Ukraine updates: Blood transfusion center near border hit

Not long before, Zelenskyy had said a strike hit a facility of the aeronautics group Motor Sich, one of several companies requisitioned since Moscow's invasion

A tanker was hit by a drone attack near the Kerch bridge in Crimea

(photo: Sergei Malgavko/dpa/picture alliance)
A tanker was hit by a drone attack near the Kerch bridge in Crimea (photo: Sergei Malgavko/dpa/picture alliance)


Zelenskyy says blood transfusion center hit

Russian forces struck a blood transfusion center in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday, adding that "dead and wounded are reported." 

Zelenskyy described the weapon as a "guided air bomb," which could not be immediately verified. 

It struck a facility in Kupiansk, not far from the Russian border, he said. 

"Rescuers are extinguishing the fire," he said. "This war crime alone says everything about Russian aggression." 

Not long before, Zelenskyy had said a strike hit a facility of the aeronautics group Motor Sich, one of several companies requisitioned since Moscow's invasion. 

That site is in western Ukraine, far from the front lines, around 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of Kyiv. It has, however, been regularly targeted by longer-range Russian strikes in recent months, possibly as it's home to several important manufacturing facilities like Motor Sich.

US policy expert tells DW Jeddah conference 'is a step forward'

On Saturday, DW spoke with Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington about the Jeddah peace conference and although he said he does not expect a breakthrough, he nevertheless said it represented an "important step forward" on the path to diplomacy.

Kupchan said the conference: "gives Ukraine an ability to try to appeal to the court of world opinion, to get major countries that have been on the fence — Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India — to get them onto its side."

The US analyst said he was encouraged by the presence of Russian allies despite Moscow's absence from the event, saying: "I do think that one of the big surprises of this war is how many countries have not backed the West, how many countries have said: 'We're gonna sit on the fence.' This meeting really is an effort to try to push the non-aligned movement in the direction of Ukraine. And I do think it's important that China is there. The fact that China has gone despite Russia's absence says to me that the Chinese are carefully hedging away from their unstinting support for Moscow in this war."

Though he did not voice optimism that the conflict would end anytime soon, noting weather conditions still suit military activity in Ukraine late in the summer, Kupchan suggested that the focus might at some point shift to the negotiating table instead.  

Moscow: Russian fighter jet scrambled to intercept US drone

Russia's Defense Ministry said its military dispatched a Su-30 fighter jet to prevent a US drone from violating its border over the Black Sea.

The Russian crew identified the drone as a US Air Force MQ-9A Reaper reconnaissance aircraft.

"As the Russian fighter approached, the foreign reconnaissance drone performed a U-turn," the ministry said in a statement. No border violation had taken place, and the Russian jet returned return safely to its airbase, they added.

Incidents involving Russian and Western aircraft have multiplied over the Black Sea and Baltic Sea in recent months.

NATO vowed to step up surveillance in the Black Sea after Russia pulled out of the Ukraine grain deal last month.

Saturday's intercept came hours after Ukraine carried out a drone strike on a Russian tanker in the Kerch Strait and a day after one of Moscow's ships was hit in the Black Sea.

A Telegram post on Saturday by the Deputy Chair of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev implied that Russia would increase its attacks against Ukrainian ports in response to Kyiv's attacks on Russian ships.

Russia claims it has taken settlement in northeast Ukraine

Russia on Saturday said its forces had seized control of a settlement in northeastern Ukraine.

"In the area of Kupiansk, as a result of the competent and professional actions of the military units of the Western command, the settlement of Novoselivske was liberated," the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram, before adding that "offensive operations on a broad front... improved the situation" of Moscow's forces.

Ukraine said on Friday it had been trying to fend off an increasing number of attacks in the region.

Attacks on Russian ships 'lawful,' Ukraine contends

The head of Ukraine's domestic intelligence service called recent attacks against Russian ships and Kerch Bridge connecting the occupied Crimean peninsula to Russia "lawful."

Vasyl Malyuk, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), said on Telegram it was an "absolutely logical and effective step" against the enemy.

"Such special operations are carried out in Ukraine's territorial waters and are perfectly legal," the SBU chief said.

Russian commentators have said Ukraine tried to set off an ecological disaster with an attack on a civilian ship. 

According to Russian authorities, no fuel leaked into the sea from the tanker.

Ukraine expects hard but fruitful peace talks in Saudi Arabia

Talks starting in Saudi Arabia this weekend to find a peaceful settlement to end Russia's war in Ukraine will be tough, but Kyiv is hoping to persuade more countries to back its peace formula, the head of Kyiv's delegation said.

"I expect that the conversation will be difficult, but behind us is truth, behind us — goodness," Andriy Yermak, head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office and his key envoy for the talks, said late on Friday in a television interview published on his Telegram messaging app.

Ukraine and its allies hope the meeting in Jeddah of national security advisers and other senior officials from some 40 countries — but not Russia — will agree on key principles on how to end Russia's war in Ukraine. The Kremlin has said it will "keep an eye" on the meeting.

China, which has firm ties with Russia, said on Friday it will send Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui for the talks.

Ukrainian, Russian and international officials say there is no prospect of direct peace talks between Ukraine and Russia at the moment. But Ukraine aims first to build a bigger coalition of diplomatic support beyond its core Western backers.

By reaching out to Global South countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa, many of which have remained publicly neutral, Zelenskiy said he hoped to achieve a "peace summit" of world leaders this autumn to endorse his own 10-point formula for a settlement. Moscow has rejected Zelenskyy's peace plan.

Defense Minister: Ukraine aims to retake ground by Bakhmut

Ukraine says it is working to retake territory in the eastern city of Bakhmut while Russian forces were pouring in additional troops in a bid to stop Kyiv's advances.

"The Russians are throwing huge numbers of forces into the Bakhmut area," Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliartold national television. "It has been important for us to establish ourselves on dominant heights in these areas."

Maliar said Ukrainian forces were advancing "slowly but confidently" south of Bakhmut while securing control of positions north of the city. "An extremely fierce battle is going on there."

Accounts from Moscow said Russian troops had repelled eight Ukrainian attempts to advance in the east and inflicted a defeat near Bakhmut.

While Ukraine's counteroffensive, launched in June, has focused on severing a Russian land bridge between the occupied east and the annexed Crimean peninsula, Kyiv's forces are also determined to recapture land around Bakhmut, seized by Russian forces in May after months of battles.

Russian tanker damaged by drone attack near Crimea

A Russian tanker was damaged early Saturday morning in the Kerch Strait near the bridge linking Russian-occupied Crimea to the Russian mainland.

Sea rescue services based in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk said they were dispatched to help move the tanker, which was unable to operate on its own, Russia's TASS news agency reported.

No fuel had spilled from the ship, which had 11 people on board, TASS reported.

The tanker SIG suffered a hole at the waterline in the area of the engine room, "presumably as a result of an attack by a marine drone," the Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport said on Telegram. "The ship is afloat."

Russia-appointed officials in Crimea blamed Ukrainian drones for the attack. Ukraine rarely claims direct responsibility for drone strikes. 

Vladimir Rogov, a Russia-installed official in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, wrote on Telegram that the explosion on the ship was visible from land near the Yakovenkovo settlement not far from the Crimean bridge.

Traffic on the bridge was halted and resumed after three hours early Saturday.

The latest attack in the Black Sea came a day after Ukraine said it had carried out a seaborne drone strike on a Russian navy ship at Novorossiysk naval base in southern Russia.

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