Here is the situation on Thursday, October 19, 2023.
- At least 10 people were killed in Russian attacks, including five who died after a missile hit a residential building in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia. The other deaths were reported in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, the southern region of Kherson and the southern city of Mykolaiv. “The evil state continues to use terror and wage war on civilians. Russian terror must be defeated,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
- General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who leads Ukraine’s military operations in the south, said troops from the Tavria, or southern group of forces, were “continuing their offensive” as part of a planned advance towards the Sea of Azov. “They have had partial success to the south of Robotyne,” Tarnavskyi wrote on Telegram.
- Russian shelling around Avdiivka eased, but authorities said they expected Russia to escalate its assault on the front-line town in the coming days. Russian forces now control territory to the east, north and south of Avdiivka, gradually tightening the noose in a bid to push Ukrainian forces further from eastern Donetsk.
- Ukraine’s General Staff, in its evening report, said forces had repelled attacks in several areas along the 1,000km (620-mile) front line – including 15 around the long-contested town of Maryinka in Donetsk region and 10 further north near Kupiansk.
- Russia shot down two missiles over Crimea, the peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Regional governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said one of the missiles was brought down over Sevastopol, home of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. He said the missile had detonated in a field, and that there had been no injuries or damage to infrastructure.
- Russia’s defence ministry said air defence systems intercepted and destroyed 28 Ukrainian drones over its Belgorod and Kursk regions and over the Black Sea. It did not elaborate on these claims.
- Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the country was reinforcing its western border in anticipation of F-16 fighter aircraft being supplied to Ukraine in 2024.
Politics and diplomacy
- Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held bilateral talks in Beijing. Xi said the “political mutual trust” between their countries was “continuously deepening”. Putin, meanwhile, said the growing number of world conflicts and threats would “strengthen” ties between Moscow and Beijing. The two men last met in Moscow in March.
- Speaking at a press conference after the talks, Putin said that the United States had made a mistake by providing Kyiv with long-range ATACMS missiles. He said the supply of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) would only “prolong the agony” for Ukraine. “We will, of course, be able to repel these attacks. War is war,” Putin said.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov thanked North Korea for its “unwavering and principled support” over the war in Ukraine and pledged Moscow’s “complete support and solidarity” for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russia’s foreign ministry said. Lavrov travelled to Pyongyang on Wednesday for a two-day visit.
- French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his country’s support for Ukraine amid the deepening Israel-Hamas war during a phone call with Zelenskyy. “He assured the Ukrainian president that the proliferation of crises would not weaken French and European support for Ukraine, which will be there for as long as it takes,” said Macron’s office.
- Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the images of Hungary’s prime minister shaking hands with Putin as the two men met in Beijing were “very, very unpleasant” and defied logic given Budapest’s past history with Moscow. “How can you shake a criminal’s hand, who has waged the war of aggression, especially coming from a country that has a history like Hungary has?” Kallas told the Reuters news agency. An uprising in Hungary in 1956 was crushed by the Soviet Union, killing at least 2,600 Hungarians.
- A bill revoking Russia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had its second and third readings in the lower house Duma and was passed by 415 votes to zero. It will now go to the upper house for approval, and Putin for signing. Ukraine urged the international community to respond to what it described as Moscow’s “provocations” in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Robert Floyd, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, said the move was “deeply regrettable”. Russia will remain a signatory to the treaty.