Ukraine president, Zelenskyy, unhurt after car accident
UKRAINIAN President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s car was involved in an accident in Kyiv, according to officials, but he was not seriously hurt.
“The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found,” Zelenskyy’s spokesperson Serhii Nykyforov said in a Facebook post.
Nykyforov added that medics traveling with the president administered first aid to the driver of the other vehicle.
He did not clarify exactly when the traffic accident occurred.
Earlier, on Wednesday, Zelenskyy visited the city of Izyum days after it was liberated from Russian occupation. He participated in a ceremony to hoist the flag of Ukraine.
Located in the northeastern province of Kharkiv, Izyum lies close to the contested region of Donetsk and had been a strategically key center for Russian ambitions in the area.
Photos showed the president greeting soldiers who have been part of Ukraine’s rapid counteroffensive that has pushed Russian forces out of several towns and cities.
“We are moving only in one direction — forward and until victory,” Zelenskyy said during his visit.
Here’s a roundup of some of the other key developments regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on September 14.
Russian missile attack causes flooding in Kryvyi Rih
The southern Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih faced rising water levels in the Inhulets River after Russia fired eight cruise missiles at local infrastructure.
“Rockets were directed at hydraulic structures. This caused water level of (the) Inhulets river to increase, threatening the city,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister, wrote on Twitter.
“The terrorist state continues to wage a war against civilians. This time — missile strikes on hydraulic structures and an attempt to flood Kryvyi Rih,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.
He added that Russians want “to sow panic, create an emergency situation, try to leave people without light, heat, water and food,” but they won’t “break” Ukrainians.
Scholz says Putin still doesn’t see Ukraine war as ‘mistake’
Russian President Vladimir Putin “unfortunately” does not seem to have realized yet that the decision to invade Ukraine is a mistake, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, commenting on a 90-minute-long phone call with Putin on Tuesday.
“Sadly, I cannot tell you that the impression has grown that it was a mistake to begin this war. And there was no indication that new attitudes are emerging,” Scholz said.
The exit of Russian troops from Ukraine was the only way for “peace to have a chance in the region,” Scholz added.
While Putin’s positions did not appear to have shifted, the German chancellor said it was necessary to remain in conversation with the Russian leader.
“It is right to speak with each other and to say what there is to say on this subject,” Scholz said.
UN chief spoke with Putin about grain deal and fertilizer
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he spoke with Russia’s Vladimir Putin about the Black Sea grain export deal, prisoners of war and the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Guterres also said it was “absolutely essential” that obstacles to the export of Russian fertilizer were overcome.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed that the United Nations had started talks on reopening an ammonia pipeline from Russia to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa.
“Ukraine did not initiate these talks; this is an initiative from the UN,” Kuleba said at a news conference in Odesa, adding that Ukraine would not approve any deal that contradicted its national security interests.
EU countries agree to extend Russia sanctions
Hungary refrained from blocking the extension of the European Union’s sanctions on Russia. The formal procedure to renew the sanctions for another six months was completed on time, a spokesperson for the Czech EU Council presidency told dpa.
Sanctions are considered a temporary measure and have to be renewed periodically. If Hungary would have blocked the extension, the sanctions would have expired this week. The extension is official once the decision is published in the EU Official Journal.
The sanctions were levied due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. They include punitive measures against more than 1,200 individuals for their support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policies.
1.3 million Ukrainian refugees live in Poland
According to the Polish government, around 1.3 million refugees from Ukraine are currently living in Poland.
Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker told public broadcaster Polskie Radio that recently many Ukrainians left Poland and returned to Ukraine.
Szefernaker also said that around 600,000 working-age Ukrainian refugees have been given a temporary personal identification number, making it easier to deal with authorities and the state health system in Poland. More than 400,000 people from this group have already found legal work.
In the months following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Poland had taken in a very large number of Ukrainian refugees. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke in June of more than two million people who had found protection in his country.
Kremlin says other regions besides Europe want to buy Russian gas
The Kremlin played down the impact of lost gas sales to Europe, saying there were other countries willing to buy Russian energy as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Moscow.
Asked whether a long-term halt to gas exports to Europe would prove impossible in the long run, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said other buyers could offset European demand.
“There are regions developing at a much faster pace … they can compensate for the (reduced) demand for (Russian) gas in Europe,” he said.
Since the start of Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has pledged to reduce its reliance on Russian energy.
UK: Ukrainian military likely shot Iran-made drone
The Ukrainian military has likely shot down an Iran-made drone used by Russia, the UK confirmed on Wednesday.
The Ukrainian side encountered the triangle, or delta-shaped drone known as the Shahed-136 near Kupiansk, a city in Kharkiv.
The military’s Strategic Communications Directorate published images of the wreckage of the drone, that is believed to have a range of around 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) on Tuesday.
This information was corroborated by the latest UK military intelligence report that said that “Russia has highly likely deployed Iranian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV) in Ukraine for the first time” in the six-month war.
The intelligence report warned that this was a sign that “Russia is almost certainly increasingly sourcing weaponry from other heavily sanctioned states like Iran and North Korea” as it runs through its own dwindling stockpile.
In July, the US had cautioned that Iran was coming to Moscow’s aid in Ukraine with hundreds of bomb-carrying drones.
Western sanctions have drawn both Russia and Iran closer. This comes even as Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers hangs by a thread.
Ukraine rushes to secure liberated regions
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Tuesday evening address that around 8,000 square km (3,100 square miles) have been liberated by Ukrainian forces so far this month and Ukraine is working to secure those regions. All of the reclaimed territory is in the Kharkiv region.
Zelenskyy said that in half the territory “stabilization measures” had been completed, and were ongoing in other areas.
Ever since the Kremlin withdrew from its main bastion in the northeast on Saturday, Ukrainian troops have made significant progress.
Their unprecedented counteroffensive has resulted in the recapture of dozens of towns.
The residents of these areas welcomed their forces with open arms.
“I was walking away …when I saw an armored personnel carrier coming onto the square with a Ukrainian flag: my heart just tightened up and I began to sob,” said Mariya Tymofiyeva, a 43-year-old resident of Balakliia, a crucial military supply hub.
Ukrainian forces are battling the Russian military in the south and east as Kyiv goes on the offensive.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said it was hard to tell if the Ukrainian counteroffensive gains are a turning point in fighting back the Russian invasion.
“It’s clear the Ukrainians have made significant progress. But I think it’s going to be a long haul,” he said.
Ukraine drafts post-war security guarantees
The Ukraine government on Tuesday highlighted the security guarantees it needs to ensure the sovereignty of the country post its war with Russia.
The plan was laid out by the administration in the presence of former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Kyiv.
It outlined the equipment and training required by the Ukrainian military from its Western allies. The plan called for multiple European countries — as well as the US, Canada, Australia and Turkey — to guarantee Ukraine’s security. At the same time Ukraine said it would continue its efforts to join NATO.
Meanwhile, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned that Ukraine’s proposal, especially to join NATO, would result in a “third world war.”
Pope decries use of religion to justify war
Pope Francis on Wednesday said that religion must never be used to justify the “evils” of war, adding that God must never “be held hostage to the human thirst for power.”
He was speaking at an interfaith conference in Kazakhstan, which included the Russian Orthodox hierarchy and other faith leaders.
Without mentioning Russia or Ukraine in his remarks the Pope called upon those present to unite in condemning the war.
Among the attendees was Metropolitan Anthony, in charge of foreign relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, a firm backer of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The church leaders have called the war a “metaphysical” battle with the West.
Calling for peace the Pope said, “If the creator, to whom we have devoted our lives, is the author of human life, how can we who call ourselves believers consent to the destruction of that life?”