A Russian missile strike hit the central Ukraine town of Kryvyi Rih, killing a police officer and wounding dozens more, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said. Kryvyi Rih is Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy's hometown.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s air force shot down 16 out of 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones over Ukraine’s Odesa region, launched from Russia, early Friday, according to military officials.
This was the fifth time this week Odesa has been targeted, regional governor Oleh Kiper said on the Telegram messaging app.
In another attack, at least three people were injured after a Russian strike on the northeastern Ukraine city of Sumy.
Zelenskyy lauded three military units Thursday for “very, very effective” action against Russian troops on the front in eastern and southern Ukraine as part of Kyiv’s ongoing counteroffensive.
One national guard unit was fighting in the east and two in the south, Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
“Thank you soldiers for very, very effective results in destroying the occupiers,” Zelenskyy said. “And results are precisely what Ukraine needs now from everyone.”
The praise comes after the Ukrainian military said Thursday its air defenses destroyed 25 of 33 drones that Russia used to attack the Sumy and Odesa regions overnight.
Kiper said the Russian attack hit the Izmail area for the fourth time in five days, injuring one person.
Kiper said the attack also damaged port infrastructure facilities and an administrative building.
Despite the recent praise from Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s counteroffensive is moving more slowly than many U.S. officials had predicted. That means U.S. President Joe Biden’s latest request to Congress for more Ukraine assistance is facing rising opposition from some members of the Republican Party.
In August, Biden asked Congress to approve $40 billion in additional spending, including $24 billion for Ukraine and other international needs and $16 billion for disaster relief.
While Biden may face new challenges to secure additional aid for Ukraine, Ukraine’s forces kept up their assault on Russia.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it destroyed two Ukrainian drones over the Rostov region, as well as one in Bryansk and another on the outskirts of Moscow.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Telegram that debris from a downed drone landed in the Ramensky district but did not cause any damage or casualties.
Drone debris was also the subject of a Thursday call between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu. They discussed Romania’s investigation into drone debris found in Romania near its border with Ukraine, the U.S. State Department said.
Meanwhile, debris from a downed Ukrainian drone targeting an industrial site in southern Russia’s Bryansk region on Thursday set an administrative building on fire, the region’s governor said, but the conflagration was brought under control.
Elsewhere, a new biography about Elon Musk alleges that he ordered his Starlink satellite communications network to be turned off near the coast of Crimea last year to hinder a Ukrainian submarine drone attack on Russian warships.
The biography, written by Walter Isaacson, alleges that Musk ordered Starlink engineers to turn off service to the area over concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin would retaliate with nuclear weapons. CNN quoted from the book, set to be released Sept. 12. Neither Musk nor Isaacson responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
Zelenskyy introduced new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov on Thursday, saying “transparency and trust” are a priority.
Zelenskyy said he wants Umerov to “strengthen the ministry’s strategic and coordination functions for the entire defense sector, prioritize individual warriors and cut red tape, develop international cooperation and ensure Ukraine completes its NATO accession homework, and scale up the successes of specific units for all of our defense forces.”
Zelenskyy picked Umerov to replace Oleksii Reznikov, who helped secure Western military aid in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion. The leadership shakeup followed allegations of corruption at the Defense Ministry, which Reznikov dismissed as a smear campaign.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the European Parliament on Thursday that Ukrainian forces are gradually gaining ground and breaching Russian defenses in their counteroffensive. He pushed back against critics who say the counteroffensive has not been successful, citing the unpredictable nature of war and the need to stand by Ukraine through both good days and bad.
"To support Ukraine is not an option, it is a necessity to ensure that to preserve peace for our members, for our countries, and to ensure that authoritarian regimes [don’t] achieve what they want by violating international law and using military force,” Stoltenberg said.
The NATO chief also said he expects Turkey’s parliament to ratify Sweden’s accession to the alliance “as soon as possible” when lawmakers reconvene in October.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.