South African police officers walk in front of an event banner outside the venue for the BRICS summit at the Sandton Convention Center in the Sandton district of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.
Michele Spatari | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The BRICS group of major emerging economies — which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — is holding its 15th summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug. 22-24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be attending the meeting in person “by mutual agreement,” the South African presidency said, with Moscow set to be represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for Putin on charges of the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children during the conflict in Ukraine, which would presumably have forced the summit host country South Africa to proceed with the Russian leader’s arrest.
“While some of our detractors prefer overt support for their political and ideological choices, we will not be drawn into a contest between global powers,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Aug. 20.
— Ruxandra Iordache
A Ukrainian drone strike blew up a long-range Russian bomber aircraft, according to reports from Ukrainian media and the BBC.
“Images posted on social media and analysed by BBC Verify show a Tupolev Tu-22 on fire at Soltsy-2 airbase, south of St Petersburg,” the British outlet wrote. The images show the front of an aircraft visible while the rest is engulfed in a massive cloud of flames and smoke.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense wrote in a tweet that “a Tu-22M3 BACKFIRE medium bomber of Russia’s Long Range Aviation (LRA) was highly likely destroyed at Soltsky-2 Airbase in Novgorod Oblast, 650 km away from Ukraine’s border.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said that a drone “damaged” a plane before being shot down. Ukraine has made no official comment.
The Russian ministry said an attack by a “copter-type UAV” took place at “a military airfield in the Novgorod region” on Saturday morning, which is where the Soltsy-2 airbase is. It added that there were “no casualties as a result of the terrorist act.”
The supersonic Tu-22 bomber, which Russia has used extensively to bomb Ukrainian cities, can fly at twice the speed of sound.
— Natasha Turak
A car damaged after a drone attack in Krasnogorsk, in the Moscow region, on Aug. 22, 2023.
Stringer | Afp | Getty Images
Russia shot down two drones over the Moscow region Tuesday morning, the falling debris from which caused minor damage to the tiling and windows of an apartment building, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
The ministry said that the drones attacks were from Ukraine, and that its forces also shot down two Ukrainian drones over the western border region of Bryansk.
“Police had sealed off the scene and investigators from Russia’s FSB security service collected what looked like drone fragments,” Reuters reported.
The attack marks the fifth consecutive day of drone strikes on the Moscow region.
Kyiv has not commented on the drone attacks, and rarely takes public responsibility for such events. Drone attacks in Russia have become much more frequent since May, when two drones that Russian authorities say were from Ukraine attempted to attack the Kremlin but were shot down.
— Natasha Turak
Grain ship on the Black Sea on July 17, 2023.
Dia Images | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Ukraine is considering using its newly tested wartime Black Sea export corridor for grain shipments after the first successful evacuation of a vessel along the route last week, a senior agricultural official said on Monday.
Russia has blockaded Ukrainian ports since it invaded its neighbor in February 2022, and threatened to treat all vessels as potential military targets after pulling out of a U.N.-backed safe-passage deal for Black Sea grain exports last month.
In response, Ukraine announced a “humanitarian corridor” hugging the western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria. A Hong Kong-flagged container ship stuck in Odesa port since the invasion travelled the route last week without being fired upon.
“Only one commercial vessel has passed through so far, (and this) has shown readiness to move by alternative routes,” Denys Marchuk, deputy head of the Agrarian Council, Ukraine’s largest agribusiness group, told national television.
“Further, there should be a movement of potentially 7-8 more ships… then perhaps in the future these alternative routes will become a corridor for the movement of ships that are travelling with cargoes of grain and oilseeds,” he said.
An Iranian military delegation visited Moscow for talks on increasing cooperation between the two countries’ ground forces, Russian state media reported, citing the country’s Defense Ministry.
“The military delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, led by the Ground Forces Commander Brigade General Kioumars Haydari arrived in Moscow for discussion of issues of bilateral military cooperation,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to an English translation provided by state media outlet TASS.
“The sides discussed issues of military cooperation and interaction, aimed at the implementation of projects that are supposed to improve the combat readiness of both countries’ armed forces,” TASS wrote.
The ministry’s statement quoted Russian ground forces commander Gen. Oleg Salyukov as saying, “The Russian Federation views Iran as one of the key states in the Middle East – it is Russia’s strategic partner, and the constant intensive political dialogue is a hallmark of the current stage of our partnership.”
Iran has been a supporter of Russia during its invasion of Ukraine, and has drawn Western sanctions for its provisions of weapons to Moscow.
— Natasha Turak