Day 545: Ukraine will not agree to cede territory, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister says

Ukraine will not sign a peace deal that involves ceding territory, Foreign Minister Kuleba says. Russia deploys the Cyclone missile ship for the first time. Why Ukraine’s advance toward Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia region is tactically significant.

Ukraine will not sign peace deal that involves ceding territory, Foreign Minister Kuleba says

Ukraine will not sign a peace deal that involves ceding territory, similar to the one signed by Finland in 1940, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, according to Spanish news web site El Diario Cantabria. 

He said he was referring to the Treaty of Moscow of 1940, by which Finland surrendered part of its territory to the Soviet Union. 

Ukraine is changing during the war. It appreciates the support it gets to stand against Russia’s war. The support is there, in part, because “the world has learned from past mistakes,” Kuleba said.  

International support to Ukraine after Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country has grown stronger, marking a difference from previous acts of aggression, like Russia’s invasion of Georgia or the seizure of Crimea, Kuleba said. There have been things happening “for the first time”, he said, like the supply of Western weapons, or the fact that the EU recognized his country as a partner after years of “unnecessary and unfair doubts.”

“We have every possibility to achieve peace on different terms,” he said, referring to Crimea, Georgia, and Finland.

On August 15, Stian Jenssen, director of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s office, said Ukraine could cede territory to Russia in return for NATO membership.

Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, Oleh Nikolenko, called any discussion of swapping land for NATO “completely unacceptable.”

Later, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, said it would be up to Ukraine to decide when it wanted to negotiate peace with Russia.

Russia deploys Cyclone missile ship for first time 

On Tuesday, August 22, Russia reinforced a group of its ships with three missile ships that include the Cyclone, a new vessel, head of the joint press center of the Defense Forces of Southern Ukraine, Natalia Humenyuk told Ukrainian television channel Espreso. 

“A group of ships was reinforced with three missile ships, including the new Cyclone that has not yet undergone tests. It is hard to forecast a threat it carries,” Humenyuk said. 

Two surface vessels and one undersea ship carrying a total of 20 Kalibr cruise missiles are in full readiness, she added. Russian forces are launching attack drones to conduct reconnaissance.

“Knowing the enemy’s attraction to sacred dates, we have warned of possible attacks. The enemy could be conducting reconnaissance by fire to detect air defense systems ahead of the attacks,” she said.

The Ukrainian Navy earlier said that Russia had built a new small missile ship, the Cyclone, that it planned to use in attacks on Ukraine. The ship has failed the tests twice, in 2021 and 2022. 

On July 12, Russia added the ship to the Black Sea Fleet. It was built at a shipyard in occupied Crimea. The Kremlin’s mouthpieces have called it “a substitute for the Moskva missile cruiser”, even though the Cyclone is 12 times smaller than the sunken flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Not just another recaptured village — why Ukraine’s advance toward Robotyne is tactically significant

Ukrainian forces made tactically significant gains in and east of Robotyne in western Zaporizhia Oblast on August 20-21 while continuing counteroffensive operations on the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast administrative border and in eastern Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War said in a report on August 21. Geolocated footage published on August 20 and August 21 indicates that Ukrainian forces reached the central part of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and broke through some Russian defenses south of Mala Tokmachka (9km southeast of Orikhiv). Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that Ukrainian forces succeeded in the direction southeast of Robotyne and south of Mala Tokmachka, and that Russian forces unsuccessfully counterattacked east of Robotyne.

Malyar and Russian sources stated that fighting is ongoing in Robotyne. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces captured some positions in a part of the Russian forward defensive lines after intensifying attacks on the Robotyne-Verbove (21km southeast of Orikhiv) line. Some Russian sources reported that Russian forces retreated from some positions near Verbove as part of their elastic defense, likely in response to a Ukrainian advance south of Mala Tokmachka. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) previously assessed that Ukrainian attacks on Robotyne are tactically significant because a Ukrainian advance in the area may allow Ukrainian forces to begin operating past the densest Russian minefields. Ukrainian advances across fields in this area likely confirm this assessment. Persistent Ukrainian advances in the Robotyne area also likely aim to degrade Russian forces that have committed significant effort, resources, and personnel to hold positions around Robotyne.

Ukrainian forces also reportedly advanced in the Bakhmut and Kreminna directions over the past week and continue counteroffensive operations south and southeast of Velyka Novosilka in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhia oblasts. Malyar stated that Ukrainian forces recaptured three square kilometers around Bakhmut over the past week and 43 square kilometers in total since Wagner Group forces captured Bakhmut in May 2023. Ukrainian Severodonetsk City Administration Head Andriy Vlasenko reported that Ukrainian forces achieved some unspecified successes south of Kreminna while conducting active mobile defenses in the area, the report reads.

Ukraine creates Wartime Art Archive

A Ukrainian non-governmental organization Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) created the Wartime Art Archive, a digital database of Ukrainian wartime art works collected through open sources. The project documents artists’ experiences and provides material for public debates on freedom and values, the organizers say.   

An exhibition of ultra-contemporary Ukrainian art titled “How Are You?” was MOCA’s opening project. More than 500 art works by 100 artists were on show at the Ukrainian House in Kyiv. All works were created after February 24, 2022. The exhibition was supported by Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska and the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and Information Policy. It welcomed more than 14,000 visitors.  

Later this year, MOCA will launch the web site of the Wartime Art Archive, opening access to more than 8,000 art works created in 2022-2023.