🔴 Live: Ukraine’s Zelensky takes center-stage at UN General Assembly

Ukraine on Tuesday said the International Court of Justice should impose reparations on Russia for its “war of annihilation”, arguing that international law itself was at stake. Earlier, the western Ukrainian city of Lviv was rocked by blasts with local officials saying the Russian air attack caused a major fire at an industrial warehouse. Read our live blog for all the latest developments on the war. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).


3:05pm: Russia’s Shoigu aims to deepen defence ties on Iran visit

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has arrived in Iran on an official visit to deepen Moscow’s defence ties with Tehran, which provides Russia with attack drones for its invasion of Ukraine, Russian news agencies report.

“During the visit, the Russian Defense Ministry delegation will hold a number of talks with the republic’s military leadership,” the ministry said, according to a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

1:28pm: US reporter Gershkovich returns to Moscow court in new appeal against detention

US reporter Evan Gershkovich returned to a Moscow court on Tuesday to appeal against the latest extension of his pre-trial detention on spying charges, which he denies.

Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was arrested on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison.

No date has been set for his trial, and last month his detention in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison was extended by three months to November 30.

He has failed in two previous appeals, in April and June.

The United States says Russia is using Gershkovich to conduct “hostage diplomacy”, at a time when relations between the two countries have plunged to their lowest point in more than 60 years because of the conflict in Ukraine.

1:26pm: French-German report urges EU to ready for enlargement by 2030

A report presented by France and Germany Tuesday calls on the EU to pass a raft of reforms to make it ready by 2030 to accept new members such as Ukraine.

Experts from the two European heavyweights drew up the proposals aimed at streamlining the way the bloc works as Brussels eyes its biggest wave of expansion in decades.

“It is clear the enlargement of the EU is in all our interests,” said Germany’s Europe minister Anna Luhrmann, who was presenting the report in Brussels with her French counterpart.

“We must therefore start now to do everything possible to ensure that the EU is ready for this enlargement.”

Ukraine – along with Moldova – became candidates to join last year and are hoping to get the green light to start accession talks before the end of 2023.

In the report, the think tank experts called to “set the goal for the EU to be ready for enlargement by 2030”.

1:07pm: Ukraine says three die in Russian strike on eastern Kharkiv region

A Russian strike on Ukraine’s north-eastern city of Kupyansk, where Moscow has led a local offensive for weeks, killed three civilians on Tuesday, Kyiv said.

“Today, the enemy struck the city of Kupyansk with a guided aerial bomb,” the head of the north-eastern Kharkiv region Oleg Synegubeov said on social media. “As a result of this strike, three civilians were killed.”

11:02am: Ukraine urges world court to impose ‘reparations’ over Russia war

Ukraine on Tuesday said the International Court of Justice should impose reparations on Russia for its “war of annihilation”, arguing that international law itself was at stake.

“Russia is not above the law. It must be held accountable,” Ukraine’s lead speaker Anton Korynevych told the court, sitting just a few metres from his Russian opponents in the Peace Palace in The Hague.

“You have the power to declare that Russia’s actions are unlawful, that its continued abuses must stop, that your orders must be followed and that Russia must make reparations,” he told the judges.

Ukraine dragged Russia before the ICJ only a few days after the February 24, 2022, invasion, seeking to battle its belligerent neighbour on all fronts, legal as well as diplomatic and military.

In a preliminary ruling in March last year, the ICJ sided with Ukraine and ordered Russia to halt its invasion immediately, but Russia objected to this judgement, saying the ICJ had no legal right to decide in this case.

The hearings now underway in the Peace Palace centre around whether or not the ICJ has jurisdiction.

10:50am: One killed in drone attack on Ukraine’s Lviv

Drones attacked the western Ukrainian city of Lviv early Tuesday killing one person and destroying three warehouses, officials said.

Lviv, which lies near the Polish border, has been one of the safest cities in Ukraine but is increasingly being targeted by Russian attacks in recent months.

“The clean-up from the aftermath of the morning strikes in Lviv continues. Unfortunately, a man who worked here was found dead under the rubble,” said Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi on Telegram.

Three warehouses were destroyed, Sadovyi said, including premises which were used by a charity to store humanitarian aid.

Maksym Kozytskyi, the head of the Lviv region’s military administration, said: “Two people were rescued from the rubble in Lviv, a man and a woman.”

“The woman is initially believed to have no injuries. The man is in a serious condition”.

10:16am: Ukraine counteroffensive making ‘steady progress’ Abrams tanks to enter Ukraine ‘soon’, says US defense secretary

Ukraine’s counteroffensive against invading Russian forces is making “steady” progress, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday.

Kyiv’s “counteroffensive continues to make steady forward progress. And brave Ukrainian troops are breaking through the heavily fortified lines of Russia’s army of aggression,” he told the opening of Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Germany.

Austin added that Ukraine would “soon” receive M1 Abrams tanks from the United States.

Washington had promised the tanks to Kyiv at the beginning of the year, part of more than $43 billion in security assistance pledged by the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“I’m… pleased to announce that the M1 Abrams tanks that the United States had previously committed to will be entering Ukraine soon,” Austin said at the opening of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

10:03: Market attack that killed 17 people ‘tragic mishap’ by Ukraine, the New York Times reports

New York Times reported late on Monday that a reported Russian attack that killed at least 17 people earlier this month in a crowded market in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka, appeared to be a “tragic mishap” on Ukraine’s part.

“Evidence collected and analysed by The New York Times, including missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests the catastrophic strike was the result of an errant Ukrainian air defence missile fired by a Buk launch system,” the newspaper reported.

9:14am: Ukraine files trade complaint over food ban, World Trade Organization says

The World Trade Organization confirmed on Tuesday that Ukraine had taken the first step in a trade dispute by filing a complaint to the global trade body over bans on food imports from Ukraine.

“We can confirm that a request for consultations was received Monday evening. Further information will be provided once the request has been circulated to our members,” a WTO spokesperson said in an emailed response to a Reuters request for comment.

He did not name the countries although Kyiv has previously said the complaint targeted Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

9:06am: Ukraine grain ship leaves Black Sea port despite Russian threat

Ukraine said Tuesday a cargo ship carrying grain had left a southern Black Sea port despite a Russian threat to treat civilian vessels there as potential military targets.

“The vessel Resilient Africa with 3K tons of wheat has left the port of Chornomorsk and is heading towards the Bosphorus,” Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kurakov said on social media.

8:30am: Ukraine says downed 27 Russian drones overnight

Ukraine said Tuesday its air defence systems had downed 27 Shahed drones launched overnight in Russia’s latest aerial barrage.

“A total of 30 attack UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were launched … As a result of combat work, 27 Shaheds were shot down by air defence units,” the Ukrainian air force said on social media.

5:30am: Russia hails ‘similarity’ of China’s position on US, Ukraine

Moscow and Beijing are closely aligned in their positions on the United States and resolving the Ukraine conflict, the Russian foreign ministry said following talks between their top diplomats on Monday.

The statement came after China’s Wang Yi kicked off a four-day visit to Moscow with a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the latest in a series of high-level contacts between the two strategic allies.

“The parties discussed in detail the current state of affairs in Ukraine, noting the futility of attempts to resolve the crisis without taking into account Russia’s interests and, all the more so, without Russia’s participation,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

4:31am: Russian drones strike Ukraine’s western city of Lviv, officials say

Drones attacked Ukraine’s western city of Lviv early Tuesday and explosions rang out as the city mayor said a strike had set fire to a warehouse.

Several waves of drones buzzed overheard starting around 01:30 GMT and an AFP journalist heard numerous explosions and movements of heavy vehicles through the streets during the nightly curfew.

The city’s mayor, Andriy Sadoviy, wrote on Telegram that “air defences are operating in our region”, telling people to seek shelter.

Sadoviy later added: “Explosions are heard. As a result of a strike on Lviv, there is a fire at an industrial warehouse. All the necessary services have gone to the site.”

Ukraine’s air forces wrote on Telegram that “the threat of Shahed (drones) remains in the Lviv region. Air defences are operating”.

3:00am: Heading for UN, Ukraine’s president questions why Russia still has a place there

Days before potentially crossing paths with Russia’s top diplomat at the United Nations, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested Monday that the world body needs to answer for allowing his country’s invader a seat at the tables of power.

“For us, it’s very important that all our words, all our messages, will be heard by our partners. And if in the United Nations still – it’s a pity, but still – there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question is not to me. I think it’s a question to all the members of the United Nations,” Zelensky said after visiting wounded Ukrainian military members at a New York hospital.

Zelensky is due to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday and speak Wednesday at a UN Security Council meeting about Ukraine. Russia is a permanent, veto-wielding member of the council, and Foreign Minister Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to make remarks.

Asked whether he’d stay in the room to listen, Zelensky said, “I don’t know how it will be, really.”

2:30am: ‘Stay strong’: Zelensky visits wounded Ukrainian soldiers in New York

Before meeting world leaders, Zelensky headed to Staten Island University Hospital, where a group of Ukrainian soldiers are receiving prosthetic arms and legs and rehabilitation services.

In a large hospital room, the Ukrainian president watched as several soldiers in khaki uniform practiced walking and lifting weights with newly acquired prosthetic legs and arms.

Zelensky chatted with the soldiers and shook their hands – if they had them.

Even as he tried to lift the soldiers’ spirits, the Ukrainian leader was visibly shaken.

“Is it tough?” Zelensky asked one soldier.

“A little,” came the reply.

2:02am: Iran’s president denies sending drones to Russia and decries US meddling

Iran’s president on Monday denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, even as the United States accuses Iran of not only providing the weapons but helping Russia build a plant to manufacture them.

“We are against the war in Ukraine,” President Ebrahim Raisi said as he met with media executives on the sidelines of the world’s premier global conference, the high-level leaders’ meeting at the UN General Assembly.

The Iranian leader spoke just hours after five Americans who had been held in Iranian custody arrived in Qatar, freed in a deal that saw President Joe Biden agree to unlock nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.

Raisi acknowledged that Iran and Russia have long had strong ties, including defence cooperation. But he denied sending weapons to Moscow since the war began. “If they have a document that Iran gave weapons or drones to the Russians after the war,” he said, then they should produce it.

Iranian officials have made a series of contradictory comments about the drones.

US and European officials say the sheer number of Iranian drones being used in the war in Ukraine shows that the flow of such weapons has not only continued but intensified after hostilities began.

Despite his remarks about trust, Raisi’s tone toward the United States wasn’t all conciliatory; he had harsh words at other moments.

Raisi said his country “sought good relations with all neighboring countries” in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Key developments from Monday, September 18:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in New York on Monday ahead of his address to the UN General Assembly and a scheduled meeting with US President Joe Biden.

Ukraine plans to sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over their bans on Ukrainian agricultural products, Politico quoted Ukrainian Trade Representative Taras Kachka as saying in an interview published on Monday.

The rights situation inside Russia has substantially worsened since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, a top UN expert said Monday, decrying a “systematic crackdown” on civil society.

Read yesterday’s liveblog to see how the day’s events unfolded.

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters and AP)

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