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Ukraine updates: 'Killed' commander seen in Russian video

Published September 26, 2023last updated September 26, 2023

Russia has released a video supposedly showing its Black Sea fleet commander taking part in a meeting, a day after Kyiv said he was killed in a Ukrainian attack. DW has the latest.

File photo of commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Viktor Sokolov
File photo of commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Viktor SokolovImage: Alexey Pavlishak/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed on Tuesday that Viktor Sokolov, its Black Sea fleet commander whom Kyiv claimed to have killed, was attending a meeting. 

Ukraine had said a day earlier that he was among several Russian military officers killed in a strike it launched.

Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Tuesday, September 26:

Skip next section Swiss parliament approves resale of unused tanks to Germany
September 26, 2023

Swiss parliament approves resale of unused tanks to Germany

Switzerland's parliament has approved the resale of 25 Leopard 2 tanks to Germany. The proposal passed the upper chamber on Tuesday. 

Switzerland agreed to return the tanks after Defense Minister Boris Pistorious and Economy Minister Robert Habeck assured the government in Bern that the vehicles would not be sent to Ukraine

Instead, they will either remain a part of German stocks, or be sent to other NATO members. 

A Leopard 2 A6 tank during a training exercise, at the Field Marshall Rommel Barracks in western Germany, pictured on February 1, 2023.
Germany also hesitated for some time on sending Leopard 2 battle tanks to the front, but relented early this yearImage: Christoph Hardt/Panama Pictures/picture alliance

Recovering the unused vehicles could, however, allow Germany or its allies to send other vehicles to Ukraine, or simply to replenish their own depleted stocks after past exports. 

Germany had initially tried to encourage Switzerland to sell the tanks back to manufacturer Rheinmetall ready for delivery to Ukraine. The neutral nation has a cache of the vehicles in storage that are decommissioned, with only a minority of its stocks in active use.

Switzerland however had resisted at first, pointing to its longstanding tradition of not sending weapons to active conflict zones.

The Swiss even noted when rebuffing the initital advance from Germany that the government in Berlin had an extremely similar policy for decades, which it abandoned under considerable pressure soon after Russia's invasion. 

Germany and other NATO allies first agreed to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine this January, with the first units arriving by late March. 

Skip next section Russia's Medvedev says he visited troops near the front
September 26, 2023

Russia's Medvedev says he visited troops near the front

Russian Deputy Security Council Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday he visited troops near the frontline in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, upon orders from President Vladimir Putin.

"On the instructions of the president, I visited a firing range near the contact line on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic," said Medvedev, who formerly served as president and prime minister.

The Donetsk People's Republic is the name that Russian-backed authorities in one occupied eastern Ukrainian region, Donetsk, give to what they consider a breakaway state. The rebels do not control the entire region.

"The servicemen are demonstrating excellent combat qualities of will, firmness and a general attitude to victory," Medvedev said in a video posted on social media.

He also claimed that recruitment into Russia's military continued apace, providing a new unverifiable figure of 325,000 new recruits enlisted this year.

Medvedev has become one of the most vocal members of Russia's government in online communications, particularly in English, since the invasion of Ukraine.

Skip next section Another cargo vessels departs Ukrainian Black Sea port: report
September 26, 2023

Another cargo vessels departs Ukrainian Black Sea port: report

A cargo vessel departed a Ukrainian Black Sea port after loading, Reuters news agency reported 

The news agency cited an unnamed source and said no other information about the vessel was available at the time.

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said last week that three ships were headed toward Ukrainian Black Sea ports for food and steel exports.

That would have made the ships among the first to use new Black Sea shipping corridors after Russia ended a key grain deal in July.

Ukraine said last month it was setting up temporary "humanitarian corridors" to facilitate the movement of vessels to export agricultural goods for the rest of the world. 

Skip next section Russia releases video showing commander claimed to have been killed by Ukraine
September 26, 2023

Russia releases video showing commander claimed to have been killed by Ukraine

Russia's Defense Ministry released a photo showing a senior naval commander that Ukraine claimed was killed during its strike on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet.

Viktor Sokolov was shown apparently taking part in a video conference with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top admirals and army chiefs.

Ukraine military claimed Monday they had killed Sokolov, Moscow's top admiral in Crimea, along with 33 others officers during its attack on the Russian naval fleet in the port citry of Sevastopol.

Skip next section Russian attacks cause damage in Izmail port, injuries in Kherson
Published September 26, 2023last updated September 26, 2023

Russian attacks cause damage in Izmail port, injuries in Kherson

An overnight Russian air strike on the key Ukrainian grain exporting port of Izmail injured two people and damaged infrastructure, the governor of the Odesa region said.

Izmail is a port on the Danube River, in southern Ukraine, directly opposite NATO and European Union member Romania and is one of the main exit routes of Ukrainian agricultural products since Moscow ended the grain deal.

A port building, storage facilities and more than 30 trucks and cars were damaged in the attack, which lasted more than two
hours, Governor Oleh Kiper said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Ukrainian military reported shooting down 26 of the 38 Iranian-made attack drones it said were launched by Russia over southern Ukraine.

The latest Russian attack wounded four people in the Kyselivka village in the Kherson region, said Governor Oleksandr Prokudin. 

Moscow has intensified its air attacks on Ukrainian ports on the Danube River in recent weeks, including Izmail and Reni, damaging grain warehouses.

The waterway became an almost immediate alternative passageway for grain ships after Russia resumed its blockade of Ukrainian ports along the Black Sea. 

Lives, livelihoods at risk as Russia attacks Ukrainian ports

Skip next section Missile that hit Poland last year was fired from Ukraine: report
September 26, 2023

Missile that hit Poland last year was fired from Ukraine: report

Polish experts said that a missile strike that killed two people at a grain facility in the rural Polish village of Przewodow in November last year was fired by Ukraine, Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported.

The missile was the first to have directly hit a NATO country, with the circumstances around the incident raising fears of a further escalation in the monthslong war.

Ukraine had denied the missile was fired from their territory at the time, while  US President Joe Biden had said it was "unlikely"the missile was fired from within Russia at a meeting of world leaders in Bali last year.

Reuters news agency reported that sources with knowledge of the investigation told Rzeczpospolita that Poland had established that the missile was an S 300 5-W-55, a long-range air defense missile system, fired from Ukrainian territory.

"This rocket has a range of 75 km to 90 km," the newspaper cited a source as saying. "At that time, the Russian positions were in a place from which no Russian missile could reach Przewodow."

Missile that hit Poland likely came from Ukraine air defense

Skip next section Attack on headquarters of Russia Black Sea Fleet 'severe,' says UK
September 26, 2023

Attack on headquarters of Russia Black Sea Fleet 'severe,' says UK

The physical damage to Russia's Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastapol is "certainly severe but localized," the British Ministry of Defense said in its regular intelligence update.

"The fleet almost certainly remains of capable of fulfilling its  core wartime missions of cruise missile strikes and local security patrols," the ministry said.

It added that the fleet's ability to continue "wider security patrols and enforce its de facto blockade of Ukrainian ports will be diminished. 

deep strike battle is underway in the Black Sea, likely forcing Russia into a reactive posture, it said. 

Ukraine's military claimed on Monday that it had killed the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet and 33 other officers in a strike last week. Kyiv said the strike was timed to coincide with a meeting of naval officials.

Ukraine has sharply increased the number of strikes in Crimea, a strategically important peninsula that was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. 

Expert: Russia's naval strategy 'falling apart'

Skip next section Russia claims it downed drones in Kursk, Belgorod
September 26, 2023

Russia claims it downed drones in Kursk, Belgorod

Russian air defense units repelled several Ukraine drone attacks over the Belgorod and Kursk regions late on Monday, destroying at least 11 drones in total, Russia's Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said, in several separate statements on the Telegram messaging app, that seven drones were downed over the Belgorod region and four over the Kursk region.

The ministry provided no information on possible damage or injuries from the attacks. Moscow rarely discloses details, unless civilian or non-military infrastructure is damaged.

Both Belgorod and Kursk regions border Ukraine and have been subject to numerous drone attacks in the course of the war that Russia launched against its neighbor in February 2022.

Ukraine rarely claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine but has been saying in recent months that destroying Russia's military infrastructure helps the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

How drones are shaping the war for Ukraine and Russia

rm, dh/fb (AFP, dpa)