Here is the situation on Wednesday, October 11, 2023.
Russian forces closed in on Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine as Kyiv warned Moscow was stepping up strikes in an attempt to encircle the front-line town completely. “For over a year, there has been the danger that [Avdiivka] can be occupied, but now the situation has worsened rapidly,” Vitaliy Barabash, head of the town’s administration, told the AFP news agency, adding that Russian forces were trying to besiege the eastern town using “all means”. Avdiivka had a pre-war population of about 31,000 people with an estimated 2,000 residents remaining.Ukraine’s Air Force said its defence systems destroyed 27 of the 36 drones that Russia launched in its latest air raid on the country. The Iran-made Shahed drones were aimed at the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kherson regions of Ukraine.Kherson’s regional administration said four people were injured and several buildings damaged in 79 instances of Russian shelling using mortars, artillery and drones.Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) said it was investigating 260 criminal cases involving alleged “violations” at military recruitment offices. The SBI said 21 indictments against 35 individuals had been sent to court and that a further 58 people had been identified as suspects. The heads of regional recruitment centres were fired in August after widespread allegations of criminal abuse and corruption.The SBI also said it was holding two senior defence ministry officials on suspicion of embezzling $7m that had been earmarked for buying bulletproof vests. It did not name the officials.
Politics and diplomacy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for action to ensure Russia did not turn the Black Sea into a “dead zone” for shipping after Moscow’s July move to quit a United Nations-Turkey brokered deal allowing safe Ukrainian grain exports. Visiting Romania for the first time since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, Zelenskyy held talks with President Klaus Iohannis and said he was told “good news” on artillery and air defence supplies, and that Romania would help train Ukrainian pilots how to fly F-16 jets.Russia failed in its bid to regain a seat at the UN’s top human rights body. In a secret ballot for two seats for Eastern Europe on the Human Rights Council, Bulgaria secured 160 votes and Albania 123. Russia got 83 votes. Russia was removed from the council shortly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.Finland said an undersea gas pipeline and a telecommunications cable connecting it with Estonia had been damaged in a possibly deliberate act. The Balticconnector pipeline, which runs for 77km (48 miles) beneath the Baltic Sea, was shut on Sunday after a leak was discovered.A Russian court dismissed a complaint by Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich against his continued pre-trial detention. Gershkovich was detained on March 29 and has been accused of spying. The charges carry a prison term of as long as 20 years. No date has been set for his trial.Vyachelav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s State Duma or lower house of parliament, said Russians who left the country and showed support for Ukraine should be sent to the far eastern region of Magadan if they ever returned home. For Russians, Magadan is synonymous with the gulag – a network of forced labour camps that were used as slave labour during the iron-fisted rule of Josef Stalin.
Germany unveiled a new military support package for Ukraine worth about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) and covering additional Patriot air defence missile system as well as weapons and ground vehicles. “With this new ‘winter package’, we are further increasing the operational readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces in the coming months,” said German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius.A United Kingdom-led group of European countries will provide Ukraine with a 100 million pound ($122.70 million) military support package including equipment to clear minefields. The UK’s defence ministry said Ukraine had become the most mined country on earth, creating an obstacle in the counteroffensive that began in June.The US decision to step up military support for Israel after the surprise assault by Hamas would not harm Washington’s ability to continue arming Ukraine, its NATO envoy Julianne Smith told journalists.Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies