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Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 540 | Russia-Ukraine war News

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As the war enters its 540th day, these are the main developments.

Here is the situation on Thursday, August 17, 2023.

Fighting

Ukraine said Russia carried out a series of drone attacks on grain silos and warehouses at a Danube River port near the border with Romania.

Kyiv said its forces liberated the settlement of Urozhaine in the southeast, but top general Oleksandr Syrskyi warned the situation around Kupiansk on the northeastern front was deteriorating amid Russian counterattacks.

Video obtained by Al Jazeera suggests a controversial unit of Chechen troops has been policing the town of Enerhodar near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said it shot down three Ukrainian drones southwest of Moscow and one over Crimea.

Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported that the FSB security service, with the defence ministry, thwarted a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group in the Bryansk region.

Diplomacy

A cargo ship stuck in Odesa for more than 17 months set sail along a new temporary maritime corridor to and from Black Sea ports established by Ukraine.

The United States said it was working with partners to identify alternative options to ensure Ukrainian grain exports after Moscow quit the Black Sea Grain Initiative allowing the safe export of Ukrainian grain on July 17.  Department of State deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel urged Moscow to “immediately return” to the deal.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak said three things needed to be done to “accelerate” a “fair” end to the war, including preventing sanctions circumvention, providing more weapons to Ukraine and isolating Russia’s top leadership.

Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he would ask Beijing to take a stronger position on Ukraine. Rasmussen was speaking at the start of a three-day visit to China.

The US imposed sanctions on three entities over alleged weapons deals between North Korea and Russia. The three – Versor, Verus and Defense Engineering – are linked to Slovakian national Ashot Mkrtychev, who was sanctioned in March for attempting to facilitate arms deals between Russia and North Korea.

Belarus criticised Lithuania’s decision to close two of its six border crossings with the country amid concern about the presence of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group in Belarus. Minsk said the move was “unfriendly”.

Weapons

The British Ministry of Defence said Russia had started to deploy domestically-produced one-way unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) based on Iranian Shahed drones. The ministry said Russia was probably aiming for “self-sufficiency” in the weapons but remained reliant on Iran for components and entire drones which were being shipped via the Caspian Sea.

The Financial Times reported the US was pushing Iran to stop selling drones to Russia as part of discussions between Washington and Tehran to de-escalate tensions.

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