Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
Putin will meet with the leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan, as well as representatives from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which is made up of some former Soviet nations, according to Putin’s office. This is Putin’s first known foreign trip since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest in March. Kyrgyzstan is not a signatory to the ICC statute which obliges member nations to transfer Putin to The Hague if he enters their territory.
A coalition co-led by the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands will aim to establish F-16 capacity in Ukraine and, later, oversee a full-scale Ukrainian air force built, the Danish Ministry of Defense said in a news release Wednesday. The package includes aircraft donation and pilot training plus infrastructure and maintenance support. Denmark has promised to donate 19 of the American-made aircraft to Ukraine. The first delivery, of six, should arrive in spring 2024, Danish Foreign Minister Troels Lund Poulsen told Danish news agency Ritzau.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced “terrorists like Putin — or like Hamas” during his surprise visit to NATO’s meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. It was his first visit to NATO’s steel-and-glass headquarters since Putin’s invasion, and it came a day after he acknowledged in an interview that the new war in Israel could distract global attention from Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Also in Brussels, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a $200 million security assistance package for Ukraine. It followed a $1 billion military aid package, including air defense systems, announced by Germany the day before. “We remind the world of our shared commitment to support Ukraine today — and for the long haul,” Austin said in his opening remarks to the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Senior U.S. officials have stepped up their efforts to lead Western governments to use hundreds of billions of dollars of frozen Russian central bank reserves to help Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. The Kremlin has an estimated $300 billion frozen in various bank accounts throughout Western countries, but experts have warned that simply taking that money would face legal challenges and pose major financial risks.
Russian forces advanced toward Avdiivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region after launching an offensive operation on Tuesday, the Institute for the Study of War said Wednesday. Russian gains were concentrated to the southwest of Avdiivka without an encirclement of the “notoriously well-fortified and defended” town, which Russia would probably struggle to achieve, the institute said, adding the operation was probably intended to draw Ukraine’s focus away from its counteroffensive on the southern front.
Three people, including a child, were killed in the Russian city of Belgorod when a Ukrainian drone was downed, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said Thursday on Telegram. Two others are critically injured, and two residential buildings were destroyed in the city, about 25 miles north of the Ukrainian border, he said.
Ukraine said it identified two Ukrainian “traitors” who gave intelligence to Russia to direct a missile attack on the village of Hroza. The Oct. 5 attack killed at least 55 people — roughly one-sixth of the village’s population — including one young boy.
A Russian assault struck a school in Nikopol in southern Ukraine, destroying a gymnasium and killing four people on Wednesday, Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram. He said the four people killed, all of whom were aged 60 and above, included school employees.
In eastern Ukraine, small assault teams quietly advance against Russia: While big, complex maneuvers unfold in Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive, and long-range artillery duels thunder along the front lines, small-team tactics are less visible.
But these stealthy assaults of a handful of soldiers storming enemy positions have been quietly instrumental in recent gains in the eastern Donetsk region outside Bakhmut, Ukrainian fighters and commanders told Alex Horton and Serhiy Morgunov in the Donetsk region.
Outnumbered and outgunned, Ukrainian teams numbering four to a dozen can attack on foot far less conspicuously than with vehicles, surprising complacent enemies and triggering chaos along the front.