Day 573 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Was Kostiantynivka hit by the Ukrainians?
Day 573 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Kyiv has accused NYT journalist of being a Russian agent following an investigation into the Kostiantynivka attack
- ISW: Elite units of the Russian army are defeated near Bakhmut
- Ramstein 15: Abrams tanks will soon be on the battlefield
- Zelensky is in the US for the UN General Assembly, met with wounded soldiers
- Kyiv claims that the Russian defense line near Bakhmut has been breached
- Russia hit a warehouse in Lviv, explosions were heard in Western Ukraine
- Grossi: There has been some improvement in the safety situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP
- The EU wants to finance the export of Ukrainian crops through the Baltic and Poland
Kyiv has accused NYT journalist of being a Russian agent following an investigation into the Kostiantynivka attack
Ukraine's security service has accused New York Times journalist Thomas Gibbons-Neff of being a Russian agent. The reason was an article by Neff about the attack on Konstantinovka, Donetsk region, in early September, which killed 16 people and injured 30.
"Less than two hours after the attack, President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Russian 'terrorists' for the attack, and many media outlets followed suit. During its invasion of Ukraine, Russia repeatedly and systematically attacked civilians and struck schools, markets and homes as a deliberate tactic to instill fear in the population. In April, in Kostiantynivka, they shelled homes and a kindergarten, killing six people," the publication said.
Evidence collected and analyzed by The New York Times, including missile fragments, satellite images, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests that "the strike was the result of a stray Ukrainian air defense missile fired from a Buk launcher."
The SBU, however, denies the allegations.
"According to the investigation, the enemy hit the target with the S-300. This is proven, in particular, by the identified fragments of missiles seized at the scene of the tragedy," notes the SBU press service.
The investigation is currently examining a number of other materials that show the enemy's involvement in the shelling.
"The pre-trial proceedings are ongoing, a number of expertises have been appointed to establish all the circumstances of this war crime," added the SBU.
According to a law enforcement source in Ukraine, quoted by UNIAN, the author of the aforementioned investigation, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, repeatedly used Russian narratives. "In particular, he systematically prepared anti-Ukrainian materials in the New York Times, where he tried to discredit Ukraine and its army," the source said.
However, the authors of the investigation are six - Thomas Gibbons-Neff, John Ismay, Haley Willis, Malachy Browne, Christoph Koettl and Alexander Cardia.
"Ukrainian authorities initially tried to prevent NYT reporters from accessing the missile debris and the impact zone immediately after impact. However, the reporters were eventually able to reach the scene, interview witnesses and collect debris from the weapon used", the authors add.
The Ukrainian law enforcement source claimed that Neff also wrote that Ukrainian armed forces were using cluster munitions in populated areas, as well as selling tanks and artillery. The journalist accused the American volunteers helping Ukraine of wastefulness.
Ukraine also provides examples with some headlines from Neff's articles: "To Push Back Russians, Ukrainians Hit a Village With Cluster Munitions", "A Frontline Shadow Economy: Ukrainian Units Swap Tanks and Artillery", "The U.S. Volunteers in Ukraine Who Lie, Waste and Bicker".
In addition, the journalist has already been stripped of his press card twice by the Ukrainian Armed Forces for violating the rules for working in combat zones.
A response to the investigation also came from the office of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to the presidency, the publication causes an increase in conspiracy theories and will require further legal evaluation by investigative authorities. From there they also emphasized that Russia started the war, therefore it is responsible for it.
The American edition recalls the attack on September 6, explaining that it was followed by a lightning reaction from Volodymyr Zelensky, who blamed Russian terrorists for the attack.
"During its invasion of Ukraine, Russia repeatedly and systematically attacked civilians and struck schools, markets and homes as a deliberate tactic to instill fear in the population. In April in Kostiantynivka, they shelled homes and a kindergarten, killing six people", the publication writes.
Journalists from the New York Times also describe what footage from security cameras shows - the missile flew towards Kostiantynivka from the territory controlled by Ukraine, not from Russian lines.
"When the sound of the approaching missile is heard, at least four pedestrians turn their heads at the same time to the incoming sound. They are facing the camera - in the direction of the territory controlled by Ukraine. Minutes before the impact, the reflection of the missile can be seen passing over two parked cars, indicating it was moving from the northwest," the NYT writes.
The missile's warhead explodes several meters above the ground shortly before impact, ejecting metal fragments. According to the NYT's explosives expert, the resulting crater and damage extending from the detonation site were consistent with a missile coming from the northwest.
Additional evidence revealed that minutes before the strike, the Ukrainian military fired two surface-to-air missiles toward the Russian front line from the town of Druzhkovka, 10 miles northwest of Kostiantynivka, the New York Times also reported.
NYT reporters were in Druzhkovka when they heard a rocket launch, followed a few minutes later by a second: "Coincidentally, one of the team members recorded the first launch in a voice message."
Residents of Druzhkovka also reported a shooting at that time in a local Telegram group. "Another one," said a message at 2:03 p.m., referring to the second missile launch. Local residents near the launches described them as unusually loud - beyond the sounds of war they were used to - which matched witness accounts of previous Buk launches.
The timing of these launches coincides with that of the missile that struck the market in Kostiantynivka at around 2:04 p.m.
According to the NYT, this means the Ukrainian missile likely missed its target.
After the attack, Ukrainian officials said Russian forces used a missile fired from the S-300 air defense system, which Russia uses to both intercept aircraft and strike ground targets.
"But the S-300 missile has a different warhead than the one that exploded in Kostiantynivka. The metal facades of the buildings closest to the explosion were pierced with hundreds of square or rectangular holes, probably made by cube-shaped objects blown from the rocket," wrote the New York Times.
The measurements of the holes and fragments found at the scene match the size and shape of a single weapon: the 9M38 missile, which is fired from the Buk mobile anti-aircraft missile system.
Two independent military bomb disposal experts, who requested anonymity "so they can speak candidly," said the fragments and damage at the impact site were mostly consistent with 9M38.
"It's not clear why the missile, which has a maximum range of just over 17 miles, might have landed in Kostiantynivka — though it's possible it damaged and broke up before hitting its intended target," the New York Times concluded.
ISW: Elite units of the Russian army are defeated near Bakhmut
Ukrainian troops have defeated elite units of the Russian occupiers during a successful offensive south of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. This is according to a new report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
According to it, the Ukrainian Armed Forces completely destroyed units of the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade, the 31st Guards Airborne Brigade and the 83rd Guards Airborne Brigade during the liberation of Andriivka and Klishchiivka.
This is confirmed, in particular, by the statement of the commander of the Russian "Vostok" battalion, Alexander Khodakovsky, about the death of the commander of the 31st Airborne Brigade. As noted, the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade was most likely destroyed in the battle, although its exact losses remain unclear.
These units of the Airborne Forces participated in counterattacks and attempts to stop the advance of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Russians probably suffered heavy losses. If the recent VSU offensive south of Bakhmut resulted in the destruction of the combat capabilities of the 31st and 83rd Airborne Brigades, the Russian command is likely to redeploy elements of another relatively elite formation to support critical elements of its defenses south of Bakhmut, reports the ISW.
Ramstein 15: Abrams tanks will soon be on the battlefield
The 15th meeting of the Rammstein format began in Germany. The Minister of Defense Rustem Umierov, the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Milley, have already arrived for it.
"Time is working against Putin," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the opening of the meeting and pledged that the partners would support Ukraine as long as necessary.
"It's going to be a great meeting," US General Mark Milley told reporters before the start.
Abrams tanks will soon be on the battlefield in Ukraine, the head of the Pentagon said during the meeting in Ramstein. He also noted that the US contribution to military aid to Ukraine "has been strong and will remain so."
"Therefore, we will work closely with our Ukrainian partners to make sure that all the aid we provide to Ukraine is used effectively and appropriately. These are Abrams tanks that will soon be on the battlefield in Ukraine", Austin said.
This is the first meeting for Rustem Umierov as head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
On the eve of the meeting, Ukraine and the West are increasingly discussing the question of when the US will decide on the transfer of ATACMS long-range missiles. A similar decision is expected from Germany regarding the Taurus missiles.
Some of the Allies announced aid without waiting for the meeting. For example, Denmark will provide the largest aid package for over 800 million dollars. It also includes 45 tanks, BMPs and anti-aircraft guns. Lithuania promised 1.5 million cartridges.
Zelensky is in the US for the UN General Assembly, met with wounded soldiers
The Ukrainian president is in the United States for the UN General Assembly. Immediately after his arrival in New York, Volodymyr Zelensky went to Staten Island University Hospital, where he visited Ukrainian soldiers with amputated limbs, BTA reported.
Today, he will make his first personal address to world leaders at the UN General Assembly since Russia invaded in February 2022. After New York, the Ukrainian president will travel to Washington, D.C., where he will meet with Joe Biden and members of Congress.
Good morning:— Lew Anno Suport #Ukraine 24/2-22 (@anno1540) September 19, 2023
Zelensky visited wounded Ukrainian soldiers in New York before speaking at the UN General Assembly pic.twitter.com/I4BsgohNc5
Meanwhile, the city of Lviv in western Ukraine was rocked by explosions in the early hours of today. At least one person was injured in a Russian drone attack. A large fire broke out in an industrial warehouse.
Kharkiv also experienced a rocket attack. The mayor of the second-largest Ukrainian city, Igor Terekhov, announced the attack, Reuters reported.
"Kharkiv is again under fire from Russian missiles," Terekhov wrote on Telegram. "According to the initial information, the central districts were attacked," he added.
Several more channels on Telegram reported explosions in the city, notes Reuters.
Kyiv claims that the Russian defense line near Bakhmut has been breached
Heavy fighting continues near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Kyiv claims that its units broke through the Russian defense line. Yesterday, the Ukrainian forces announced that they managed to regain control over the village of Klishchiivka in the Bakhmut region.
In an interview with CBS, the Ukrainian president said that Ukraine's counteroffensive may be progressing slowly, but the military is regaining territory every day.
Russia hit a warehouse in Lviv, explosions were heard in Western Ukraine
An industrial warehouse was destroyed in Lviv, and two people were rescued from its ruins, the regional administration of the city announced after new Russian attacks in western Ukraine.
Drones were fired at western areas, according to the Air Force, but no other targets were reported hit there. However, in Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, where there was also an attack, a multi-story building caught fire and the fire was extinguished.
A man is in a serious condition according to the head of the administration Maksym Kozytskyy. The Ukrainian service of the BBC writes that drones flew over the historic center of the city, included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Media correspondents saw at least two devices pass at low altitude.
No details are known about the destroyed object. The BBC reports on the use of Iranian "Shahed" drones. Attacks against Lviv have not been registered in August 15 (when there were no victims), and the previous one, on July 6, resulted in the death of 10 people.
There were other explosions, but according to the mayor Andriy Sadovyi, it was the work of the Ukrainian air defense. At least two explosions were heard during the night.
Meanwhile, explosions were heard in Khmelnytskyi Oblast and other regions, which were reported by Ukrainian media. The Air Force of Ukraine reported that there were threats of new attacks in both Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk Oblasts. An alert was also issued in several regions in southern and central Ukraine.
Grossi: There has been some improvement in the safety situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP
There is some improvement in the safety situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, said the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, Reuters reported.
The largest nuclear power plant in Europe was seized by Russian forces in March last year. Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the area of the facility, and the IAEA is trying to establish a safety mechanism to prevent incidents, Reuters recalls.
"So far we have seen some improvement, but the situation remains extremely fragile," Grossi told RIA Novosti. According to him, there are now no shellings at the Zaporizhzhia NPP.
"However, I weigh my words carefully," he added.
The IAEA believes that one of the six reactors must be kept in hot shutdown mode to produce the steam needed for nuclear safety, including the processing of liquid radioactive waste in storage tanks, Reuters noted.
The head of the international agency plans to meet this week with a Russian and a Ukrainian delegation on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss with them the safety of the nuclear plant.
The EU wants to finance the export of Ukrainian crops through the Baltic and Poland
The EU is looking for opportunities to finance the export of Ukrainian agricultural crops through the Baltic countries and Poland.
This was announced by the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, BTA reported.
He spoke after a meeting of the agricultural ministers of the member countries in Brussels.
The main export route through Romania cannot accommodate more quantities, and the route through the Black Sea remains unusable due to Russia's actions, Wojciechowski pointed out. According to him, this necessitates the search for other opportunities that are not economically justified. Therefore, there is a need for funding, the commissioner said.
According to him, Ukraine has managed to increase exports in one year. This happened despite the temporary restrictions introduced by the European Commission, which were dropped at the end of last week.
At the same time, Wojciechowski said he was surprised by Ukraine's decision to approach the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the unilateral decisions of Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to maintain the restrictions.
"As a former judge, I think an out-of-court settlement is always preferable to a lawsuit," he said.
And he added that Ukraine has not suffered damage from the restrictions.
"Ukraine's proposals for export measures will be studied," assured the Polish European Commissioner. "Last week, the EC announced that Kyiv is expected to introduce licenses for the export of agricultural goods."
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