War in Ukraine: Drones shot down over Crimea

War in Ukraine: Drones shot down over Crimea

On the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula, Russian anti-aircraft guns reportedly shot down drones in two strategically important locations. There was a defense against air strikes on Thursday night at Crimea’s largest military airfield, Belbek, near Sevastopol, local governor Mikhail Rasvozhayev announced. Anti-aircraft fire and explosions can also be heard over the city of Kerch. A drone was also shot down at the scene. In Kerch, the strategically important road and rail bridge connects Crimea to the Russian mainland.

In Russia’s Belgorod region, an ammunition depot caught fire near the Ukrainian border. The incidents far behind the real front line came just hours after a tripartite summit of Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey in Lviv (Lemberg).

There, UN Secretary General António Guterres and Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy whether talks on ending the six-month war were possible. Zelenskyy reiterated that negotiations will only be possible after Russia evacuates all illegally occupied areas in Ukraine.

Despite mediation efforts, the situation in and around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant continued to deteriorate. Russia and Ukraine accused each other of planning an attack on Friday. Guterres wanted to visit the southern Ukrainian Black Sea port city of Odessa on Friday and see how Ukraine’s grain exports, negotiated with the help of the UN, are doing. For Ukraine it is the 177th day of the war.

Russian military installations in Crimea are no longer secure

The Ukrainian army has the right to destroy Russian military installations in Crimea, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak said on television. Kiev’s leadership has not officially claimed responsibility for the increasing number of explosions and incidents in Crimea. At the same time, it is clear that Ukraine is putting pressure on the Russian army on the hitherto untouchable peninsula, which serves as a military staging area.

Ukrainian children play in Stoyanka, near Kyiv.

Ukrainian children play in Stoyanka, near Kyiv. : Image: AFP

After the explosions of the last few days, another column of black smoke was observed on Thursday afternoon in western Crimea, near Mezhvodnoje. The local civil defense spoke of burning grass. According to Governor Raswoschajew, there was no damage or injuries from the downed drone at Belbek Air Base. The reports were not initially independently verifiable. After the events, there was an aerial alert over the whole of Ukraine on Friday night.

Is there a threat of an attack on the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant?

The Russian Defense Ministry and Ukrainian military intelligence service issued ominous warnings on Thursday that the other side was planning acts of sabotage at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant on Friday. Russian occupiers unexpectedly announced a day off at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, the Kiev statement said. Only the operational staff were to remain at the nuclear plant, all others were prohibited from entering.

An unverified video is making the rounds on the internet, allegedly showing Russian military trucks in a hall next to a reactor. In recent days, the plant has been repeatedly bombed, which Russians and Ukrainians blame themselves for.

Zelenskyy spoke with Guterres in Lviv about an expected mission from international experts. He sees no “objective obstacles” for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts to get to the plant, he said. The trip will take “very quickly and safely on the legal route through the free territory of our state to the station.”

Russian troops must evacuate the nuclear plant immediately and unconditionally, Zelenskyy demanded. “The world has the power to enforce that.” Otherwise, we could forget about all international legal acts on nuclear and radiological safety. “Russia is destroying this international order.”

Guterres again defended the demilitarization of the plant and its surroundings. Russia, on the other hand, is requiring experts to travel through its territory and is refusing to withdraw its troops for alleged security reasons.

Estonia is sending more weapons to Ukraine

Estonia wants to supply Ukraine with more weapons, including mortars and anti-tank weapons. This was decided by the government in Tallinn. The EU and NATO Baltic country also wants to support Britain’s initiative to train Ukrainian soldiers. Estonia also wants to send another field hospital to Ukraine with Germany. The small country says it has given Ukraine military aid worth 250 million euros since the Russian attack.

Major European countries such as Germany, France or Italy no longer announced any significant military or financial aid in July. The announcement was made by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which constantly evaluates all commitments. “In July, donor countries mostly delivered what they had promised and launched few initiatives for new aid,” says expert Christoph Trebesch. According to a report by “Welt” (Friday), Ukraine has been asking Germany for new weapons for ten weeks to no avail.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Kazakh leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Sochi. Resource-rich Kazakhstan in Central Asia is an ally of Russia. When it comes to the war against Ukraine, however, Kazakhstan is very careful to keep its distance from Moscow.