Saturday, 23 September 2023 04:43

What to know after Day 576 of Russia-Ukraine war

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Poland says it will no longer supply Ukraine with weapons

The Polish government said on Thursday it will only carry out previously agreed weapons deliveries to Ukraine but has not ruled out deliveries in the future.

The latest comments come on the heels of an announcement by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who said on Wednesday that Poland would no longer send weapons to Kyiv and instead focus on its own defense.

Warsaw has also summoned Kyiv's ambassador amid a growing row over grain exports.

What did the Polish prime minister say?

"We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons," Morawiecki said.

"Ukraine is defending itself against Russia's brutal attack, and I understand this situation, but we will defend our country," he said.

His comments were made in response to a question from a reporter on whether Warsaw would continue to support Kyiv despite the disagreement over food exports.

Poland to carry out previously agreed deliveries

Poland's state assets minister Jacek Sasin confirmed the halt, but said future deliveries were not out of the question.

"At the moment it is as the prime minister said — in the future, we will see," Sasin told Polish media.

Government spokesperson Piotr Muller said on Thursday that Poland will only carry out previously agreed supplies of arms and ammunition.

He emphasized Poland's role early on in Russia's invasion, and said an international aid hub will continue to operate out of Poland.

"In the first months of the war, when other EU countries discussed support, Poland consistently helped during Russia's invasion," Muller told the Polish press agency.

Polish officials push back against criticism

Polish officials defended the move, saying that Warsaw "already sent Ukraine what it had in stocks" and that Poland was faster than other countries to send aid to Kyiv.

"I understand that there is an ongoing, heated debate but we need to see a bigger picture regarding Polish central role in helping Ukraine resist the Russian invasion," a Polish official told DW in Brussels, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The United States has also sought to allay concerns that the move could lead to splintering among Ukraine's allies.

"At the end of the day we're all human and there are moments of tension and there can be frustration on all sides," a senior US government official told DW.

"That doesn't mean that there's going to be some dramatic shift in alliance unity or even Poland's fundamental position and determination to support Ukraine for as long as it takes," they added.

Poland summons Ukrainian ambassador

Earlier Wednesday, Poland said it summoned Kyiv's ambassador over remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking about grain exports, Zelenskyy said some nations feigned solidarity with Ukraine. Warsaw denounced his comments as "unjustified concerning Poland, which has supported Ukraine since the first days of the war."

Poland has played a key role in arming Ukraine through its unilateral supply of military equipment such as MiG-29s and Leopard tanks and by allowing foreign allies to store and transport arms over the Polish border into Ukraine.

It was the first NATO member to pledge fighter jets to Ukraine in March this year and started to make deliveries in early April. Poland is also host to some one million Ukrainian refugees.

Tensions between Warsaw and Kyiv have intensified in recent days over Poland's ban on Ukrainian grain imports to protect the interests of its farmers.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shut down Black Sea shipping lanes that were used before the war. Russia agreed to a deal that allowed maritime exports from Ukraine but withdrew in July.

This has resulted in the EU becoming a vital transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.

The EU agreed to restrict imports to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia in May, with the aim of protecting farmers in those countries who complained the imports had caused a slump in prices on local markets.

The measures had meant that the products could keep transiting through the five countries but were not sold on their own markets.

However, the European Commission last week said it was ending the import ban, claiming that "the market distortions in the five member states bordering Ukraine have disappeared."

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia immediately said they would not comply, while Ukraine said it would file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

** Ukraine attacks Russian Black Sea navy HQ in Crimea

At least one Ukrainian missile struck the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea navy in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Friday, and a major cyberattack interrupted internet services on the peninsula, Russian-installed officials said.

Russia's defence ministry said one serviceman was missing after the attack, revising its earlier statement that the man had been killed. Air defences had downed a total of five missiles, the ministry said.

Ukraine's military confirmed it had attacked the Russian Black Sea fleet's headquarters, but gave few details.

"On September 22 close to 12:00 (0900 GMT) Ukraine's defence forces successfully struck the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet command in the temporarily occupied Sevastopol," it said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, reported that emergency services had brought a fire in the building under control.

"But an equally important stage of work is now actively under way - the pouring of water on sections of the building and dismantling damaged structures," he wrote on Telegram.

Razvozhayev said some nearby roads could remain closed during this work. He also said that Sevastopol residents gathered in the streets, singing the Russian national anthem.

"Today showed that nothing can break Sevastopol," he wrote. "And the most beautiful thing about this is that this event was spontaneous."

Razvozhayev had earlier said there were no civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure in his account of the missile strike posted on Telegram.

Ukraine has intensified attacks in the Black Sea and Crimea, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014, as Ukrainian forces press on with a nearly four-month-old counteroffensive to regain Russian-occupied territory.

Ukrainian officials have described attacks on Russian military targets in Russian-held territory as legitimate.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine's Security Council said there were two options for the future of the Russia's Black Sea fleet - voluntary or forced "self-neutralisation".

If it did not choose the voluntary option, it "will be sliced up like a salami," he said on X.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Crimea "will definitely be demilitarized and liberated". Moscow says it will never give up the peninsula.

Russian-installed authorities said air defences downed another missile on Friday near the town of Bakhchysarai.

Separately, Oleg Kryuchkov, an aide to Crimea head Sergei Aksyonov, said internet service providers on the peninsula were under an "unprecedented cyberattack", leading to interruptions in service.



Тwo Leopard tanks destroyed in Ukraine – Russia

Russian forces have destroyed another two German-made Leopard tanks in the Kupyansk region, according to a report issued by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday.

It stated that Russia’s “Western” military group had opened fire on Ukrainian forces near the settlements of Artemovka in Russia’s Lugansk People’s Republic, as well as Sinkovka, Berestovoe and Ivanovka in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region.

The ministry claimed that Kiev’s forces had lost a total of 20 servicemen, two Leopard tanks, and three other vehicles in the attacks.

RT has obtained footage purporting to show the destruction of the German tanks. According to the commander of the brigade that destroyed the tanks and supplied the video, the vehicles were discovered at night and destroyed at 8am using Lancet UAVs.

The Defense Ministry also reported that Russia’s Southern Group of forces repelled four Ukrainian attacks near the settlements of Vodyanoye and Maryinka in the Donetsk People’s Republic. The ministry’s latest report suggested that up to 200 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed and wounded in those attacks, and that two infantry fighting vehicles and three cars were also destroyed.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has reportedly been rejecting some Leopard deliveries from its Western partners. According to German news outlet Der Spiegel, Kiev refused to accept a batch of 10 Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks, arguing that they were in need of extensive repair and maintenance work requiring special parts and technical expertise that Kiev simply doesn’t have.

It follows confirmation from Denmark that it was using tanks from museum exhibits to train Ukrainian crews how to operate them.

In February, Berlin vowed to deliver more than 100 Leopard tanks to Kiev in a joint effort with the Netherlands and Denmark. However, according to a Die Welt report in early August, only 10% of the pledged tanks had so far been delivered. 

After Kiev rejected the delivery, the German side reportedly dispatched a team of specialists to Poland, where the tanks were supposed to enter Ukraine. 

After examination, the specialists allegedly concluded that the Leopards were “already quite worn out after the training of the Ukrainian soldiers in Germany and needed repairs.”

** West preparing to ‘dump’ Zelensky – Lukashenko

Washington has given the go-ahead to its partners to “dump” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky as he has become a nuisance, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed during a government meeting on Friday.

Lukashenko pointed to the ongoing grain dispute between Poland and Ukraine as an example of this new policy, noting that Warsaw had been one of Zelensky’s staunchest supporters but is now sharply critical of its partner.

This shift occurred after Poland, along with Hungary and Slovakia, unilaterally banned the import of Ukrainian grain despite the EU having chosen to lift its bloc-wide embargo. In turn, Kiev filed disputes against the three countries with the World Trade Organization.

“Do you think that Poland is putting pressure on poor Ukraine today for no reason? No, they have been given the go-ahead from overseas: We need to dump this Zelensky, we’re tired of him,” Lukashenko said.

He noted that the US has an upcoming presidential election and suggested that no one will care about Zelensky at that point.

At the same time, US President Joe Biden stressed on Friday that Washington would stick with Zelensky throughout the Russia-Ukraine conflict and announced that US-made Abrams tanks would start arriving in Ukraine next week.

Meanwhile, Zelensky, who is on his second wartime visit to Washington, insisted that Kiev’s continued fight against Russia relied on sustained US military assistance and reportedly said that if it doesn’t get the aid, it “will lose the war.”

So far, the Biden administration has spent $115 billion on military and financial aid to Kiev, recently asking for an additional $24 billion to be approved by the end of the month. However, a growing number of lawmakers, predominantly from the Republican Party, have started to oppose the financing of the Zelensky government with US taxpayers’ money.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri stressed on Wednesday that the US should stop endlessly pouring money into Ukraine, especially since Kiev has “nothing to show for it.” The senator was apparently referring to Kiev’s much-touted summer counteroffensive, which has failed to yield any significant territorial gains.

Hawley insisted that the US should not spend “a dime more on Ukraine”and should instead conduct an audit of the billions that have already been provided. He also suggested that Germany and other European allies should “step up to the plate” to aid Kiev.



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