The Ukrainian military has said its counteroffensive in the country’s south and east is continuing in the face of efforts by Russian forces to advance, while Russia’s Defense Ministry has reported downing a drone en route to Moscow.
Heavy fighting is continuing in the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region, the Ukrainian military said on August 31, adding that Russian forces had suffered significant losses near Bakhmut, in the eastern Donetsk region.
The Ukrainian military “continues to entrench itself” and is preparing for further offensive actions in Robotyne more than a week after saying its troops liberated the village.
“There are small successes,” military spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun told RFE/RL. “It’s going a little slowly because the enemy dug in quite powerfully — mined the area. Therefore, in order not to lose personnel, we first disrupt the enemy’s logistics. And we try to act very carefully because the lives of our soldiers are the most important for our command,” the spokesman said.
According to him, the problem of demining is “one of the biggest, it is significant.” Shtupun said the mines were set “creatively,” adding that there have been “many surprises.”
Robotyne lies along an important road leading to the strategic city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhye region. The military announced its liberation on August 22 after two months of fierce fighting. It had been held by the Russian military since March 2022.
The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said that its air-defense forces in the Voskresensky district had downed what it called a Ukrainian drone en route to Moscow on August 31.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, citing preliminary information, wrote on Telegram that there were no casualties or damage. It was not clear whether the drone was launched in Ukraine or from within Russian territory.
The Russian capital’s Vnukovo and Domodedovo airports resumed operations late in the morning of August 31 after briefly being shut down as a security measure.
There have been repeated disruptions to takeoffs and landings at Moscow airports in recent days because of the risks posed by drones.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, addressing EU foreign ministers in Toledo, Spain, slammed critics of his country’s counteroffensive and the speed of its advance into Russian-held territory.
Kuleba said the critics are “spitting into the face” of the Ukrainian soldier “who sacrifices his life every day, moving forward, and liberating 1 kilometer of Ukrainian soil after another.”
He said all critics should “shut up,” inviting them to try to clear even 1 square centimeter of territory by themselves.
Kuleba and his counterparts discussed further support for Ukraine, and he urged them to approve more arms to help Kyiv fight against the Russian invasion.
“The war is raging,” Kuleba said in his address to the EU foreign ministers, asking for more armored vehicles and tanks, as well as armored ambulances, which are in high demand.
He specifically asked Germany to supply Taurus cruise missiles.
“There is really not a single objective argument against making this decision,” Kuleba said, noting France and Britain had already supplied long-range cruise missiles.
Ukraine has been demanding the German missiles for some time. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far been reticent about this because of fears that the missiles could be used to strike in Russian territory.
Kuleba also warned that Russia’s capacity to produce drones and missiles was increasing and called on the European Union to stop this development with export controls and a crackdown on anyone evading sanctions.