Dispatches from Ukraine. Day 558.
President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the selection of a new Minister of Defense on Sep. 3, replacing Oleksiy Reznikov with Rustem Umerov, stressing the need for “new approaches.” Reznikov, although not personally implicated, had been tainted by a corruption scandal related to procurement practices that saw several defense ministry officials removed earlier this year. Umerov, who has been running the government agency managing privatizations, is unassociated with any scandal. An ethnic Crimean Tatar who is muslim, he has been involved in delicate negotiations with Moscow and is reportedly on friendly terms with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, a key Ukraine ally.
Kherson region. A tractor crew working in the fields outside the southern town of Bilozerka was hit by Russian artillery fire in the evening of Sept. 1, Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General said. The vehicle’s driver was killed and the other crewman was seriously injured. The attack, which also damaged farming equipment and cars, is being investigated as a war crime.
Sumy region. On Sept. 2, the city of Seredyna-Buda on the Russian border in northern Ukraine came under artillery fire from positions inside Russia. The Russian attack targeted a part of the city where police were on site investigating a prior shelling. A 32-year-old police officer died from shrapnel injuries; two of his colleagues were wounded, said the Sumy Regional Prosecutor’s Office. At least two residential buildings and a civilian car were also damaged.
Dnipropetrovsk region. At least four civilians were injured in a barrage of Russian attacks on the southern city of Nikopol and surrounds on Sept. 2, according to regional governor Serhiy Lysak. Nikopol, along with the towns of Marhanets and Myrove, were under heavy artillery fire, he said, with Russian forces launching more than four dozen shells at the region in only 24 hours. Besides civilian harm, infrastructure facilities, shops, and power lines suffered substantial damage.
Following weeks of relentless de-mining operations, Ukraine has officially broken through Russia’s first defensive line in the Zaporizhzhia region, Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who’s in charge of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the South, told British daily newspaper The Guardian in an exclusive interview. Now, he expects his forces to gain ground faster as the second and third defensive lines are much weaker, since Russian forces devoted much less time and energy building them. “We are now between the first and second defensive lines,” Taranvskyi said. “In the center of the offensive, we are now completing the destruction of enemy units that provide cover for the retreat of Russian troops behind their second defensive line.”
In addition, Ukraine liberated another three square kilometers of land around the town of Bakhmut this week, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar announced in a press-conference.
Estonia pledged to deliver a cutting-edge MV-4 robot to assist in Ukraine’s humanitarian demining struggle, the Estonian Embassy in Kyiv announced on Sept. 1. MV-4, the renowned, lightweight robotic demining system, was specifically developed to keep operators at a safe distance while maintaining a high level of efficiency. The vehicle’s market price of 1.1 million euros (nearly $1.2 million) has been generously covered in full by Estonian investment managers, Kristjan Rahu, Priit Koit and Valdur Laid of UG Investments. It was named “Yaroslava,” in honor of Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, recent World Championship gold medalist in the high jump.
Education. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyi announced the launch of an innovative educational software application, Mriia (Dream) on Sept. 1, the first day of the new school year. The app is intended to facilitate Ukrainian students’ academic life with functions including a build-in student’s portfolio and schedule, an air alert notification system, and a personal algorithm designed to help students identify their aptitudes or chart the academic path needed to foster a special interest.
By Daria Dzysiuk, Karina L. Tahiliani