Biden and Zelenskyy to meet Thursday in Washington
The war in Ukraine, which broke out in February 2022 with Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, shows no sign of ending as both sides intensify attacks to gain control of contested regions.
Read our latest updates here. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.
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Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Here are the latest developments:
Saturday, Sept. 16 (Tokyo time)
1:00 p.m. Ukrainian drones and other cutting-edge technologies are upending the conventional battlefield wisdom that the side with most heavy weapons easily subdues the other. Read more about Nikkei’s on-the-ground reporting here.
12:50 p.m. Russia says its air defenses shot down two Ukrainian drones over the country’s Kaluga and Tver region.
12:30 p.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was shown Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonic missiles as well as strategic bombers on Saturday by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Interfax news agency reported.
Shoigu, who met Kim on his arrival in Russia’s far eastern Primorsky region, showed Kim three strategic bombers: the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3.
8:20 a.m. A Ukrainian court ordered a former government minister detained for 60 days with no option of bail on suspicion of espousing pro-Russian sentiment and committing treason. Nestor Shufrych is accused of maintaining contact with a fugitive Ukrainian parliamentarian suspected by investigators to have worked for Russian security services and of abetting plans to encourage pro-Moscow separatism in eastern Ukraine.
7:00 a.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed admiration for the rapid development of Russia’s aviation technology during his visit on Friday to a Russian fighter jet factory, KCNA reports. On Friday, Kim inspected the factory, which is under Western sanctions, as part of a visit Washington and its allies fear could strengthen Russia’s military in Ukraine and bolster Pyongyang’s missile program.
2:54 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will meet Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House on Thursday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan says.
Zelenskyy also is expected to meet with congressional leaders from the Democratic and Republican parties while in Washington, according to Sullivan.
2:46 a.m. The European Commission says it will not extend the restrictions on Ukrainian grain exports to five members of the European Union when they expire on Sept. 15.
The restrictions imposed in May had allowed Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian grains. Market distortions that led to the measures have since “disappeared,” the commission says in a statement.
Friday, Sept. 15
10:14 p.m. Russia’s central bank raises its key interest rate by 100 basis points to 13%, jacking up the cost of borrowing for the third consecutive meeting in response to a weak ruble and other persistent inflationary pressures.
The bank also gave hawkish guidance that it would consider further rate increases at upcoming meetings and said inflationary risks remained significant.
“We raised the rate due to the appearance of inflation risks and will keep it at high levels for quite a long time, until we are convinced of the sustainable nature of the inflation slowdown,” says the bank’s governor, Elvira Nabiullina.
The Bank of Russia forecasts inflation of 6%-7% in 2023, with a decline to the bank’s target of 4% in 2024.
The central bank hiked its benchmark interest rate by 3.5 percentage points to 12% at an extraordinary meeting on Aug. 15 as the Russian currency weakened past 100 rubles to the dollar.
2:29 p.m. Ukraine’s military said that its troops have captured the village of Andriivka near Bakhmut, the eastern city that fell into Russian hands in May after being besieged for many months. The Russian side has suffered significant casualties and loss of equipment, while Ukrainian troops have been able to fortify some areas, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said in a morning report.
6:15 a.m. Ukraine said on Thursday that it had attacked two Russian patrol ships and destroyed a sophisticated air defense system in the west of occupied Crimea, ramping up its strikes to challenge Moscow’s dominance in the Black Sea region. The attacks come a day after Kyiv said it seriously damaged a Russian submarine and landing ship undergoing repairs in a missile strike on a shipyard in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Ukrainian military in a post on Telegram messenger said it hit two Russian patrol boats in the southwest of the Black Sea, causing “certain damage” in a morning attack.
12:15 a.m. The U.S. has sanctioned Turkey-based companies as part of its efforts to cut off supplies for Russia’s war effort.
Margiana Insaat Dis Ticaret has made “hundreds of shipments” to two Russia-based entities that have been under U.S. sanctions, the U.S. Treasury Department says. These shipments include weapons components designated by American authorities as “high-priority items” for export controls.
The other Turkey-based company, Demirci Bilisim Ticaret Sanayi, “has sent sensors and measuring tools into Russia,” the Treasury Department says.
“The U.S. Department of the Treasury has repeatedly raised the issue of the shipment or transshipment of dual-use goods to Russia with the Government of [Turkey] and the Turkish private sector,” the Treasury Department says.
These two companies were part of nearly 100 new sanctions targeting Russian elites, industrial and finance companies and technology suppliers.
Thursday, Sept. 14
11:55 p.m. President Joe Biden appoints Penny Pritzker, a former commerce secretary, to serve as the new U.S. special representative for Ukraine’s economic recovery. She will work with Kyiv, American allies, international financial institutions and the private sector to lead U.S. efforts toward rebuilding the Ukrainian economy, Biden said in a White House statement.
“This includes mobilizing public and private investment, shaping donor priorities, and working to open export markets and businesses shut down by Russia’s brutal attacks and destruction,” he said.
6:00 a.m. The U.S. ambassador to Russia on Wednesday met with imprisoned American Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction that both Washington and Whelan dispute. Ambassador Lynne Tracy traveled to a prison colony about 350 kilometers east of Moscow where Whelan is held, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters. The 53-year-old Whelan, a corporate security director and former Marine, was detained in Moscow in 2018 and convicted in 2020.
4:30 a.m. The U.S. is watching what follows from the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and “will not hesitate to impose sanctions” if appropriate, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller says.
“When you see Kim Jong Un vowing to provide full, unconditional support for Russia’s so-called sacred fight to defend its security interests — which of course is not what it’s doing with respect to the war in Ukraine — that of course is troubling, ” Miller tells reporters.
The U.S. is looking for signs of weapons flowing from North Korea to Russia or in the other direction, Miller says.
Kim met with Putin at a space center in eastern Russia on Wednesday. Putin promised support for North Korea’s development of satellites, Yonhap News Agency reports. North Korea has sought to put satellites in orbit in violation of a United Nations Security Council ban on ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang.
“It is troubling when you see the Russians talking about cooperating with North Korea on programs that would violate U.N. Security Council Resolutions that Russia itself voted for,” Miller says. Read more about the summit here.
Wednesday, Sept. 13
2:00 p.m. The Sevastopol Shipyard on the Crimean Peninsula was on fire early on Wednesday, and two ships were damaged after Ukraine launched 10 missiles and three speedboat attacks on the port, Russia’s defense ministry says. Seven missiles were downed by Russia’s air defense systems, and all three boats were destroyed by a patrol ship, the ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app. “As a result of being hit by enemy cruise missiles, two ships under repair were damaged,” the ministry said.
1:51 p.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Russian President Vladimir Putin at a rocket launch site in eastern Russia on Wednesday, in their first meeting since 2019, Russian state media reports. Kim said before the meeting that his visit to Russia shows the strategic importance of Moscow and Pyongyang coming closer now that the U.S., Japan and South Korea are forming stronger bonds.
10:00 a.m. Ukraine carried out a missile attack on Sevastopol in Crimea early on Wednesday, with Russia’s air defense systems engaging against the assault, the Russia-installed governor of Sevastopol says. Mikhail Razvozhayev says on the Telegram messaging app that the attack caused a fire at a “noncivilian facility” in the port city. The scale and other details of the attack were not immediately known.
12:51 a.m. Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major industrialized countries condemned the staging of what they called “sham elections” by Russia in occupied Ukrainian territories in a statement published by the British government.
“These sham ‘elections’ are a further violation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and of the U.N. Charter,” the statement said.
Tuesday, Sept. 12
11:07 p.m. Denmark will donate a package worth 5.8 billion Danish crowns ($833 million) to Ukraine, including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, tank ammunition and anti-aircraft guns, reports Reuters, citing a statement from the Ministry of Defense.
12:44 p.m. Laotian President Thongloun Sisoulith may visit Russia as early as October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Laotian Vice President Pany Yathotou on Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported. “I ask you to convey your warmest wishes and greetings to the president of Laos. We hope to see him in Russia, in my opinion, in October,” Putin was quoted as saying. Putin also said the two countries have “good prospects” for firming ties, including military relations.
11:40 a.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un entered Russia early Tuesday morning on his own train for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry. Analysts say the two will discuss arms sales as Moscow struggles to cope with Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the war. Read more.
1:00 a.m. Russia targeted a civilian cargo ship in the Black Sea last month, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tells Parliament. The Aug. 24 incident involved “multiple missiles,” says Sunak, citing declassified intelligence.
Kyiv has accused Russia of threatening civilian vessels in the area since Moscow decided in July to exit a deal that had allowed Ukraine to export grain safely via the Black Sea.
Monday, Sept. 11
6:55 p.m. Ukrainian forces have regained control from Russia of several gas and oil offshore drilling platforms close to Crimea, says Ukraine’s military intelligence (GUR), according to Reuters.
6:02 p.m. An emotional evaluation of one of President Vladimir Putin’s speeches reveals a high degree of anger and disgust but, surprisingly, almost no fear, clinical psychologist Nirit Pisano tells Nikkei Asia in an interview. The Russian leader’s lack of fear was also apparent in a speech a year after the invasion, she says.
“We need to know what we’re looking to deter,” says Pisano, who serves as chief psychology officer at Cognovi Labs, an Ohio-based artificial intelligence company that mixes machine learning and behavioral psychology to reveal how people are feeling in the moment and what drives their decisions. Read more.
3:01 p.m. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says he hopes Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will resume participation in the Group of 20 next year as he prepares to take over the grouping’s presidency from India.
Lula says he did not know why Xi and Putin did not attend the India summit. “We will invite them, and we hope they participate,” he says.
He also says he hopes the Ukraine war will be “over” by the time the G20 gathers in Rio de Janeiro in November 2024. Read more.
For earlier updates, click here.
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Biden and Zelenskyy to meet Thursday in Washington