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Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy visits northeastern battle zone

Published October 3, 2023last updated October 3, 2023

The Ukrainian president has visited troops fighting in the Kupiansk-Lyman area of the frontline, where Kviy's forces are under heavy pressure. Meanwhile, Ukraine says it shot down swarms of drones. DW has the latest.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy  is briefed on the combat situatio in a previous visit to frontline positions in the Donetsk region
Zelenskyy being briefed in a previous visit to frontline positions in the Donetsk regionImage: Ukrainian Presidential/ZUMA Wire/IMAGO
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited troops near the eastern front line, where Russian forces have been pressuring Kyiv's army in areas recently recaptured by Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said he had "discussed the operational situation on the battlefield, current issues and needs with commanders of brigades and battalions."

The Ukrainian leader also said he had inspected foreign-supplied weapons, including German-manufactured Leopard 2 tanks.

In other news, Ukraine says it successfully shot down all but three of more than 30 drones fired by Russian forces from the occupied Crimea. Kyiv said they were Iranian-made.

Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Tuesday, October 3:

Skip next section Biden seeks to reassure allies over Ukraine aid
October 3, 2023

Biden seeks to reassure allies over Ukraine aid

President Joe Biden held a call with Western allies on Tuesday to reassure them of Washington's commitment to funding Ukraine's efforts to fend off the Russian invasion.

He spoke with the leaders of Germany, the UK, Canada, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, the EU and NATO. The call came after Republican lawmakers blocked government funding for Ukraine.

"President Biden convened a call this morning with allies and partners to coordinate our ongoing support for Ukraine," the White House said in a statement.

The US allies stood by Biden, but Russia jumped on the opportunity, saying that it showed the Western fatigue over the war was growing.

Biden earlier in the day called on Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to rush through new aid for Ukraine.

"Speaker McCarthy and the majority of House Republicans must keep their word and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine as it defends itself," he wrote on social media.

Skip next section German military chief warns Ukraine war could escalate
October 3, 2023

German military chief warns Ukraine war could escalate

The head of the German military, General Carsten Breuer, has warned that the war in Ukraine could escalate and called for Germany's and NATO's capabilities to be strengthened.

Breuer, who holds the rank of inspector general, said on Tuesday that there had been early warnings ahead of both the 2014 seizure of the Crimean Peninsula and the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

He said that at the time, countries like Germany were stuck in a "comfort zone" and did not want to believe these indications. 

As a result of this, he said, Germany must now provide more support for countries that could be seen as frontier states, for example by setting up a brigade for Lithuania.  

"Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine underlines the relevance of combat-ready armed forces," Breuer said during a reception given by Germany's ambassador to NATO, Geza Andreas von Geyr. 

Breuer said that while it might have been good in the past to demonstrate strategic patience and calm, now it was necessary to act more quickly. 

Skip next section Russian defense minister says Ukraine 'weakened'
October 3, 2023

Russian defense minister says Ukraine 'weakened'

Moscow's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russian forces have "significantly weakened" the "combat potential" of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.  

Shoigu told a meeting of Russia's military leadership that Ukraine had been dealt sensitive blows. He said recent Ukrainian attacks in the Bakhmut and Soledar areas of Ukraine's Donetsk region had been repelled.

Meanwhile, Shoigu said Kyiv's efforts to to break through Russian defenses at Rabotyne and Verkhovoe, in the Zaporizhzhia region, had also failed. Those comments contradict Ukrainian statements, which have reported successful advances there.

The minister also said that Russia had enough volunteers and contract soldiers for the war in Ukraine with the number now standing at 335,000 people. Shoigu said a new mobilization was therefore not necessary.

Ukrainian artillery inflicts 'hell' on Russians near Bakhmut

Skip next section Zelenskyy visits soldiers in northeastern zone
October 3, 2023

Zelenskyy visits soldiers in northeastern zone

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been visiting troops fighting in the northeast on Tuesday and met commanders to discuss the battlefield situation.

While Zelenskyy did not give the exact location of the the visit, he did say he met soldiers fighting in the Kupiansk-Lyman sector where Russian forces have been staging attacks. 

"We met with brigade and battalion commanders to discuss the battlefield situation, pressing issues, and needs," Zelenskyy said on social media.

The post showed him meeting brigade members in a poorly lit room.

"Each of our combat brigades, each warrior who destroys the occupiers with every step forward, asserts that the Ukrainian victory will surely come. They are the control," Zelenskyy said. "I thank them for their service!"

The office of the president also posted video footage that showed Zelenskyy at various times during the visit. 

Zelenskyy inspected foreign-supplied weapons, including German-manufactured Leopard 2 tanks, which Kyiv lobbied its allies hard for before receiving them this year.

Kupiansk and the surrounding areas of the northeastern region of Kharkiv were recaptured by Ukrainian forces in September 2022. However, Moscow has since pushed back into the region.

Zelenskyy, who has regularly visited troops since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, also handed out awards.

He urged recipients not to lose "the motivation with which you so firmly defend the sovereignty of our state and the future of our generations."

Civilians evacuated as fighting intensifies in Kupiansk

Skip next section Ukraine says Russia shoots down 29 drones, missile
October 3, 2023

Ukraine says Russia shoots down 29 drones, missile

Ukraine says it has downed over two dozen drones, claiming they hailed from Iran, and a cruise missile that Russian forces launched from the Crimean peninsula.

Kyiv says Russia has resumed its campaign of aerial attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure that left millions without heating and water for long periods last year.

"On the night of October 3, 2023, Russian occupiers attacked [Ukraine] with 31 Shaheds [unmanned aerial vehicles] and an Iskander-K cruise missile," the air force said, adding that it had downed the missile and 29 of the drones.  

The drones and missiles were shot down by forces responsible for the southern region of Mykolaiv and the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, the air force said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday urged European Union foreign ministers who met in Kyiv to widen sanctions on Russia and also Iran for its supply of attack drones to Moscow.

Protecting Ukraine's capital against Russia's drone attacks

Skip next section UK says Russia's 'foreign agent' tag proving successful
October 3, 2023

UK says Russia's 'foreign agent' tag proving successful

The UK Ministry of Defence says new polling suggests that Russian authorities are successfully using the notorious "foreign agent" designation to move public opinion against the West and in favor of the war. 

The polling by Russia’s state-owned Russian Public Opinion Research Center suggests the state’s anti-West, pro-war narratives are gaining traction.

The polling said claimed 61% of those surveyed said that they considered people and organizations labeled "foreign agents" to be "traitors" who "disseminate lies" about Russia.

Russia has tightened and broadened the foreign agent legislation since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Those deemed foreign agents must mark their published work with a disclaimer noting their status.

"The measures significantly narrow the information space within Russia, making it increasingly difficult to articulate any viewpoint, including dissenting about the war, which deviates from the official line," the UK ministry said.

Russian eco-activists persevere amid crackdown on dissent

rc/kb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Skip next section Putin could soon announce new tilt at presidency
October 3, 2023

Putin could soon announce new tilt at presidency

Russian President Vladimir Putin may soon indicate he will stand in a 2024 presidential election, the country's Kommersant newspaper reports.

An election win would pave the way for the Kremlin chief to remain in power until 2030.

Officials suspect that Putin may announce at a conference in November that he will take part in the election in March next year. The newspaper cited unidentified sources close to the presidential administration.

Putin was handed the presidency by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999. He has been leader for longer than any other Russian ruler since Josef Stalin, although part of his period of effective rule saw him serve as prime minister.

Putin said last month he would make an announcement only after parliament called the presidential election, which should happen before the end of December.

Polls close in Russia and occupied areas of Ukraine