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France 24
France 24

Russia says it shot down 281 Ukrainian drones over the past week

An operator controls a reusable airstrike “Punisher” drone made by the Ukrainian company UA Dynamics during a test in Kyiv region on August 11, 2023. © Sergei Supinsky, AFP

Russia's defence ministry on Friday said it had destroyed a total of 281 Ukrainian drones over the past week. Also on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told a business forum in Italy that there can be no "sustainable peace" in Ukraine unless the country regains control of Crimea, Donbas and other territories occupied by Russia. Read our live blog to see how all the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here

6:10pm: Ukraine seeks to expand domestic arms production

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week claimed that Ukraine has successfully used new domestically made long-range weapons, and that they hit a target 700 kilometers away. 

By making his claim on his nightly address, Douglas Herbert, FRANCE 24’s international affairs commentator, explains that “Volodymyr Zelensky wants to underscore that Ukraine increasingly has the capability, not just to wage its own war…but also can use weapons of its own production.”

Zelensky did not reveal if the domestically produced weapons were used in training or combat. The purpose of the announcement, according to Herbert, was to show that Ukraine does not simply have a “blind reliance on Western providers and suppliers of weapons. The Ukrainians do have the wherewithal, they have gained a lot of expertise, specialisation throughout this war,” Herbert added.

© France 24

4:38pm: Ukraine offensive has made 'notable progress' in south, US says

The United States has seen notable progress by Ukrainian forces in the south near the Zaporizhzhia area in the last 72 hours, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday.

"Any objective observer of this counteroffensive, you can't deny ... that they have made progress now," White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

4:19pm: Denmark orders Russia to reduce Copenhagen embassy staff

Denmark has decided to cap the number of Russian diplomats allowed at the Copenhagen embassy to five and administrative staff to 20, forcing Moscow to cut its staffing, the Danish foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

"The decision to introduce parity in the size of the two embassies means that the Russian embassy in Copenhagen must reduce its current staffing," the ministry said.

The reduction must be implemented by Sept. 29, the ministry added.

3:58pm: Russia to allocate 1.9 trillion roubles to annexed Ukrainian territories, Putin says

President Vladimir Putin said Russia planned to allocate 1.9 trillion roubles ($20 billion) from the federal budget over the next two-and-a-half years to the development of the four Ukrainian regions that Moscow last year declared to be part of its territory.

Moscow does not control any of the regions in its entirety and the unilateral annexation has been recognised by only a handful of countries allied to Russia, while being condemned by Ukraine and three-quarters of UN member states. 

3:03pm: Russia says it seized 'key heights' near Kupiansk in east Ukraine

Russia on Friday said it captured several strategic heights near Kupiansk, an eastern Ukrainian city around which Moscow's troops stepped up pressure in August.

"In the direction of Kupiansk, the units of the Western group of forces improved the tactical position by capturing enemy strongholds and key heights," the Russian defence ministry said, claiming that the Kyiv army sustained "significant" losses.

Kupiansk and territory nearby in the Kharkiv region were retaken by Kyiv last September, but Moscow is pushing back.

Ukrainian officials ordered vulnerable people to evacuate from several villages near Kupiansk, citing an uptick in Russian shelling.

The Russian defence ministry Friday acknowledged that fighting in the south and east of Ukraine was "difficult". 

2:47pm: Russia says it destroyed 281 Ukrainian drones in a week

Russia's defence ministry said it had destroyed a total of 281 Ukrainian drones over the past week, including 29 over the western regions of Russia, indicating the scale of the drone war now under way between Russia and Ukraine.

The 281 destroyed Ukrainian drones included “one Tu-141 Strizh, as well as 29 Ukrainian UAVs in the western regions of the Russian Federation," the ministry said on Friday.

Russia for its part has repeatedly struck Ukraine with waves of one-way drones with explosive payloads, which are far cheaper than missiles and can be difficult, and expensive, for air defence systems to intercept.

Ukrainian aerial drone strikes deep inside Russia have increased since two drones were destroyed over the Kremlin in early May. Drone strikes on the Russian capital have become increasingly common in recent months.

2:22pm: Russia says Sarmat intercontinental missiles put on combat duty

The head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos said on Friday that the country's Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are capable of carrying ten or more nuclear warheads, had been put on combat duty, state news agency RIA reported.

In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Sarmat missiles would be deployed for combat duty "soon".

1:35pm: Russian attacks kill one civilian, wound three in Ukraine 

One man was killed in Russian shelling of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson on Friday and three people were wounded in a missile attack in the central region of Vinnytsia overnight, Ukrainian authorities said.

The 34-year-old man was hit in a residential area of Kherson close to 12:50 p.m. local time (0950 GMT), the military administration there said.

The three civilians were wounded when a Russian missile struck a business in Vinnytsia region, the regional governor said.

"They are being provided with all necessary assistance," Serhiy Borzov wrote on the Telegram messaging service.

Ukraine's air force said it shot down a second missile fired overnight. The missile was downed over the central Kirovohrad region, the local governor said on Telegram.

12:48pm: Two more ships leave Ukrainian Black Sea port under temporary corridor

Two cargo vessels have left a port near Odesa, Ukraine's deputy prime minister said on Friday – the third and fourth to transit from deep-water Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea since Russia withdrew from a safe-passage deal for grain ships.

Oleksandr Kubrakov said the bulk carriers "Anna-Theresa" and "Ocean Courtesy" had left the port of Pivdennyi through a temporary corridor for civilian vessels.

Russia has blockaded Ukrainian ports since it invaded its neighbour in February 2022, and threatened to treat all vessels as potential military targets after pulling out of the UN-backed Ukrainian grain deal in July.

In response, Ukraine announced a "humanitarian corridor" hugging the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria. Two vessels stuck in Ukrainian ports during the invasion have thus far been able to use it to leave.

12:03pm: Putin to meet Turkey's Erdogan on Monday in Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Two Turkish sources told news agencies on Thursday that the meeting would primarily discuss Black Sea grain exports.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that he had sent Russia "a set of concrete proposals" aimed at reviving a deal that allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea, where Russia controls Ukraine's sea lanes.

Russia quit the deal in July – a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey – complaining that Western economic sanctions were hampering its own food and fertiliser exports in contravention of a parallel memorandum, and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.

11:15am: Ukraine says drone attack on Russian airport launched from inside Russia

A recent drone attack on an airport in Russia that damaged several transport planes was carried out from within Russian territory, Ukraine's military intelligence chief has claimed.

"The drones used to attack the 'Kresty' air base in Pskov were launched from Russia," Kyrylo Budanov wrote on social media, adding that: "Four Russian IL-76 military transport planes were hit as a result of the attack."

Kyiv officials normally neither claim nor deny responsibility for attacks on Russian soil.

Satellite images analysed by AP show that Tuesday's suspected drone attacks destroyed at least two Ilyushin Il-76 military transport planes at the air base in Pskov.

Eleven other aircraft had been moved off their parking pads into different positions on the airport’s taxiways, possibly in an attempt to make it more difficult for them to be struck again, AP said. 

This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows the dual military-civilian use Princess Olga Pskov International Airport that was hit by suspected drone strikes on August 29, 2023. © Planet Labs PBC via AP

10:45am: No 'sustainable' peace unless all occupied territories are freed, says Ukraine's Zelensky

There can be no "sustainable peace" in Ukraine unless the country regains control of Crimea, Donbas and other territories occupied by Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in an address to the European House Ambrosetti business forum in Italy.

Zelensky has been promoting a 10-point peace plan that includes the withdrawal of Russian troops and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders with Russia.

Moscow has flatly rejected the proposal. 

Earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he told United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres that online meetings held in August to discuss Zelensky's peace formula were "unacceptable".

8:40am: Casualties reported as Russian missile hits central Ukraine

Russian forces struck a private enterprise with a long-range cruise missile overnight in the central Ukrainian region of Vinnytsia, local authorities have said.

The strike damaged property and caused an unspecified number of injuries, said Governor Serhiy Borzov.

"Unfortunately, there are victims, they are being provided with all necessary assistance," he wrote on Telegram.

Kyiv's air force said it shot down one out of two incoming cruise missiles in the attack. The missile was downed over the central Kirovohrad region, the governor said on the Telegram messenger.

7:25am: Moscow mayor says drone shot down near capital

Russian air defences have destroyed a drone approaching Moscow, a day after a similar attack on the capital, according to the city's mayor.

Air defences near the Lyubertsy district on the southeast outskirts of the capital "thwarted another attempt to fly a drone to Moscow," Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Telegram.

"There were no casualties or damage, according to initial reports. Emergency services are on the scene," he added.

Air traffic at Moscow's Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports was briefly suspended, according to a Telegram post by the Russian daily newspaper Izvestia.

6:35am: Russia says Ukrainian drone targets town home to nuclear plant

A Ukrainian drone attacked a town in southwestern Russia which is near one of the country's biggest nuclear power stations, though there was no damage reported to the plant, Russian officials have said.

Governor Roman Starovoit said a Ukrainian drone had damaged the facade of a building in the town of Kurchatov, just a few kilometres from the Kursk nuclear power station, early in the morning.

"There are no casualties," Starovoit said. Starovoit did not mention any potential damage to the Kursk nuclear power plant.

The Soviet-era nuclear facility has the same graphite-moderated reactors as the Chernobyl nuclear plant that suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 1986.

9:39pm: Turkey wants to revive Black Sea grain deal, but Russia won’t ‘bend’

Talks between Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow to revive the Black Sea grain deal did not make substantial progress, explains FRANCE 24’s international affairs commentator Douglas Herbert.

Turkey helped broker the deal, which allowed Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea, under UN auspices and would like to see the initiative revived, noted Herbert, “but they know they have to work with Russia – and Russia’s not going to bend”.

Russia withdrew from the deal in July and has said it will not resume participation until its demands, which involve Moscow's own grain and fertiliser exports, are met.

“Critics say Russia’s real motives are to further hamper and destroy Ukraine’s economy, and to also force the West to use this food deal, and Russia’s withdrawal from the food deal, as a blackmail of sorts in order to get the West to drop its sanctions,” said Herbert.


Key developments from Thursday, August 31:

Ukraine told critics of the pace of its three-month-old counteroffensive to "shut up" on Thursday as its troops claimed new "successes" in the south and east.

In Russia, the co-founder and military commander of the mercenary group Wagner was buried near Moscow, a week after the fatal air crash that also killed his boss Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Moscow said it intended to develop ties with North Korea, while not confirming a statement by the White House that Russian President Vladimir Putin had exchanged letters with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Meanwhile, the office of UN chief Antonio Guterres said he had sent Russian officials a proposal to revive Black Sea grain deal.

Read yesterday's liveblog to see how the day's events unfolded.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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