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Ukraine war latest: Air defense system destroyed, two ships damaged in occupied Crimea

by The Kyiv Independent news desk September 15, 2023 12:09 AM 7 min read
Russian ships stationed in Sevastopol, Russian-occupied Crimea, during the celebration of the Black Sea Fleet Day on May 13, 2023. (Russian Defense Ministry's press service)
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Key developments on Sept. 14:

  • Media: SBU, Navy destroy Russian air defense system in Yevpatoriia strike
  • Two ships damaged in Crimea, Ukraine's military reports
  • 3rd Assault Brigade denies Andriivka near Bakhmut was liberated
  • ICC opens office in Kyiv to investigate Russian war crimes
  • Biden appoints Penny Pritzker as US representative for Ukraine's economic recovery
  • EU removes 3 Russian businessmen from sanctions list
  • Investigators identify Russian soldiers who killed supermarket security guard in Bucha

Ukrainian forces struck two Russian patrol ships, Vasily Bykov, on the morning of Sept. 14, reported the military's Strategic Communications Directorate.

The ships stationed in the southwestern part of the Black Sea sustained "certain damages," the directorate wrote without further details.

Vasily Bykov is a large patrol corvette of the Russian Navy, equipped with a naval gun, portable air defense systems, and heavy machine guns.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Ukrainian Navy carried out a strike on Yevpatoriia in Russian-occupied Crimea overnight on Sept. 14, several Ukrainian media outlets reported, citing sources in the SBU.

The alleged Ukrainian drones and Neptune missiles attack destroyed a modern S-400 Triumph air defense system worth $1.2 billion, an unnamed SBU source told Ukrainska Pravda.

Two Neptune missiles launched by the Navy hit the S-400 launchers, the NV media outlet reported, citing its sources in the SBU.

Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson of Ukraine's Southern Operational Command, pointed out that many Russian military facilities, including an airfield, are located in Yevpatoriia, making it a legitimate target.

However, she did not explicitly say whether Ukrainian forces were behind the strike.

This is the second consecutive strike reported against occupied Crimea in the past two days.

On Sept. 13, an attack against a Sevastopol shipyard hit two Russian military vessels – a landing craft and a submarine – and damaged the port's infrastructure.

Fight for Andriivka

Heavy fighting continues south of Bakhnut in the villages of Klishchiivka and Andriivka, according to Ukraine's 3rd Assault Brigade.

The brigade, fighting in that area, denied earlier messages that Andriivka was liberated.

"Such statements are harmful, threaten the lives of personnel, and harm the performance of combat missions," the brigade stated.

At around 2 p.m. local time on Sept. 14, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces had liberated Andriivka, which is located around 10 kilometers south of Bakhmut.

However, after the 3rd Assault Brigade refuted the claim, the part of the text about the liberation was deleted from the post.

Instead, Maliar said that the situation in Andriivka was "very complex and changeable."

Afterward, Maliar claimed there had been "miscommunication between several sources reporting directly from the scene."

"I do not release such information without coordination and agreement with the military," she said. The official added that Ukrainian forces had achieved some success in Andriivka, but fighting was still ongoing.

Andriivka is located between Donetsk Oblast’s settlements of Kurdiumivka and Klishchiivka, where the fighting is currently concentrated, according to Maliar.

Russian forces are reportedly trying to recapture the lost positions on Bakhmut’s northern flank, while Ukraine’s military is advancing on the southern flank.

On Sept. 11, Maliar said that Ukrainian troops had regained about 50 square kilometers of land around the eastern city of Bakhmut since the start of the summer counteroffensive.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been ongoing for over three months in Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

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ICC opens office in Kyiv to investigate Russian war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a field office in Kyiv, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin announced on Sept. 14.

The office has been set up to "increase the effectiveness and efficiency of responding to the crimes that Russia continues to commit against Ukraine and Ukrainians daily," Kostin said.

The office is the largest ICC field office outside of The Hague, according to the Prosecutor General. The court has seven field offices around the world.

Kostin thanked Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, for the "colossal work" the court carries out to bring criminals to justice.

"We are doing our utmost to ensure that the ICC experts can see the aftermath of the aggressor's crimes with their own eyes and draw their independent conclusions," Kostin said.

"Unlike Russia's criminal regime, Ukraine has nothing to hide," he added.

In March, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The Ukrainian government has identified around 20,000 Ukrainian children who have been forcibly deported from Russian-occupied territories.

The ICC believes that Putin “bears individual criminal responsibility” as the leader of Russia for the crimes committed against Ukrainian children.

Russia issued an arrest warrant for Khan in May in response. The court called the measure "unacceptable" and "coercive measures" and said that Russia's actions would not stop it from trying to hold war criminals accountable.

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Biden appoints Penny Pritzker as US representative for Ukraine's economic recovery

U.S. President Joe Biden appointed Penny Pritzker as the first-ever special representative for Ukraine’s economic recovery.‌‌‌‌ It's the "next step to help Ukraine forge a stronger future," the White House announced on Sept. 14.

Pritzker, an entrepreneur and former commerce secretary, has been appointed to the role because of her decades of experience in business, Biden said. Her family founded a business empire, which includes the Hyatt Hotel group.

Pritzker has "deep familial ties to Ukraine," he added.

Pritzker's tasks will include mobilizing foreign investments, supporting the re-opening of businesses shut down by Russian attacks, and helping Ukraine grow its exports, according to Biden.

Biden also said the special representative will support the Ukrainian government in making "reforms needed to strengthen its economy."

Pritzker plans to travel to Ukraine "in the coming weeks," the New York Times reported, to to meet with Ukraine's political and business leaders.

The appointment of Pritzker "demonstrates our commitment to strengthen Ukraine’s European future," U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said in his own statement.

The World Bank published estimates in March 2023 that the cost of Ukraine's reconstruction and economic recovery will be around $400 billion.

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EU removes 3 Russian businessmen from sanctions list

The European Union has lifted sanctions against Russian businessmen Grigory Berezkin, Farkhad Akhmedov, and Alexander Shulgin.

This was reported by the EU's Official Journal on Sept. 14. The bloc also removed Georgy Shuvaev, a Russian colonel purportedly killed in Ukraine last year, from the sanctions list.

Berezkin is the chairperson of one of Russia's largest holding companies, ESN Group, whose assets include the RBC media holding. He's reportedly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Azerbaijan-born Akhmedov is a former senator and co-owner of the Russian natural gas-producing company Nortgas.

Shulgin previously headed Ozon, a Russian e-commerce firm, and Russia's biggest tech company Yandex. He left Ozon in April 2022 after being sanctioned by the EU and Australia.

Western countries have imposed sanctions against multiple Russian oligarchs who were considered to be involved in Moscow's military aggression against Ukraine. According to Reuters, the EU has sanctioned around 1,600 individuals and more than 200 entities since Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The EU needs the consensus of all 27 member states to impose sanctions, which are renewed every six months.

On Aug. 26, the Financial Times reported that Arkady Volozh, tech billionaire and co-founder of Russia's popular search engine Yandex, had made a formal request for the EU to lift its sanctions against him. Earlier, Volozh publicly spoke out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, calling it "barbaric."

Investigators identify Russian soldiers who killed supermarket security guard in Bucha

Ukrainian investigators have identified four Russian soldiers who were involved in the killing of a supermarket security guard in the town of Bucha, Kyiv Oblast, in February 2022, the Prosecutor General's Office announced on Sept. 14.

The soldiers did not observe the principle of distinguishing between civilian and military targets, resulting in the civilian's death, the Prosecutor General's Office said, adding that the four soldiers have been charged with violating the customs of war and committing murder.

The Russian soldiers, two of whom were commanders, were part of the Russian invading force from the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division.

On Feb. 27, 2022, one commander gave the order via radio to consider anyone wearing black clothing as an enemy combatant, despite the fact this could "result in accidental civilian casualties," the Prosecutor General's Office said.

A man who worked as a security guard for the local Novus supermarket was wearing a black work uniform marked "Novus Security."

He was targeted by these troops despite the fact that "he had no weapon and did not pose any threat," the Prosecutor General's Office reported.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) reported on Aug. 31 that it had identified another Russian servicemember involved in the massacre of civilians in Kyiv Oblast.

Vadim Ovchinnikov, senior lieutenant and the commander of a reconnaissance platoon, told his subordinates to shoot at a family trying to evacuate from the village of Severynivka near Bucha, according to the SBU.

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