Ukraine live briefing: Kim Jong Un views missiles in Vladivostok; first vessels use Ukraine’s new shipping corridor

Ukraine live briefing: Kim Jong Un views missiles in Vladivostok; first vessels use Ukraine’s new shipping corridor

Updated September 16, 2023 at 3:44 p.m. EDT|Published September 16, 2023 at 2:05 a.m. EDT

In this handout photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is shown visiting the Admiral Shaposhnikov frigate of the Russian navy in the port of Vladivostok on Sept. 16. (AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Vladivostok, a city in far-eastern Russia close to the Chinese and North Korean borders. He was met by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and viewed aviation equipment and missile systems, state media outlet Tass reported. It is the latest stop on Kim’s trip to the country, which has sparked concern in Washington over a possible arms deal between Moscow and Pyongyang.

Two merchant ships approached Ukrainian ports Saturday, becoming the first civilian vessels to use a temporary shipping corridor in the Black Sea following the collapse of a grain deal with Russia, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said. The Palauan-flagged ships – Resilient Africa and Aroyat – are headed to Chornomorsk, where they will load nearly 20,000 tons of wheat for Africa and Asia, Kubrakov said.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

A Ukrainian minister vowed there would be further attacks on Russian warships. “There will be more drones, more attacks, and fewer Russian ships. That’s for sure,” Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview with Reuters. According to the British Defense Ministry, an attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet earlier this week “almost certainly” caused major damage to a landing ship and submarine at the Sevastopol naval base in occupied Crimea.

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia imposed restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports after a European Commission block on shipments entering five bordering E.U. countries expired Friday. Limited access to Black Sea ports during the war has caused a surge in Ukrainian grain passing through neighboring countries, driving down prices and angering local producers. The European Commission said in a statement market distortions have now “disappeared,” but some leaders were not convinced. The restrictions do not apply to the transport of Ukrainian goods through the respective countries.

UNESCO added Kyiv’s St. Sophia’s Cathedral and Lviv to its World Heritage in Danger list Friday. The sites face the “risk of direct attack” and are “vulnerable to the shock waves caused by the bombing of the two cities,” the organization said. UNESCO’s list designates 56 sites “in danger,” including the Black Sea port city of Odessa, which was added in January.

Poland will ban Russian-registered cars from entering its territory from Sunday, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced Saturday according to Polish news agency PAP. The move comes a day after Finland followed its Baltic neighbors Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in imposing similar restrictions, Finnish media reported. An update to European Commission guidelines has asked member states to stop Russian citizens from bringing cars and other goods into the European Union in an effort to prevent sanction-dodging.

U.K. officials are supporting the family of a British man who reportedly died in Ukraine and are in contact with local authorities, a British Foreign Office spokesman told The Washington Post. Daniel Burke, 36, a former British soldier, was reported missing by his family on Aug. 16 after traveling to the Ukrainian front line to fight against Russian forces, according to BBC News. Burke’s family told the outlet that Ukrainian authorities recently recovered the former paratrooper’s body in the Zaporizhzhia region.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Saturday he was skeptical that any munitions North Korea might provide to Russia would be decisive in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. “Would it have a huge difference? I’m skeptical,” Gen. Mark A. Milley said following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s rare trip outside his nation to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Russia. “The impact, I wouldn’t want to downplay it too much, but … I doubt that it will be decisive,” Milley told reporters traveling with him overseas.

Russia is likely to use stockpiled air-launched cruise missiles to strike Ukrainian infrastructure this winter, according to the British Defense Ministry’s latest intelligence update. On Saturday, the ministry wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that such missiles were “at the heart of most” of Russia’s long-range strikes against Ukrainian energy facilities last winter.

Russia denied that Ukrainian forces had recaptured Andriivka, a Russian-held village near Bakhmut. In his nightly address Friday, Zelensky said Ukraine had retaken the village in what he called a “significant and much-needed result.” The Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that Ukraine was “unsuccessfully trying to oust Russian troops.”

Russian-installed authorities in Crimea plan to sell around 100 properties there, including an apartment belonging to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to an announcement Saturday. Volodymyr Konstantinov, the speaker of Crimea’s parliament, wrote on Telegram that eight auctions had already been concluded, generating around $8.8 million. The other sales will take place soon, he added. Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Two women were taken to hospital after a strike on the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, a regional military official said Saturday. In a message posted on Telegram on Saturday morning, Yuriy Malashko said Russia had carried out 54 strikes on the region in the past 24 hours.

Eighty-six defense firms from 21 countries will participate in Ukraine’s upcoming Defense Industries Forum, Zelensky said during his nightly address Saturday. The event, which will take place this fall, is the first of its kind to be held in Ukraine, he said. “Our task is absolutely clear – to provide Ukraine with all the opportunities to produce weapons and ammunition, to provide modern technology to have reliable protection against any form of aggression,” Zelensky said. Ukraine’s foreign minister previously said top firms within France and the Czech Republic’s defense industry have been invited to attend the forum.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne M. Tracy, visited detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the Lefortovo pretrial detention center in Moscow, where the American reporter has been held for months on espionage charges that the United States says are politically motivated. “He remains strong and is keeping up with the news,” the U.S. Embassy in Moscow wrote on social media.

Tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims have gathered in central Ukraine to mark the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which began on Friday evening. Cherkasy regional Gov. Ihor Taburets wrote on Telegram on Thursday morning that about 22,000 pilgrims had already arrived in Uman — a significant city for the Hasidic community. Most of the arrivals were from Israel, the United States and a number of European countries, he said, adding that security had been tightened.

Zelensky is expected to make a trip to Washington next week, which would be his second since the war began last year, The Washington Post reported. The visit was coordinated with the Biden administration amid efforts to push Congress to provide $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, and comes as tensions grow over support for Ukraine within the Republican Party and among a small number of Democrats. Zelensky is “very much abreast” of the debate in Washington, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.

Britain officially banned Russia’s Wagner Group and designated it a terrorist organization, making support for the group punishable by up to 14 years in jail, according to a statement from the government. The ban, which was approved Friday, comes weeks after group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin died in a plane crash and months after his short-lived mutiny.

Shuffle of Russian military chiefs preceded death of Wagner boss Prigozhin: Dismissals and disappearances of regular Russian military commanders and the death of Wagner head Prigozhin highlight how Putin lacks trust in his military leadership, analysts say. Fearing betrayal, the Russian leader has prioritized loyalty over competence, and he has tolerated infighting that has degraded his war machine, Francesca Ebel writes.

“The army has degenerated organizationally, intellectually and technically,” Pavel Luzin, an expert on the Russian military and a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation who is based in the United States, told The Post.

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