Russia-Ukraine war: US secretary of state Blinken tells Zelenskiy war is at ‘pivotal moment’ – as it happened | Ukraine

 Russia-Ukraine war: US secretary of state Blinken tells Zelenskiy war is at ‘pivotal moment’ – as it happened | Ukraine


US secretary of state Blinken tells President Zelenskiy war is at ‘pivotal moment’

The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, told Volodymyr Zelenskiy the war with Russia was in a “pivotal moment” as Ukraine’s military continues its counteroffensive in the south of the country.

Blinken made a surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Thursday after the US unveiled nearly $2.7bn (£2.4bn) in new military support to Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia.

AP reports that Blinken told Zelenskiy:

We know this is a pivotal moment, more than six months into Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, as your counteroffensive is now under way and proving effective.

Zelenskiy replied:

We are grateful for the signal, for this enormous support that you’re providing on a day-to-day basis.

The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, meets Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during his visit in Kyiv.
The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, meets Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during his visit in Kyiv. Photograph: Reuters

Key events

Closing summary

It is just after 9pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, told Volodymyr Zelenskiy the war with Russia was in a “pivotal moment” as Ukraine’s military continues its counteroffensive in the south of the country. AP reports that Blinken told Zelenskiy: “We know this is a pivotal moment, more than six months into Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, as your counteroffensive is now under way and proving effective.”

  • Blinken’s surprise trip to Kyiv came after the United States unveiled nearly $2.7bn (£2.4bn) in new military support to Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia. Blinken travelled in secret on his second trip to Kyiv since the Russian invasion began in February. Blinken approved $2bn in foreign military financing, a programme in which the US offers loans or grants to other nations to buy US-produced weapons. This amount comes on top of the announcement by the defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, of another $675m in military assistance that includes more arms, ammunition and supplies for Himars, the precision-guided rockets that can hit targets as far as 80km (50 miles) away.

  • Poland and the Baltic states have announced they will temporarily restrict access for Russian citizens holding EU visas. The prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland said in a statement that the move had been taken to address “public policy and security threats” arising from the “substantial and growing influx of Russian citizens” into the EU. “We believe that this is becoming a serious threat to our public security and to the overall shared Schengen area,” they said. The measures are expected to come into force by 19 September, and will “restrict the entry into the Schengen area for Russian citizens travelling for tourism, culture, sport and business purposes”.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II who has died at the age of 96. He said on Twitter: “It is with deep sadness that we learned of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of the people, we extend sincere condolences to the @RoyalFamily, the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over this irreparable loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

  • Ukraine has now recaptured more than 700 sq km (270 sq miles) of territory in Kharkiv and in the south, according to a Ukrainian general. Speaking at a public briefing, Brig Gen Oleksiy Gromov said Ukrainian forces had advanced as far as 50km (31 miles) into Russian lines and retaken more than 20 villages. The comments are the most detailed public assessment so far of Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

  • Ukraine has struck over 400 Russian targets with Himars rocket systems supplied by the United States, Reuters reports. Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, told reporters at Ramstein airbase in southern Germany: “We are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine in the use of these systems. For example, the Ukrainians have struck over 400 targets with the Himars and they’ve had devastating effect.”

  • Norway said it will donate approximately 160 Hellfire missiles to Ukraine as well as launching pads and guidance units. During the meeting of 40 allied defence departments at the Ramstein base in Germany, Norwegian defence minister Bjørn Arild Gram said his country would also supply Ukraine with night-vision equipment, adding that Kyiv had requested the weapons, reports AP.

  • Two people have been killed and four have been injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, according to the office of the prosecutor general of Ukraine. A post on Facebook said there had been “massive shelling” in the central part of the city of Bakhmut on Thursday, and that the shells had come from the Soviet-designed Uragan rocket system. It added that a woman had also died near her home after shelling in the town of Toretska in the New York region.

  • Ukraine’s top military chief has claimed responsibility for an attack on Russia’s Saky airbase in Crimea last month. It marks the first official acknowledgment from Kyiv that it was behind the strike, which destroyed at least nine Russian aircraft at the site.

  • About 51,250 Russian personnel have now been killed since the start of the invasion, the Ukrainian military has said. The figure represents an increase of 640 since Wednesday’s update.

  • Local authorities said that two people have been killed and five have been injured in Russian shelling in Kharkiv’s industrial district.

  • Three bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a building shelled by Russian forces in the eastern city of Sloviansk.

  • The UK’s ministry of defence said Ukraine appears to be “imposing pressure on Russian forces” in Kherson and has probably destroyed a bridge that served as “one of the main routes between the northern and southern sectors of Russia’s military presence along the Dnipro River”.

  • The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Dame Barbara Woodward, has said the deportation of people from Ukraine has “chilling echoes from European history” and that the “appalling term ‘de-nazification’” was a “cover for obliterating Ukraine from the map”.

  • Belarus has started military exercises near the Polish border, its capital Minsk, and the northeastern region of Vitebsk, according to the country’s defence ministry. It said the exercises, which are set to last a week, will practise “liberating territory temporarily seized by the enemy” and regaining control over border regions.

That’s it from me, Joe Middleton, and the Russia-Ukraine war blog today. Thank you for reading.

Inna Sovsun, a Ukrainian MP, paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II who has died at the age of 96.

Sovsun said on Twitter that Her Majesty was a “faithful friend of Ukraine” and offered her “deepest condolences” to the British people.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, dies aged 96

Queen Elizabeth passed away.
This is a loss not only for the UK, but for the whole world.
The Queen was a faithful friend of Ukraine & she wasn’t afraid to talk about it.
British people, you’re one of our greatest allies & today, Ukrainians offer you their deepest condolences
RIP pic.twitter.com/IYdoMqyEWI

— Inna Sovsun (@InnaSovsun) September 8, 2022

Ukraine has struck over 400 Russian targets with Himars rocket systems supplied by the United States, Reuters reports.

Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, told reporters at Ramstein airbase in southern Germany:

We are seeing real and measurable gains from Ukraine in the use of these systems. For example, the Ukrainians have struck over 400 targets with the Himars and they’ve had devastating effect.

The Himars multiple launch rocket system is a mobile unit that can simultaneously launch multiple precision-guided missiles.

Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh

Our defence and security editor Dan Sabbagh offers his analysis of Ukraine’s counterattack, which seems to have taken Russia and everyone else by surprise:

A sudden, unexpected Ukrainian military success south-east of Kharkiv changes the analysis of Kyiv’s counterattack strategy. What had been expected to be a well-telegraphed effort to isolate the city of Kherson in the south has been turned on its head by the sudden pushback against Russian forces at the northern edge of the front.

The effort started on Tuesday, and by Wednesday the US Institute for the Study of War estimated that Ukraine’s forces had, in a surprise attack, advanced “at least 20km into Russian-held territory” recapturing approximately 400 sq km (154 sq miles) in an area scarcely focused on by military analysts until now.

According to one Russian military blogger, as highlighted by Rob Lee, a former US marine and military analyst, Ukrainian forces massed a “powerful tank fist” with 15 tanks to break through the occupiers lines. Cleverly, Kyiv had brought up its air defences in support, preventing Russian jets from immediately striking back to eradicate the gains, a sign of more sophisticated battlefield tactics.

The fighting is concentrated around the village of Balakliya, roughly 45 miles south-east of Kharkiv – which appears to still be held by the Russians, but which Ukraine hopes to surround – and in the vicinity of Shevchenkovo on the way to the Russian staging post of Kupiansk. The military aim is to increase pressure on Izium, a strategic city captured by the invaders at the end of April, a gateway to the western Donbas.

Read more: Ukraine counterattack takes Russia – and everyone else – by surprise

Nato head warns that Ukraine and its supporters face ‘tough winter’

The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, warned today that Ukraine and its supporters face a tough winter in coming months.

Stoltenberg told the Associated Press:

We need at least to be prepared for this winter, because there is no sign of Russia giving up its goal of taking control of Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine is approaching a pivotal moment where we see that the Russian offensive in Donbas has stalled. We see that the Ukrainians have been able to fight back, to strike back and regain some territory.

Despite the promise of further and equipment and weapons during a meeting of Western allies in Ramstein, south-west Germany on Thursday, more winter equipment is required, said the head of the western military alliance.

He said:

Winter’s coming, and winter’s going to be hard on the battlefield in Ukraine. We know that the size of the Ukrainian army is now roughly three times as big as what it was last winter.

“They are in urgent need for more winter uniforms, for generators that create electricity, warmth, and also of course tents and other things that can help them through the winter.

Stoltenberg also urged western countries that were suffering with high energy prices and inflation to keep the faith and that the price of ending support now would be a price that’s too high to pay.

He said:

I understand that many people are frustrated and actually feel the pain in Nato countries with increasing energy prices, the cost of living. But at the same time, we have to remember that the price we pay is measured in money, in US dollars or pounds or euros, while the price that Ukrainians are paying is measured in lives lost every day.

If President Putin wins in Ukraine, then the world will become more dangerous. Then he will see that he is rewarded, that he can get this way by using brutal military force, by invading a neighbour, by blatantly violating international rule and attacking innocent civilians.

US secretary of state Blinken tells President Zelenskiy war is at ‘pivotal moment’

The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, told Volodymyr Zelenskiy the war with Russia was in a “pivotal moment” as Ukraine’s military continues its counteroffensive in the south of the country.

Blinken made a surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Thursday after the US unveiled nearly $2.7bn (£2.4bn) in new military support to Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia.

AP reports that Blinken told Zelenskiy:

We know this is a pivotal moment, more than six months into Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, as your counteroffensive is now under way and proving effective.

Zelenskiy replied:

We are grateful for the signal, for this enormous support that you’re providing on a day-to-day basis.

The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, meets Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during his visit in Kyiv.
The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, meets Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during his visit in Kyiv. Photograph: Reuters

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer reports:

“The war in Ukraine will continue until the complete defeat of Russia,” Igor Girkin, a far-right nationalist, grumbled in a video address to his 430,000 followers on Telegram on Monday. “We have already lost, the rest is just a matter of time.”

Girkin, a former Russian intelligence colonel who became a commander of the pro-Russian separatist forces in 2014, is arguably the most prominent voice within an increasingly loud and angry group of ultra-nationalist and pro-war bloggers who have taken to berating the Kremlin for its failure to achieve its tactical objectives as the fighting in Ukraine has entered its seventh month.

After Ukraine’s latest counteroffensive in the south and the north-east of the country, these bloggers – who have so far been granted a public platform denied to many – have intensified their criticism of the Kremlin, slamming the army’s inadequate performance in the war and urging Vladimir Putin to declare a full-scale mobilisation.

Read more: ‘We have already lost’: far-right Russian bloggers slam military failures

Summary

It is just after 6pm in Kyiv. Here is everything you might have missed:

  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has made a surprise trip to Kyiv as the United States unveiled nearly $2.7bn (£2.4bn) in new military support to Ukraine and other European countries threatened by Russia. Blinken travelled in secret on his second trip to Kyiv since the Russian invasion began in February. Blinken approved $2bn in foreign military financing, a programme in which the US offers loans or grants to other nations to buy US-produced weapons. This amount comes on top of the announcement by the defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, of another $675m in military assistance that includes more arms, ammunition and supplies for Himars, the precision-guided rockets that can hit targets as far as 80km (50 miles) away.

  • Poland and the Baltic states have announced they will temporarily restrict access for Russian citizens holding EU visas. The prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland said in a statement that the move had been taken to address “public policy and security threats” arising from the “substantial and growing influx of Russian citizens” into the EU. “We believe that this is becoming a serious threat to our public security and to the overall shared Schengen area,” they said. The measures are expected to come into force by 19 September, and will “restrict the entry into the Schengen area for Russian citizens travelling for tourism, culture, sport and business purposes”.

  • Ukraine has now recaptured more than 700 sq km (270 sq miles) of territory in Kharkiv and in the south, according to a Ukrainian general. Speaking at a public briefing, Brig Gen Oleksiy Gromov said Ukrainian forces had advanced as far as 50km (31 miles) into Russian lines and retaken more than 20 villages. The comments are the most detailed public assessment so far of Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

  • Norway said it will donate approximately 160 Hellfire missiles to Ukraine as well as launching pads and guidance units. During the meeting of 40 allied defence departments at the Ramstein base in Germany, Norwegian defence minister Bjørn Arild Gram said his country would also supply Ukraine with night-vision equipment, adding that Kyiv had requested the weapons, reports AP.

  • Two people have been killed and four have been injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, according to the office of the prosecutor general of Ukraine. A post on Facebook said there had been “massive shelling” in the central part of the city of Bakhmut on Thursday, and that the shells had come from the Soviet-designed Uragan rocket system. It added that a woman had also died near her home after shelling in the town of Toretska in the New York region.

  • Ukraine’s top military chief has claimed responsibility for an attack on Russia’s Saky airbase in Crimea last month. It marks the first official acknowledgment from Kyiv that it was behind the strike, which destroyed at least nine Russian aircraft at the site.

  • About 51,250 Russian personnel have now been killed since the start of the invasion, the Ukrainian military has said. The figure represents an increase of 640 since Wednesday’s update.

  • Local authorities said that two people have been killed and five have been injured in Russian shelling in Kharkiv’s industrial district.

  • Three bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a building shelled by Russian forces in the eastern city of Sloviansk.

  • The UK’s ministry of defence said Ukraine appears to be “imposing pressure on Russian forces” in Kherson and has probably destroyed a bridge that served as “one of the main routes between the northern and southern sectors of Russia’s military presence along the Dnipro River”.

  • The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Dame Barbara Woodward, has said the deportation of people from Ukraine has “chilling echoes from European history” and that the “appalling term ‘de-nazification’” was a “cover for obliterating Ukraine from the map”.

  • Belarus has started military exercises near the Polish border, its capital Minsk, and the northeastern region of Vitebsk, according to the country’s defence ministry. It said the exercises, which are set to last a week, will practise “liberating territory temporarily seized by the enemy” and regaining control over border regions.

Activists from Greenpeace blocked a shipment of Russian gas from unloading at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Sweden today, the terminal owner and environmental group said.

A spokesperson for terminal owner Gasum, Olga Väisänen, told AFP.

Activists climbed up on the loading arms at the terminal and they have boats in the water.

She said the protest at the Nynäshamn terminal near Stockholm began around 10am (8am GMT) and was still going on more than five hours later, though police had forced the activists to climb down from the loading arms.

Greenpeace’s sailboat Witness and activists in kayaks were blocking the Dutch-registered LNG tanker Coral Energy from docking and unloading.

They unfurled banners reading “Stop financing Putin’s war” and “Stop Russian fossil trade”.

Greenpeace campaigner Karolina Carlsson said in a statement.

That Russian gas is still allowed to flow into Sweden, more than six months after Putin began his bloody invasion of Ukraine, is unacceptable.

We all know that fossil fuels from Russia are financing the war. The [Swedish] parliament has given the government a clear mandate to stop all imports of Russian energy to Sweden and it is prime minister Magdalena Andersson’s obligation to act on this.

These are some of the latest images to be sent to us over the newswires from Ukraine.

A man holds his child at the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine which shows photos of his killed fellow soldiers in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, September 8. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A man holds his child at the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, which shows photos of his killed fellow soldiers in Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP
Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers wear protective clothing during a nuclear emergency training session for civilians in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on September 8, 2022 (Photo by YURIY DYACHYSHYN / AFP) (Photo by YURIY DYACHYSHYN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers wear protective clothing during a nuclear emergency training session for civilians in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Photograph: Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty Images
The interior of the Martynov Palace of Culture after it was shelled, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, September 8, 2022 in this still image obtained from handout video. Donetsk Regional Police/Handout via REUTERS
The interior of the Martynov Palace of Culture after it was shelled, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Bakhmut, Donetsk region. Photograph: Donetsk Regional Police/Reuters

Two people have been killed and four have been injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, according to the office of the prosecutor general of Ukraine.

A post on Facebook said there had been “massive shelling” in the central part of the city of Bakhmut on Thursday, and that the shells had come from the Soviet-designed Uragan rocket system.

“The invaders’ shells hit private houses, shops, gas stations and high-rise buildings. One local resident died, four others were injured,” the post said.

It added that a woman had also died near her home after shelling in the town of Toretska in the New York region.

Ukraine has recaptured more than 700 sq km, says general

Ukraine has now recaptured more than 700 sq km (270 sq miles) of territory in Kharkiv and in the south, according to a Ukrainian general.

Speaking at a public briefing, Brig Gen Oleksiy Gromov said Ukrainian forces had advanced as far as 50km (31 miles) into Russian lines and retaken more than 20 villages.

The comments are the most detailed public assessment so far of Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

“The total amount of territory returned to Ukrainian control in the Kharkiv and Pivdennyi Buh directions stands at over 700 sq km,” Gromov said.

Pivdennyi Buh is a river that runs through the southern frontline city of Mykolaiv before discharging into the Black Sea.

Poland and Baltic states to restrict visas for Russian citizens

Poland and the Baltic states have announced they will temporarily restrict access for Russian citizens holding EU visas.

The prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland said in a statement that the move had been taken to address “public policy and security threats” arising from the “substantial and growing influx of Russian citizens” into the EU.

“We believe that this is becoming a serious threat to our public security and to the overall shared Schengen area,” they said.

The measures are expected to come into force by 19 September, and will “restrict the entry into the Schengen area for Russian citizens travelling for tourism, culture, sport and business purposes”.

Exceptions will be made for various categories, including “dissidents”, “humanitarian cases”, family members and holders of residence permits in EU countries.

“We fully uphold the need to continue to support opponents of the Putin regime and provide them with opportunities to leave Russia,” the leaders said.

But they added that it was “unacceptable that citizens of the aggressor state are able to freely travel in the EU, while at the same time people in Ukraine are being tortured and murdered”.

Lorenzo Tondo reports for us from Kyiv

An independent Italian journalist has been wounded while covering the fighting near the frontline in the southern region of Kherson.

Italian authorities said Mattia Sorbi, a contributor to several Italian newspapers, was taken for surgery after an incident on Thursday, but added that his condition was not life threatening.

The Italian foreign ministry said Sorbi was in hospital in Russian-occupied territory, but that it was in touch with him and working to bring him back to Italy soon.

Ukraine said last week that it had launched offensives in several directions in Kherson, but has since released few details and continues to insist on a “regime of silence” for strategic reasons, with journalists temporarily banned from travelling to the frontlines in the south.





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