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Ukraine: Kyiv says it killed Russian fleet commander

Published September 25, 2023last updated September 25, 2023

Ukrainian special forces have said an attack on Russian navy headquarters killed the commander of the Black Sea fleet, Viktor Sokolov. Meanwhile, the first US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine. DW has the latest.

Smoke over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after the Ukrainian missile strike
A large number of officers were said to have been present at the headquarters when it was hitImage: Sergei Malgavko/Tass/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

A statement from Ukraine's specials forces says Russian Black Sea Fleet commander Viktor Sokolov was killed in an attack on Russia's naval headquarters in the port city of Sevastopol in occupied Crimea last Friday. 

Sokolov is said to have been among 34 officers who died in the attack on Friday. Scores more were injured.

The historic headquarters building is reported to have been damaged beyond repair. 

In other news, Russia-installed authorities on Crimea said Monday night that air defense forces were repelling a missile attack. 

Overnight Sunday into Monday, the Ukrainian port city of Odesa came under fire from Russian missiles and drones. 

Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Monday, September 25:

Skip next section Russia reports new missile attack on Sevastopol
September 25, 2023

Russia reports new missile attack on Sevastopol

Russian authorities in Sevastopol on announced an air raid alert for the port city on Monday evening, and said they were repelling a missile attack. 

"According to preliminary data, the air defense forces shot down one missile near the Belbek airfield," the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said in his Telegram channel.

Traffic on the Kerch bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula to the Russian mainland was also temporarily halted, the bridge operator said. 

Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014,  has recently been the frequent target of attacks from Ukrainian forces. The latest came on September 22, with a missile strike hitting the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet in Sevastopol. 

Strikes on Crimea a 'longer term project' of Ukraine: Niklas Masuhr, ETH Zurich

Skip next section Hungary criticizes Ukraine, could delay vote on Sweden NATO bid
September 25, 2023

Hungary criticizes Ukraine, could delay vote on Sweden NATO bid

Hungary will not support Ukraine "in any issue" unless the Ukrainian government restores the rights of ethnic Hungarians on its territory, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday. 

Ukraine restricted the use of minority languages, such as Hungarian, in schools in 2017, which Hungary has repeatedly denounced. 

Some 130,000 ethnic Hungarians lived in Ukraine before the war, mostly in the western region of Zakarpattia. Hundreds of them have joined the Ukrainian military since the beginning of Russia's invasion last year.

In his speech, Orban also floated the possibility of Hungary further delaying parliamentary ratification of Sweden's NATO bid. His government expressed disapproval of what it called "undue allegations" by Sweden over rule of law issues in Hungary.

Hungary and Turkey are the only two NATO members who have not yet ratified the accession yet.

Skip next section Russia puts more ICC officials on wanted list
September 25, 2023

Russia puts more ICC officials on wanted list

Russia placed more judges and high-ranking officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on its wanted list on Monday. 

This comes as Moscow reacts to an ICC arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin

The Kremlin had already blacklisted the court's top judge, Karim Khan, and several other judges. 

Russia media reported that Polish ICC President Piotr Hofmanski, Pervian ICC Vice President Luz del Carmen Ibanez Carranza and German judge Bertram Schmitt were among those for whom the Interior Ministry issued arrest warrants. 

The ICC had described the previous Russian warrants against its personnel as "insignificant." 

Russia, meanwhile, argues that the ICC charges against Putin — tied to his alleged involvement in the abduction and relocation of Ukrainian children to Russia — are similarly worthless. 

Russia is not a signatory to the ICC and the chances of the current regime extraditing Putin or his allies seem vanishingly slim. Putin, in turn, is deemed unlikely to travel to a country that would arrest him. And it's not entirely clear which countries would, although in theory ICC signatories are bound to do so

Does diplomatic immunity apply when Putin travels abroad?

Skip next section Zelenskyy confirms Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine
September 25, 2023

Zelenskyy confirms Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has confirmed the arrival of the first US Abrams tanks in Ukraine.

In a post on the social media platform Telegram, Zelenskyy said the hardware was already being prepared for deployment. 

Zelenskyy provided no details on the number of US tanks already in the country. Washington has announced that 31 of the battle tanks are to be handed over to Ukraine.

The tank was created for ground warfare during the Cold War and has been used by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is bulky and has high fuel consumption, but has formidable firepower and is well-protected against anti-tank weapons.

Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022, US military aid to Ukraine has amounted to $43.9 billion (€41.3 billion). 

Most recently, weapons and equipment worth $128 million were authorized from US military stocks. 

What makes the Abrams tank so effective?

Skip next section Ukraine claims it killed Russian Black Sea fleet chief
September 25, 2023

Ukraine claims it killed Russian Black Sea fleet chief

Kyiv's special forces on Monday said a Ukrainian missile attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea killed top-ranking admiral Viktor Sokolov. 

In a statement on social media, Ukrainian forces said the historic headquarters in the port of Sevastopol were beyond repair and that numerous officers had also been killed in the Friday attack.

"Thirty-four officers were killed, including the commander of the Black Sea fleet. Another 105 occupants were wounded," the special forces said.

If the death is confirmed, Sokolov would be the highest-ranking of all the Russian officers killed in Ukraine during the war.

The Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia annexed in 2014. After the division of the Soviet Union, Moscow's Black Sea Fleet maintained its base in Sevastopol.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has intensified its operations against the Russian forces that control Crimea. 

Kyiv says its attacks using naval and aerial drones and missiles have also destroyed defense systems and damage Russian military ships and submarines.

How did Ukraine manage to attack the Black Sea Fleet HQ?

Skip next section Russia reports Ukrainian drone attacks on Kursk, Belgorod
September 25, 2023

Russia reports Ukrainian drone attacks on Kursk, Belgorod

Ukraine has carried out a drone attack on the western Russian region of Kursk, damaging several private houses and an administrative building, said regional Governor Roman Starovoyt.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the governor of Belgorod, in southern Russia, said that two Ukrainian drones were destroyed over the region that borders Ukraine. 

No casualties have been reported in either attacks, the local governors said in their statements posted on Telegram.

How drones are shaping the war for Ukraine and Russia

Skip next section EU trade commissioner: China's Ukraine stance poses 'reputational risk'
September 25, 2023

EU trade commissioner: China's Ukraine stance poses 'reputational risk'

China's position on Russia's war in Ukraine is impacting the country's image, the European Union trade commissioner cautioned on Monday, saying that the Asian giant's refusal to condemn the invasion poses a "reputational risk."

China's stand "is affecting the country's image, not only with European consumers, but also businesses," Valdis Dombrovskis said in a speech in Beijing. 

"Territorial integrity has always been a key principle for China in international diplomacy. Russia's war is a blatant breach of this principle," Dombrovskis added.

"China always advocates for each country being to free to choose its own development path... So it's very difficult for us to understand China's stance on Russia's war against Ukraine, as it breaches China's own fundamental principles."

China has positioned itself as a neutral party in the conflict in Ukraine while offering Moscow a crucial diplomatic and financial lifeline amid its growing international isolation.

EU reviews relationship with China

Skip next section 1 injured, infrastructure damaged in Odesa attack: Ukraine
September 25, 2023

1 injured, infrastructure damaged in Odesa attack: Ukraine

An overnight Russian missile and drone attack has injured one woman and damaged port infrastructure in Odesa, the governor of the southern Ukrainian region said on Monday.

A fire broke out in a non-residential high-rise in Odesa city following the attack but was extinguished, Oleh Kiper said on Telegram.

The Ukrainian military said that grain stores were destroyed in the attack, news agency AFP reported. 

The Defense Forces of the South of Ukraine said Russia directed 19 drones and 2 Onyx supersonic missiles at Odesa, and fired 12 Kalibr missiles.

"Onyx missiles destroyed granaries. But people were not hurt," they said.

Russia was apparently "trying to test out the density of the air defense," Nataliya Gumenyuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian southern military command, said on Telegram. 

"They understand that port infrastructure is a priority for our region, and that it is reliably protected. However, that is why the attack that occurred tonight was both massive and by combined means." she added.

Gumenyuk said one of the grain stores struck was empty.

"Nevertheless, hitting grain deal-related infrastructure," she said, was a Russian "priority."

Moscow has stepped up its attacks on Ukraine's grain exporting infrastructure since Russia pulled out of a UN-brokered deal allowing safe grain shipments via the Black Sea.

Ukraine – Rerouting grain exports

dvv,rc/fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters, EFE)