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Ukraine updates: Kyiv evacuates children from southern front

Published September 27, 2023last updated September 27, 2023

Children in five towns in southern Zaporizhzhia region have been evacuated as fighting rages there. Meanwhile, British intelligence says a new Russian offensive is "less likely" in the coming weeks. DW has the latest.

Ukrainian forces, seen here with heavy equipment, have been widening their breach of Russian defenses south of Zaporizhzhia city
Ukrainian forces have been widening their breach of Russian defenses south of Zaporizhzhia cityImage: Smoliyenko Dmytro/Ukrinform/ABACA/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The deputy head of Zaporizhzhia region said they have "evacuated all children and their families" from five towns in the southern front line as fighting intensifies there.

Polish talks on Ukrainian grain imports through its territory to countries in need were headed in the right direction, the Polish agriculture minister said.

Ukrainian forces are evaluating information about a Russian naval commander they said was killed during a strike on the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Crimea after video footage of him was broadcast on Russian television. Regardless of whether he survived, the attack itself is part of the information warfare battle, an expert tells DW.

Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday, September 27:

Skip next section Ukraine urges UN court to hear case despite Russian appeal
September 27, 2023

Ukraine urges UN court to hear case despite Russian appeal

Ukraine on Wednesday urged judges at the International Court of Justice, the UN's highest court, to dismiss Russia's objections and hear a case it filed soon after Russia's invasion last year in full. 

Ukraine argues that Moscow abused international law by saying the February invasion was launched to stop an alleged genocide in eastern Ukraine. 

"Your jurisidction to resolve the dispute is clear. Your judgment remains urgently needed," Ukraine's representative Oksana Zolotaryova said. 

Last week, Russia had urged the ICJ to throw out the case, saying Kyiv's legal arguments were flawed. 

Ukraine says there was no risk of genocide in eastern Ukraine, where it had been fighting Russian-backed forces in a much smaller-scale conflict since 2014. 



"Here in The Hague Russia paints itself as a victim. In Ukraine, Russia has continued to show its true colours," Zolotaryova said, listing alleged Russian attacks on civil infrastructure and grain supplies.

ICJ cases often take years to resolve. 

The court rapidly issued a preliminary ruling issued last March, just weeks after the invasion, ordering Russia to stop its military actions. Moscow has so far ignored this and the court has no way of enforcing its decisions.

However, experts say a win in this case or similar ones could one day pave the way for Ukraine to seek reparations. 

Skip next section Russia and Cuba 'in contact' after Ukraine recruitment spat
September 27, 2023

Russia and Cuba 'in contact' after Ukraine recruitment spat

Russia's ambassador to Cuba said the two countries were "in contact" after Cuba made arrests over the alleged trafficking of its citizens to fight in Ukraine. 

Cuba announced 17 arrests earlier this month in connection with a "trafficking network that operates from Russia" to recruit Cubans for "military operations in Ukraine." 

"The comptent authorities are working on it. They are in contact both on the Russian and the Cuban sides," Ambassador Viktor Koronelli told journalists in Havana. 

Asked how many Cubans were in Russia, he said he did not know. 

According to Cuban authorities, three alleged recruiters were arrested, as well as 14 Cubans planning to go and fight in Ukraine. 

Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez had written on social media on September 14 that the government's "unequivocal stance... is against the participation of Cuban citizens in any conflict, against the use of mercenaries and against human trafficking." 

Several media reports including supposed testimony from recruits have since suggested the Cubans were lured to travel to the region with offers of construction work alongside the military, only to find themselves being sent to the front. 

Cuba ‘Trafficking Ring’

Skip next section Russia accuses UK, US of involvement in Sevastopol strike
September 27, 2023

Russia accuses UK, US of involvement in Sevastopol strike

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a Moscow press conference that the September 22 attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol was conducted "without the slightest doubt" with the the help of British and US secret services. 

Zakharova said London and Washington had long supported the "criminal regime" in Kyiv. 

She alleged that Western reconnaissance data, satellites of NATO countries, and spy planes were all used. 

"The obvious aim of such a terrorist act is to divert attention from the failed attempts of the counteroffensive by Ukrainian armed forces and to frighten people, to stir up panic in our society," Zakharova surmised. 

Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014 in breach of international law. Sevastopol is a closed city on Crimea's coast that has long been home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, albeit as part of a bilateral agreement after Ukraine's independence when the Soviet Union collapsed. 

The fleet's headquarters was severely damaged in the attack, which involved the use of drones and cruise missiles. 

Ukraine says a total of 34 Russian officers were killed in the strike. Russia meanwhile reported only one missing person after the attack.

Crimea attack shows Ukraine's capabilities: Mark Galeotti

Skip next section Wagner troops fighting in front lines in eastern Ukraine: reports
September 27, 2023

Wagner troops fighting in front lines in eastern Ukraine: reports

Troops from the Russian mercenary group Wagner  have reportedly begun fighting in Ukraine's eastern front, according to Kyiv media outlets.

Wagner mercenary fighters had taken up arms in eastern Ukraine, local media reported Ilya Yevlash, spokesman for Ukrainian troops in the east, as saying in a statement.

Fighters had reportedly signed new contracts with Russia's Defense Ministry, the reports said. According to the Border Guard Service of Ukraine, only 5,000 of the 6,000 Wagner fighters were still in Belarus. The reports have not been independently confirmed. 

Thousands of Wagner troops relocated to Belarus following a failed military uprising in Russia in June.

Skip next section Ukraine says will not participate in competitions with Russian teams
September 27, 2023

Ukraine says will not participate in competitions with Russian teams

Ukraine's football association said it strongly condemns a decision by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to allow Russian teams to compete in European competitions.

The Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) said it would not participate in competitions with Russian teams and urged UEFA to "review this decision."

"UAF insists on preserving the previous decisions of UEFA and FIFA regarding the prevention of all Russian teams from participating in international competitions," Ukraine's football association said in a statement published late Tuesday.

"UAF confirms that we will not take part in any competitions with the participation of Russian teams, and appeal to other UEFA member associations to boycott possible matches with the participation of teams from the Russian Federation, subject to their admission," it added.

Skip next section German public prosecutor investigating possible war crimes in Ukraine
September 27, 2023

German public prosecutor investigating possible war crimes in Ukraine

Germany's Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor said on Wednesday it was investigating a possible war crime in the Ukrainian town of Hostomel.

Prosecutors were reviewing claims that several civilians — including a German national — had been shot at and injured by Russian forces.

There was "an initial suspicion" that war crimes had been committed, a spokesperson told German media. Prosecutors did not share any information on specific details or the time of the attack.

Ukrainian authorities last year charged five Russian soldiers for allegedly shooting at civilians fleeing Hostomel in the first days of the war.

Hostomel, a suburb of the capital Kyiv, was the scene of heavy fighting in spring 2022. It is adjacent to Bucha, where Russian invasion forces are accused of killing hundreds of civilians.

How important are drones proving for Ukraine?

Skip next section 'Killed' Russian Black Sea fleet commander at center of 'information war'
September 27, 2023

'Killed' Russian Black Sea fleet commander at center of 'information war'

A prominent Russia analyst has said it is too soon to know whether Russian Admiral Viktor was killed in air strikes last week. 

Ukrainian authorities said they were reviewing an earlier claim that they had killed the head of Russia's Black Sea fleet in an attack. That was after Russia released footage that appeared to show Sokolov attending a meeting via video call. 
In an interview with DW News, military analyst Mark Galeotti said it was unclear whether the footage was fake but that the strikes demonstrated Ukraine's ability to carry out long-range attacks on Russia.

"We've seen this footage, although it's footage that some people have suggested is either a fake or even that he's actually dead in it. Since he doesn't say anything in this meeting, we honestly don't know." 

"There are just two things that that matter here. One is that clearly there is an information war going on between Kyiv and Moscow," he added.

"Whether they actually managed to kill Sokolov or not, the Ukrainians are demonstrating now that they can launch precision strikes right in the heart of the Russian military establishment in Crimea, despite what were meant to be impregnable defenses."

Crimea attack shows Ukraine's capabilities: Mark Galeotti

Skip next section Ukrainian official says children evacuated from southern front lines
September 27, 2023

Ukrainian official says children evacuated from southern front lines

A Ukrainian official said they evacuated all children from towns near the southern Zaporizhzhia front line as fighting in the region intensifies.

"We have fulfilled the task set by the Ukrainian government... and evacuated all children and their families" from five towns in Zaporizhzhia, Yevgen Myronenko, the deputy head of the region, was quoted by local media as saying.

The Ukrainian army has made some progress in its push to break through Russian positions on the southern front but has met fierce Russian resistance there.

Local media said 59 children were evacuated, but the information could not be independently confirmed. Ukraine had ordered the evacuation from the five towns — Gulyaipole, Stepnogirsk, Preobrazhenka, Yegorivka, and Novopavlivka — as fighting raged.

The general who is leading the counteroffensive in the southern front said last weekend that Ukraine's army had penetrated Russian defenses along part of the front lines in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Ukrainian forces said they had taken the southern village of Robotyne earlier in the month as well, signaling they were moving closer to Russian lines that defend the overland route to Crimea.

The International Criminal Court in March issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another senior official for unlawfully deporting children to Russia from regions in Ukraine occupied by its troops.

Skip next section New Russian offensive 'less likely' in coming weeks, UK says
September 27, 2023

New Russian offensive 'less likely' in coming weeks, UK says

A concerted new Russian offensive is "less likely" in the coming weeks, the UK Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence update.

"Since the middle of September, Russia has highly likely committed elements of its new 25th Combined Arms Army (25 CAA) to action for the first time," the ministry said.

"Units from two of 25 CAA's manoeuvre components, 67th Motor Rifle Division and 164th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, are reported to be fighting on the front in a sector west of Severodonetsk and Kreminna, along the border between Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts," it added.

Russia created CAAs to oversee, coordinate, and manage command and control of units transported to the border long before its full-fledged invasion of Ukraine but has bolstered its force posture since.

Ukraine has ramped up attacks against Russian positions in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk in recent weeks, as troops slowly push forward to regain territory occupied by Moscow's forces.

"Since the start of the invasion, Russia has only rarely maintained an uncommitted army-size grouping which could potentially form the basis of a major new offensive thrust," the ministry said in its update.

"With 25 CAA apparently being deployed piecemeal to reinforce the over-stretched line," a concerted Russian offensive appeared less likely, it concluded.

Ukraine's counteroffensive: Slow progress in Donetsk region

Skip next section Polish talks on Ukrainian grain imports on track, says Warsaw
September 27, 2023

Polish talks on Ukrainian grain imports on track, says Warsaw

Talks with Ukraine about grain imports were headed in a good direction, Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Kyiv and Warsaw have feuded publicly over the export of Ukrainian grain.

Poland joined Hungary and Slovakia earlier this month to defy a EU decision to lift a temporary ban on Ukrainian agricultural imports. 

The EU countries said the ban was to protect their own farmers. Ukraine is one of the world's largest wheat exporters.

Polish President Andrzej Duda later said that Poland would allow the movement of grains through its territory to other countries in need. 

rm/fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)