Ukraine said its forces had broken a Russian line of defence and recaptured small clutches of land near Bakhmut and along the southern front, regions where Kyiv’s troops have focused their slow-moving counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in New York on Monday ahead of his address to the UN General Assembly and a scheduled meeting with US President Joe Biden. Read our blog to see how the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
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04:30am: Drones attack Ukraine’s Lviv, explosions heard
Drones attacked Ukraine’s western city of Lviv early Tuesday and explosions rang out as the city mayor said a strike had set fire to a warehouse.
Several waves of drones buzzed overheard starting around 0130 GMT and an AFP journalist heard numerous explosions and movements of heavy vehicles through the streets during the nightly curfew.
The city’s mayor, Andriy Sadoviy, wrote on Telegram that “air defences are operating in our region”, telling people to seek shelter.
Sadoviy later added: “Explosions are heard. As a result of a strike on Lviv, there is a fire at an industrial warehouse. All the necessary services have gone to the site.”
Ukraine’s air forces wrote on Telegram that “the threat of Shahed (drones) remains in the Lviv region. Air defences are operating”.
03:00am: Heading for UN, Ukraine’s president questions why Russia still has a place there
Days before potentially crossing paths with Russia’s top diplomat at the United Nations, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested Monday that the world body needs to answer for allowing his country’s invader a seat at the tables of power.
“For us, it’s very important that all our words, all our messages, will be heard by our partners. And if in the United Nations still — it’s a pity, but still — there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question is not to me. I think it’s a question to all the members of the United Nations,” Zelensky said after visiting wounded Ukrainian military members at a New York hospital.
Zelensky is due to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday and speak Wednesday at a UN Security Council meeting about Ukraine. Russia is a permanent, veto-wielding member of the council, and Foreign Minister Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to make remarks.
Asked whether he’d stay in the room to listen, Zelensky said, “I don’t know how it will be, really.”
02:02am: Iran’s president denies sending drones to Russia and decries US meddling
Iran’s president on Monday denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, even as the United States accuses Iran of not only providing the weapons but helping Russia build a plant to manufacture them.
“We are against the war in Ukraine,” President Ebrahim Raisi said as he met with media executives on the sidelines of the world’s premier global conference, the high-level leaders’ meeting at the UN General Assembly.
The Iranian leader spoke just hours after five Americans who had been held in Iranian custody arrived in Qatar, freed in a deal that saw President Joe Biden agree to unlock nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.
Raisi acknowledged that Iran and Russia have long had strong ties, including defense cooperation. But he denied sending weapons to Moscow since the war began. “If they have a document that Iran gave weapons or drones to the Russians after the war,” he said, then they should produce it.
Iranian officials have made a series of contradictory comments about the drones.
US and European officials say the sheer number of Iranian drones being used in the war in Ukraine shows that the flow of such weapons has not only continued but intensified after hostilities began.
Despite his remarks about trust, Raisi’s tone toward the United States wasn’t all conciliatory; he had harsh words at other moments.
Raisi said his country “sought good relations with all neighboring countries” in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
23:55pm: Russian missiles hit industrial area of Ukraine’s second largest city, says mayor
Russia launched a missile attack on Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, on Monday, striking an industrial district, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
“There is information about hitting an industrial zone in the city’s Kholodnohirsky district,” Terekhov said on Telegram.
Terekhov provided no further information on casualties or damage. Telegram channels reported explosions in the city.
10:02pm: Ukrainian leader arrives in US for Biden talks, UN gathering
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived in New York ahead of his address to the UN General Assembly and a scheduled meeting with President Joe Biden.
“Olena Zelenska and I arrived in the United States for the high-level week of the UN General Assembly and a visit to Washington DC,” Zelensky said on X, formerly Twitter.
The Ukrainian president said he would “thank the United States on behalf of Ukraine for its assistance in our struggle for independence and freedom”.
Olena @ZelenskaUA and I arrived in the United States for the high-level week of the UN General Assembly and a visit to Washington, D.C.
I will attend the General Assembly, SDG Summit, and Security Council meetings at the UN, as well as a number of important bilateral talks.…
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 18, 2023
9:15pm: Zelensky to meet Brazil’s Lula in New York on Wednesday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will meet Wednesday in New York, the Brazilian president’s office has said, after previous attempts at a sit-down fell through.
Lula, who has faced accusations in the West of being soft on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, will meet with Zelensky after a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Lula’s office said.
Relations are tense between Zelensky and Lula, who has said his Ukrainian counterpart is “as responsible as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin” for the war and accused the United States of “encouraging” the war.
7:55pm: Georgia accuses Ukrainian official of plotting coup
Georgia has accused a senior Ukrainian official of plotting to overthrow the Black Sea nation’s government by organising mass unrest, in the latest episode of escalating tensions between the former Soviet countries.
Kyiv said the claim was “untrue” and called it a Georgian attempt to “demonise” the war-torn country.
Georgian security services said the deputy chief of Ukraine’s military counterintelligence and Georgia’s former deputy interior minister, Giorgi Lortkipanidze, were plotting “destabilisation aimed at a violent overthrow of the government”.
The security services said Georgians fighting Russian forces in Ukraine, including a bodyguard of Georgia’s jailed ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, were among the conspirators being trained near Ukraine’s border with Poland.
Ukraine has repeatedly called for Georgia to release Saakashvili, who is now a Ukrainian national and a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
7:45pm: Germany to give €400 million in aid, weapons to Ukraine
Germany will give another €400 million ($428 million) of weapons and aid to Ukraine as it fights back against Russia, Berlin has announced ahead of key talks among Kyiv’s allies on the conflict.
“We are supplying additional ammunition,” Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told top German daily Bild, adding that vehicles, mine-clearing systems and aid, like clothing and power generators, would also be included in the new package.
6:55pm: Ukraine files lawsuit against EU neighbours over grain import ban
Kyiv says it has filed lawsuits at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against its three EU neighbours – Poland, Slovakia and Hungary – over their bans on Ukrainian grain imports.
“It is crucially important for us to prove that individual member states cannot ban imports of Ukrainian goods,” Ukraine’s economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko said in a statement. “That is why we are filing lawsuits against them.”
5:50pm: Bakhmut progress of symbolic and strategic value to Ukraine
Kyiv’s recapture of Klishchiivka, a village south of Bakhmut, has a highly symbolic value for Ukrainian forces, says FRANCE 24’s correspondent Gulliver Cragg, reporting from Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region.
“But there is also a strategic dimension to Ukraine’s efforts to retake Bakhmut,” Cragg adds.
“It obliges the Russian army to maintain a force of 50,000 men to defend that area, which the Ukrainians hope could give them an advantage here in the south of the country where the most important thrust of the counteroffensive is still underway.”
4:55pm: Ukraine says breaks Russian defence line near Bakhmut
Ukraine says its forces have broken through a Russian line of defence near the eastern town of Bakhmut amid fierce fighting in the area.
“Fierce fighting continues in the area of Bakhmut… As a result of the successful actions of our troops, the enemy’s defence line was broken,” Ukraine’s ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said.
The announcement comes a day after Kyiv said its forces had retaken Klishchiivka, a village south of Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian forces in May after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war.
4:35pm: Russia summons French envoy over reporters’ exclusion from Macron briefing
The Russian foreign ministry says it summoned French ambassador Pierre Lévy to protest over what it called the “discriminatory and openly Russophobic” actions of French authorities against Russian journalists at the recent G20 summit in New Delhi.
It said reporters of RIA Novosti and the editor-in-chief of Russia-News were “rudely denied” access to the press conference of French President Emmanuel Macron.
3:55pm: EU braces for tussle over 12th sanctions package against Russia
The European Union is gearing up for a fight over what should be included in its 12th package of sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine, Bloomberg News reports.
The new measures, which could be presented as early as next month, would likely include the EU’s version of the upcoming G7 ban on purchases of Russian diamonds, the report says, citing people familiar with discussions.
EU members could also examine a long-awaited proposal to use the profits generated by frozen central bank assets to aid Kyiv.
2:22pm: Blasts heard at govt headquarters in Russian-held Donetsk
Multiple blasts have been heard at the headquarters of the Russian-installed local authorities in the city of Donetsk in east Ukraine, the Russian state news agency RIA reports.
Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-installed local governor, confirmed at least one blast, adding that there were no casualties.
The city’s Russian-installed mayor earlier said in a statement on Telegram that central Donetsk was under fire, without giving further details.
12:52pm: Romania may extend trade ban on Ukrainian grain if import requests rise, PM says
Romania would look to extend a trade ban on Ukrainian grain for 30 days if import requests rise, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said on Monday, after a European Commission-endorsed ban of imports into Ukraine’s five neighbours expired last week.
Romania is one of five eastern EU countries alongside Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia that saw a surge of Ukrainian grain imports after the start of the war, which distorted local markets and prompted protests from farmers, leading the EU to approve trade restrictions – while still allowing transit – until September 15.
11:46am: Russia slams Ukraine’s point of view in ‘genocide’ case at top UN court
Russia hit out at Ukraine at the International Court of Justice on Monday, as the warring countries squared off in a legal case over Moscow’s claim that “genocide” in eastern Ukraine was a pretext for last year’s invasion.
Moscow’s representative, Gennady Kuzmin, said Ukraine’s case that Russia “abused” the United Nations Genocide Convention as a reason to launch its war against its neighbour in February 2022 “couldn’t be further from the truth”.
10:56am: Ukraine government dismisses deputy defence ministers including Maliar
Ukraine has announced the dismissal of six deputy defence ministers including Hanna Maliar, who has provided frequent updates on the war against Russia’s invading forces.
The other fired deputy ministers include Vitalii Deyneha, Denys Sharapov and the defence ministry’s state secretary, Kostiantyn Vashchenko.
Kyiv provided no explanation of the firings, but the government has been investigating accusations of corruption in the military related to purchasing equipment.
The move comes two weeks after the dismissal of Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who was replaced by Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar lawmaker.
10:19am: Human rights situation in Russia has ‘significantly deteriorated’ since start of Ukraine war, says UN expert
The rights situation inside Russia has substantially worsened since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, a top UN expert said Monday, decrying a “systematic crackdown” on civil society.
“The situation of human rights in the Russian Federation has significantly deteriorated since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights situation in the country, Mariana Katzarova, said in her first report.
10:09am: Ukraine plans to sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over food import ban
Ukraine plans to sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over their bans on Ukrainian agricultural products, Politico quoted Ukrainian Trade Representative Taras Kachka as saying in an interview published on Monday.
He said Ukraine could also impose reciprocal measures on Poland if Warsaw did not drop its additional measures.
“We would be forced to retaliate on the additional products, and would prohibit the import of fruit and vegetables from Poland,” Politico quoted Kachka as saying.
9:21am: At least two people killed in overnight Russian attacks in Kherson region
Russia carried out a new wave of overnight air strikes and shelling in Ukraine, killing two people in the southern region of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said on Monday.
Kherson region Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said a man aged 72 and an elderly woman had been killed in a Russian attack on the region, and three others were wounded, but gave no further details.
He said four others were hurt in a morning drone attack on the town of Beryl, adding: “The occupiers deliberately attacked a crowded place, dropping explosives near the local bus station.”
9:05am: Ukraine says recaptured 7 square kilometres from Russian forces last week
Ukraine said Monday its forces had recaptured small clutches of land from Russian forces in the south and east of the country, where Kyiv’s troops have focused a months-long counteroffensive.
“Two square kilometres were liberated in the Bakhmut sector,” Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar told state media, referring to the war-battered city in the east, adding: “Defence forces in the south liberated 5.2 square kilometres of territory.”
7:38am: Ukraine says it downed 18 drones, 17 missiles in overnight attack
Ukraine said on Monday it downed 18 Russian drones and 17 cruise missiles attacking its territory overnight.
Russia launched 24 drones at the Ukrainian southern regions of Odesa and Mykolaiv overnight, Ukraine’s air force said in a post on Telegram.
It added that all of the 17 missiles were destroyed over the Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava and Khmelnytskyi regions.
6:17am: Clinton Global Initiative will launch network to provide new humanitarian aid to Ukrainians
The Clinton Global Initiative will announce the launch of the CGI Ukraine Action Network, as well as numerous financial pledges, to support nonprofits working in the country, as the annual conference opens in New York on Monday morning.
The CGI Ukraine Action Network is the result of a collaboration between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Olena Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine, that began last year.
4:57am: Russia says more Ukrainian drones downed over Crimea
Russia said it repelled Ukrainian drone attacks over several parts of Crimea, outer Moscow and two border regions on Sunday.
“Drones were intercepted over the western, southwestern, northwestern and eastern parts of the Crimean peninsula; Istra and Domodedovo districts of Moscow region, Belgorod and Voronezh regions,” Russia’s defence ministry said on Telegram in the round-up of Sunday’s attacks.
Crimea has been targeted by Ukraine throughout Russia’s war but attacks there have recently intensified as Kyiv vows to recapture the Black Sea peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
And since Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in early June, Russia has weathered waves of drone attacks that have sporadically damaged buildings, including in the capital Moscow.
4:44am: North Korean leader ends Russia trip with ‘heartfelt thanks’ to Putin
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to President Vladimir Putin, state media said Monday, as he headed home after nearly a week in Russia on a defence-focused trip.
Kim’s tour of Russia’s Far East, which began Tuesday, has showcased potential military ties, with North Korea’s leader inspecting everything from Russian space rockets to submarines, and including a symbolic exchange of rifles with Putin.
The trip has fanned Western fears that the isolated, nuclear-armed country could provide Moscow with weapons for its war in Ukraine.
4:02am: Ukraine and Russia to clash at top UN court
Russia and Ukraine will face off at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from Monday over Moscow’s claim that “genocide” in eastern Ukraine was a pretext for its invasion of the country.
Representatives from the two nations will go head-to-head at the sumptuous Peace Palace in The Hague over whether the top UN court has the jurisdiction to order a halt to Russia’s ongoing war.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the February 24, 2022 invasion, part of his reasoning was that pro-Russian people in eastern Ukraine had been “subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kyiv regime”.
Two days into the invasion, Ukraine filed suit at the ICJ, “emphatically denying” this and arguing that Russia’s use of “genocide” as a pretext went against the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.
3:15am: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi starting visit to Russia today
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi will visit Russia from today to Thursday for security talks, his foreign ministry said Monday, the latest in a series of high-level visits and phone calls between the countries.
China and Russia are strategic allies, with both countries frequently touting their “no limits” partnership and economic and military cooperation.
Key developments from Sunday, September 17:
Two cargo ships arrived in one of Ukraine’s ports over the weekend, using a temporary Black Sea corridor established by Kyiv following Russia’s withdrawal from an agreement meant to ensure safe grain exports from the invaded country’s ports.
Ukraine said Sunday that its forces had retaken Klishchiivka, a tactically important town south of the key frontline city of Bakhmut, as it pursues a counterattack against Russian forces.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned that there will not be a swift end to the war in Ukraine in an interview published Sunday.
“Most wars last longer than expected when they first begin,” Stoltenberg said to Germany’s Funke media group. “Therefore we must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine.”
Read yesterday’s liveblog to see how the day’s events unfolded.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters and AP)