Day 596: Ukraine “impressed” with results of Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting

Ukraine “impressed” with results of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting. A drone explodes in Romania as Russia launches another drone strike on Ukraine. Police has identified all 59 victims of a Russian missile strike on the village of Hroza on October 5.

Ukraine “impressed” with results of Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi made a surprise appearance at NATO headquarters, also joining the 16th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. According to Dmytro Snehyryov, co-chair of the civil society organization Prava Sprava, Zelenskyi’s visit came as much of the West has turned its focus to the war between Israel and Hamas.

“Ukraine fears that the situation in the Middle East could distract allies’ attention and decrease the level of military support to Ukraine,” Snehyryov said.  

In his nightly address, Zelenskyi spoke of the work of the Ukrainian delegation in Brussels.

“I met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin and the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Brown. The meeting was long and specific. It was made clear that America will continue to provide Ukraine with sustainable and uninterrupted support necessary for our defense. We discussed how to boost our capabilities in defending ourselves against Russian terror – drones and missiles – now, before winter. I am grateful to the United States!” Zelenskyi said.

He also met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and had an “important and productive” meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

“Belgium has joined our aircraft coalition and will provide Ukraine with F-16s. This is a powerful step. There is a new defense package from Belgium, which has several important components. I would like to mention air defense missiles in particular. Thank you!” the Ukrainian President said.

Belgium is the first country to use its tax proceeds from frozen Russian assets to finance military equipment, reconstruction and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Belgium will invest EUR 1.7 billion of this revenue next year to assist Ukraine, he added.

Zelenskyi’s in-person attendance at the meeting sent an important message to the allies ahead of the winter, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov told a news conference. 

“We need more air defense systems, heavy weapons, and ammunition. We have to protect our cities and infrastructure,” he said. 

“We have several capability coalitions, and more are coming. We have coalitions focused on tanks, CV90 armored vehicles, IT, demining, F-16s, and the Future Force coalition,” Umerov said.  

Ukraine’s initiative was to create a coalition of defense industries, aiming to have international defense companies establishing manufacturing facilities in Ukraine, he said, speaking of the plans for this and the next years.

Ukraine has received a total of almost USD half a billion worth of military assistance. Answering a question from a reporter about the nearing winter, Umerov said that Ukrainian troops have everything they need to advance along the front lines. 

“We already have everything our defense forces need. We continue our counteroffensive. We supply the defense forces with everything they ask for, including both lethal and non-lethal assistance. We have once again looked at winter time commitments with our allies in order to plan the supplies for three months,” he said.

Ukraine has received many commitments of support from the allies, some of which impressed the Ukrainian delegation, he added without giving further details. Some of the items can be delivered already in October, others beginning in January 2024. All supplies are delivered in time, Umerov said.

Drone explodes in Romania as Russia launches another drone strike on Ukraine

Russia launched Shahed drones into several Ukrainian regions overnight on October 12. Drones were spotted in the skies over Cherkasy, Mykolayiv, Dnipro and Kharkiv regions. 

In the Izmail district of Odesa region, port infrastructure and several houses were damaged. Fires caused by the attack had been put out. A man was injured in Kharkiv region. The grass caught fire in Cherkasy region.

Ukraine’s Air Force said it intercepted 28 of 33 Shahed drones that Russia launched overnight across the country. Air defenses were in operation in at least six regions.

Romanian authorities said Thursday that they found a crater from a suspected drone that may have exploded on its territory near the border with Ukraine a day earlier when Russia launched a drone strike on Ukraine once again. Romania urged Russia to stop the attacks.

“Heinous Russian attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure had again serious consequences on Romania’s territory,” Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that “new evidence of impact was found on Romania’s soil. We call on Russia to stop these war crimes.”

All 59 victims of Russian missile strike on village of Hroza identified

Police has identified all 59 victims of a Russian missile strike on the village of Hroza, in Kharkiv region on October 5.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said: “The Russians killed 59 people with a direct hit with an Iskander [missile] on the village of Hroza. All victims are local residents. They were pensioners, medics, farmers, teachers, entrepreneurs. All were civilians. Entire families of several generations died.”

Forensic experts worked round the clock for six days to identify the victims. They collected DNA samples from family members for profiling to make direct matches. They needed mobile DNA laboratories to identify 19, and one person – a 60-year-old man – was identified only after 20 body parts were collected, Klymenko said.

Police has identified two more people using personal items taken from their homes as they did not have direct family members and it was not possible to compare DNA profiles.

On October 5, a Russian missile hit a village café hosting a soldier’s wake in the village of Hroza in Kharkiv region.