Ukraine live briefing: Russia accuses Ukraine of buzzing Moscow with drones; Zelensky vows justice for strike killing 9


Rescuers work at the site of a building in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, that was destroyed in a Russian missile strike this week. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of buzzing the Moscow region with two drones overnight, both of which officials said were downed by air defenses and caused no damage. Without acknowledging any role, a senior Kyiv official said the sight of an “unidentified drone” in Russia’s skies underlined how President Vladimir Putin was “bringing the war to its own territory.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials accused Russia of targeting emergency workers by launching missiles at residential areas in the eastern city of Pokrovsk, before hitting the same spot again when rescuers were arriving. “This is a deliberate decision of the terrorists to cause the greatest pain and damage,” he said in his nightly address.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Russian air defenses shot down two Ukrainian “combat drones” attempting to fly over Moscow, the city’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, said on Telegram early Wednesday. It is the latest in a spate of alleged drone attacks on the Russian capital since May. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said Russia’s government “is increasingly active and persistent in bringing the war to its own territory.”

The Russian strikes on Pokrovsk came within 40 minutes of each other, killing at least nine people — including a rescue worker — and injuring more than 80 others on Monday, officials said. Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram that the injured included two children, born in 2006 and 2012; 31 police officers; seven employees of the State Emergency Service; and four military personnel. Photos posted on Telegram showed severely damaged buildings with blown-out windows and obliterated roofs.

The police were “putting their efforts into rescuing people after the first strike,” Ivan Vyhivskyi, chief of Ukraine’s National Police, said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Police “knew that under the rubble were the injured. … And the enemy deliberately struck the second time,” he said. In previous conflicts, Russia has been accused of carrying out illegal “double tap” strikes on the same spot, hitting emergency workers as they respond to the aftermath of the initial strike.

An explosion at a pyrotechnics warehouse injured 52 people in the Moscow region on Wednesday morning, according to local Russian officials. Regional governor Andrei Vorobyov said the blast, which occurred at 10:40 a.m. local in the city of Sergiev Posad, shattered the windows of residential buildings on two nearby streets. Russian state media reported that the explosion was caused accidentally, rather than by a drone attack. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the claim.

Russian shelling killed an 18-year-old in Ukraine’s southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, local military administrator Serhiy Lysak said early Wednesday. According to his Telegram post, Moscow’s forces targeted the cities of Nikopol and Marhanet with artillery fire, damaging five homes and a church. Three other men were injured, he said. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claim.

Ukrainian troops conducted “offensive operations” in the country’s southeast, around the occupied cities of Melitopol and Berdyansk, the country’s armed forces said Wednesday. Ukraine has made incremental gains in its counteroffensive but so far has failed to substantially pierce Russia’s heavily fortified defenses.

A massive Russian military storage site has been stripped of many of its Soviet-era tanks and armored vehicles that were there before the invasion of Ukraine, according to the Moscow Times. The independent outlet analyzed satellite imagery that showed about 3,840 tanks or vehicles at the Vagzhanovo military equipment depot in the autumn of 2021. In November 2022, only about 2,600 remained, it reported.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia’s offer to provide free grain to African countries was “laughable.” The remarks during an interview with the BBC were in response to Putin’s offer to deliver up to 50,000 metric tons of free wheat to at least a half-dozen African countries after Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal threatened to worsen a food shortage on the continent. “The Black Sea Grain Initiative delivered 20 million tons to lower- and middle-income countries,” Blinken said, calling the Russian proposal a “drop in the bucket of what countries were getting.”

New sanctions from Britain target companies and individuals accused of supplying militarily significant components to Russia. Individuals and entities in Belarus, Iran, Turkey, Slovakia and Switzerland are among those affected. “Today’s landmark sanctions will further diminish Russia’s arsenal and close the net on supply chains propping up Putin’s now struggling defense industry,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

Ukraine’s corn exports fell sharply in July, the same month Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. According to data published by Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry, corn exports fell by 53 percent in July compared with the previous month — the steepest monthly fall since the invasion began. Russia has refused to guarantee the safety of any cargo vessels leaving Ukraine’s Black Sea ports since pulling out of the U.N.-brokered deal on July 17.

Elite, well-connected Russians are sidestepping sanctions and sparking protests: Dozens of Russians connected to Putin or the Russian military are still welcome in the European Union despite sanctions meant to isolate Russia. That privilege is drawing criticism from politicians and antiwar activists, Francesca Ebel reports. An Olympic gold medal-winning Russian pole vaulter with close ties to Putin is living in a luxurious residence worth millions in Spain’s Canary Islands. A daughter and son-in-law of the head of a weapons company continue to live in Prague, where the family owns numerous properties and luxury vehicles.

“Representatives of the antiwar opposition, who are persecuted in Russia, have difficulty getting the opportunity to move to the West,” an exiled Russian businessman and Putin critic based in London said. “While representatives of Putin’s elite, even relatives of war criminals who have acquired European residence permits in advance, live well in the West and spend money stolen in Russia there.”


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