Recent developments in the war in Ukraine.
Putin meets commanders in southern Russia
Vladimir Putin met with the generals responsible for Russia’s military operation in Ukraine at a meeting in Rostov-on-Don, in southern Russia, the Kremlin announced Saturday morning.
Officials did not specify when the encounter took place, but images broadcast by state media suggest it happened at night.
“Vladimir Putin held a meeting at the headquarters of special military operations in Rostov-on-Don,” the Kremlin said in a statement. “The head of state heard reports from the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, department commanders and other officials.”
RIA Novosti news agency aired a video of the Russian president getting out of a jeep in the dark in a suit before being greeted by General Kurasimov.
Ukraine says it intercepted Russian drone strike
Ukraine’s military announced Saturday morning that it had destroyed “15 Russian drones” overnight.
Russian forces with Shahed drones were “attacked from the north,” the Ukrainian military wrote in a telegram. “A total of 17 attack drones were launched from the Kursk region.” It did not mention what happened to the remaining two drones.
Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses were activated in the country’s “northern and central regions, as well as in the western regions,” it added.
Both sides have recently reported regular drone incursions by air and sea in the conflict that began in February 2022, while Ukraine is in the midst of a counteroffensive to retake its Russian-held territory.
Moscow has stepped up attacks on Ukraine’s Black Sea and Danube port infrastructure since the end of a deal to allow Ukrainian grain exports.
On Friday, Russia said it had destroyed Ukrainian drones targeting Moscow and its Black Sea fleet.
US green lights Dutch and Danish F-16 transfers
The United States announced on Friday that Denmark and the Netherlands had given the green light to send U.S. F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine once Ukrainian pilots were trained — a move Ukraine’s defense minister described as “great news.”
A US State Department spokesman said Denmark and the Netherlands had received “formal assurances” on the matter.
“In this way, once the first group of pilots completes its training, Ukraine will be able to take full advantage of its new capabilities. The F-16s will contribute to Ukraine’s defense and deterrence capabilities,” the spokesman added.
Since the start of the Russian invasion, Kiev has relentlessly called on Western aircraft to combat Moscow’s forces at this point.
The US, for its part, has strict rules on the resale or transfer of US military equipment by allies.
It is not yet known when the Ukrainian pilots will complete their training.