Ukraine said its troops have marched farther east into territory recently abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a potential assault on Moscow’s occupation forces in the Donbas region as Kyiv seeks more Western arms. “The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday night, adding that he was now focused on “speed” in liberated areas. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
9:37am: Ukraine to call for ‘war crimes accountability’ at UN
“The world’s facing interconnected crises and arguably the global outlook has never been worse, at least not in the history of the United Nations,” FRANCE 24’s Jessica Le Masurier reports as world leaders gather for the General Assembly in New York.
“They’re going to focus on Ukraine and on food,” Le Masurier continued. “Ukraine’s [Volodomyr] Zelensky will be giving a virtual speech from Ukraine; he’s been given permission to do that. He’ll be speaking on Wednesday. Ukraine’s first lady, prime minister and foreign minister are expected to attend here.
“They will call for war crimes accountability; and there’s a high-level Security Council meeting on Thursday. Russia will be represented by longtime Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who we will expect will get a frosty reception from Western powers.”
9:35am: ‘Russia can longer claim to be fully in control of Luhansk region’
“Ukrainian forces have actually already been fighting a counter-offensive in the northern part of Donetsk region, which is technically the Donbas,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reported from Derhachi in eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.
But the “area they’re fighting in isn’t actually the Donbas because it’s not the mining basin. It’s the forests around Lyman, a very important target for Ukrainian forces at the moment is the town of Lyman in the north of Donetsk region. As far as I know, they haven’t taken it yet”, Cragg continued.
“But they have apparently taken the village of Bilohorivka, which is in the Luhansk region. […] That is a very significant symbolic victory for them because […] Russia can longer claim to be fully in control of Luhansk region – which means that the only Ukrainian region of which Russia is in full control now is Crimea.”
9:28am: Russia considers $50 billion increase in oil, gas taxes amid budget gap
Russia is considering raising taxes on the oil and gas sector to the tune of 3 trillion roubles ($50 billion) in 2023-2025 in order to plug the budget gap, newspaper Kommersant daily said on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the discussions. The finance ministry declined to comment.
The ministry expects a budget deficit of 1.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year and 1.1% of GDP in 2023 amid spending for what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine and sweeping Western sanctions.
The government wants, in particular, to raise the export duty on gas to up to 50%, start levying a duty on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and raise domestic gas prices so that companies pay more in minerals extraction tax, the paper said.
9:04am: Medvedev says Moscow-backed separatists must hold referendums to join Russia
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday it is “essential” that Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine carry out referendums that would see their regions join Russia.
In a post on social media, Medvedev said making the Moscow-backed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics officially part of Russia was a vital step in protecting their interests and could further justify Russia’s use of military force to protect them.
8:05am: Hungary says EU should not consider new sanctions against Russia
Hungary’s foreign minister said on Tuesday the European Union should not consider new sanctions against Russia as that would only deepen the energy supply crisis and hurt Europe.
“The EU should … stop mentioning an 8th package of sanctions, should stop flagging measures that would only further deepen the energy supply crisis,” Peter Szijjarto said in his statement.
6:56am: Russia’s Black Sea fleet relocating some submarines away from Crimea, UK says
Russia’s Black Sea fleet has relocated some of its submarines from port of Sevastopol in Crimea to Novorossiysk in Krasnodor Krai in southern Russia, the British Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday.
The relocation is likely due to the recent change in the local security threat level in the face of increased Ukrainian long-range strike capability, the ministry said in its daily intelligence update on Twitter.
“In the last two months, the fleet headquarters and its main naval aviation airfield have been attacked,” the ministry added.
05:15am: Ukrainian soldiers cheer swift advance into Donbas
“We were ready to fight. But for them to just abandon the whole front line … We really weren’t expecting that,” said one Ukrainian soldier.
Among the items the Russian soldiers left behind were weapons, ammunition, pictures of Lenin and Playboy pinups, as FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg and Gwendoline Debono report from Izium in the video below.
September 20, 12:18am: Ukraine troops press counter-offensive deeper into Donbas
Ukraine said its troops have marched farther east into territory recently abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a potential assault on Moscow’s occupation forces in the Donbas region as Kyiv seeks more Western arms.
In a sign of nervousness from a Moscow-backed administration in Donbas about the success of Ukraine’s recent offensive, its leader called for urgent referendums on the region becoming part of Russia.
“The occupiers are clearly in a panic,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address late on Monday, adding that he was now focused on “speed” in liberated areas.
“The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed in restoring normal life,” Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian leader also hinted he would use a video address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday to call on countries to accelerate weapons and aid deliveries.
“We are doing everything to ensure Ukraine’s needs are met at all levels – defence, financial, economic, diplomatic,” Zelensky said.
Serhiy Gaidai, Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, a province in the Donbas now under control of Russian troops, said Ukraine’s armed forces had regained complete control of the Luhansk village of Bilohorivka and were preparing to fight to retake the entire province.
“There will be fighting for every centimetre,” Gaidai wrote on Telegram. “The enemy is preparing their defence. So we will not simply march in.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)