The editor-in-chief of the largest Russian newspaper died suddenly. After his conversation with Putin, Scholz sees no insight from the Kremlin boss. Federal Foreign Minister Baerbock calls for a decision on battle tanks for Kyiv to be made soon. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war in the ticker here.
06:48: Vladimir Sungorkin, the editor-in-chief of Russia’s largest newspaper, died suddenly. His pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reports that he suffered a stroke while on a business trip. Komsomolskaya Pravda, which has a circulation of over 800,000 copies, is also known as “Putin’s favorite newspaper”. The 68-year-old himself was one of the country’s leading propagandists and a close confidant of Putin. In the 2018 presidential election, the media manager close to the Kremlin was Putin’s trustee. Since April 2022, Sungorkin has been on the EU sanctions list as one of the main actors in Russian propaganda.
Putin expressed his condolences to the propagandist’s family. Sungorkin’s death is “a great loss for domestic journalism, for all of us,” said a letter of condolence published on the Kremlin’s website. “He was a patriot, an extraordinary, creatively gifted, talented person.”
Sungorkin’s death joins the mysterious deaths since the beginning of the Ukraine war. Again and again, Russian top managers, civil servants and oligarchs are surprisingly found dead.
Thursday, September 15, 5:05 a.m.: According to a spokesman in Kyiv, the car of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was involved in an accident. A car collided with Selenskyj’s vehicle and other cars in his column in the Ukrainian capital, said Presidential Spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov on Thursday night on Facebook. Paramedics from the column gave first aid to the driver of the car. The President was examined by a doctor but was not seriously injured.
The spokesman said the circumstances of the accident were being investigated. Zelenskyy visited the city of Izyum in the Kharkiv region, which was recaptured from the Ukrainian army, on Wednesday and took part in a ceremony to raise the Ukrainian flag.
In his nightly video message, which was distributed shortly after the accident became known, Selenskyj said that almost the entire Kharkiv region had now been recaptured from the hands of the Russian occupiers. The Ukrainian army has “succeeded in what many thought was impossible”.
9:12 p.m .: UN Secretary-General António Guterres currently sees no hope of peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv after a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It would be naïve to think that we are close to the possibility of a peace agreement,” Guterres said in New York on Wednesday. Although the United Nations is ready to work on a diplomatic solution in every respect, the chances of this are currently “minimal”. Guterres was a few minutes late for the press conference at the UN headquarters in Manhattan because he had previously spoken to the Russian President on the phone.
The general debate at the UN General Assembly will begin next week at the United Nations in New York. Putin will not attend, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will represent Russia. A speech by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is planned for Ukraine – it was initially unclear whether this would take place in person or virtually.
The Kremlin said on the phone call that both sides agreed that Ukrainian grain should be delivered primarily to the poorer countries of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Russia has criticized the fact that a large part of the exports are said to end up in Europe. A second point of criticism from Moscow is that there are still barriers to Russian exports of grain and fertilizers. Guterres said they were working on dismantling them.
6:41 p.m .: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) sees no change in his attitude to the war against Ukraine from Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that the realization has grown there that it was a mistake to start this war,” Scholz said on Wednesday in Berlin, referring to his 90-minute phone call with Putin. “There was also no indication that new attitudes were emerging there.”
Scholz emphasized that it was still right to talk to each other and to explain your own view of things to Putin. “Because I am firmly convinced that Russia must withdraw, must withdraw its troops, so that peace has a chance in the region. And every day I realize that this is the only perspective.”
Scholz called Putin for the first time in three and a half months on Tuesday. He insisted that a diplomatic solution and a complete withdrawal of Russian troops must be reached as soon as possible.
6:07 p.m .: In the debate about the delivery of battle tanks to Ukraine, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock calls for quick decisions. Regarding Ukraine’s desire for such tanks, the Greens politician told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” that a decision could only be made together, “in a coalition and internationally”. Baerbock added: “In the crucial phase that Ukraine is currently in, I don’t think this is a decision that should be delayed for long.”
“Our arms deliveries obviously help very clearly to save human lives,” said the minister. So “a foreign policy guided by human rights must constantly ask itself how we can help to liberate even more villages and thus save lives through further deliveries”. When asked if she could understand Ukraine’s desire for German Leopard 2 tanks, Baerbock said yes.
The minister said that German arms aid must first be based on how more of the equipment that is already “helping so efficiently” can be delivered, i.e. air defense, artillery and rocket launchers. Secondly, repair and ammunition supply would have to be strengthened. Baerbock said she wanted to discuss with the arms industry whether her own production lines could be created for missing ammunition, such as for the Gepard anti-aircraft tanks.
5:53 p.m .: According to the “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW), the Kremlin has admitted a military defeat for the first time in the Ukraine war. According to the ISW experts, it is striking that the reasons for the defeat in Kharkiv Oblast are currently being discussed. So far, Russia has not admitted direct defeats, but has spoken of “signs of good will” (after withdrawing from Snake Island) or prioritizing the offensive in Donbass (after withdrawing from Kyiv).
At the same time, the Kremlin is looking for a scapegoat for the military disaster in Kharkiv. The ISW experts write that Putin should be absolved of any blame for the defeat. Instead, they try to blame “uninformed military advisers” in Putin’s inner circle. Kremlin adviser Bogdan Bezpalko has demanded that the heads of military advisers who did not foresee the Ukrainian counter-offensive “should lie on Putin’s desk”.
4:44 p.m .: The security expert and professor emeritus for international relations, Joachim Krause, commented on the current situation in Ukraine in the “Welt”. He calls for more heavy weapons to be supplied to the country. Germany in particular could also go ahead here. “If the federal government wants to be the leading power at this point in time, then it would have to give up the restrictions on arms deliveries to Ukraine that have been in place up to now. The federal government should at least have the courage to send at least Leopard 1 tanks. They are in the yards of industry, and their delivery would not even weaken the Bundeswehr,” says Krause.
He believes that Putin did not correctly assess the military situation: “But Putin overestimates himself and considers himself to be some kind of ‘greatest general of all time’.” He thinks his military will be successful if he just puts enough pressure on the generals.”
1:17 p.m .: According to the army, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj visited the city of Izyum in the east of the country, which was recently recaptured by the Ukrainian army, on Wednesday. Zelenskyy took part in a ceremony to raise the Ukrainian flag in the city together with military representatives, the Ukrainian military said in online networks.
Izyum is one of the largest cities recaptured from Russian troops during the current Ukraine counter-offensive. Zelenskyy’s office released pictures of the Ukrainian president, in which he, wearing an olive green jacket, posed for photos with soldiers and shook hands on the sidelines of the ceremony in Izyum.
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