Ukraine war: Ukrainian Armed Forces advance as Zelenskyy renews calls for foreign aid

All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

G20 declaration on Ukraine: “nothing to be proud of” – Kyiv

Kyiv has criticised the G20 leaders’ statement on the war in Ukraine, in which they denounced the use of force, but neglected to mention Russia.

“Ukraine is grateful to the partners who tried to include strong wording in the text. At the same time, regarding Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the G20 has nothing to be proud of,” said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Oleg Nikolenko.

Nikolenko posted on his Facebook account a modified version of the official communiqué of the G20 summit in New Delhi, with words or expressions crossed out and replaced by others in red, reflecting notions the Ukrainian authorities would have preferred.

Examples included the phrase “concerning the war in Ukraine” becoming “concerning the war against Ukraine”, and “all states must refrain from the threat or use of force” replaced by “Russia must refrain…”.

The text adopted by the G20 does not explicitly mention Russian “aggression” in Ukraine, a term used in 2022 during the previous G20 summit in Bali.

That use was a reference to a Security Council resolution which had criticised “in the strongest terms strongly condemn the aggression committed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”.

Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor of the United States, however, welcomed the wording of the text.

“From our point of view, it’s a very good job,” he told reporters.

Nikolenko expressed disappointment, though, adding that he believed it was “obvious that Ukraine’s participation in this G20 summit would have allowed the participants to better understand the situation”.

Threat to nuclear safety as fighting spikes near Ukraine plant – UN atomic watchdog

The United Nations atomic watchdog warned of a potential threat to nuclear safety due to a spike in fighting near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine, whose forces continued pressing their counteroffensive on Saturday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said its experts deployed at the Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant reported hearing numerous explosions over the past week, in a possible indication of increased military activity in the region. There was no damage to the plant.

“I remain deeply concerned about the possible dangers facing the plant at this time of heightened military tension in the region,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned in a statement issued late on Friday.

He noted that the IAEA team was informed that staff at the nuclear power plant had been reduced temporarily to minimum levels due to concerns of more military activity in the area.

“Whatever happens in a conflict zone, wherever it may be, everybody would stand to lose from a nuclear accident, and I urge that all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid it happening,” Grossi added.

The IAEA has repeatedly expressed concern that the fighting could cause a potential radiation leak from the facility, which is one of the world’s 10 biggest nuclear power stations. The plant’s six reactors have been shut down for months, but it still needs power and qualified staff to operate crucial cooling systems and other safety features.

Ukraine makes tactical advances near Robotyne

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have advanced into the multi-layered main Russian defensive line east of the town of Robotyne.

Ukrainian dismounted infantry forces are continuing to make gradual tactical advances against Russian positions and attrite Russian forces in the area.

Ukrainian forces have also maintained pressure on Russian positions to the south of Bakhmut, making gradual gains between Klishchiivka and Adriivka.

It is highly likely that Russia has redeployed forces from other areas of the frontline to replace degraded units around Robotyne. These redeployments are likely limiting Russia’s ability to carry out offensive operations of its own along other areas of the front line.

The redeployments are also highly likely an indication of pressure on their defensive lines, particularly around Robotyne.

Counter-offensive threatened by slow Western aid – Zelenskyy

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Russia was slowing down the Ukrainian counter-offensive, blaming the “slowness” of Western arms deliveries. The leader also renewed calls for long-range weapons as well as new sanctions against Moscow.

Speaking on Friday, Zelenskyy also stressed that time was against Ukraine, with Russia banking on a Republican victory in the 2024 presidential election to weaken American support for Kyiv.

According to him, “the processes are becoming more complicated and slower when it comes to economic sanctions against Moscow or the supply of weapons” from the West.

Ukraine has complained in particular for months about the slowness of negotiations on the delivery of F-16 fighters. Several dozen of these American aircraft will ultimately be delivered by European countries, but the crews must now be trained for months in order to use them effectively.

The Ukrainian counter-offensive, launched in June, came up against powerful defence lines built by the Russians, including minefields and anti-tank traps.

However, a breakthrough has emerged in recent weeks in the south, which could allow the Ukrainian army to advance to cut Russian lines of communication between the north and Crimea, one of its objectives.

American Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Kyiv on Wednesday and Thursday, judged the “significant progress” of the offensive “very, very encouraging”.

He promised $1 billion (approximately €933m) in new aid. Washington also confirmed the supply of depleted uranium shells to give “momentum” to the offensive.

More Russian bombs hit Ukrainian cities

Ukraine confirmed the deaths of four people on Friday as Russia continues its bombing of Ukrainian cities.

Three civilians were killed in Odradokamianka in the southern Kherson region, according to Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klymenko.

In Kryvyï Rig, the hometown of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the south of the country, a bombing hit an administrative building killing a police officer, according to emergency services.

Kyiv denounces upcoming Moscow-organised local elections

Kyiv has poured scorn on the local elections organised by Moscow in regions in Ukraine under its control.

“The pseudo-elections carried out by Russia in the temporarily occupied territories are worthless,” stressed the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denouncing a “gross violation” of its sovereignty.

France supported the denouncement, condemning on Friday “the organisation by Russia of sham elections on Ukrainian territory, and in particular in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson”.

These “so-called elections” are “devoid of any legitimacy and are being held in territories that Russia illegally occupies,” continued French diplomacy in a press release, assuring they will not recognise the results.

The Ukrainian Crimean peninsula, with the town of Sevastopol, was annexed in 2014 by Russia after a referendum that almost the entire international community refused to recognize. The four regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson suffered the same fate – referendum and annexation – in 2022.

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Stephania Badon