Kyiv said it was continuing offensive operations against Russian forces in the east and south as alarms sounded throughout Ukraine on September 16, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked Western and other allies for helping to make “significant progress” with “defense agreements and other support packages” for his embattled nation.
Meanwhile, Russia rejected Ukrainian claims of retaking a strategic village in the Donetsk region as its full-scale invasion of Ukraine approached its 20th month, while the Kremlin also said defense forces had shot down two drones outside Moscow overnight.
Separately, Washington confirmed plans for potentially crucial support-building meetings next week between Ukraine’s visiting president and U.S. political leaders.
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Around midday, air alerts sounded in a number of regions of Ukraine as the country’s military warned of the threat of ballistic attacks on population centers.
The alarms blared in the capital, Kyiv, as well as in the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Poltava, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolayiv, and Zaporizhzhya, and Odesa regions.
A series of blasts was reported in the Kharkiv region, although information on possible casualties or damages was initially unavailable.
The Ukrainian General Staff said on September 16 that its forces were conducting defensive operations in eastern and southern Ukraine and offensive operations around Melitopol and Bakhmut.
It claimed “success” in the Klishchiyevka area of the Donetsk region.
Ukrainian Digital Transformation Minister Mykhaylo Fedorov, who has participated in building up his country’s advanced fighting abilities, warned Moscow’s military that following recent attacks on Russian naval targets in the Black Sea, “There will be more drones, more attacks, and fewer Russian ships. That’s for sure.”
Governor Roman Starovoit of Russia’s Kursk region said on Telegram on September 16 that Ukrainian forces shelled a village in Russia’s Kursk region, killing a 30-year-old civilian.
He also said that 17 Ukrainian projectiles had struck a village in the Korenevsky District of the Kursk region, causing damage but no injuries.
The Ukrainian side routinely avoids commenting on the increasing number of attacks inside Russian territory by unmanned aerial vehicles.
Russian media outlet RBC said in late August that it had tallied more than 500 claims by Russian authorities of drone attacks inside Russia since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began 18 months ago. In 110 cases, casualties or damage were reported.
Russia’s Defense Ministry also rejected the Ukrainian military’s claim from earlier in the week that Kyiv’s forces had recaptured the village of Andriyivka, near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, where a Russian-backed separatist group called the Donetsk People’s Republic operates.
“The enemy did not abandon plans to capture the city of Artyomovsk of the Donetsk People’s Republic and continued to conduct assault operations…unsuccessfully trying to oust Russian troops from the population centers of Klishchiyivka and Andriyivka,” the Russian ministry said in its daily briefing, according to Reuters.
RFE/RL can’t independently confirm battlefield claims by either side in areas of the heaviest fighting in Ukraine, and censorship and strictures on the media seriously hinder reporting in Russia.
Reports have suggested that pressure from the United States and other allies has mounted on Ukraine to demonstrate success in the ongoing major counteroffensive it launched in June. Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials have pushed back on criticisms about the pace of the Ukrainian military’s push to retake Russian-occupied areas of southern and eastern Ukraine.
Early this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced that he had replaced Ukraine’s defense minister because “new approaches” were needed.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy on September 16 thanked his nation’s allies for their continued support In the fight against the Russian invasion.
“This week, we’ve made significant progress in implementing existing defense agreements and other support packages,” Zelenskiy said.
“Denmark, thank you for the new defense package, which is already the 12th package. Equipment, ammunition, and missiles for our air defense,” he said.
“Germany, thank you for the new batch of military aid. Belgium, your participation in our pilot training is approved. Thank you! Norway, your decision to provide additional funding for Ukraine’s recovery. It’s crucial. Thank you!”
He also singled out the United States and South Korea for their support.
U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on September 15 that President Joe Biden will host Zelenskiy in Washington on September 21 for what will be their third meeting at the White House.
WATCH: U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter tells RFE/RL how Zelenskiy could use a meeting with Biden next week to press the case for further military support.
Both Biden and Zelenskiy are slated to address the 78th session of the UN General Assembly next week, and Zelenskiy is expected to use his in-person appearance with U.S. and world leaders to rally support and plead for advanced weapons and ammunition to aid his country’s ongoing counteroffensive to retake Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.
Sullivan also said Zelenskiy will visit the U.S. Capitol, where he can meet “congressional leaders from both parties to make the case that the United States has been a great friend and partner to Ukraine throughout this entire brutal war.”
The U.S. Congress is currently debating Biden’s request to provide as much as $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on September 16 that any help from Pyongyang is not likely to make a major difference in Moscow’s war effort.
“Would it have a huge difference? I’m skeptical of that,” Milley said, adding that while any weapons assistance would be of concern, “I doubt that it would be decisive.”