Russia-Ukraine conflict: an overview after 668 days

Ukrainian forces successfully brought down three Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber aircraft on the southern front, marking a significant achievement in the ongoing 22-month-long war, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and military officials. The incident was not mentioned by the Russian military, but Russian bloggers acknowledged the loss, leading analysts to believe that US-supplied Patriot missiles were likely utilized. However, these reports could not be verified independently.
In an overnight attack, Ukraine managed to shoot down 24 out of 28 Shahed drones launched by Russia. The attack resulted in damage to residential buildings in Kyiv, as well as an infrastructure facility and a grain warehouse in southern regions. Among the targets hit were three floors of an apartment block in the Ukrainian capital, causing minor injuries to two individuals and lesser damage to other residential buildings.
Russia’s defence ministry stated that its air defences intercepted five Ukrainian drones in less than an hour south of Moscow. Four of the drones were intercepted over the Kaluga region, while the fifth was destroyed in the Moscow region.
Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that Russia might sever diplomatic ties with the US if Washington seizes Russian assets that have been frozen due to the Ukrainian conflict. The Kremlin warned that any country confiscating its assets would not be left in peace, and Russia would consider retaliating by seizing Western assets. This comes amidst suggestions from some Western politicians that frozen Russian assets worth $300bn should be given to Ukraine.
Ryabkov stated that Russia is prepared to respond swiftly if Washington deploys short- and medium-range missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, he accused the US of leaking details to the media while both countries remain engaged in sensitive negotiations over a prisoner exchange.
Following a conversation with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced that the Dutch government will be sending 18 F-16 jets to Ukraine.
According to officials, a senior Ukrainian defence ministry official suspected of embezzling €36m ($40m) for the purchase of much-needed artillery shells in the war against Russia has been arrested by the police. Prosecutors revealed that the official, whose identity has not been disclosed, had developed a system in which he bought artillery shells at inflated prices. The Ukrainian defence ministry has faced a series of corruption scandals recently, including several within its own ranks.
In an effort to exert economic pressure on Moscow as it looks towards China, the US announced that it will impose sanctions on foreign banks that support Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin accused the Wall Street Journal of publishing “pulp fiction” after it reported that a plane crash, which resulted in the death of mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, had been orchestrated by a Russian security official named Nikolai Patrushev.
According to a spokesperson from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, visited Kyiv to present an aid package for Ukraine. This visit marked Sikorski’s first official foreign visit.
The Kremlin stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss ways to de-escalate the conflict in Gaza, as well as humanitarian relief efforts.
Boris Akunin, a renowned Russian writer, expressed his concerns about the recent actions of the Russian government. He stated that being declared a terrorist and becoming the target of a criminal inquiry signals a new milestone in the country’s history under President Putin. Akunin, who currently lives in exile, shared with Agence France-Presse that “Putin’s regime has clearly decided to take a very important new step on its way from a police, autocratic state to a totalitarian state.”

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