Ukrainian medic recounts torture and executions to US lawmakers

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EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview Thursday she wants Russian President Vladimir Putin to face the International Criminal Court over war crimes in Ukraine. Volunteer medic Yuliia Paievska, who was captured by Russia in Mariupol, told US lawmakers Thursday how Russians routinely tortured her and others. Read FRANCE 24’s blog for all the day’s events as they unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).


10:39pm: Zelensky: Ukrainians found a mass grave in recaptured city of Izium

Ukrainian authorities have found a mass grave in the recaptured city of Izium, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Thursday, adding that more information should be available on Friday. “Russia is leaving death behind it  everywhere and must be held responsible,” he said.

10:07pm: US to soon announce new $600 million arms package for Ukraine

The US will soon announce a new $600 million arms package for Ukraine to help the Ukrainian military battle Russia, US officials said on Thursday.

9:23pm: EU chief von der Leyen says Putin should face ICC over war crimes 

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview Thursday she wants Russian President Vladimir Putin to face the International Criminal Court over war crimes in Ukraine. 

“That Putin must lose this war and must face up to his actions, that is important to me,” she told the TV channel of German news outlet Bild.

There was no doubt that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine, said von der Leyen, who also visited Kyiv Thursday.

“Therefore we support the collection of evidence” with a view to possible proceedings at the International Criminal Court, she said.

“That is the basis of our international legal system, that we punish these crimes. And ultimately, Putin is responsible.”

9:04pm: US hits more Russians with sanctions over Ukraine

The Biden administration on Thursday slapped sanctions on dozens of Russian and Ukrainian officials and a number of Russian companies for human rights abuses and the theft of Ukrainian grain. 

The State Department said it had imposed sanctions on at least 23 officials and 31 Russian government agencies and firms for their roles in supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine. Some, but not all, of those penalised were already subject to US sanctions, which include asset freezes and a ban on Americans conducting business with them.

9:00pm: Pope says supplying weapons to Ukraine is morally acceptable for self defence

Pope Francis on Thursday said it was morally legitimate for nations to supply weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from Russian aggression.

Speaking to reporters aboard a plane returning from a three-day trip to Kazakhstan, Francis also urged Kyiv to be open to eventual dialogue, even though it may “smell” because it would be difficult for the Ukrainian side.

8:51pm: Germany to send more weapons to Ukraine excluding tanks

Berlin will provide Ukraine more armoured vehicles and rocket launch systems but not the battle tanks. The Germans will supply two Mars II multiple-rocket launch systems, 200 missiles and 50 armoured “Dingo” troop carriers, German defence minister Christine Lambrecht said.

Ukraine has repeatedly asked for the German-made Marders as well as Leopard tanks. Neither figures in the list of the latest armaments pledged by Germany. Berlin has argued that it will not “go it alone” on weapons deliveries, with Lambrecht pointing out that no other ally has transferred Western-made battle tanks to Ukraine. On Thursday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz again defended Germany’s support for Ukraine. 

“We are helping … because their fight is a fight that we are supporting,” he said in a speech, listing ways that Berlin had aided Ukraine, from supplying armaments to training troops. “We have delivered more and more weapons. “Weapons deliveries from us – but also from our allies – have contributed to things turning out differently to how the Russian president planned.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has slammed Germany’s reluctance to send tanks.

Lambrecht’s announcement came after German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a speedy decision on deliveries of the Leopard tanks sought by Kyiv. 

7:20pm: Supporting Ukraine is costly, but freedom is priceless

Supporting Ukraine comes at a high cost, but freedom is “priceless”, European Commission chief Urszula Von der Leyen said on Thursday amid soaring inflation and high energy prices in Europe.

The EU’s sanctions on Russia are having a deep and visible impact, European Commission President Urszula Von der Leyen told Reuters at an interview in Kyiv, shortly after she met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Asked about the potential impact of Europe’s unfolding cost of living and energy crises on support for Ukraine, Von der Leyen said supporting Ukraine “comes at a high cost, but our freedom, the international peace order, and democracy, is priceless”.

6:56pm: UN nuclear agency resolution seeks Russian retreat from Ukraine atomic plant 

The UN nuclear agency’s board of governors on Thursday asked Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, two diplomats said.  

“The @iaeaorg Board of Governors has sent another strong message to Russia: cease immediately all actions threatening nuclear safety & security, and return the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant & all other Ukrainian territory to control,” Australian ambassador to Austria, Richard Sadleir tweeted. Another diplomat confirmed the move.


6:00pm: Russian parliament to consider summoning defence minister

Russia’s lower house of parliament will consider summoning Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to face questioning in a closed session, senior lawmaker Sergei Mironov was cited as saying by Kommersant newspaper on Thursday.

It is virtually unknown for the State Duma to summon a defence minister to account for himself. However, Russia’s armed forces have been openly criticised by military commentators this week after losing control of large parts of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region to a lightning advance by Ukrainian forces.

Mironov, a strong supporter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and head of the small pro-Kremlin “Just Russia” party, was quoted as saying that the State Duma Council, which manages the chamber’s business, would discuss the matter on Monday.

Mironov had tweeted on Wednesday that his party had proposed the session with Shoigu “so that the deputies can speak with him behind closed doors and ask all the questions that interest us and the citizens”.


5:42pm: Ukrainian Medic: Russians tortured Ukrainian detainees, often to death

A Ukrainian volunteer medic captured by Russian forces during their deadly siege of the port city of Mariupol told US lawmakers Thursday how Russians routinely tortured her and others, killing many detainees, in her most detailed public account of her months in captivity.

Yuliia Paievska, detained in Mariupol in March and held by Russian and pro-Russian forces for three months, spoke to lawmakers with the Helsinki Commission, a government agency created in part to promote compliance with human rights internationally. 

Known to Ukrainians by the nickname Taira, Paievska became a popular figure in her home country. Her care of the wounded during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war received global attention after her bodycam footage was provided to The Associated Press.

“Do you know why we do this to you?” a Russian asked Paievska as he tortured her, she recounted to the commission. She told the panel her answer to him: “Because you can.” A 7-year-old boy died in her lap because she had none of the medical gear she needed to treat him, she said.

Russian captors made Ukrainian prisoners remove their clothes before the Russians set to bloodying and tormenting them, she said. Prisoners lingered in pain, screaming, for weeks before dying. “Then in this torment of hell, the only things they feel before death is abuse and additional pain,” she said.

5:16pm: IAEA board passes resolution calling on Russia to leave Zaporizhzhia

The UN nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors on Thursday passed a resolution demanding that Russia end its occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, diplomats at the closed-door meeting said.

The text, which says the board calls on Russia to “immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine”, was passed with 26 votes in favour, two against and seven abstentions, diplomats said, adding that Russia and China were the countries that voted against.

4:18pm: Zelensky says Ukraine wants to join EU single market and affirms need for air defence systems

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday his war-scarred country wants to join the European single market ahead of a decision on whether to grant Kyiv full EU membership.

“For us, a pressing issue is the question of Ukraine joining the EU single market while we’re on the way to EU membership status. I’m sure it will happen and it will be one of our country’s most important victories,” he told a news conference with visiting EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.

He further reiterated that air defence systems were a priority for his country as it attempts to protect its cities and towns from Russian strikes. Ukraine had not yet received a positive response from Israel on the possible supply of aerial defence systems, he said.

Zelensky also explained that air defence systems promised previously by Germany and the United States had not yet arrived in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend a meeting, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 15, 2022. © Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters


4:03pm: Ukraine making good progress towards EU membership, von der Leyen says

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday said she was impressed with the speed at which Ukraine is proceeding in its bid to become a member of the European Union.

“The accession process is well on track. It’s impressive to see the speed, the determination, the preciseness with which you are progressing”, von der Leyen said during a press conference in Kyiv with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Von der Leyen, who arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday to meet with Zelensky, added that the EU needs to do as much as possible to ensure Ukraine has “more business, more income”.

3:53pm: von der Leyen in Kyiv says EU will support Ukraine for ‘as long as it takes’

EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday that war-torn Ukraine would have the backing of Brussels for as long as necessary as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nears its seventh month.

“We will never be able to match the sacrifice that the Ukrainians are making… but what we can tell you is that you’ll have your European friends by your side as long as it takes,” she told reporters during a joint press conference with Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

3:04pm: German defence minister Lambrecht says Berlin will deliver two more Multiple Rocket Launchers to Ukraine

Germany will supply two more multiple rocket launchers to Kyiv, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Thursday in Berlin. “We have decided to deliver two more MARS II multiple rocket launchers including 200 rockets to Ukraine,” she told a Bundeswehr conference, adding the training of the Ukrainian operators was expected to start in September.

“On top of this, we will send 50 Dingo armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine,” Lambrecht announced, referring to an armoured vehicle that the German military extensively used during NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan.

She also said a deal on a circle swap of infantry fighting vehicles with Greece and Ukraine was almost completed, meaning Germany would soon hand over 40 Marder IFVs to Greece while Greece, in turn, would pass on 40 of its Soviet-built BMP-1 IFVs to Ukraine.

2:51pm: ‘When it came to sanctions she gave a robust defence of the current sanctions saying that they are working and that the EU will not weaken them at all’

FRANCE 24’s David Keating reports from Brussels on Ursula von Der Leyen’s speech in EU parliament and subsequent visit to Kyiv.




2:41pm: G7 vow to stop Russia ‘profiting’ from Ukraine war

G7 ministers said Thursday they would seek to crank up the pressure on Russia and limit Moscow’s means of financing its war in Ukraine.

The G7 would “maintain and expand our coordinated efforts to prevent Russia from profiting from its illegal aggression” and curtail Russia´s ability to carry on the war, trade ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Germany.

1:41pm: Russia values China’s ‘balanced position’ on Ukraine, says Putin 

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday that Moscow backs Beijing’s “One China” policy, opposes “provocations” by the United States in the Taiwan Strait, and said Russia values China’s “balanced position” on Ukraine.

The two leaders were meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan in their first face-to-face meeting since Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine in February.

1:31pm: Russia says longer-range US missiles for Kyiv would cross red line

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that if the United States decided to supply Kyiv with longer-range missiles, it would cross a “red line” and become “a party to the conflict”.

In a briefing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added that Russia “reserves the right to defend its territory”. Washington has openly supplied Ukraine with advanced GMLRS rockets, fired from HIMARS launchers, that can hit targets up to 80 km away.

“If Washington decides to supply longer-range missiles to Kyiv, then it will be crossing a red line, and will become a direct party to the conflict,” Zakharova said. US officials say Ukraine has promised not to use US rockets to strike Russia itself.

10:03am: Ukraine will need 350 billion dollars for reconstruction, according to German economy minister

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck welcomed G7 trade ministers during a meeting at Neuhardenberg Castle in the state of Brandenburg on Thursday. He and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Svyrydenko discussed ways to drum up financial support for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

“A lot of money is needed. More money than public money can bring alone,” the German minister said. “We need an instrument, a fund, in a way that creates a strong and stable opportunity for companies to invest.”

This global fund could pull together aid from private investors, banks and hedge funds, he added.

Ukraine needs 350 billion dollars for reconstruction, according to Kyiv’s own estimates, Habeck said.

9:20am: EU chief von der Leyen arrives in Kyiv for talks on EU integration

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday she was in Kyiv for meetings with officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss closer cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union

“In Kyiv, for my 3rd visit since the start of Russia’s war. So much has changed. Ukraine is now an EU candidate. I’ll discuss with Zelensky and (Prime Minister) Denys Shmygal how to continue getting our economies and people closer while Ukraine progresses towards accession,” she said in a statement on social media.

8:10am: Ukraine continues to consolidate its control in Kharkiv area, says UK 

Britain‘s defence ministry said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their control of newly liberated areas of Kharkiv Oblast.

Russian forces have largely withdrawn from the area west of the Oskil River, the British Defence Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

High-value equipment abandoned by retreating Russian forces included capabilities essential to enabling Russia’s artillery-centric style of warfare, the tweet added.

07:22am: Zelensky says ‘almost the entire region’ of Kharkiv is ‘de-occupied’ 

In his nightly address, Volodymyr Zelensky said that “almost the entire region (of Kharkiv) is de-occupied.” 

“It was an unprecedented movement of our soldiers — the Ukrainians once again managed to do what many thought was impossible.”

Zelensky also said Wednesday that Russia’s occupation of Crimea — annexed by Moscow in 2014 — was a “tragedy” and promised that his forces would eventually recapture the peninsula.

Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv have since September 6 recaptured around 8,500 square kilometres (3,200 square miles) and areas home to some 150,000 people, said deputy foreign affairs minister Ganna Maliar.



2:57am: Flood risk in central Ukraine city following Russian strike

Floods could hit the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine after a Russian strike damaged infrastructure causing the Inhulets River to flood, the Ukrainian presidency warned Wednesday. 

“At the point of impact, we have observed a water flow of 100 cubic metres per second, which is a large volume,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office.

“The water level of the Inhulets River is changing every hour,” he added.

The centre and another district of the city of 600,000 people were “at risk of flooding”, he said.

“It is a challenge for us all, but the situation is under control. All services are involved to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible,” he said via Telegram. 

Kryvyi Rih is President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown. Earlier, Zelensky said a Russian strike targeted infrastructure in an “attempt to flood” the city, with no casualties. 

Regional governor Valentin Reznichenko said seven Russian Kh-22 missiles fired from an aircraft “seriously damaged” the infrastructure.

01:30am: Zelensky involved in car accident, not seriously hurt

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s car was involved in a traffic accident in Kyiv, but he is not seriously hurt, his spokesman Serhii Nykyforov said in a Facebook post early on Thursday.

Nykyforov – who did not say when the accident occurred – said Zelensky’s car had collided with a private vehicle.

“The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found,” he said, adding the accident would be investigated.

Medics accompanying Zelensky gave the driver of the private car emergency aid and put him in an ambulance, he said.

Minutes after Nykyforov made his statement, Zelensky‘s office released the video of the night time address that the president gives every day.

12:15am: Ukraine wants UN to allow Zelensky to address world leaders via video

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly is on Friday due to consider a proposal for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to address the annual gathering of world leaders next week with a pre-recorded video.

Diplomats expect Russia to call a vote on the proposed decision, which has been drafted by Ukraine. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Wednesday that Russia opposed allowing Zelensky to speak via video.

“Zelensky travels perfectly well around the country … but he can’t come here. And if you can’t come, that means you send your representative to speak at the General Assembly,” Nebenzia told reporters.

In a note to General Assembly members, Ukraine’s UN mission said Zelensky “cannot participate in-person at the meetings of the General Assembly due to ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

He is currently scheduled to address the high-level UN gathering on Wednesday Sept. 21.


(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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