around the world to understand how this war came about, why people continue to fight it,” explains Filatiev. “This is not because they want to fight, but because they are in such conditions that it is difficult for them to leave,” he added, referring to the Russian military sent to Ukraine. “The army, as well as Russian society, is terrorized,” Filatiev stressed, saying that only 10 percent of the military supported the war, and most of the soldiers were afraid to speak out against it. “Those who are against the war are afraid to say it, they don’t leave because they are afraid of the consequences”.
If Filatiev is granted refugee status, he says he will act to end the war. “I want as few Russian youth as possible to be drawn into this war, I want them to know what’s going on there,” he says.
The IAEA mission arrived in the Ukrainian city of Zaporozhye on its way to the nearby nuclear power plant
The mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is supposed to inspect the Zaporizhia NPP, arrived today in Zaporizhia, France Press reported.
The city will be the starting point for the IAEA team, headed personally by the director general of the agency, Rafael Grossi, to the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
A convoy of about 20 vehicles, half of which were marked “UN”, as well as an ambulance, arrived in Zaporozhye in the early afternoon, AFP journalists at the scene saw.
The city is located 120 kilometers by road from the nuclear power plant.
“Finally, after several months of effort, we are moving forward. The IAEA is heading inside the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe,” said Raphael Grossi, the head of the IAEA and head of the agency’s current mission in Ukraine. , just before the delegation he led headed for headquarters.
The site has been occupied by the Russian army since the beginning of March.
“I am fully aware of the importance of this moment, but we are ready. The IAEA is ready. We will take stock after the end of our mission. We will spend a few days there,” Grossi said.
Grossi also told reporters in Kyiv that he hoped a permanent IAEA mission would be established in Ukraine to monitor Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Associated Press reported.
“These operations are very complicated. We are going into a war zone. We are going into occupied territory. And this requires explicit guarantees not only from the Russians, but also from the Republic of Ukraine,” Grossi said. “We managed to secure them,” he added.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said that Kyiv is seeking international help to try and demilitarize the area around the Zaporizhzhia NPP.
“I think this mission should be a very important step in returning the plant to Ukrainian government control by the end of the year,” Halushchenko said.
“We have information that they (the Russians) are trying to hide their military presence, so the mission should check all this,” the minister said.
Yesterday, the IAEA delegation met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, France Press recalls. On this occasion, Zelensky said that the international community must achieve from Russia an immediate demilitarization of the plant. According to him, this necessitates the withdrawal of all Russian military personnel with their explosives and weapons from the site.
Russia and Ukraine exchange accusations of shelling the plant.
A senior Russian official is preparing a semblance of a referendum in occupied Ukraine, Washington has said
A high-ranking Russian official has been tasked with organizing a semblance of a referendum through which Russia would annex Ukrainian territories. This was stated by a spokesperson of the US State Department, who assured that the vote could take place soon, reported France Presse.
Sergei Kiriyenko, the deputy head of the presidential administration in Russia, is leading efforts aimed at an attempt to join Russia on Ukrainian territory, which, if successful, would be illegal,” Vedant Patel told a press briefing.
The White House had already warned on August 24 that Moscow could announce one or more “illegal” referendums in occupied Ukraine in the coming weeks.
“The semblance of a referendum would be an attempt to lend apparent legitimacy to an apparent land grab that would violate the Ukrainian constitution and international laws,” Patel continued.
“The United States and the international community know the truth, which is that all of Ukraine is and will remain Ukraine,” he added.
American officials specified on August 24 that these referendums could take place in Kherson, in Zaporozhye, in the separatist regions around Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as in Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city.
In March 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula following the intervention of Russian special forces and an accession referendum criticized by Kyiv and the West as illegal.
Zelensky can attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly
Diplomats are laying the groundwork for a possible visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the General Political Debates of the UN General Assembly next month in New York. This would be Zelensky’s first visit abroad since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, DPA reported.
“We are prepared for the visit of any official representatives, including the Ukrainian president,” said the spokesman of the Ukrainian mission to the UN Anatoly Slenko.
Zelensky is one of the speakers on the agenda of the big event, which traditionally takes place in mid-September. Slenko stressed that this could change and added that it was still unclear whether Zelensky’s trip to the UN headquarters in New York could take place.
Diplomats warn that any trip abroad by the Ukrainian president could put his life at risk. The decision in this direction will also be related to the development of the situation in Ukraine.
General policy debates in the annual session of the UN General Assembly will begin on September 20. Among the speakers are US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and others.