As the war enters its 609th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Wednesday, October 25, 2023.
- Russia continued to pound the shattered eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka but Ukrainian officials said heavy losses had forced them to switch to air attacks. Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern group of forces, told national television that Russia “dropped about 40 guided aerial bombs in two nights. But the number of ground assaults has been reduced”. Shtupun said about 2,400 Russians had been killed or wounded over the previous five days of fighting in the Donetsk region.
- At least eight people were injured in Russian shelling of front-line regions of Ukraine. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said four people, including a 12-year-old, were wounded by Russian air strikes and artillery fire in the southern Kherson region, and another four were taken to hospital after an attack on the northeast region of Kharkiv.
- Russia’s Ministry of Defence said its naval forces destroyed three unmanned Ukrainian boats in the northern part of the Black Sea off Crimea. Moscow annexed the peninsula in 2014.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a security conference in Prague that Kyiv would keep up military pressure on occupied Crimea, having shattered the “illusion” of Russia’s domination of Crimea and the Black Sea. Zelenskyy said that the Russian fleet was “no longer capable” of operating in the western part of the Black Sea and was gradually retreating from Crimea. He did not offer evidence for the claim.
- More than half the members of Ukraine’s newly-formed Siberian Battalion are Russian citizens, the Reuters news agency reported. The Russian recruits to the 50-strong battalion are mainly Siberia’s Indigenous people and want to fight “Russian imperialism”, Reuters said, citing a Ukrainian military officer who preferred not to be named. The battalion is part of the International Legion within the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Politics and diplomacy
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed Berlin’s aid to Ukraine would not be affected by its support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas. Speaking at a German-Ukrainian business forum attended by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and joined virtually by President Zelenskyy, Scholz said Kyiv would have assistance – from the economy to weapons – for “as long as necessary”.
- Shmyhal said Ukraine expects Germany to provide it with an additional 1.4 billion euros to enhance its air defences and help it get through a second winter at war with Russia.
- Moldova blocked access to more than 20 Russian media websites, including RT, NTV and other prominent outlets, saying they had been used as part of an information war against the country. The Russian foreign ministry branded the move a “hostile step”.
- The elder sister of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appealed for his release ahead of his birthday and urged the United States to step up efforts to get him home. The journalist has been detained in Russia since March and accused of spying, charges he and the Journal have denied. Gershkovich will turn 32 on Thursday.
- Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s economy had adapted to mostly Western sanctions imposed over the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and that the prospect of more sanctions did “not scare” the country.
- Ukraine announced a joint venture with German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall to service and repair Western weapons sent to Kyiv since Russia’s full-scale invasion. “The first project will be repairing of German equipment, tanks, heavy armoured vehicles, Panzerhaubitzers and other German equipment,” Prime Minister Shmyhal told reporters in Berlin. The venture will also help with the local production of some key equipment made by Rheinmetall, he added.