Zelensky urges ‘sky shield’ after Odesa strike; Poland summons Russian envoy after Putin’s border comments

Zelensky urges ‘sky shield’ after Odesa strike; Poland summons Russian envoy after Putin’s border comments
A man takes photos of the rubble and destruction caused to residential buildings by Russian shelling in Odesa, southern Ukraine, 23 July 2023. The strike killed one person and injured 21. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Igor Tkachenko)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his call for ‘a fully fledged sky shield’ after Kremlin forces unleashed a missile barrage against Odesa overnight.

Russia’s overnight attack against Odesa was the largest in a string of almost daily strikes on the Black Sea port city after Moscow pulled out of the UN-brokered Ukrainian grain export deal on 17 July. Russia aims to neutralise international efforts to renew the functioning of the grain corridor, Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on Facebook.

The attack damaged infrastructure, houses and other buildings, including some 25 landmarks in the city’s historic centre, a Unesco World Heritage location. A total of 19 missiles were launched by Russia, including some from bases in Crimea, with air defence able to shoot down nine. One person was killed and at least 21 injured, including four children. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed retaliation, and Ukraine’s defence ministry called the strike “a war crime”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met in St Petersburg with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko. In broadcast remarks, Lukashenko joked about the Wagner militia fighters now assembling en masse in his country, saying they had asked him “for permission” to “go on a trip to Warsaw. Of course, I am keeping them in central Belarus, like we agreed,” the Belarusian strongman added.

The comments were the latest provocative remarks by Russia or its ally about Nato member Poland, which has recently reinforced its border with Belarus with extra troops. Putin on Friday claimed that Polish authorities were considering seizing parts of western Ukraine — a comment that saw Poland summon Russia’s ambassador. Lukashenko on Sunday similarly referenced “the dismemberment of Ukraine and the transfer of lands to Poland.”

Latest developments



Ukraine nationalisation of tycoons’ Sense Bank is complete

Ukraine’s finance ministry said it completed the nationalisation of Sense Bank from foreign stakeholders controlled by a group of Russian businessmen including Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven.

Sense Bank was previously known as Alfa-Bank Ukraine, and ranked among the nation’s 15 systemically important lenders.

The ministry and the Deposit Guarantee Fund signed an agreement on the purchase of 100% of the bank’s shares, meaning Sense had become state property, the ministry said on Saturday.

“This step will contribute to the protection of the interests of the bank’s depositors and will allow threats to financial stability in Ukraine to be avoided,” the ministry said.

G20 ministers fail to reach consensus on fossil fuels, Russia

The Group of Twenty energy ministers meeting in India ended without a consensus on the phase-down of fossil fuels, adding to the sluggish progress on climate diplomacy ahead of key meetings this year.

While some countries agreed on the need to phase down the unabated use of oil and gas, others argued that concerns over emissions could be addressed by carbon removal technologies, according to the meeting’s outcome document.

“A couple of countries from the Middle East felt that emission concerns could be addressed by technologies like carbon capture, use and sequestration (CCUS) or other abatement technologies,” Raj Kumar Singh, India’s power minister, told reporters after the meeting. “Both pathways are fine.”

“By and large, all members were on the same page on the need to tackle climate change,” Singh added.

Saturday’s talks in the coastal province of Goa were intended to set the tone on energy transition ahead of a meeting of G20 leaders in September and the COP28 forum in Dubai in December.

The officials at Goa also failed to agree on a common language to criticise Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which upended global supply chains and hit energy supplies to many countries.



Poland summons Russian envoy after Putin’s border comments

Poland summoned Russia’s ambassador following Putin’s comments about post-World War 2 borders and claims that Polish authorities were considering seizing parts of western Ukraine.

Putin riled Warsaw with remarks on Friday that western territories given to Poland in the wake of Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945 — when the country’s eastern regions were taken over by the Soviet Union — were a “gift” from communist leader Josef Stalin.

The Kremlin was trying to “falsify history and the present”, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told reporters after speaking with Russian envoy Sergei Andreyev on Saturday. Putin’s suggestions that Poland was interested in seizing territory were a provocation as “borders are absolutely inviolable”, he said.

Andreyev said after the meeting that he rejected “all accusations” levelled by Poland against Putin, as they have “no justification”. The developments mark a further deterioration in relations between Warsaw and Moscow, which have effectively been frozen since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Read more: Eastern Europe sounds warning on Wagner mercenaries in Belarus

Jablonski said Putin’s suggestions that Poland should be thankful for Stalin’s role in moving its borders westward nearly 80 years ago amounted to “pseudo-historical arguments” and “attempts to whitewash a war criminal by another war criminal”.

Putin also warned Poland that he would treat any “aggression” toward his ally Belarus as an attack on his own country. That followed Warsaw’s recent decision to send troops to reinforce its eastern border in response to the presence of Wagner mercenary forces in its neighbour. Poland, a Nato member, has shown no intention to take unilateral, unprovoked military action.

Wagner troops plan to train with Belarusian troops near Brest, which is adjacent to the Polish border, the Belarusian defence ministry said on Thursday. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    The diabolical Putin doing his psychopathic thing! Using proxies to cause trouble and mayhem in a neighboring country that, in his warped and deranged mind, belongs to the inglorious, miserable, failed and evil Soviet Empire. I daresay he will meet his match with the Poles!! They will take no nonsense from Putin and Lukashenko. The modus operandi is the same as was done in Eastern Ukraine i.e. the Donbas etc. Infiltrate your own army with no identification and pass them off as disaffected locals, who all they are doing is protecting their rights etc. Yeah, right – Russian propaganda that anyone with half a brain can see through it all. Talking about this subject – where is the justice for flight MH370 shot down by Russian personnel using a surface to air missile. Nearly 300 lives extinguished by the monstrous Putin! The so-called disaffected locals never had such missiles!!

    • Roger Sheppard says:

      Spot on De Alessi, in all you wrote! Keep going. Soon Russia will see there are many Saffers against this INVASION That is what this really is, an INVASION, not a war. War means two nations (or more) could not agree on some principle. It is an INVASION, and all Saffers ought to be reminding everyone else of that fact, by using that word, INVASION, by PUTIN-led Russians!

  • Johan Buys says:

    Russia, Belarus and Wagner would get obliterated by Poland (without Nato’s help) if they attacked. Remember, Poland would not be prevented from striking anywhere in Belarus or Russia as Ukraine presently is. The joke is in poor taste, but actually funny : they can’t beat Ukraine but want to take on Poland?

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