Russia-Ukraine war: EU says supply of weapons to Ukraine ‘absolutely vital’; missile strikes Zelenskiy’s home town – live

Von der Leyen: ‘absolutely vital’ for EU member states to support Ukraine with military equipment

In a quiet rebuke to Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, addressed European Union member states who were not fulfilling their commitments to equip Ukraine.

“To all member states: it’s absolutely vital and necessary to support Ukraine with the military equipment they need to defend themselves. They have proven that they are able to do that if they are well equipped,” she said. “This is the general recommendation to all member states.”

When Russian forces first invaded Ukraine, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, shocked the world in announcing a historic 180-degree policy turn on defence spending and exporting lethal weapons. He committed to sending missiles and anti-tank weapons to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression – but six months later, many of those much-needed weapons have yet to arrive.

In recent days, Ukraine upped its calls for more air defence and overall weapons deliveries, after a dramatically successful counter-offensive that has resulted in the recapturing of the Kharkiv region – but also retaliatory targeted attacks on the country’s infrastructure and repeated Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Key events

US imposes new sanctions on Russian individuals, entities

The US has imposed new sanctions 22 Russian individuals and two Russian entities.

The individuals include Maria Alexeyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, who has led Russia’s efforts to deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia and forced the adoption of Ukrainian children into Russian families.

The entities include Task Force Rusich, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group that has participated in combat alongside Russia’s military in Ukraine, even though the Kremlin’s main argument for the invasion of Ukraine was to “denazify” the country.

Russian forces launched 33 rocket attacks on military and civilian targets in Ukraine today, damaging the infrastructure of more than 20 settlements in the Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Mykolayiv oblasts, the general staff of the Ukraine armed forces said in its daily briefing.

The general staff said it believed that Russian forces were turning their focus to fully occupying the Donetsk oblast, holding captured territories and disrupting the activities of Ukrainian troops in other areas.

“There remains the threat of air and missile strikes throughout the territory of Ukraine,” the general staff warned.

A Ukrainian volunteer medic captured by Russian forces during their deadly siege of the port city of Mariupol delivered devastating testimony before US lawmakers on Thursday, recounting her experiences of torture, death and terror.

Yuliia Paievska, who was detained in Mariupol in March and held by Russian and pro-Russia forces for three months, spoke before the Helsinki Commission, a government agency created in part to promote compliance with human rights internationally.

Known by the nickname Taira, Paievska gained global attention after she slipped her bodycam footage to the Associated Press just before they left Mariupol.

Her voice choked with emotion, she listed for the commission some of the atrocities she witnessed in Mariupol and in captivity:

Pregnant prisoners, their fate unknown to their relatives or to the state.

A fighter who was beaten for three hours and then thrown into a basement like a sack. And only a day later, someone came to him.

A dead child in a mother’s arm.

A seven-year-old boy with bullet wounds dying in my lap because I could not ward off death in this case.

Prisoners in their cells screaming for weeks and dying from the torture without any medical help during this internment of hell. The only thing they felt before death was abuse and additional beating.

My friend, whose eyes I closed before his body closed down. And another friend. And another, and another.

A city of a half a million people dying before my eyes, under air strikes, methodical, planned.

Airstrikes on hospitals and residential areas.

A hospital full of wounded soldiers and civilians where anaesthetic drugs have run out and antibiotics are about to run out too.

Soldiers and entire medical staff sleeping two, three hours daily because surgeries are one right after another.

Medivac cars arriving every five, 10 minutes where the wounded and the dead are lying on top of each other, and whose fates are too impossible to understand even if you tried.

Burning cars with burning people in them.

Police officers taking out of the rubble women and children mutilated beyond recognition.

People collecting water from puddles.

Looted homes.

Dogs who once were pets dragging human limbs around the city.

Prisoners who were forced to take off clothes by their killers before they were murdered slowly and slaughtered.

Specially prepared torture chambers

“Do you know why we do this to you?” Paievska said a Russian soldier asked her as he tortured her. “Because you can,” she responded.

The accusations against the prisoners that are absolutely the same, where only the names change in the papers, and even the gender of the accused does not change. No one is trying to prove or investigate, evidence is obtained simply by using inhumane torture. #Taira #Ukraine

— Helsinki Commission (@HelsinkiComm) September 15, 2022

Russian troops launched missiles targeting infrastructure facilities in the Kirovohrad oblast in eastern Ukraine today, said Andrii Raikovych, governor of the region.

The attack was reported around the Petrove village, Raikovych said. Air defence was able to shoot down one rocket.

Von der Leyen: ‘absolutely vital’ for EU member states to support Ukraine with military equipment

In a quiet rebuke to Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, addressed European Union member states who were not fulfilling their commitments to equip Ukraine.

“To all member states: it’s absolutely vital and necessary to support Ukraine with the military equipment they need to defend themselves. They have proven that they are able to do that if they are well equipped,” she said. “This is the general recommendation to all member states.”

When Russian forces first invaded Ukraine, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, shocked the world in announcing a historic 180-degree policy turn on defence spending and exporting lethal weapons. He committed to sending missiles and anti-tank weapons to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression – but six months later, many of those much-needed weapons have yet to arrive.

In recent days, Ukraine upped its calls for more air defence and overall weapons deliveries, after a dramatically successful counter-offensive that has resulted in the recapturing of the Kharkiv region – but also retaliatory targeted attacks on the country’s infrastructure and repeated Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Von der Leyen: Ukraine has Europe by its side

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, ended her remarks in Kyiv by declaring that Ukraine has the European Union as a friend “forever”.

“We will never be able to match the sacrifice that the Ukrainians are giving when they lose their homes or they cry for their beloved ones that have gone. We will never be able to compensate what you do with your fight for democracy, for humanity, for the respect of the international rule of law,” Von der Leyen said. “But what we can tell you is that you have your European friends by your side as long as it takes, and we are friends forever.”

The European Union has earmarked €150m to aid internally displaced people in Ukraine get shelter through the winter, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said at Thursday’s press conference in Kyiv.

The EU has also set aside an additional €100m for reconstruction and repair work for schools that have been damaged in the invasion, with Von der Leyen noting that there are already 70 schools that immediately require work and 70,000 children who need schools to go back to. “It’s the children and the education where the future begins,” she said.

Von der Leyen: Ukraine’s ascension process to EU ‘is well on track’

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is in Kyiv for the third time since Russian forces invaded the country on 24 February – and since Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has begun more actively vying to join the European Union.

In June, Ukraine was granted candidacy status and today, Von der Leyen said the country’s “ascension process is well on track”.

“It’s impressive to see the speed, the determination, the preciseness to which you are progressing. We support you wherever we can,” she said in a joint press conference with Zelenskiy. “I cannot say to speed up the process because you are speeding it up. That is very good.”

Von der Leyen added that at the same time, “we have agreed that we need to work as much as possible to make sure that Ukraine has more business, more income and that it’s as seamless access to the European single market as possible for Ukraine.”

Von der Leyen congratulated Zelenskiy on Ukraine’s recent military success in recapturing large swathes of territory in the Kharkiv region, and noted how impressive it was to see how “life has come back to Kyiv” since her last visit.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is holding a joint press conference with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Ukraine has been vying to join the EU since the start of the Russian invasion, and was granted candidate status in June.

Ukraine’s accession process is on track.

In the meantime, we are deepening 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 cooperation.

Supporting fast recovery, winter preparedness and planning reconstruction. https://t.co/wrlZ3uPtQo

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 15, 2022

Authorities continued to work to restore the liberated territories of the Kharkiv region back to their normal state, as the threat of landmines persisted and many areas still lacked access to electricity.

A 54-year-old man was injured in a mine explosion in the Kupiansk district, and there have been other cases of detonations of civilians, Oleh Syniehubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, said on Telegram. “I once again call on residents not to hurry back to the liberated territories until the demining is completed,” Syniehubov said.

Demining is a priority at the moment, and in particular, demining “power lines, roads and life support facilities” so that the state emergency service can quickly work to then restore electricity to the places without it, Syniehubov said.

In the meantime, Russian troops continue to launch missiles into the city of Kharkiv and into populated areas of Kharkiv, Syniehubov said. There have been no casualties, but the shelling damaged five buildings in the city of Vovchansk.

Two loud explosions have just been reported in the southern part of the Russian-occupied Melitopol, a city in the Zaporizhzhia oblast, Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov said on Telegram.

Fedorov did not elaborate on the explosions, but hinted at “losses of the enemy”.

Reuters is reporting that Germany has given more details of its intention to supply further equipment to Ukraine. Defence minister Christine Lambrecht said in Berlin that her country will supply two more multiple rocket launchers to Kyiv.

“We have decided to deliver two more MARS II multiple rocket launchers including 200 rockets to Ukraine,” she told a Bundeswehr conference, adding the training of the Ukrainian operators was expected to start in September.

“On top of this, we will send 50 Dingo armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine,” Lambrecht announced, referring to a type of armoured vehicle.

She also said a deal on a circle swap of infantry fighting vehicles with Greece and Ukraine was almost completed, meaning Germany would soon hand over 40 Marder IFVs to Greece while Greece, in turn, would pass on 40 of its Soviet-built BMP-1 IFVs to Ukraine.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is in Samarkand in Uzbekistan, where he is attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, and has met China’s president, Xi Jinping.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh (R) in Samarkand.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh (R) in Samarkand. Photograph: SPUTNIK/Reuters

The Russian news agency Tass is carrying some quotes from the Russian president. In a pointed rebuke to the US, he told attenders: “Attempts to create a unipolar world have recently taken on an absolutely ugly shape and are absolutely unacceptable for the vast majority of states on the planet.”

Tass quotes Xi saying that the world is facing “colossal changes unprecedented in history” and that Russia and the People’s Republic of China would work together to “set an example of a responsible world power and play a leading role in bringing such a rapidly changing world onto a path of sustainable and positive development.”

Putin said that trade turnover between China and Russia had increased by 35% last year.

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Minerva Chua