News about the Ukraine war: Kim Jong Un meets Russia’s defense minister

North Korea’s ruler meets Russian Defense Minister in Vladivostok

Saturday, September 16, 2023, 9:54 a.m.: According to an agency report, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un met Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during his trip to Russia on Saturday. The encounter took place at Knevichi Airport in Vladivostok, eastern Russia, the Russian state news agency Tass reported. Kim was received by Shoigu and a guard of honor.

Kim has been visiting Russia since Tuesday, his first official trip abroad since the corona pandemic. On Wednesday he met Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny cosmodrome in eastern Russia. On Friday, the North Korean leader visited a Russian aircraft factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where Sukhoi Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets are built.

The West fears that Russia wants to buy armaments from North Korea for its offensive in Ukraine. At the same time, North Korea is suspected of wanting to acquire technologies from Russia for its nuclear and missile programs. After his meeting, Putin spoke of “possibilities” of military cooperation between Russia and North Korea. However, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov assured on Friday that the two countries had not signed any agreements during Kim’s visit.

Baerbock visit: USA and Germany join forces against Russia

8:20 p.m.: Shortly before UN Week in New York, the USA and Germany joined forces against Russia and invoked the strength of the transatlantic alliance. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin would be “missing the mark” if he thought the world would get used to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock after a meeting with her American counterpart Antony Blinken in Washington.

She and Blinken have repeatedly made it clear that a war does not just mean abstract numbers and compliance with territorial integrity and sovereignty, but that “behind every single number there is a victim, a person, a face,” said the Green politician. “Putin’s crowbar of hatred does not bend the Ukrainian will to survive, but rather strengthens the fight for freedom.”

This brutality also strengthens the determination of the international community “that we in the world stand up for everyone in Ukraine to be able to live in freedom again at some point,” said Baerbock.

Blinken once again praised Germany’s commitment to Ukraine. After the United States, Germany comes second in a country comparison in terms of the amount of aid provided to the country attacked by Russia, he said. Over the past year and a half, Baerbock has been one of his closest colleagues when it comes to Ukraine and many other issues.

White House confirms Zelensky visit next week

7:51 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj also wants to visit the US capital Washington after his planned speech at the UN General Assembly in New York. A meeting with President Joe Biden and members of Congress is planned for next Thursday to reaffirm continued U.S. support for Ukraine, the White House confirmed Friday.

Kadyrov appears to be in critical health

6:55 p.m.: Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov is in critical health. Andrei Yusov from Ukrainian military intelligence said this in a conversation with journalists.

“The information is confirmed by various sources in medical and political circles. Other details still need to be clarified. He has been ill for a long time and we are talking about systemic health problems,” Yusov said, according to Nexta. Kadyrov is even said to be in a coma, several Telegram channels report.

The Ukrainian website Obozrevatel reports that Kadyrov was taken to Moscow by plane, but the doctors there couldn’t help him either, so he returned to Chechnya. Kadyrov is now expected to be transported abroad for treatment, most likely to the United Arab Emirates.

There has been speculation for a long time about the 46-year-old’s deteriorating health. Most recently, the Telegram channel “VChK-OGPU” reported that Kadyrov had the Deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya, Elkhan Suleimanov, buried alive. He blamed Suleimanov, who was also his personal doctor, for his physical problems. He gave him injections, and Kadyrov believes that this caused him to become ill and even accuses him of poisoning him.

EU Commission ends trade restrictions on Ukrainian grain

6:52 p.m.: The EU Commission is ending controversial trade restrictions on Ukrainian grain products. The authority is thus opposing demands from EU states such as Poland and Hungary, which had previously restricted corresponding imports themselves, according to information from the EU Commission on Friday evening.

Media: Russia’s General Surovikin with military delegation in Algeria

6:10 p.m.: According to media reports, Russian general Sergei Surovikin, who was long lost after the Wagner mercenaries’ coup, is said to be in Algeria for negotiations with a delegation from the Ministry of Defense. The trip shows that the military leadership in Moscow attaches greater importance to cooperation with the Arabic-speaking region and continues to have confidence in Surovikin, the daily newspaper “Kommersant” quoted an informant from the general’s circle.

The paper speculates that the general could get a post related to the Middle East issue. The newspaper published photos that are supposed to show the 56-year-old in Algeria. The Telegram channel Gray Zone, which is affiliated with the Wagner Group, also published similar images.

Billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary group was active on behalf of Moscow on the African continent for a long time. Prigozhin’s units also fought in Ukraine. However, in June, Prigozhin launched a short-lived uprising against the military leadership around Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov. Although he ended the uprising himself and was officially pardoned by the Kremlin, Prigozhin died in August in a plane crash that was believed to be intentional. Since then, the Defense Ministry has been trying to take over the Wagner connections in Africa.

Surovikin was commander in chief of Russian troops in Ukraine in the war of aggression against Ukraine from October 2022 to January 2023. He led the Russian armed forces in the war in Syria in 2017 and again in 2019 and earned the nickname “General Armageddon” on social media.

He was considered one of Prigozhin’s most important allies in the Russian army during his power struggle with Shoigu and Gerasimov. Surovikin publicly condemned the uprising by Prigozhin’s Wagner troupe at the end of June, but he was no longer seen in public after that. According to media reports, he was removed from his position as head of the Russian Aerospace Forces in mid-August. It wasn’t until the beginning of September that he appeared in public again for the first time.

When oil rigs are recaptured, Ukraine secures valuable equipment

4:15 p.m.: “We deceived the entire Russian fleet.” The officer of a Ukrainian special forces proudly reports in a TV interview about the recapture of the so-called Boiko towers. Anton Gerashenko, advisor to the Interior Minister of Ukraine, refers to the “X” platform Report: “The special operation was prepared for about a month and a half,” the officer clarifies.

On Monday, Ukrainian military intelligence reported that the Boiko drilling rigs in the Black Sea, which had been controlled by Moscow since 2015, had been recaptured. Ukraine would have taken back control of the platforms near the Crimean peninsula. A ten-minute video shows how units in speedboats approach the oil and gas platform, board it and raise the Ukrainian flag there.

According to the officer, valuable reconnaissance equipment was located on the platforms. “The Neva system we seized, we can take apart and look at the software and hardware. It contains a lot of useful information that can give us some answers to our questions.”

The recapture of the towers would be a painful blow to Russian influence in the Black Sea. The enemy’s activities have been severely restricted, especially in the waters around the island of Zmiinyi, also known as Snake Island, and Russia is being pushed back to the coast of Crimea. The commander expects a counterattack, but they are prepared for such a scenario.

Russia criticizes possible arms deliveries to Ukraine

3:40 p.m.: Russia criticizes the possible delivery of ATACMS short-range artillery missiles from the USA to Ukraine. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov spoke in Moscow on Friday of a “non-stop escalation, an ignorance of the obvious risks” of such a decision. At the same time, however, he also claimed that these weapons would not change anything on the battlefield. According to the Tass agency, Ryabkov said it was dangerous that the NATO countries and other supporters of Ukraine were following the behavior of the USA.

Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia, has long been asking the US for the ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System), which has a range of up to 300 kilometers. The short-range missiles are fired from Himars multiple rocket launchers, which Kiev was equipped with last year. Ukraine could use the missiles to hit Russian army supply lines deep in occupied territory. The US government under President Joe Biden has so far rejected a delivery. But there are signs of a turnaround in Washington, as the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The weapons with ranges of hundreds of kilometers also include the Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles, which Kiev received from Great Britain and France. According to British reports, Storm Shadows were used to damage two Russian Black Sea Fleet ships in Sevastopol this week.

Ukraine receives another 51 dead soldiers back

3:25 p.m.: Ukraine has received another 51 soldiers’ bodies back from the Russian side. A total of 1,832 bodies were brought back, the coordination staff for prisoners of war issues announced on Telegram on Friday. The repatriation was organized together with the General Staff and the Ministry of the Interior. It was not announced whether the dead were also handed over to the other side.

Russia invaded Ukraine almost 19 months ago. Both sides keep their losses secret. US estimates recently put around 70,000 dead Ukrainian and around 120,000 Russian soldiers dead.

Hank Peter

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