Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 577

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:

US is “directly at war” with Russia: FM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the United States and other allies of Ukraine are “directly at war” with Moscow.

Lavrov had been asked by a journalist at what point the US becomes directly involved in war against Russia, as opposed to engaged in a proxy conflict.

“You can call this whatever you want to call this, but they are directly at war with us. We can call this a hybrid war, but that doesn’t change the reality,” Lavrov said.

“They are effectively engaged in hostilities with us, using the Ukrainians as fodder,” he continued.

The foreign minister added the US, the United Kingdom and many others are “waging war” against Russia and are engaged in hostilities against the country.

Lavrov said the US and other countries are delivering greater and greater quantities of weapons to Kyiv, while military satellites and intelligence aircraft from the countries are also used against Moscow.

Moscow has often framed its invasion of Ukraine, which it usually refers to as a “special military operation,” as a struggle against attempts by Western powers to dominate on a global stage.

Kyiv’s allies and international bodies have dismissed this characterization, saying they are helping defend Ukraine from an unprovoked invasion and attempt to seize territory.

Russia blames UN and Ukraine for grain deal’s collapse

Speaking Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal on what he described as broken promises by Ukraine and the United Nations.

In remarks after his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Lavrov said Russia left the crucial deal because “everything that was promised to us turned out to be a deception.”

Lavrov stated the deal — which was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July 2022, but fell apart a year later — rested on guarantees to both Kyiv and Moscow.

“If the Ukrainian part of the package was carried out quite efficiently and quickly, then the Russian part was not carried out at all,” Lavrov continued.

As grain began to flow through reopened Black Sea corridors, Ukraine used those same passages to launch drone attacks on Russian ships, the foreign minister claimed.

“We warned several times. This also did not stop,” he added.

The deal became necessary after Russia invaded Ukraine and placed a blockade on its Black Sea ports. The pact had allowed Ukraine to once again export grain by sea, with ships bypassing the blockade and navigating safe passage through the waterway to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait in order to reach global markets.

Moscow complained throughout the deal that while Ukrainian grain was allowed to flow, Russia was prevented by various sanctions from adequately exporting its own foodstuffs. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the stated objective of the deal – supplying grain to countries in need – had “not been realized,” because of Russia’s export obstacles.

Ukraine has launched numerous attacks on targets in the Black Sea, including Russian ships and naval bases. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters was targeted in a major strike on Friday.

Ukrainian officials say attacks on Russian targets in the Black Sea are justified because Moscow is occupying Kyiv’s territorial waters.

3 more ships pass through designated Black Sea corridors to load at Ukrainian ports

Three more ships passed through humanitarian corridors in the Black Sea to load at Ukrainian ports this week, US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink said Saturday.

“Two outbound ships carrying grain destined for ports in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are now on their way to the Bosphorus,” Brink added in a post on X, formally known as Twitter.

“Despite Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Ukraine continues its efforts to feed the world.”

Russia pulled out of a UN and Turkish brokered deal in July that had allowed Ukraine to export grain via Black Sea shipments. Moscow warned that any ships headed to Ukraine would be treated as potentially carrying weapons.

Last month, the Ukrainian navy issued an order declaring “temporary corridors” for merchant ships sailing to and from Ukrainian ports, though it admitted there was still a threat of encountering mines or attacks by Russia along all routes.

NATO looks to bolster drone-tackling expertise

Representatives from 57 companies have visited a military base in the Dutch town of Vredepeel to present their systems to the NATO brass.

The systems they offer are designed to counter threats ranging from off-the-shelf drones available to the public to the Iranian Shahed drones used by Russia’s forces.

“The best way to kill a Shahed is a jet”, meaning a jet-propelled drone, according to Ludwig Fruhauf, head of DDTS, a German firm specialised in anti-drone defences.

Fruhauf told AFP that signal “jamming” would be a solution, sending the device off-course rather than capturing it.

In some cases, the best method is to catch or redirect the drone. Argus Interception, another German company, has developed a sort of “fishing net” to be used against enemy devices.

Ukrainian peace plan isn’t “realistic”: Moscow

Ukraine’s blueprint for peace is not “feasible” or “realistic,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday in a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Lavrov stated everyone understands that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s peace formula — which he has said cannot include ceding any territory to Russia — is not feasible.

But “at the same time, everyone says this is only conditions for negotiation,” Lavrov added.

The foreign minister was asked if Moscow would hold talks with the Ukrainian government if Zelensky withdrew his decree preventing negotiations with Russia. He responded by saying that’s not what Ukraine is doing, saying Zelensky is instead “going throughout the world asking for money” and weapons and attention.

Zelensky presented Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year.

The steps include a path to nuclear safety and food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes, and a final peace treaty with Moscow.

Zelensky — who initially proposed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early days of Moscow’s invasion — has expressed concerns about negotiating with Russia, pointing to its past record of reneging on agreements.

In an earlier speech at the UNGA Saturday, Lavrov also slammed the US, European Union and NATO military alliance for their support of Ukraine, calling the West an “empire of lies.”

The foreign minister stressed governments supporting Ukraine were part of an effort to “divide the world into democracies and autocracies and dictate only their own neocolonial rules to everyone.”

Moscow has justified its invasion of Ukraine, which it usually refers to as a “special military operation,” by framing it as a campaign of “denazification” — a description dismissed by historians and political observers — and as a struggle against Western powers who want to destroy Russia.

The two-week UNGA summit has brought together 140 heads of state and government, and featured addresses from US President Joe Biden and Ukraine’sZelensky.

Putin, who now risks arrest when he travels, is not expected to attend any portion of the gathering.

Russia remains a member of the UN Security Council, despite multiple demands from the council to end the war in Ukraine. Zelensky called this week for the Security Council to remove Russia’s veto power, arguing “this will be the first necessary step.”

Russian FM calls West ’empire of lies’, accuses it of colonialism

In his address to the United Nation’s General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Americans and Europeans of failing to keep “all sorts of promises”, including legally binding ones, and of exercising “quasi-colonial methods of subjugation.”

“Our future is being shaped by a struggle, a struggle between the global majority, in favour of a fair distribution of global benefits… and the few who wield near-colonial methods of subjugation in order to maintain their dominance, which is slipping through their fingers,” Russia’s foreign minister said.

“The collective West has … long rejected the principle of equality, looking down to the rest of the world,” he stated, adding that Western countries did not keep their promises, including a NATO pledge not to expand eastwards towards Russia.

“As [Russian President Vladimir] Putin pointed out, the West is the one who is truly an empire of lies,” he continued.

Lavrov has also taken aim at the United States during his speech at the UN General Assembly, saying Washington and its allies are “doing everything they can to prevent the formation of a genuine multipolar world order”.

“The US and its subordinated collective continue to fuel conflicts which artificially divide humanity into hostile blocks and hamper the achievement of overall aims,” Lavrov stated.

“They are trying to force the world to play according to their own self-centred rules.”

He urged Western leaders to re-read the UN charter, which underscores the “sovereign equality of states large and small irrespective of their form of government”.

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