Ukraine must surrender or 'cease to exist,' Russian official says: Updates

A top Russian official warned that Ukraine must surrender on Moscow's terms or the country will "cease to exist," and Ukraine claimed to have killed a top Russian admiral in Crimea as the war dragged into its 20th month with no solution in sight.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, told Russian state media that President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and other Western officials have poured massive amounts of time, effort, money and military might into the war. Nineteen months after Russia's invasion began, the West has made little headway while its economies struggle and support dwindles, Volodin said.

"The simple facts are these: The West is experiencing weapons and ammunition shortages, people in Europe and the U.S. have lost trust in politicians, and the Kyiv regime’s counteroffensive has failed," Volodin said.

Ukraine and Western officials claim steady progress in the counteroffensive, and Biden has been all-in behind Ukraine. But some Republicans in Congress have waffled on spending plans for the war, and an ABC News/Washington Post survey released Sunday revealed a softening in public support. More than 40% of respondents said the U.S. is doing too much, up from 33% in February, and half said the U.S. is doing the right amount or not enough, down from 60%.

This handout satellite image released on September 23, 2023 by Planet Labs PBC shows an aerial view of the city of Sevastopol after a missile attack struck the headquarters of Moscow's Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea on September 22, 2023.
This handout satellite image released on September 23, 2023 by Planet Labs PBC shows an aerial view of the city of Sevastopol after a missile attack struck the headquarters of Moscow's Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea on September 22, 2023.


∎ Polish President Andrzej Duda downplayed a grain squabble with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and walked back an announcement that Poland would no longer send weapons to Kyiv. Duda told the Warsaw tabloid Super Express that Poland would send its older equipment to Ukraine as it is replaced with modern weapons.

∎ The first of 31 high-tech M1 Abrams tanks promised by the U.S. have arrived in Ukraine, Zelenskyy said on Telegram. "Abrams are already in Ukraine and are preparing to reinforce our brigades. I am grateful to the allies for fulfilling the agreements!" Zelenskyy wrote.

∎ Russian air strikes overnight on the southern city of Odesa killed two people and damaged the seaport, a grain silo and an abandoned hotel, Ukrainian officials said. Later in the day, the southern city of Mykolaiv was hit by a Russian projectile, according to Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych, who asked residents not to post information about the targeted location

∎ Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Monday that his country's in "no rush'' to ratify Sweden’s bid to join NATO, an indication further delays in the accession process are likely.

Top Russian admiral killed in Crimea, Ukraine claims

Admiral Viktor Sokolov, commander of Russia's Black Sea Feet, was killed in a Ukrainian attack on Russian naval headquarters in Crimea, Ukraine's Special Operations Forces claimed in a Telegram post. The post said 34 "officers" were killed and more than 100 Russian troops were wounded in the attack Friday. Russian officials have not commented on casualties from the assault, which Ukraine said destroyed the building.

Ukraine has been targeting Crimean military installations as part of a concerted effort to take back the peninsula seized by Russia almost a decade ago. On Monday evening, Russian authorities in the port city of Sevastopol said air defenses shot down a missile nearby but did not provide information about possible damage or casualties.

"This is a remarkable achievement by Ukraine eliminating a very significant Russian military leader and many of his subordinates," retired U.S. Adm. James Stavridis said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. "I believe you have to go back to WWII to find other admiral killed in combat."

'Stalwart ally' Poland gets $2 billion US loan for modern weapons

In recognition of Poland's strategic importance and its critical help to Ukraine during the Russian invasion, the Biden administration is providing the Polish government a $2 billion loan to modernize its military, along with $60 million to defray the costs.

Poland has sent Ukraine large numbers of its own tanks, fighter jets and other equipment, much of it based on old Soviet technology, while serving as a hub for Western weapons going to Ukraine. To replace its aging armament, Poland has placed orders with American and South Korean defense companies.

"Poland is a stalwart U.S. ally, and Poland’s security is vital to the collective defense of NATO’s Eastern Flank,'' the State Department said in a statement, adding that these kinds of loans are only offered to the United States' most important defense partners.

UN experts find more evidence of Russian war crimes

The United Nations is documenting a growing list of war crimes blamed on Russian forces, including "systematic and widespread use of torture'' and attacks on civilians.

The U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said in its latest update Monday that it found evidence of crimes committed by both sides in the war, but far more by Russians, including instances of torture, some of it fatal, and rape of women ages 19 to 83. The rapes were frequently committed close enough for family members to hear the women scream.

The group of experts said it was also looking into allegations that Russian troops committed genocide, and it's investigating what caused the Kakhovka dam collapse in June and its effects on civilians.

The commission, which has sent representatives to Ukraine more than 10 times, said it "deplores that attacks affecting civilians and medical institutions, which have protected status, continue to take place.''

Kindergarten, apartment buildings hammered by Russian artillery

A kindergarten, three apartment buildings and several single-family homes were damaged or destroyed by Russian artillery in Chasiv Yar, a town of about 13,000 people in the hotly contested Donetsk region, the regional administration said Monday on Telegram. A casualty count was not immediately available. The town is near war-battered Bakhmut, and locals had long been urged to leave. Agence France-Presse journalist Arman Soldin was killed in a rocket attack on the edge of Chasiv Yar in May.

"Chasiv Yar is now one of the most dangerous places for life in Donetsk region. All civilians must evacuate − it's a matter of survival!" the post said.

Ukraine military has mastered art of 'adapt and advance'

Many in the West bemoan the slow progress of Ukraine's counteroffensive, but Ukrainian forces actually have "done what successful militaries do − they have adapted and are now advancing," says Nataliya Bugayova, a Russia Fellow at the Institute for the Study of War. Bugayova says Ukraine recognized the depth of Russia's defenses much faster than the Western policymakers who anticipated a swift Ukrainian breakthrough.

But Ukraine’s ingenuity is yielding results, Bugayova writes for the institute. Russian forces have failed to stop the advance in two directions, and Ukraine maintains the battlefield initiative, she says. And the Ukrainian military continues to liberate its territory and people while slowly but steadily cracking "an incredibly formidable" defense.

"Now is not the time for Western doubt," she says. "The West must reinforce its military and diplomatic commitments and lean in to help sustain Ukraine’s battlefield momentum."

Canadian House speaker urged to quit over guest for Zelenskyy speech

The leaders of Canadian opposition parties are urging House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota to resign after he invited a man who fought for the Nazis during World War II to attend Zelenskyy's speech to Parliament on Friday.

Rota issued a written apology Sunday and repeated it in the House on Monday, taking full responsibility for introducing 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka as a war hero who fought for the 1st Ukrainian Division. Hunka was given a standing ovation right after Zelenskyy's speech.

The 1st Ukrainian Division was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit under the command of the Nazis.

“I am deeply sorry that I have offended many with my gesture and remarks,″ Rota said.

The Princess Olga monument in Kyiv is dressed in a dummy bulletproof vest with a sign reading "She needs armor" to draw attention to the need of armor designed specifically for women on Sept. 25, 2023.
The Princess Olga monument in Kyiv is dressed in a dummy bulletproof vest with a sign reading "She needs armor" to draw attention to the need of armor designed specifically for women on Sept. 25, 2023.

British mine experts aiding counteroffensive

Britain's military has sent Royal Engineers to Poland to train Ukrainians in high-tech bomb removal techniques, the British Defense Ministry says. Britain has sent 1,500 mine detectors to Ukraine, and more are on the way. The Russians have heavily mined broad fields along the front lines, presenting a major challenge to the Ukrainian military's counteroffensive. The "tailored training package" educates Ukraine's mine disposal teams in munition recognition, disposal methods and search procedures to overcome improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mines, booby traps and trip wires, the Defense Ministry said. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps affirmed "unwavering support" for Ukraine.

"Putin’s illegal invasion has left Ukraine’s fields and towns covered in deadly land mines and unexploded munitions, which presents an immediate danger to its citizens now and for years to come," Shapps said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine war updates: Poland gets $2 billion US loan for modern weapons