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Ukraine updates: Borrell visits Odesa, pledges support

Published September 30, 2023last updated October 1, 2023

During his visit to Odesa, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell described the Russian attacks on the city as "barbaric." He also promised that Europe would not abandon Ukraine. DW has the latest.

A view shows the Transfiguration Cathedral damaged by Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Odesa
Josep Borrell visited the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa damaged by a Russian missile strikeImage: Yan Dobronosov/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, visited Odesa, a Ukrainian port city, and witnessed the destruction caused by Russian attacks.

His visit comes a year after Moscow illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that the residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions had "made their choice — to be with their Fatherland."

A claim rejected by Ukraine and its Western allies. 

Borrell promised urope would not abandon Ukraine in its war to recapture the regions in the south and east of the country.

Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, September 30:

Skip next section UK wants to deploy military instructors to Ukraine — minister
October 1, 2023

UK wants to deploy military instructors to Ukraine — minister

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said London wants to deploy military instructors to Ukraine.

The minister made the comments in an interview for the UK's Sunday Telegraph paper.

"I was talking today about eventually getting the training brought closer and actually into Ukraine as well," Shapps said. "Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things 'in country.'"

He added that he hoped British defense companies would proceed with plans to set up arms factories in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he wants to turn his country's defense industry into a "large military hub" by partnering with Western weapons manufacturers.

Skip next section Top EU diplomat visits Odessa, decries 'barbaric' strikes on city
September 30, 2023

Top EU diplomat visits Odessa, decries 'barbaric' strikes on city

The European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has visited the embattled Ukrainian port city of Odesa on the Black Sea, where he saw first hand the damage inflicted by Russian attacks.

Odesa's old quarter and the historic Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration near the port were badly damaged by a Russian bombardment in July. Harbor infrastructure that is key to Ukraine's grain exports has also been hit recently.

As he toured the cathedral site, Borrell called the Russian assault on the city "barbaric." "This is a good example of how Russia is trying to destroy Ukraine," Borrell said, pointing to the ruins behind him in a video released by his agency.

He lamented that it had been one year since Moscow illegally annexed four regions in the south and east of Ukraine. He promised that Europe would not abandon Ukraine in its grinding war to recapture those areas, saying further military, economic, political and diplomatic support was needed.

Borrell again reproached President Vladimir Putin for ending the UN-brokered agreement that allowed Ukrainian grain exports across the Black Sea, despite Russia's blockade of the ports. The deal is seen as essential to addressing global food insecurity and containing grain prices. Borrell noted that Ukraine had once been the largest supplier of grain to the UN's World Food Programme.

Borrell's trip was not announced in advance for security reasons. No details were given on what else was on his agenda. Almost two weeks ago, the Spanish diplomat said that he would soon organize a meeting of the foreign ministers of the 27 EU member states in Kyiv.

Odesa struggles to rebuild after Russian strikes

Skip next section Romania says detected possible breach of airspace
September 30, 2023

Romania says detected possible breach of airspace

Romania deployed search parties after its army radars detected a possible breach of national airspace, officials said, adding that the alleged breach happened during an overnight Russian drone attack against neighboring Ukraine.

Since withdrawing from the Black Sea grain agreement in July, Russia has increased attacks on Ukraine's Danube ports which lie on Ukraine's border with NATO member Romania. Many of the strikes have landed just across the border from the NATO country.

"The Romanian Army's radar surveillance system identified a possible unauthorized breach of national air space, with a signal detected on the route to the town of Galati," the Defence Ministry said, adding search parties had been deployed.

"Up until now there have been no fallen objects identified on national territory. Searches will continue today." 

Skip next section UK: Former Wagner commander who met Putin likely seen as 'traitor'
September 30, 2023

UK: Former Wagner commander who met Putin likely seen as 'traitor'

A former leading Wagner commander whom Russian President Vladimir Putin met with earlier in this week "was probably involved in encouraging other Wagner personnel to sign contracts, contributing to the insurrection," the UK Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence update.

Andrey Troshev is a former aide of late Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash north of Moscow in August. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was also present at the meeting between Putin and Troshev.

Putin told Troshev to start setting up new "volunteer fighting units."

Troshev took up a role in Russia's official security forces around the time of Prigozhin's short-lived mutiny against the Russian general staff in June, the ministry said. "Many Wagner veterans likely consider him a traitor," the ministry added. 

Yevkurov has recently been pictured touring African states. "Presidential endorsement of Troshev and Yevkurov indicates Russia’s continuing utilisation of volunteer units and private military companies, and planning for the future of Wagner," the ministry said.

It is seen as a sign that the Kremlin wants Wagner mercenaries to keep fighting in the war but under the Defense Ministry's command. Troshev now officially works for the Defense Ministry.  

Skip next section Ukraine says it shot down dozens of drones
September 30, 2023

Ukraine says it shot down dozens of drones

Ukrainian forces said they shot down most drones launched by Russia over its central and southern regions.

The Ukrainian military said that 20 Iranian drones used by Russia were shot down in the central Vinnytsia region and another 10 over the Odessa and Mykolaiv regions in the south.

Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine's South Military Command, told Ukrainian television that Russia continued to attack port infrastructure, including one on Danube River.

Russia has lately ramped up attacks on Ukrainian grain-exporting infrastructure on the Danube, after it withdrew from an agreement that allowed the safe passage of grains from Ukraine to the rest of the world via the Black Sea.

Serhiy Borzov, the Vinnytsia regional governor, said that an infrastructure facility was hit in the region, causing a fire. He gave no other details about the damage.

Skip next section Kyiv hosts forum to reduce foreign dependence on arms supplies
September 30, 2023

Kyiv hosts forum to reduce foreign dependence on arms supplies

Ukraine hosted an international defense industry conference as part of a government effort to ramp up weapons production and reduce foreign dependence on arms deliveries.

"Our first task is to win this war and return a lasting and, most importantly, reliable peace to our people. We will accomplish this task through our cooperation with you," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a speech to open the event.

"We are interested in localizing the production of equipment necessary for our defense... and advanced defense systems used by our soldiers that give Ukraine the best results at the front today," he said.

Zelenskyy said around 250 defense companies from more than 30 countries were gathered at the event. He said defense ministers from several countries were also present.

The forum comes a day after it was announced that the defense ministers of the UK and France paid surprise visits to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, also paid a visit earlier this week to Kyiv. He said he discussed with Zelenskyy "Ukraine's most urgent needs" and the "next steps in NATO's support."

Western countries have spent billions on supplying weapons and military aid to Ukraine. Some companies, like German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, announced earlier this year that it would be working to build armored tanks inside Ukraine. 

Skip next section Russia says it downed missiles over Belgorod region
September 30, 2023

Russia says it downed missiles over Belgorod region

Russian forces claimed to have down all missiles launched by Ukraine over Russia's Belgorod region.

Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, has repeatedly come under fire since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

Russia's Defense Ministry said it thwarted Ukraine's "terror" attack by destroying nine missiles over Belgorod. 

There are no independent verification of battlefield reports.

Russia says its border region shelled by Ukraine

Skip next section Switzerland plans to assist in demining Ukraine — minister
September 30, 2023

Switzerland plans to assist in demining Ukraine — minister

Switzerland plans to finance a quarter of the mine clearance operations needed in Ukraine, according to Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

Switzerland has not provided weapons to Ukraine, citing its law of neutrality.

"In the field of humanitarian demining, we are generous," Cassis said. "Only military aid is excluded because of neutrality."

Of the $400 million (€378 million) Kyiv would need for mine clearance, Washington has already pledged half, according to Cassis. Switzerland plans to provide $100 million, the minister said.

He said an area of Ukraine four times the size of Switzerland is mined.

The Swiss parliament must still approve the step.

Switzerland helped train mine clearance specialists in Ukraine, providing $16.6 million in 2022 and 2023.

But large-scale mining operations can only be launched once hostilities cease, Foundation for Mine Action director Hansjörg Eberle was cited by the German DPA news agency as saying. 

Skip next section Western Ukrainian town orders partial evacuation after strike on infrastructure
September 30, 2023

Western Ukrainian town orders partial evacuation after strike on infrastructure

Authorities in the western Ukrainian region of Vinnytsia have ordered a partial evacuation, saying that an infrastructure site had been struck.

"At this time there is no need for a general evacuation, apart from the immediate area around the site of the hit," Vasyl Polischuk, the head of administration for the town of Kalynivka, said.

Regional Governor Serhiy Borzov also reported the hit on an unspecified infrastructure strike.

Neither report specified what target had been struck or what weapon had been used.

Skip next section Putin claims residents of annexed regions 'confirmed' will to join Russia
September 30, 2023

Putin claims residents of annexed regions 'confirmed' will to join Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that residents of Russia-held regions in southern and eastern Ukraine expressed their desire to be part of Russia in recent local elections.

Moscow announced that it had annexed the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions on September 30, 2022, after what was denounced by Kyiv and Western countries as "sham" and meaningless referendums conducted illegally and with massive coercion of voters.

Putin argues that Russia's invasion of Ukraine saved people from nationalist leaders in Kyiv who unleashed a "full-scale civil war." 

Russia launched a full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine in February 2022. Russian forces do not entirely control any of the regions Putin claims were annexed and part of Russia. 

In June, Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive to retake southern and eastern areas held by Moscow.

sdi/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)