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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Zelenskyy comments on soldiers’ deaths following public anger

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the European Political Community Summit in Granada, Spain, on Oct. 5, 2023.

Juan Medina | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy commented on the deaths of a group of soldiers in the Zaporizhzhia region after a Russian strike on an awards ceremony last week.

Unofficial reports suggest at least 20 soldiers and officers died in the attack as they gathered for the ceremony on Artillery and Missile Forces Day.

Ukraine’s strategic communications department confirmed Sunday that the incident took place, saying on Telegram that the personnel of the 128th separate mountain assault brigade were hit “with an Iskander-M missile, as a result of which servicemen were killed, and local residents were also injured of various degrees of severity.”

It’s unusual for Zelenskyy to comment on specific losses, but those remarks came after public anger at the incident. The ceremony was seen as an easy target for Russian forces.

In his nightly address, the president said, “First and foremost, regarding the Russian strike on the soldiers of the 128th Separate Mountain Infantry Brigade occurred in Zaporizhzhia region,” adding that it was “a tragedy that could have been avoided.”

“Defense Minister Umerov has reported to me on the measures taken to clarify all the circumstances of what happened, who was specifically involved, and what orders were given,” Zelenskyy said. He added that “criminal proceedings have been initiated in response to this tragedy. The relevant investigation is ongoing.”

“The main thing is to establish the complete truth about what happened and prevent such incidents from happening again. Every soldier in the combat zone – in the enemy’s line of fire and aerial reconnaissance – knows how to behave in the open, how to ensure safety.”

Zelenskyy said the investigation “must provide honest answers to the families of the fallen soldiers and the society about how this tragedy occurred and whether any improper orders were issued.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia test-fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile from new submarine

Russia’s Ministry of Defense released a video on Sunday that appeared to show a nuclear-capable ballistic missile being test-fired from the country’s newest nuclear submarine.

The ministry posted a video on Telegram that it said showed its new nuclear submarine successfully completing a test launch of a Bulava sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile.

“As part of the final stage of the state testing programme, the new nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine Imperator Alexander III successfully launched a sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile Bulava from the White Sea,” a statement posted by the ministry said.

The test launch came after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law last week withdrawing Russia’s ratification of a global treaty banning the live testing of nuclear weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Navy Day Parade on July, 31 2022, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the missile was launched from an underwater position in the White Sea on Russia’s northern coast and hit its target all the way in Kamchatka, in Russia’s Far East.

That was the final test run for the Imperator Aleksandr III submarine before it’s accepted into the Navy, the ministry said. The submarine is equipped with 16 Bulava ballistic missiles and modern torpedo weapons.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine to introduce ‘intensive military training of citizens of draft age’

Ukraine’s defense minster signed a new plan for Ukraine’s military, including the replacement of conscription with “intensive military training for citizens of military age.”

Defense Minister Rustem Umerov signed an order on Sunday approving changes to the development of military personnel over the next five years, both during martial law and in peacetime.

The policy noted that, under peacetime conditions, Ukraine’s armed forces will transfer to military service under contract while long-term military service will be replaced by “intensive military training of citizens of draft age.”

A military training session aiming to teach Ukrainian youth how to follow military standards in war conditions in Lviv Region, Ukraine, on Aug. 18, 2023.

Pavlo Palamarchuk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“An effective system of recruiting the Armed Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will function with professional and motivated personnel,” the military personnel policy stated.

“The main emphasis of the concept is the guaranteed satisfaction of the needs of the Armed Forces in people during a full-scale war, integration into the Euro-Atlantic security space, interoperability of the Armed Forces with the armed forces of NATO member states,” it added.

The changes come after a period of turbulence in Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, with senior personnel changes. Umerov has been defense minister since September.

— Holly Ellyatt

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