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Ukraine updates: Russia launches 'massive' drone strikes

Published September 28, 2023last updated September 28, 2023

Russia launched yet another wave of drone attacks on Ukraine in a bid to take out grain storage in Odesa. Meanwhile, the UK says the war is taking its toll on the Russian air force. DW has the latest.

A Shahed drone being shot down over Kyiv in May
Russia has relied on Iranian-made Shahed drones to strike Ukrainian targets, often civilianImage: Gabriel Romero/ZUMA Press/IMAGO
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Ukraine said its defense systems intercepted at least 31 Shahed drones launched by Russia in a "massive" overnight attack which targeted the Odesa region. 

Odesa's governor Oleh Kiper said that no grain storage facilities were hit and that there were no casualties.

Russia has recently focused its drone attacks on Ukraine's grain-exporting infrastructure in the southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions.

Meanwhile, the UK's intellegence report expects that Russia is fast eating into the lifespan of its combat airplanes.

Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Thursday, September 28:

Skip next section Belarus claims Polish helicopter breached airspace
September 28, 2023

Belarus claims Polish helicopter breached airspace

The defense ministry in Belarus issued a statement saying that a Polish helicopter had "violated" its airspace by crossing the border on Thursday.

"At about 15:20 (1220 GMT), an aircraft crossed the border of the Republic of Belarus," the ministry said.

"At 16:22 (1322 GMT) the helicopter again violated the state border," the statement said, adding that aircraft were scrambled in response, without providing further details.

Belarus has accused Poland of violating its airspace in the past.

Poland meanwhile has denied the claims from Minsk, saying none of its aircraft had crossed into neighboring airspace.

"The Operational Command unequivocally denies these reports. None of the Polish helicopters crossed the airspace of Belarus," a spokesperson of the Operational Command of the Armed Forces told the Reuters news agency.

Skip next section Zelenskyy meets Stoltenberg, seeking NATO membership
September 28, 2023

Zelenskyy meets Stoltenberg, seeking NATO membership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has met NATO alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg in Kyiv, as Ukraine seeks more Western support for its counteroffensive against Russia's invading forces.

"[It is] a matter of time before Ukraine becomes a de jure member of the alliance. We are doing everything to bring this time closer," Zelenskyy said at a joint press conference with the NATO chief.

"Ukraine is now closer to NATO than ever before," Stoltenberg said alongside Zelenskyy.

NATO divided over Ukraine's path to membership

The meeting, which had been kept secret for security reasons, came during Stoltenberg's second visit to Kyiv since the Russian invasion. 

The NATO chief announced the alliance had framework contracts that allow members to replenish stockpiles while also continuing to provide Ukraine with ammunition.


Skip next section Israel to supply Arrow 3 missile defense system to Germany
September 28, 2023

Israel to supply Arrow 3 missile defense system to Germany

Germany signed a deal to buy Israel's Arrow 3 missile defense system.

Israel says the sale is worth some €4 billion ($4.2 billion) and is the largest arms deal in its history.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Russian attacks in Ukraine have shown "air defense is essential, especially for us in the middle of Europe."

He hosted his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, in Berlin for the signing ceremony. 

"Germany has greatly contributed to Israel's security," Gallant said. "Today we are proud to do the same for Germany, our strategic partner."

Germany plans to finance the deal with money from its one-off €100 billion special defense fund to upgrade the German armed force in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Skip next section Russia to boost defense spending
September 28, 2023

Russia to boost defense spending

Russia's finance ministry says Moscow plans to raise defense spending by nearly 70% in 2024 as the country pours its resources into its full-scale offensive in Ukraine.

Russia has ramped up arms manufacturing since the war began last year, pumping massive funds into its military machine, despite a weaker ruble and stubbornly high inflation.

According to a ministry document, spending is set to jump by over 68% year-on-year to almost 10.8 trillion rubles ($111.15 billion).

That totals some 6% of GDP, more than spending allocated for social policy.

"The focus of economic policy is shifting from an anti-crisis agenda to the promotion of national development goals," the finance ministry said in the document.

How Russia's war is testing NATO's resolve

This includes "strengthening the country's defence capacity" and "integrating" the four Ukrainian regions — Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — that Moscow claimed to annex last year.

Skip next section German cartel office approves Rheinmetall venture in Ukraine
September 28, 2023

German cartel office approves Rheinmetall venture in Ukraine

Germany's cartel office has cleared the formation of a joint venture between German defense contractor Rheinmetall and the state-owned Ukrainian Defense Industry (UDI).

The venture is to be based in Kyiv and will work on service and maintenance for military vehicles there. The office said there would be no competitive overlaps in Germany.

Rheinmetall makes military vehicles including the Leopard main battle tank and Puma infantry fighting vehicle.
State-owned UDI has some 67,000 employees.

German-made Leopard tanks reshape Ukraine's counteroffensive

Skip next section Russia's air force has lost 90 fixed-wing aircraft: UK
September 28, 2023

Russia's air force has lost 90 fixed-wing aircraft: UK

The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) have lost roughly 90 fixed-wing aircraft in combat since February 2022, according to the daily intellegence report by the UK's Defence Ministry.

Russia has been flying some its combat aircraft types far more intensively than in peacetime, the ministry said in a post on platform X, formerly Twitter.

"All aircraft have a projected lifespan, in flying hours. It is highly likely that with this extra wartime use, Russia is eating into many of its airframes' lifespans far more quickly than VKS planned for," it said. 

"The need for extra maintenance is complicated by a shortage of spare parts because of the increasing demand and international sanctions."

Skip next section Ukraine thwarts 'massive' drone attack
September 28, 2023

Ukraine thwarts 'massive' drone attack

Ukraine's military forces said they destroyed over 30 Russian unmanned aerial vehicles, largely thwarting a "massive" drone attack overnight. 

The drones were intercepted over the Black Sea coastal regions and further inland, according to the spokesperson for the Ukrainian southern military command, Nataliya Gumenyuk.

Moscow "does not stop the pressure and searching for new tactics: namely, with the use of mass attacks", she said on the messaging app Telegram.

"Tonight, several groups of strike UAVs were launched... air defense worked along almost the entire southern direction — in Odesa, Mykolaiv regions. Also, much higher north — the enemy aimed its attacks on central Ukraine," Gumenyuk said.

The Ukrainian General Staff, in their daily update, said the attack involved 39 Iranian-made Shahed drones, of which 31 were destroyed.

Ukraine's Air Force reported a higher total of 44 Shahed drones, of which 34 were destroyed. "Fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft missile units and mobile fire groups were engaged to repel the attack," the military said on Telegram.

Governor of the Odesa region, Oleh Kiper, said his region was the main target, but that the attack left no casualties. 

mk/ab (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)  

How important are drones proving for Ukraine?