Ukraine live briefing: Zelensky visits Canada; Russia says missile attack hits Black Sea Fleet Crimea HQ

Updated September 22, 2023 at 4:29 p.m. EDT|Published September 22, 2023 at 2:14 a.m. EDT

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska, at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport on Thursday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press/AP)

After a whirlwind Thursday in Washington, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in Canada, where he delivered an address to Parliament, thanking the country’s people and leadership for their support, and accusing Russia of perpetrating a genocide in Ukraine.

“Moscow now, as always, is bent on controlling Ukraine, and makes use of all available means to do that, including genocide,” Zelensky said. “It is genocide what Russia occupiers are doing to Ukraine. … When we call on the world to support us, it is not just about an ordinary conflict. It is about saving lives of millions of people. Literally, physical salvation.”

The Ukrainian military said a missile strike Friday damaged the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Russian-occupied Crimea, the latest in a series of strikes on Russian military infrastructure throughout the peninsula.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Black Sea Fleet strike

Geolocated video posted to social media on Friday, verified by Storyful and confirmed by The Washington Post, showed smoke rising from the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters building. Russia had maintained the headquarters since the collapse of the Soviet Union under a lease agreement. Russian military personnel stationed there are believed to have participated in the invasion of Crimea in 2014.

The Russian-installed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev wrote on Telegram that a piece of shrapnel fell near a theater, but he later said there was no further “missile and aviation danger in Sevastopol.”

The commander of Ukraine’s air force issued a statement that appeared to mock Russia’s claims that the missiles fired at the Sevastopol headquarters had been shot down. “All missiles were intercepted!” Mykola Oleschuk wrote, with evident sarcasm. “I hope that next time Russian air defense will again not let us down.”

Russian news channels reported that six people were injured when a missile struck the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, though officials have not confirmed the number of wounded. Ukraine’s armed forces called it a “successful attack.”

“The Russian Black Sea fleet will be sliced up like a salami” unless Russia retreats, wrote Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, in a post on Xformerly known as Twitter. Earlier Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said a Ukrainian missile and two drones were destroyed off the Crimean coast.

Zelensky’s travels

Before Zelensky’s address to Parliament, Trudeau framed the war in Ukraine as load-bearing for global democracy. “You and the Ukrainian people are holding the rules-based order in the balance,” he said. “You are on the front lines, not just of the fight for Ukraine, but in the fight for the kind of future we are all going to be living in.”

Zelensky will spend Friday in Canada, Trudeau’s office said. After addressing Parliament, Trudeau and Zelensky “will then travel to Toronto, where they will meet with Canadian business leaders to strengthen private sector investment in Ukraine’s future.” Canada has provided more than 8.9 billion Canadian dollars ($6.6 billion) since January 2022, in direct financial aid and military equipment, according to the office.

During Zelensky’s D.C. visit on Thursday, the Biden administration announced a $325 million military aid package for Ukraine.

In his nightly address, Zelensky thanked “both parties, both houses” after his meeting with U.S. congressional leaders. Zelensky said he had “very frank, detailed conversations” with U.S. lawmakers. He met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose party includes lawmakers who oppose additional aid to Kyiv. He also spoke to a large forum of senators to make his case for why U.S. lawmakers should approve the Biden administration’s request for an additional $24 billion aid package.

During his address at the National Archives on Sept. 21, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the United States for its support in the war in Ukraine. (Video: The Washington Post)

Other key updates

The cluster-armed ATACMS that Washington is close to agreeing to provide to Kyiv could allow Ukraine to strike command posts, ammunition stores and logistics routes far behind Russian front lines and dug-in defenses. Ukraine, with backing from a number of U.S. lawmakers, has been asking since last year for ATACMS, which stands for Army Tactical Missile System. Washington has resisted providing them, in part over concerns about their range — 45 to 190 miles, depending on the version chosen.

Poland threatened to stop sending more arms to Ukraine. Warsaw will fulfill only existing contracts, Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said, citing Ukraine’s “totally unacceptable statements and public gestures.” Polish President Andrzej Duda appeared to backtrack on the threat, saying it would still be possible for Warsaw to transfer weapons from its old army stocks “just as we have done before.” Poland and Ukraine have been engaged in a trade feud over Ukrainian grain exports that have spilled into the markets of Central and Eastern Europe, as Russian warships maintain a blockade of many of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

The European Union has disbursed another 1.5 billion euros to UkraineEuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted Friday. “Just this year, we paid €13.5 billion to help Ukraine keep hospitals, schools and other services running,” she said.

British police charged five Bulgarians with espionageBritain’s Crown Prosecution Service reported. The individuals, who are between 29 and 45, are accused of conducting surveillance on targets, forging passports and identification cards, and passing information to Russian state security services from August 2020 to February of this year, the BBC reports.

During Zelensky’s visit, Canada expanded sanctions on Russian entities including a number of universities, think tanks, publications and youth organizations.

Battleground updates

One person was killed and 15 injured in a Russian missile strike on the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Friday, wrote Dmytro Lunin, a regional official, on Telegram. A child was among those injured.

Both Russia and Ukraine “have experienced unusually intense attacks deep behind their lines” in the past four days, according to the British Defense Ministry, as the ground battle remains “relatively static.” The ministry tweeted Friday that it was “highly likely” that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had been targeted again, while explosions at an air base near Moscow were “likely to be more of a strategic concern” to the Kremlin. Russia in turn has launched repeated long-range strikes against Ukraine, it said.

At least one person has been killed in shelling in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, according to a local official. Regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin wrote Friday on Telegram that a 25-year-old man died of his injuries, while another person was wounded.

A ship has left the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Chornomorsk carrying Ukrainian wheat toward Egypt, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said Friday, in the second shipment to leave via a temporary corridor for civilian shipping since Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal in July. The Palau-flagged Aroyat has 17,600 metric tons of wheat onboard, Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeteddays after the much smaller Resilient Africa departed with 3,000 metric tons. Three other vessels are heading to Ukrainian Black Sea ports to transport 127,000 metric tons of “agroproducts and iron ore” to China, Egypt and Spain, he said in a separate message.

From our correspondents

Zelensky blitzes Washington in urgent effort to bolster support: When Zelensky last visited Washington, he received a hero’s welcome at the White House and on Capitol Hill that day in December, evoking comparisons to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wartime visit to Washington in 1941, report Tyler Pager, Abigail Hauslohner, Alexandra Heal and John Hudson. This time, Zelensky visited under starkly different circumstances, as some U.S. lawmakers are growing more skeptical of providing more aid to Kyiv.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has spent the week struggling to calm a tumultuous dispute among House Republicans over funding the U.S. government, rejected Zelensky’s request to address a joint meeting of Congress because of “what we’re in the middle of.” Zelensky gave such an address when he visited Washington last year, receiving rapturous applause from both sides of the aisle.

David Stern, Karen DeYoung and John Hudson contributed to this report.

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