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Port of Sevastopol

Photo: IMAGO/Sergei Malgavko / IMAGO/ITAR-TASS

What happened in the past few hours

In the port city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, there have been several explosions, according to media reports. The Russian Defense Ministry, on the other hand, only announced on Sunday: "Two Ukrainian drones were destroyed by air defense over the southwestern part of the Crimean peninsula." Meanwhile, several Telegram channels published photos showing a glow of fire over the city. Local residents reported a strong smell of burning. Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014 in violation of international law.

According to the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, no infrastructure objects were hit. The port city is also the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Razvozhayev explained the smell of burning with a smoke screen, which the Navy had used to protect against the drones. "Yes, the smell is unpleasant, but completely harmless," he wrote on Telegram.

In recent days, Ukraine has repeatedly attacked targets in Crimea with drones and cruise missiles. Among other things, a shipyard and two warships were damaged, and a day later, according to information from Kiev, a modern S-400 anti-aircraft unit was destroyed. Russia has not yet confirmed the loss of the S-400. Ukraine has been defending itself against a Russian war of aggression for a good year and a half.

This is what Kiev says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked the units involved for recapturing the village of Klishchiivka in the east of the country. "Today I would like to make special mention of the soldiers who are gradually taking back Ukraine's property, especially in the Bakhmut area," Zelenskyy said in his daily video message on Sunday evening. "Klishchiivka. Splendid fellows," he said.

The Ukrainian military had previously reported the recapture of the village in the south of Bakhmut. There has been fierce fighting for weeks around Klishchiivka, which was occupied by the Russians at the beginning of the year. With the liberation of the village, the tactical situation of the Russian occupying forces in Bakhmut itself deteriorates. The Russian military now faces the threat of being pinched from the north and south.

More on the subject

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  • Near Bakhmut: Kiev announces recapture of the village of Klishchiivka

In addition to the Ukrainian military, Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the country's rescue workers. Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression about a year and a half ago, Russian troops have also shelled many Ukrainian cities far behind the front line. The employees of the Ukrainian Civil Defense have therefore been working for months to rescue the injured, but also to recover the dead.

International reactions

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley has defended Ukraine's counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territories against criticism. The offensive is "slower than expected, but constant," Milley said on Sunday in an interview with the US news channel CNN. Contrary to the assessment of "some observers," the counteroffensive "did not fail," he said. However, "a lot of time will be needed" to achieve the goal formulated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and "throw all Russians out of the country".

Since June, a counteroffensive by the Ukrainian army has been underway to recapture Russian-occupied territories in the south and east of the country. Earlier, Kiev received new arms supplies from its Western allies and formed new battalions. The Ukrainian army continues to be "very powerful," Milley said in the CNN interview.

Zelensky is scheduled to be received at the White House by US President Joe Biden on Thursday to discuss US continued support for Kyiv against Russia's war of aggression.

In addition, Zelensky is scheduled to hold talks with the leaders of Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress. The parliament in Washington is currently discussing another military aid package for Ukraine worth 24 billion dollars.

In Germany, too, there is a debate about possible arms aid to Ukraine: CDU defense expert Roderich Kiesewetter expects a decision on the delivery of German Taurus cruise missiles soon. "On Tuesday there is a Ramstein meeting, and there we will experience certain innovations that Omid Nouripour announced last week," Kiesewetter said on Sunday evening in the ARD program "Anne Will". I am firmly convinced that we will get a date in the coming week by when Taurus, by when F-16s, but also by when ATACMS will be delivered."

Green Party chairman Omid Nouripour said on Thursday evening on ZDF that he assumed that "very quickly the announcement will actually come that the Taurus are going over because they are needed." There are still some details to be clarified and talks to be held with partners, but this will happen quickly.

Ukraine has been demanding Taurus cruise missiles for some time. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has always been cautious about this. U.S. media had recently reported that Washington could soon hand over short-range missiles of the type ATACMS (English: Army Tactical Missile System) to Ukraine.

With the two longer-range weapons systems, Kyiv could, for example, attack the supply of the Russian army deep in the occupied territory.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also joined the debate and emphasized the importance of such weapons systems for warfare. He welcomes the fact that "some allies – Great Britain, France, the United States – have already delivered long-range missile systems," Stoltenberg told the newspapers of the Funke media group.

Germany is a leading nation in providing military support to Ukraine. "Germany's strong support for Ukraine – including tanks and air defense systems – makes a crucial difference." Ukraine has the right to self-defense enshrined in the UN Charter. "And if we take the UN Charter seriously, we must help Ukraine defend itself." He does not see an immediate danger of a nuclear escalation. "We are watching very closely what the Russian army is doing. So far, we have not noticed any changes in Russia's nuclear forces that would prompt us to respond." At the same time, Stoltenberg stressed that NATO is prepared for the use of nuclear weapons. "The purpose of NATO is to prevent war – let alone nuclear war. We have a credible deterrent."

Upcoming UN General Debate

A group of states around Russia wants to block several declarations that should be adopted by the world community during the upcoming UN general debate. This includes, among other things, a text that was intended to reaffirm the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals this Monday. UN Secretary-General António Guterres had described the paper as a "quantum leap" to revive the severely delayed development goals. In addition to Russia, a letter to this effect on Sunday was signed by Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

In the letter to the President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, the eleven signatories complain about sanctions to which states are subject and which harm their development. In the negotiations on the declarations, "the legitimate concerns of a large number of developing countries were ignored". Because of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia had been subject to a number of punitive measures.

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With the blockade, the success of a summit on Monday, which the United Nations classifies as central and high-level, could be in jeopardy. Actually, the declaration was supposed to be adopted unanimously and support, among other things, a reform of the international financial structure. With this, poor countries should be able to get cheaper loans and access to more money from the World Bank, among others.

In 2015, the countries of the world set themselves key resolutions for global development with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are intended to improve education or end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. But the corona pandemic, the war in Ukraine and a debt crisis in poor countries have set back the achievement of the goals extremely.

It initially remained unclear how the United Nations would respond to the letter.