Here is the situation on Tuesday, October 17, 2023.
- General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said Russia was aiming to break through Ukrainian defences in the northeastern Kupiansk-Lyman area, adding that fighting there had “significantly escalated”.
- Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that the Russian army was continuing its military operations in Ukraine in areas where it could improve its position.
- Russia launched five missiles and 12 kamikaze drones at Ukraine. Ukraine’s Air Force said it shot down two of the missiles, which targeted northern and eastern regions, and 11 of the drones, which were launched in several directions but with a particular focus on western Ukraine.
- Filip Pronin, the governor of the eastern region of Poltava, said the area had been attacked by drones and missiles and that three civilians were injured and sent to hospital. Artillery shelling and air attacks also hit the Zaporizhia region, damaging several residential buildings and injuring one elderly woman, the governor there said.
- A group of about 200 relatives of Ukrainian soldiers missing in action or taken prisoner held a protest in Kyiv’s Independence Square, accusing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the country’s military leadership of failing to help them. The group of mostly women said they would rather know for sure the fate of their loved ones, even if they had been killed.
Sources told the Reuters news agency that a Liberian-flagged oil products tanker hit a mine on Sunday in the Black Sea off the coast of Romania. The ship sustained minor damage and the crew was safe. It was the second vessel this month to have been hit by a floating mine in the Black Sea.
Politics and diplomacy
- Qatar said its mediators succeeded in securing a Russian agreement for the return of four Ukrainian children to their families in what is hoped to be the first phase of many more repatriations. The children, the youngest just two years old, have been released to Qatari diplomats. Ukraine says up to 20,000 children have been taken by Russia into the country or territory that it occupies. The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest for the alleged forced transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said support for Ukraine remained a “top priority” for the United States and that the administration of President Joe Biden was committed to supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes”. Yellen said officials would fight to ensure a bipartisan majority in the US Congress enacted “robust” and uninterrupted assistance for the country.
- German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said the US’s role was indispensable in meeting Ukraine’s financial needs. “The transatlantic partnership is of paramount importance for Europe as a whole, not only in economic terms, but especially because of our shared values,” Lindner said at a meeting in Luxembourg.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the military conflict in Ukraine and its resolution by “political and diplomatic methods” during bilateral talks in Beijing with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
- Moscow said Lavrov will travel to North Korea from October 18-19, amid concern Pyongyang might supply Russia with munitions and military equipment for use against Ukraine.
Vladimir Yermakov, head of the Russian foreign ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, said the planned withdrawal of its ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) banning nuclear tests does not mean that it intends to conduct such a test. Russia’s lower house, the State Duma, is due to vote on Tuesday on a bill to reverse the ratification.
- Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told Russia’s parliament that Moscow will spend more than 60 billion roubles ($618m) on a new national drone manufacturing project because most of its existing drones are from China. “The task is that 41 percent of all drones by 2025 should have the label ‘Made in Russia’.”