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Ukraine war latest: Strike on shipyard in occupied Sevastopol damages 2 Russian vessels

by The Kyiv Independent news desk September 14, 2023 12:14 AM 7 min read
A purported photo of the aftermath of a strike against the Sevmorzavod ship repair facility in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea, on Sept. 13, 2023. (Source: Mikhail Razvozhayev/Telegram)
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Key developments on Sept. 13:

  • Strike on shipyard in occupied Sevastopol damages 2 Russian vessels
  • US General: First Ukrainian pilots to likely complete F-16 training in 3 months
  • Germany delivers 20 Marder armored vehicles, other aid to Ukraine
  • Kim Jong Un praises Russia's war, toasts to future 'victory'
  • Shmyhal: Energy infrastructure will be ready for winter within next month.

Ukraine's military intelligence told RBC-Ukraine on Sept. 13 that an overnight strike on a shipyard in Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea damaged a Russian landing craft, a submarine, and port infrastructure.

Russia's Defense Ministry has confirmed that two vessels undergoing repairs at the Sevmorzavod repair facility sustained damages due to the attack.

"As a result of the enemy cruise missile strike, two ships undergoing repairs have been damaged," the ministry wrote on its official Telegram channel.

Moscow alleged that Ukrainian forces launched 10 cruise missiles and three marine drones against the Crimean shipyard used by the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

All three drone boats have been reportedly destroyed by the patrol ship Vasily Bykov, and seven out of 10 missiles were shot down by air defenses, the ministry claimed.

Citing unnamed Ukrainian and Western sources, British news outlet Sky News reported that Ukraine used long-range Storm Shadow missiles during the strike.

The Kyiv Independent could not verify the information.

The U.K. announced on May 11 the delivery of Storm Shadows, which have a range of 250 kilometers (155 miles).

Ben Wallace, then U.K. defense minister, said the missiles would allow Ukraine to strike Russian military positions in Russian-occupied parts of eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

"Ukraine has a right to be able to defend itself," he said.

Until the U.K.'s decision to provide Storm Shadow missiles, Ukraine's maximum striking capabilities were U.S.-delivered HIMARS missiles with a range of 80 kilometers, unable to reach many Russian-occupied areas.

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US General: First Ukrainian pilots to likely complete F-16 training in 3 months

The first set of Ukrainian pilots could complete their initial training on F-16 fighter jets by the end of the year, although it will take longer before they are engaged in combat, the Associated Press reported on Sept. 12, citing General Michael Loh, the director of the U.S. Air National Guard.

Ukrainian aviators are expected to arrive at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, by October to learn to operate the fourth-generation jets Kyiv plans to deploy on the battlefield against Russia.

The pilots are being evaluated for their language skills and depending on their proficiency and previous fighter jet experience, they could complete their training within three months, Loh said at the Air Force Association convention in National Harbor, Maryland.

"As soon as they're given a go-ahead, they'll be coming over and they'll start their training immediately," Loh commented.

Ukrainian pilots are set to begin language courses within a few weeks in San Antonio, Texas, while others should undergo similar training in the U.K.

These courses are intended not only to provide basic language skills but also to familiarize pilots proficient in English with the terminology necessary to fly F-16s.

Following their initial training sessions in the U.S., the pilots will have to embark on additional NATO training in Europe, Loh said, without specifying how long it would take.

Ukraine's former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov pointed out that it is necessary to train not only pilots but also engineers and technicians to maintain the aircraft.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sept. 10 that Ukraine's top military brass hopes to use U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in combat as early as this winter. However, the outlet noted that U.S. sources were more pessimistic regarding the timeline, suggesting the pilots would not be prepared until at least mid-2024.

During the NATO summit in Vilnius in mid-July, Reznikov announced the official formation of the "fighter jet coalition," a group of 11 countries that will assist Kyiv with training its pilots on F-16s and acquiring the aircraft.

On Aug. 22, the first Ukrainian pilots began training on F-16 fighter jets in Denmark. Reznikov said it would take at least six to seven months before Ukrainian pilots and technicians are ready to operate the aircraft.

So far, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway have pledged dozens of their F-16s to bolster the Ukrainian Air Force.

Germany delivers 20 Marder armored vehicles, other aid to Ukraine

Germany provided Ukraine with 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), reconnaissance and surveillance equipment, munitions, and other aid in the latest military assistance delivery, Berlin said on Sept. 13.

The tranche also includes a Satcom surveillance system, 20 reconnaissance RQ-35 HEIDRUN drones, two mobile antenna mast systems, 10 drone detection systems, two WISENT 1 mine clearing tanks, and explosive ordnance disposal material.

Berlin also announced the delivery of 3,000 155 mm artillery shells, 1.5 million small arms ammunition rounds, an 8x8 HX81 truck tractor train, four semi-trailers, nine transport vehicles of various types, five load-handling trucks 8x8, and three ambulances.

The government's website noted that some of the deliveries from the industry stocks require further upgrades or training.

Along with the latest delivery package, Germany has already supplied Ukraine with 60 Marder IFVs. Of the total number, 20 were sent from the German military's stocks, and 40 were commissioned at the German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall.

In August, Berlin signed a contract with Rheinmetall to refit and supply 40 additional Marders to Ukraine. It is part of the latest aid package presented during the NATO summit in Vilnius in mid-July, bringing the total expected number to 100.

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Kim Jong Un praises Russia's war, toasts to future 'victory'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un told Russian officials during his visit to Russia that he is "confident" in Russia's victory over Ukraine, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Sept. 13.

"I am strongly convinced that the heroic Russian army and people will follow excellently the tradition of Victory, and will confidently demonstrate virtue and honor on the front of the (Russo-Ukrainian War) and in building a strong state," Kim said in the footage of the speech, surrounded by North Korean and Russian officials.

The North Korean leader also claimed, "The Russian army and people will achieve a great victory in the sacred battle against the great evil."

Delivering a toast to the Kremlin leader's health, Kim said he appreciated the role of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in "building a strong, modern Russia."

Kim said he wants to continue developing relations with Russia, which are now Pyongyang's priority.

According to Russian news agencies, the meeting lasted four to five hours.

The North Korean leader arrived in Russia's far-eastern Amur Oblast earlier on Sept. 13 for expected arms sales talks. Meeting Kim at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Putin claimed that the two leaders would discuss cooperation in missile and space technology.

However, Washington believes the talks also concerned possible arms sales and North Korean military aid to support Russia's war against Ukraine.

North Korea provided infantry rockets and missiles to Russia in 2022, and Moscow has been seeking further arms supplies since then to bolster its war effort in Ukraine.

Earlier in August, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea's capital to convince the country's leadership to provide artillery ammunition that Russian forces could use in its war against Ukraine.

In the spring of 2023, Moscow reportedly approached Pyongyang with the offer of food supplies in exchange for weapons. North Korea has been heavily militarized since the end of the Korean War in 1953 but suffers from chronic food shortages.

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Shmyhal: Energy infrastructure will be ready for winter within next month

Preparations for Ukraine's energy facilities to meet the challenges of the upcoming winter are in the final stage, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said during a government meeting on Sept. 12.

Russian forces attempted to cripple Ukraine's energy network with massive strikes during the fall of 2022 and winter of 2023, leading to frequent blackouts and a lack of heating across the country.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Russia will likely attempt this strategy again.

Shymal said that 84% of heating networks, 78% of central heating stations, more than 80% of residential buildings, and 86% of schools, kindergartens, and hospitals are ready for winter, adding that "it should be 100% in a month."

The government aims to have 25 thermal power plant units and nine nuclear power plant units ready to produce power by the start of the season.

Thermal power will provide Ukraine's energy system with 4.5 gigawatts (GW) capacity, while nuclear power will provide 7.8 GW, according to the prime minister.

Thirty-five hydroelectric power units, which are either ready to produce energy or under repair, will provide 2.3 GW of energy, he said.

The prime minister said that Ukraine is focused on "energy independence," citing the fact that the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant is now using fuel from the U.S. company Westinghouse to end the "Russian monopoly" on supplying fuel, he said.

What in other countries would take months or years, "we install and repair in weeks," Shmyhal said.

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