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Ukraine Updates: Russia downs drone near Moscow

Published August 26, 2023last updated August 26, 2023

Aerial attacks on Moscow and other Russian-held territory have intensified in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is urging allies to quickly deliver the promised F-16 fighter jets. DW has the latest.

A man walks along a bridge over the Moscow River outside the Kremlin
Aerial attacks have forced Russian authorities to temporarily shut down airports serving Moscow several times this weekImage: Mikhail Metzel/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin says air defenses downed a drone in the Russian capital region in the early hours of Saturday.

The drone was downed over the Istra district of the region.

Three major airports in Moscow — Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo — suspended operations.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged allies to quickly hand over F-16 fighter jets to beat back Russian forces.

Here's an overview of some of the main stories concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, August 26: 

Skip next section Second ship since grain deal expiry leaves Ukraine's Odesa
August 26, 2023

Second ship since grain deal expiry leaves Ukraine's Odesa

A second container ship sailed through a temporary Black Sea corridor established by Ukraine's government after Russia halted a wartime agreement aimed at ensuring safe grain exports from the Ukrainian ports.

The Primus, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier, left the port of Odesa and was headed south towards the Bulgarian port of Varna, according to data from marine traffic monitoring sites.

The Primus' departure came 10 days after the launch of another container ship that had been docked in Odesa since before Russia's full-scale invasion of its neighbor, the Hong Kong-flagged Joseph Schulte.

Analysts had surmised that China's political closeness to Russia might have eased that ship's passage and raised doubts whether vessels registered elsewhere would follow.

Ukraine calls Russia's bluff on Black Sea ships

Skip next section 3 Ukrainian military pilots die in mid-air collision
August 26, 2023

3 Ukrainian military pilots die in mid-air collision

Three Ukrainian pilots died after two L-39 trainer aircraft collided over a region west of the capital on Friday, the country's air force said in a statement on Saturday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is counting on swift training of Ukrainian crews to fly up to 61 F-16 fighter jets promised by his Western allies, said the three men included Andriy Pilshchykov, "a Ukrainian officer, one of those who greatly helped our state."

The investigation is ongoing, he added in his nightly video address. "It is too early to discuss details. Certainly, all circumstances will be clarified."

The air force said the crash occurred in Zhytomyr region in central Ukraine. Pilshchykov, who used the callsign "Juice," had become well known after giving numerous interviews to international media, it said.

Skip next section US journalist Gershkovich appeals against extension of pre-trial detention
August 26, 2023

US journalist Gershkovich appeals against extension of pre-trial detention

US journalist Evan Gershkovich has appealed against a Russian court's decision to extend his pre-trial detention by three months, according to documents published by a Moscow court.

Gershkovich continued reporting from Russia after the start of Moscow's war in Ukraine. He was detained in March and accused of spying, which he, the US government and the Wall Street Journal deny.

The reporter's pre-trial custody was earlier due to expire on August 30 and has been extended to November 30.

Russia has made it more difficult for Western journalists to acquire accreditation and work in the country amid increasing hostilities against Kyiv. Comparatively few foreign correspondents remain active in the country. DW staff were told to vacate their Moscow bureau in February 2022, soon before the invasion of Ukraine, nominally as retaliation for Russia Today's German language channel, RT Deutsch, being refused a broadcast license.

Skip next section Two dead after Russian attack in eastern Ukraine
August 26, 2023

Two dead after Russian attack in eastern Ukraine

Two people were killed and another injured on Saturday after Russian forces shelled a village near the town of Kupiansk in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region, officials said.

Officials in Kupiansk, 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the front line, had previously called on vulnerable residents in the area to evacuate as Russia increased its efforts to recapture the territory.

"According to the preliminary information of the medical staff, two people died in Podoly village as a result of the shelling, another one was wounded," Kharkiv governor Oleh Synehubov said on social media.

"The enemy hit a civilian target — a cafe — where local residents were spending the day," he said.

Skip next section Russia had time to prepare for Kyiv counteroffensive — Ukraine's envoy to Berlin
August 26, 2023

Russia had time to prepare for Kyiv counteroffensive — Ukraine's envoy to Berlin

Ukraine's ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, said hesitant Western support had contributed to difficulties in Kyiv's counteroffensive.

"Russia has had time to barricade itself in," Makeiev said in an interview for German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

He said it "took a very long time to prepare and equip" the brigades involved in the counteroffensive.

Germany had for months deliberated on whether to send Ukraine infantry fighting vehicles and anti-aircraft systems.

Makeiev said that Kyiv was in "very pragmatic and substantive talks" with Berlin regarding the delivery of Taurus cruise missiles.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far been reticent to provide the missiles due to fears they could reach Russian territory.

The Ukrainian ambassador also said that Kyiv could not negotiate with Moscowas the war was one of "annihilation."

"This is about annihilation, and Russia and unfortunately the Russian people don't want Ukraine at all, and in this context, you don't go into talks with a willingness to compromise," he said.

"A great many partners have now understood that, and there is no pressure on us to enter into talks with Russia now."

The politics behind supplying Ukraine with weapons

Skip next section Russia destroys drone over Belgorod
August 26, 2023

Russia destroys drone over Belgorod

Russian forces destroyed a drone over the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, according to the Defense Ministry.

This region has frequently come under fire from Ukraine's forces.

Earlier on Saturday Russia reported another drone attack on Moscow.

Ukraine: War of the drones

Skip next section German magazine claims Ukraine was responsible for Nord Stream attacks
August 26, 2023

German magazine claims Ukraine was responsible for Nord Stream attacks

An investigation by German magazine Der Spiegel has revealed that last year's explosions targeting the Nord Stream gas pipelines were carried out with Kyiv's involvement, one of the journalists working on the investigation said.  

Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt told DW, however, that that "doesn't necessarily mean that the Ukrainian government was involved or knew about it. I would even say that intelligence and security experts consider it very unlikely that Ukrainian President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy was in on it."

Wiedmann-Schmidt said the team of investigators was "convinced that the leads now pretty much point in just one single direction toward Ukraine."

He added that it was more likely that a commander located in Ukraine before and after the attack was involved, rather than the Ukrainian leadership.

Was Ukraine involved in last year's Nord Stream sabotage?

Skip next section Both Ukraine and Russia pushing forward in different areas, UK says
August 26, 2023

Both Ukraine and Russia pushing forward in different areas, UK says

Ukraine's defense forces have put Russia under pressure in Bakhmut and southern Ukraine, according to an intelligence update by the UK's Ministry of Defence. 

On the other hand, Russia's Western Group of Forces has made some advances in the northeast in the Kupiansk-Lyman sector after continuous attacks.

The ministry expects that Russia "will attempt to regain the initiative by pivoting back to an operational-level offensive," potentially in the Kupiansk-Lyman sector.

The UK ministry also said Russia might increase the intensity of its offensive efforts there "with the objective of advancing west to the Oskil River and creating a buffer zone around Luhansk Oblast."

Skip next section Ukraine confident of Taurus missile supply from Germany
August 26, 2023

Ukraine confident of Taurus missile supply from Germany

Defense Minister Olexiy Resnikov said he was confident that Germany would supply Ukraine with Taurus cruise missiles. 

"I am really optimistic and see in the future that we will also get Taurus from Germany," Resnikov said in an interview with several news outlets.

Resnikov did not specify when he expected the missiles to arrive. "But I think it will not take a whole year," he said. 

Germany has already provided Ukraine with multiple weapons systems but Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been hesitant on the Taurus cruise missiles since he fears their long range means they could be used to hit targets deep inside Russian territory. 

"I will continue to consider each and every decision carefully and never do anything rash," said
Scholz to the newspapers of the Bavarian media group.

Skip next section Zelenskyy urges haste in F-16 deliveries
August 26, 2023

Zelenskyy urges haste in F-16 deliveries

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged allies to quickly hand over F-16 fighter jets, which Kyiv views as a key resource to beat back Russian forces.

"Our goal is to get closer to the time when F-16s will help us keep Russian terrorists away. As fast as possible," he said in a video posted on social media.

Pentagon to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s

Earlier this week, Denmark and the Netherlands agreed to provide Ukraine with the fighter jets after Zelenskyy visited the countries. Norway has also promised F-16 aircraft to Kyiv after Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre visited the Ukrainian capital.

While Ukraine expects dozens of the combat jets, the exact date of delivery is not clear.

"Our international team is working to expand training missions as much as possible," Zelenskyy said. "Our military is preparing the infrastructure as fast as possible and sending pilots and engineers
for training. We need to make sure Ukraine is fully ready."

Skip next section Russia downs drone near Moscow, flights suspended
August 26, 2023

Russia downs drone near Moscow, flights suspended

Russian authorities reported a new drone attack on Moscow in the early hours of Saturday.

A drone was brought down by Russia's air defense systems over the Istra district of the Moscow region, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. 

The Russian military has reported repeated Ukrainian drone and missile attacks on Russian territory over the week, even alleging that Ukraine targeted civilian areas. 

Meanwhile, three major Moscow airports — Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo — suspended flights early on Friday, TASS news agency reported.

mk/sri (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)