As the war enters its 611th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Saturday, October 28, 2023.
- Eight people were injured and at least 15 buildings were damaged or destroyed after Russia shelled the centre of Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson. “In the evening, the entire city trembled,” Ukraine’s Emergency Services said on Telegram. “The enemy targeted the very centre of Kherson.” Ukraine’s Suspilne public broadcaster said one person was also injured after Russian forces shelled Beryslav further north.
- Speaking in his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian casualties had risen sharply across the 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) front lines over the past week. He earlier told United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that Russia had lost at least a brigade’s worth of troops in its assault on Avdiivka.”The invaders made several attempts to surround Avdiivka, but each time, our soldiers stopped them and threw them back, causing painful losses. In these cases, the enemy lost at least a brigade,” Zelenskyy told Sunak in a phone call. Brigades vary in size and can number between 1,500 and 8,000 troops. Battlefield losses are a state secret in Russia and Ukraine.
- Russian diplomats dismissed a White House claim that Moscow’s military was executing its own soldiers if they refused orders in Ukraine. “Whoever came up with these other-worldly lies could only have been a person with an imagination far into overdrive,” the Russian embassy in Washington said in comments carried by the RIA Novosti news agency.
- Former Ukrainian pro-Moscow lawmaker Oleg Tsaryov was shot and wounded in a late-night attack in Yalta in Russian-annexed Crimea. Russia’s top investigative body said it had opened a criminal inquiry, while an unnamed source in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) told the Reuters news agency the shooting was a special operation conducted by the intelligence agency, describing Tsaryov as an “absolutely legal target”.
- Russia’s Defence Ministry said it thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack near a nuclear plant in Kurchatov in the country’s southern Kursk region. A separate statement from the Kursk nuclear power station said three drones had been involved in the attack, there were no casualties or damage and the plant was operating as normal.
- Russia’s Defence Ministry confirmed the appointment of 55-year-old Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov as commander of the country’s aerospace forces, replacing General Sergei Surovikin who was fired in August. Afzalov has been acting head since Surovikin’s dismissal.
- Ukraine said it had so far exported 1.3 million tonnes of grain and other cargo through a new Black Sea corridor it set up in August after Moscow withdrew from a United Nations-brokered deal that allowed Kyiv to safely export grain to world markets.
Politics and diplomacy
- Mike Johnson, the newly-elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, said US funding to support Ukraine and Israel should be handled separately, suggesting he will not back President Joe Biden’s $106bn aid package for both countries.
- Most of the European Union’s 27 leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels backed additional financial support to Ukraine as it fights Russia’s invasion, but Hungary and Slovakia voiced reservations. The EU is seeking approval for a spending plan that includes 50 billion euros ($52.8bn) for Kyiv and must be agreed unanimously.
- Zelenskyy’s top diplomatic adviser said senior national security and foreign ministry officials from as many as 70 nations will meet in Malta on Saturday and Sunday to discuss the Ukrainian president’s 10-point blueprint for a peace settlement. Russia will not participate.
- North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said it was the “steadfast will” of Pyongyang to expand ties with Moscow arguing that a closer bilateral relationship would act as a “powerful strategic” element if security in the region was endangered. Japan, South Korea and the United States recently condemned alleged arms deliveries by Pyongyang to Russia.
- Russian prosecutors have lodged an appeal against a court decision to fine veteran human rights campaigner Oleg Orlov after he was found guilty of “discrediting” the country’s armed forces. Orlov, the 70-year-old co-chair of Russia’s Nobel Prize-winning Memorial human rights organisation, was fined 150,000 roubles ($1,600) earlier this month. Prosecutors have filed an appeal calling for a three-year prison term.
- Germany’s Defence Ministry said it delivered a third IRIS-T SLM air defence system to Ukraine. The country is stepping up efforts to get air defence systems to Ukraine before the winter sets in to help protect critical infrastructure from Russian attacks.