‘Ukraine retakes oil platforms in Crimea’ • ‘Russia wants to recruit 420,000 soldiers’

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In this live blog you can read the most important developments surrounding the war in Ukraine.

  • ‘Ukrainian colonel asks for pardon for British ‘deserter”.
  • Defense Minister: Ukraine is making progress in the east and south.
  • US army chief: ‘Ukraine still has 30 days before the weather turns’

Ukraine retakes oil rigs near Crimea

Ukraine’s military intelligence says the army has recaptured a number of offshore oil rigs in the Black Sea near Crimea. The platforms had been in Russian hands since 2015 and have since been used for various military purposes, for example to land helicopters.

The platforms are back in Ukrainian hands after a “unique (military) operation”, the intelligence service says. “During one phase of this operation, a battle took place between Ukrainian special forces on boats and a Russian Su-30 fighter jet. As a result of the battle, the Russian aircraft was damaged and forced to withdraw,” it said.

According to the service, the men who carried out the operation also seized various items, including helicopter ammunition and radar equipment, which can be used to track the movements of ships in the Black Sea. It is not clear whether there were any fatalities or injuries during the operation. It has also not been verified whether the platforms are indeed back in Ukrainian hands.

Russia wants to recruit 420,000 soldiers

Russia aims to recruit around 420,000 people to the war in Ukraine by the end of the year. The British Ministry of Defense reports this in its daily report intelligence update. The British note that Dmitry Medvedev, as head of the Russian security council, reported this weekend that 280,000 people had already been recruited.

According to the British, conscription in Russia is leading to massive workforce shortages in industry, while the IT sector has “taken steps to retain the workforce”. The ministry suspects that the Russian authorities want to avoid further unpopular mobilizations in the run-up to the presidential elections in March 2024.

Russia has been trying to increase mobilization for some time and at the same time keep the economy afloat. For example, new laws were tightened at an emergency pace this year to tackle evasion of military service. There is also an active search for migrant workers from Central Asia to work in Russia and serve in the army. Visa conditions for migrant workers from neighboring countries have been relaxed and those who sign up for the Russian army can receive a Russian passport within a year. Previously this took five years.

More about that in the articles below:

  • Russia recruits migrant workers from Central Asia for war in Ukraine
  • Russia recruits soldiers online: ‘You can’t hide anymore’

“Ukrainian colonel asks for pardon for British ‘deserter'”

A decorated Ukrainian commander has urged President Zelensky to intervene in the case of a British soldier sentenced to a year in prison at home. This is what the British newspaper The Guardian writes. Alexander Garms-Rizzi (21) was convicted for leaving his army unit in Estonia to fight in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.

Garns-Rizzi fought on the front lines near the southern city of Mykolaiv for six months before returning to Britain. In July this year, he was imprisoned and sentenced to a year in prison in a military detention center. He received that punishment because he left the army and joined the Ukrainian armed forces. He had ignored orders and “created a security risk”. British soldiers had been explicitly told not to do anything that would drag Britain into the war in Ukraine.

Now Roman Kostenko, politician and colonel of the Ukrainian Commando Forces, has stated in a letter that Garms-Rizzi had served under his personal command in Ukraine. He asks Zelensky to discuss the matter with Downing Street and argue for a pardon.

The letter states: “I had the opportunity to meet him personally on the battlefield and see how, as part of a group, he selflessly and bravely defended our country. Despite his young age – and at that time he was 19 years old – he understood the strategic importance of the defense of Ukraine. I ask you to appeal to the leaders of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and Northern Ireland to consider the possibility of a pardon.”

Defense Minister: Ukraine is making progress in the east and south

Ukrainian forces have regained more territory on the eastern and southern fronts. This was reported by the Deputy Minister of Defense, Hanna Maliar. Armed forces have in the past week retaken almost two square kilometers of land around the destroyed eastern city of Bachmut, which was captured by Russian forces in May after months of grueling fighting, according to Maliar.

According to the defense minister, Ukrainian forces have captured part of the village of Opytne south of the city of Avdiivka. They also had “partial success” at the village of Novomajorske in the eastern Donetsk region. Maliar also reports “some success” near Andriivka and Klishchiivka, a village south of Bachmut that is considered crucial to securing control of the city.

Smoke rises over buildings after a shelling in Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine

The Ukrainian army has liberated 49 square kilometers near Bachmut since the start of the three-month counter-offensive, Maliar said. In the south, where Ukrainian forces are trying to advance towards the Sea of ​​Azov in an attempt to split Russian forces, 1.5 square kilometers are said to have been retaken in the past week.

Maliar added that Ukrainian forces achieved successes south of the villages of Robotyne and west of Verbove in the Zaporizhia region. Kyiv’s advance is hampered by extensive Russian minefields and trenches. Maliar’s comments cannot be verified and Russia has not confirmed the Ukrainian claims.

Brazilian President Lula backtracks from comments about Putin

Brazilian President Lula da Silva has backtracked from his comments this weekend about Russian President Putin. Lula said this weekend that he will personally ensure that Putin is not arrested at the next G20 summit, next year in Rio de Janeiro.

“As long as I am president of Brazil and he comes to Brazil, it is impossible that he will be arrested,” Lula said. Those words were notable because in March the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin for the deportation of hundreds of children from Ukraine. Because Brazil is a member of the ICC, the country is obliged to arrest Putin as soon as he sets foot there.

Speaking to reporters today, Lula changed course and said: “I don’t know if the Brazilian justice system will arrest him. It is the judiciary that decides, not the government.”

Since the war in Ukraine, Putin has rarely left Russia. For example, he has repeatedly skipped international meetings and he was also not present at the G20 meeting in Delhi last weekend.

German Foreign Minister in Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is visiting Ukraine today. It is the fourth time since the start of the war in Ukraine that the Green Party politician has visited the country. Baerbock arrived in Kyiv this morning for a visit that was initially kept secret for security reasons.

Upon her arrival, Baerbock promised that Germany will support Ukraine to become a member of the European Union. She also urged further reforms, for example in the fight against corruption.

Baerbock further said that Germany will “support Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression: economic, military, humanitarian.”

US army chief: ‘Ukraine still has 30 days before the weather turns’

According to the top US general, Ukraine has just over a month before weather conditions will hamper the counter-offensive. According to General Mark Milley, it is much more difficult for Ukrainian forces to move in colder weather.

In an interview with the BBC, he said that the counter-offensive is progressing much slower than expected, although he believes gains are still being made. “There is still heavy fighting. The Ukrainians are still making steady progress.” The counter-offensive started this summer with the aim of expelling the Russian occupier. So far, territorial gains have been limited. According to Milley, it is too early to say whether the counter-offensive has failed.

According to the American general, there are probably still about 30 to 45 days of good weather left for combat operations, so the work for the Ukrainian army is not over yet. “I said at the beginning of this war that it would be a long, slow, hard war with many casualties and that is exactly what it is.”

Russia says it has shot down drones near Belgorod

Russian air defenses shot down two Ukrainian drones near Belgorod last night. The Russian Ministry of Defense said this on Telegram. No injuries were reported and the drone debris reportedly fell on a road.

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