Russia describes Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea
The Russian Defence Ministry said early on Saturday that it had foiled an attempted attack by Ukrainian drones targeting the Crimean peninsula.
“Last night (Friday to Saturday), the Kyiv regime’s attempted terrorist attack by 20 drones against targets on the territory of the Crimean peninsula was foiled,” the Defence Ministry said on Telegram.
Fourteen Ukrainian drones were destroyed by air defence systems and six others by electronic warfare, it added.
The attack caused no casualties or damage, the defence ministry added.
The news came after the Russian army announced on Friday that it had destroyed a Ukrainian drone in the west of Moscow, against a backdrop of increasing attacks of this type targeting the Russian capital.
“The drone was neutralised by electronic warfare means and crashed in a forested area west of Moscow”, the Russian defence ministry said on Telegram, accusing “the Kiev regime”.
The Russian army said that the drone was aimed at “a facility on Moscow territory”, without giving details of the potential target of the aircraft.
Moscow’s mayor had said earlier that the drone had crashed “without causing major damage” in a forest park on the banks of the Moskva river, which runs through the Russian capital.
In late July and early August, drones were shot down over Moscow’s business district, causing minor damage to the facades of two tower blocks. In May, two drones were shot down over the Kremlin.
More EU munitions arrive in Ukraine
The European Union has delivered 223,800 artillery shells to Ukraine, a spokesman announced on Friday.
In March, the EU approved a €2 billion plan to send Ukraine one million 155mm shells from member states’ stocks this year and to finance joint purchases of ammunition for Kyiv.
Ukrainian forces are complaining of a shortage of ammunition as they try to dislodge Moscow’s troops from the occupied territories, as part of a counter-offensive launched at the beginning of June.
Under the first phase of the plan, which runs from 9 February to 31 May, €1 billion has been earmarked to reimburse EU Member States for around half the cost of shells supplied from their existing arsenals.
“Member States delivered around 223,800 artillery munitions (long-range self-propelled artillery, precision-guided munitions and mortar munitions) and 2,300 missiles of all types”, said EU spokesman Peter Stano.
The total value of the munitions supplied is €1.1 billion, according to the EU.
At the end of May, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced that 200,000 shells had been delivered to date.
However, in February, several European capitals expressed scepticism about the ability to supply one million shells.
In preparation for the second part of the plan, the EU defence agency is negotiating joint procurement contracts with European manufacturers of 155mm ammunition.
The EU “expects the framework contracts with industry to be signed in the coming weeks, enabling Member States to place orders from that point”.
Any contract must be concluded before the end of September to be included in the EU supply plan.
Belarus leader urges renewed contact with Poland
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Friday that he had ordered his government to resume contact with Poland, amid border tensions between Moscow’s ally and its Nato member neighbour.
“We need to talk to the Poles. I have ordered the prime minister to contact them”, he said, quoted by the state news agency Belta.
Tensions between Minsk and Warsaw are currently high, against a backdrop of division over the conflict in Ukraine, with Poland helping Kiev financially and militarily, while Belarus is an ally of Moscow.
NATO member Poland said on Thursday that it planned to deploy some 10,000 soldiers to protect its eastern border with Belarus as a “deterrent”.
According to Mr Lukashenko, the Polish government is looking for “escalation, to make the situation worse, in order to show that they have properly armed and rearmed the country”, in the run-up to “the (parliamentary) elections on 15 October” in Poland.
The Belarusian leader considered it “unlikely” that in two months’ time there would be “significant changes” in Warsaw’s position, which would be “beneficial for them and for us”.
“They demand a lot from us (…), but we cannot accept that, because it would be against our interests”, he said.
Poland recently warned of the threat of provocation from Belarus and the potential dangers posed by the arrival in the country of the Wagner group of Russian mercenaries.
Warsaw also accuses Minsk and Moscow of orchestrating a new influx of migrants into the European Union in order to destabilise the region.
According to Pawel Jablonski, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Lukashenko can do much to relax tensions simply by meeting some “basic conditions”.
If the Belarusian strongman “really wants to improve relations with Poland, he can do it in a very simple way (…): stop attacking our border, free the more than one thousand political prisoners and the (Belarusian-Polish journalist) Andrzej Poczobut, stop this hate campaign, this hybrid war against Poland”, he said.
“We have no hostile intentions towards Belarus and never have,” he assured Polsat television.
However, according to Mr Jablonski, “Lukashenko’s words remain at odds with his actions”.