Thursday, September 28, 2023

Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 546: Putin says West attempts to maintain hegemony key cause of Ukraine war

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine in February 2022 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Ukraine crisis caused by western attempts to preserve hegemony: Putin

Attempts by the West to maintain its hegemony were the key cause of the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed. He added that members of the BRICS group of nations reject the idea of exceptionalism.

“We are against any hegemony, the notion of exceptionalism promoted by some nations, and the policy of neocolonialism derived from that claim,” the Russian leader said on Wednesday during a speech via video link to a summit of BRICS leaders in South Africa.

The BRICS group, which includes Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, firmly believes in “the formation of a multipolar world order, truly just and based on international law,” Putin stated.

Explaining the origins of the Ukraine crisis, Putin accused Western powers of facilitating the “anti-constitutional coup” in Kiev in 2014. After seizing power, the new Ukrainian authorities “unleashed a war” against those who rejected them, Putin said.

“Our actions in Ukraine have but one motive: to put an end to this war that the West and its satellites in Ukraine started against the people living in Donbass,” the president stressed.

He conveyed Moscow’s gratitude to BRICS members, which he said are working to resolve the situation “in a fair way through peaceful means.”

Two killed in Russian attack on school

At least two teachers were killed and three other people were wounded in a Russian attack on a school in Romny, the Interior Minister has stated.

Ihor Klymenko said two other school workers were still under the rubble in Romny, which is part of the Sumy region.

The regional military administration said a drone fired by Russia had hit the school at 10:05 a.m.

“The school building was destroyed, and this is just before the school year, which unfortunately will never start for some,” Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets stated.

Russia: Three killed in Ukrainian drone attack in Belgorod

The governor of the Russian border region of Belgorod stated a Ukrainian drone attack has killed three people in the area.

“Three civilians have been killed,” Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a social media post.

“The Ukrainian forces launched an explosive device through a drone when people were on the street,” he added.

Lithuanian president visits Kyiv ahead of Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda is visiting Ukraine ahead of the country’s Independence Day celebrations on Thursday.

Lithuania has been a strong supporter of Ukraine since the start of the war and has pushed for a robust response to counter Russia.

In a post Wednesday on X, formerly known as Twitter, Nausėda shared a photo of himself arriving in Kyiv via train.

“Back in Kyiv to celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day together with the brotherly Ukrainian nation. Ukraine’s victory is near!” he wrote.

Ukrainians will commemorate the country’s 1991 declaration of independence Thursday, a year after Kyiv banned celebrations over fears of potential Russian attacks.

Russia warns Georgian breakaway regions could be annexed

Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy secretary of the Kremlin’s powerful Security Council, has warned that Moscow could annex Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Reuters news agency reported.

Medvedev, who has cast himself as one of Moscow’s most hawkish political voices since Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, accused the West in a newspaper article published on Wednesday of creating tension over Georgia by discussing its possible membership in the NATO military alliance.

“The idea of joining Russia is still popular in Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Medvedev, a former Russian president, wrote in an article published by the Argumenty I Fakty newspaper.

“It could quite possibly be implemented if there are good reasons for that,” he said in the article.

While Russian relations with Georgia have improved since Tbilisi and Moscow fought a brief but bloody war in 2008 over the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, Medvedev said that Moscow would not hesitate to act if concerns regarding possible NATO admission come close to being a reality.

“We will not wait if our concerns become closer to reality,” Medvedev added in the article, referring to possible annexation.

Georgian officials have repeatedly stressed they are committed to joining the United States-led NATO military alliance, viewing it as a way to preserve the territorial integrity of their country.

Moscow airports operating normally after foiled Ukrainian drone attack: Russian officials

Airports in the Moscow region are operating normally after flights were temporarily restricted Wednesday “to ensure the safety of civil aircraft,” the Russian Federal Agency for Air Transport said.

“Due to the restriction of airspace use, two airplanes left for alternate airports. Passengers of these flights were delivered to the airports of destination,” the agency added.

Earlier, Russia’s defense ministry said it had thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack, the latest in a string of aerial assaults targeting the Russian capital that have disrupted flights and brought the war home to Russians.

Russia bombs kindergarten in Kherson: Ukrainian officials

Six people were injured after Russian forces dropped guided bombs on a kindergarten and residential buildings in Ukraine’s southern Kherson city, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday.

“The attack caused a fire, which was quickly extinguished by firefighters,” stated Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson region military administration.

Kherson, a city of some 300,000 people before Russia’s invasion, was captured by Russian forces in March last year. The frontline city was liberated by Ukrainian forces about eight months later and since come under repeated Russian attacks.

Russia downs 3 drones over Moscow region: Defense ministry

Russian air defenses thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow early Wednesday, Russia’s defense ministry announced, 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 added.

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.

US military prepared to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s in the United States if needed: Official

Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated 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,” he added.

Zelensky says he is returning home from European trip with new political support and new agreements

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 stated 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 added.

Zelensky said that at “almost all the meetings,” protecting export routes “through the Black Sea and through ‘solidarity corridors’ on land” was discussed.

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 continued.

“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.

10 Balkan and European leaders sign declaration supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty

Ten Balkan and European countries signed a joint declaration to express their support for Ukraine on Tuesday in Athens.

The countries pledged “unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”

With Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also in attendance, the 10 leaders signed the eight-point declaration in a meeting marking 20 years since the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki.

The declaration also expressed support for Zelensky’s 10-point peace formula, which calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops and restoration of Ukraine’s borders.

US does not think conflict in Ukraine at a ‘stalemate’

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan says the United States does not assess the conflict in Ukraine as being at a stalemate.

“We have been clear all along that this battlefield is very dynamic. … There is attacking and defending taking place on both sides at multiple points along a very extended front line,” he told a press briefing.

“We are seeing it [Ukraine] continue to take territory on a methodical, systematic basis,” he added.

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