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Ukraine updates: Russia's Crimea navy headquarters attacked

Published September 22, 2023last updated September 22, 2023

The naval base in Sevastopol is the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea fleet — which has been involved in a blockade of major Ukrainian shipping routes. DW has the latest.

In this 2019 file photo, Russian helicopters and a Russian warship are pictured during a military parade in Sevastopol
The naval base in Sevastopol is the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea fleetImage: Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • The headquarters of Russia's Black Sea fleet was struck in a missile attack
  • A major fire broke out following the attack at the Sevastopol base in Russian-annexed Crimea
  • Russia said at least one service member was missing

DW has more on the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Friday, September 22:

Skip next section Zelenskyy thanks Canada for leading in sanctions on Russia
September 22, 2023

Zelenskyy thanks Canada for leading in sanctions on Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to the Canadian Parliament was met with loud applause, as he thanked Canada for its support to his country in its fight against Russia.

"Canadian support for Ukraine with weapons and equipment has allowed us to save thousands of lives," Zelenskyy told the Parliament.

He also acknowledged Canada's "leadership in sanctions against Russia for this war and terror really encouraged others in the world to follow your lead." He described Canada as always being on the "bright side of history."

"Moscow must lose once and for all. And it will lose," Zelenskyy said.

Skip next section Attack shows Russians 'don't take the Ukrainian capability seriously enough — still'
September 22, 2023

Attack shows Russians 'don't take the Ukrainian capability seriously enough — still'

DW spoke to Stephen Blank, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Eurasia Program, about the Ukrainian strike on Russia's naval base in Sevastopol in annexed Crimea. 

"It's a defeat, to be perfectly blunt about it," Blank said. "It shows that the Russians have inadequate defenses against Ukrainian anti-ship and drone artillery. And what's more that they don't seem to be able to cope with the threat that Ukraine poses to them. It also is another indication that the naval strategy Russia has followed, it is falling apart."

Asked why Russia's naval strategy for the war seemed to be failing, he said it was difficult to be sure.

"Obviously they don't take the Ukrainian capability seriously enough — still. They don't have proper air defense: that's quite obvious. And they're leaving these buildings, to all intents and purposes, unprotected," Blank said. 

Asked why Russia's own response to the attack had been comparatively muted, Blank said he suspected both that Moscow had not been prepared, and that the Kremlin might be looking for a scapegoat. 

"It means they were taken by surprise and they don't have an answer for it. And that, probably, Putin is looking for somebody's head to roll as a result of this, because this is a terrible failure. This is the main headquarters building of the Black Sea Fleet, and it appears to have been undefended."

Skip next section Canada pledges more weapons as Zelenskyy visits
September 22, 2023

Canada pledges more weapons as Zelenskyy visits

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Canada for his first visit. "I am certain this will be a meaningful visit. We are grateful to Canada for its principled leadership and support," Zelenskyy said in a post on social media.

The Ukrainian leader said he would be talking to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about defense cooperation, and would sign treaties to strengthen economic ties.

Trudeau told the Canadian Parliament as Zelenskyy visited the chamber that Ottawa would provide a further C$650 million (roughly €450 million or $482 million) over the next three years. Zelenskyy had only addressed the parliament via video link prior to Friday.

Canada is one of Kyiv's staunchest supporters in its war with Russia, and is set to announce during the visit that it is sending more weapons to Ukraine, according to a government official. There are 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent in Canada; only Ukraine itself and Russia are home to more. 

"Thank you for your support," Zelenskyy said after talks with a senator of Ukrainian descent. "You've been with us from the first days of the full scale war" and "I hope that you stay with us to our victory." 

Since the beginning of 2022, Canada has committed over C$8 billion (roughly $5.9 billion or €5.6 billion) in aid to Ukraine, including over C$1.8 billion in military assistance.

"Canada remains unwavering in our support to the people of Ukraine as they fight for their sovereignty and their democracy, as well as our shared values like respect for the rule of law, freedom, and self-determination," Trudeau said in a statement late on Thursday.

Skip next section US will send Ukraine ATACMS long-range missiles — media reports
September 22, 2023

US will send Ukraine ATACMS long-range missiles — media reports

US President Joe Biden has told his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that Washington will provide Kyiv with a small number of ATACMS long-range missiles, NBC and The Washington Post reported citing several sources familiar with the matter.

According to the Washington Post, Ukraine will be provided with an ATACMS variant that can be equipped with cluster munitions.

Kyiv has repeatedly asked the Biden administration for Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to help attack and disrupt supply lines, air bases and rail networks in Russian-occupied territory.

The White House did not disclose any decision on ATACMS when Zelenskyy visited Washington on Thursday for talks with Biden, even as it announced a new $325 million (€305 million) military aid package for Kyiv.

However, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at the time that the system could still be part of future weapons packages. "As he's weighed all that up to date, he has determined that he would not provide ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System), but he is also not taking it off the table in the future. I don't have anything to announce about that today," Sullivan said.

New US Aid Package for Ukraine

Skip next section One dead, 15 injured in strike on Ukraine's Kremenchuk
September 22, 2023

One dead, 15 injured in strike on Ukraine's Kremenchuk

One person was killed and 15 injured following a Russian missile strike on the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, authorities said. 

"Fifteen are known to have been injured, one of them is a child," said Dmytro Lunin, the governor of the central Poltava region which includes Kremenchuk. "One person died," he added. 

Lunin said earlier in the day that Russia hit civilian infrastructure in the central Ukrainian city with missiles. "One missile was shot down by air defense forces," he added. Earlier this week Russian troops hit an oil refinery in Kremenchuk.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said that Russia had restarted a systemic campaign of aerial attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure but that air defenses were better prepared for the onslaught than last year when Russian attacks left millions without electricity, heating and water for extended periods.

Skip next section EU sends Ukraine €1.5 billion in macro-financial assistance
September 22, 2023

EU sends Ukraine €1.5 billion in macro-financial assistance

European Union is supporting Ukraine with a further €1.5 billion (roughly $1.6 billion). The aim is to help the country affected by the Russian war of aggression to rebuild critical infrastructure such as roads or bridges and to maintain necessary public facilities such as hospitals or schools.

"Today, we've disbursed another €1.5 billion in macro-financial Assistance to Ukraine. Month after month, we continue to play our part in rebuilding a modern and prosperous country, while helping to cover the country's needs," the European Commission announced.

With this further aid payment, Ukraine has received €13.5 billion from the EU so far this year. The money is part of a loan program worth up to €18 billion that was agreed by EU member states for this year.

According to EU figures, Ukraine has received financial support of around €81 billion since the start of the war. This includes, among other things, financial, humanitarian and military support from the EU, the member states or from European financial institutions.

Skip next section Ukraine claims it 'successfully' struck Russian Black Sea navy HQ
September 22, 2023

Ukraine claims it 'successfully' struck Russian Black Sea navy HQ

Ukraine claimed responsibility for an earlier strike on the headquarters of Moscow's Black Sea Fleet on the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula.

"On September 22, around 12:00 (0900 GMT/UTC), Ukraine's Defense Forces launched a successful attack on the headquarters of the command of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia in the temporarily occupied Sevastopol," the Ukrainian army's communication department said on Telegram.

It gave no further details. Russia's Defense Ministry said one serviceman was missing after the attack and that air defenses had downed a total of five missiles.

The missile attack on Sevastopol shows that the character of the Ukrainian attacks on Crimea has changed, reports DW correspondent Nick Connolly.

He said Ukrainian drones "were not capable previously of taking big warheads to Sevastopol," but with the new missiles Russia's air defenses are "seemingly unable to prevent these attacks happening."

"We've seen attack after attack. In the last few days we've seen military targets in ships, we've seen a submarine destroyed in the harbor in Sevastopol, attacks on military airfields and now this attack on basically the nerve center of that Black Sea fleet," DW correspondent said.

"So this is really not looking good in terms of Russia's ability to protect even its best defended military targets," Connolly added. He deemed the strike on Sevastopol to be "a PR disaster, especially given how important the annexation of Crimea has been for Vladimir Putin."

Russian naval HQ hit: Nick Connolly reports

Skip next section Ukraine's allies will continue to support it — Ben Hodges
September 22, 2023

Ukraine's allies will continue to support it — Ben Hodges

This week's events seemed to indicate that support from Ukraine's allies is waning, as Ukraine didn't receive the long-range missiles from the US, and Poland said it would not make any new weapons commitments to Kyiv.

However, Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of US Army in Europe, told DW that "the 54 nations that are supporting Ukraine will continue to support Ukraine, including Poland."

The dispute wetween Kyiv and Warsaw, according to Hodges, is "Polish domestic politics," as Poland has an election coming up on the 15th of October. "After the election, I think we'll be back to a much more appropriate sort of relationship," he said.

Hodges also said that in the US more than 120 Republicans have just signed a letter saying that they support continued aid for Ukraine, so "three-quarters of the Congress still supports Ukraine."

However, US President Joe Biden cannot assume that this will stay the case forever, as he has his own big election coming up November next year, and so do all 435 members of the House and one third of the Senate. 

"So the president has to make the case to the American people about why this is to our best interests that Ukraine is successful, that Europe remains stable and secure," Hodges said.

Hodges said that waning support for Ukraine is certainly what Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping for. "The Kremlin knows that they have no other options. I mean, they are losing this war. Ukraine has the initiative," the former general said.

What's behind Poland's row with Ukraine?

Skip next section Crimea hit by massive cyberattack, Russia-backed official says
September 22, 2023

Crimea hit by massive cyberattack, Russia-backed official says

A Moscow-backed official in Crimea said the peninsula was witnessing an "unprecedented" cyberattack in a post on social media. 

"Unprecedented cyberattack on Crimean internet providers. We are fixing internet outages on the peninsula. All services are working to eliminate the threat," Oleg Kryuchkov, a spokesman for the Russian-installed authority in Crimea said. 

Ukraine has not commented yet on whether it launched the supposed cyber operation.

Skip next section One missing in Sevastopol strikes, Moscow says
September 22, 2023

One missing in Sevastopol strikes, Moscow says

Russia's Defense Ministry said one soldier was missing in Friday's strike on the Black Sea fleet's headquarters in Sevastopol, after initially announcing a death.

The local Russian-installed governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev, had initially said on Telegram there was no information about casualties.

He also said that while there was no longer a danger of another air strike, residents should stay inside.

Razvozhayev said rescue forces were fighting a fire caused by the strikes and that backup was on the way, an indication that the fire could be large in scale.

Several ambulances were reported to have arrived near the fleet's headquarters and shrapnel was scattered hundreds of meters around the building, Russian news agency Tass reported.

Skip next section Headquarters of Black Sea fleet attacked, Moscow says
September 22, 2023

Headquarters of Black Sea fleet attacked, Moscow says

In this 2019 file photo, a Russian submarine and warship are pictured at the Crimean port of Sevastopol
There were reports of an extensive fire at the Sevastopol navy base after the missile attackImage: Ulf Mauder/dpa/picture alliance

Russian-appointed officials say at least one Ukrainian missile struck the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea navy in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Friday.

"The enemy launched a missile attack on the fleet headquarters. A fragment fell near the Lunacharsky Theater... All operational services went to the incident scene. Information about the victims is being clarified," local governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram, according to Russian state media Sputnik.

He warned that "another attack is possible" and called on residents not to leave their buildings. Local authorities have closed off the center of Sevastopol.

Ukrainian and Russian media reported smoke and explosions coming from the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea fleet.

Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine also shared alleged footage from the scene.

The recordings have not yet been independently verified.

Russian officials also reported they had downed a Ukrainian missile near the town of Bakhchysarai, around 30 kilometers (19 miles) north-east of Sevastopol.

Ukrainian forces have attacked the port of Sevastopol several times in the past. The most recent strikes were carried out last week and injured 24 according to Russian authorities.

Crimea has been a prime target for Ukraine as it tries to take back the peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Skip next section Large grain ship leaves Ukrainian port for Egypt
September 22, 2023

Large grain ship leaves Ukrainian port for Egypt

A ship loaded with 17,600 tons of grain left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk on Friday en route to Egypt, said Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.

It is the second such bulk carrier to depart the Ukrainian port this week. Friday's ship, called the Aroyat, is much larger than the smaller cargo ship that departed earlier this week.

The ships are testing a humanitarian route that was set up after Russia reimposed its Black Sea blockade

Kubrakov added the vessel was "using the temporary corridor for civil shipping."

Skip next section German foreign minister says Russia was 'isolated' at UN summit
September 22, 2023

German foreign minister says Russia was 'isolated' at UN summit

Annalena Baerbock speaks at the UNGA
Baerbock had been in New York since Sunday, staying a day longer than German Chancellor Olaf ScholzImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia received "clear criticism" at the UN General Assembly for its war against Ukraine, and its "ongoing violation" of the UN Charter.

"Russia stands isolated," Baerbock told the German dpa news agency on Thursday evening in New York before returning to Germany. 

Moscow faced "fierce headwinds when it tried to question important declarations on sustainable development and global health," she added, especially from African, Latin American and Asian countries.

Skip next section Zelenskyy travels to Canada in unannounced visit
September 22, 2023

Zelenskyy travels to Canada in unannounced visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has landed in Canada to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before going on to address the Canadian parliament in Ottawa.

Also on the agenda is a visit to Toronto to meet business leaders seeking to strengthen private-sector investment in Ukraine's future, the Canadian prime minister's office said. Zelenskyy is accompanied by the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska.

"Canada remains unwavering in our support to the people of Ukraine as they fight for their sovereignty and their democracy, as well as our shared values like respect for the rule of law, freedom, and self-determination," Trudeau said in a statement.

"I look forward to welcoming President Zelenskyy to Canada," Trudeau said in a statement ahead of the visit.

The visit is Zelenskyy's first to Canada since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

He previously gave a virtual address to the Canadian Parliament in the weeks that followed the invasion. He implored members of the House of Commons and Senate, as well as other guests present, for urgent assistance.

Skip next section Russian attack in Donetsk region injures 13
September 22, 2023

Russian attack in Donetsk region injures 13

A Russian attack on the town of Kurakhove has injured at least 13 people, including one who was pulled from the rubble. 

Kurakhove's administrative chief Roman Padun said two strikes hit the town sparking a blaze, giving no details about what weapons had been used. Images posted on social media showed several buildings on fire.

Kurakhove — 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the city of Donetsk — is near Maryinka, a town still held by Ukraine but under Russian attack for many months.

Residential buildings razed to the ground and shell craters are seen on an aerial view of Maryinka
Maryinka, near the latest attack, has been heavily subjected to Russian bombardmentsImage: Libkos/AP Photo/picture alliance
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