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Russia-Ukraine war live news: Zelenskiy to visit Washington; Kim and Putin give each other rifles | Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Cuba issues conflicting statements on the use of its citizens in the Ukraine war

News via Reuters:

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Thursday his country rejects the participation of its citizens as mercenaries in war, contradicting a statement by Cuba’s ambassador in Moscow hours earlier saying his government did not oppose the legal participation of its citizens in Russia´s war in Ukraine.

The conflicting statements follow Cuban state-run and foreign media reports suggesting that young Cuban men have enlisted in the Kremlin´s military in recent months as mercenaries and victims in alleged human trafficking schemes.

Rodriguez said on social media:

The unequivocal and unswerving position of the Cuban government, in accordance with its national legislation, is contrary to the participation of Cuban citizens in conflicts of any sort and against mercenarism and trafficking in persons.

Last week Cuban authorities said they had arrested 17 people on charges related to a ring of human traffickers that allegedly had lured young Cuban men to serve in the Russian military amid the Ukraine conflict.

Kim Jong Un stops to see a fighter jet factory as Russia and North Korea are warned of arms deals

News via AP:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stopped in a far eastern Russian city Friday to see a factory that builds the country’s most advanced fighter jets on his extended trip that hints at his interest in sophisticated weaponry, as the U.S. and others warned Moscow and Pyongyang against making banned weapons transfer deals.

Kim’s visits to Russian weapons and technology sites and meetings with President Vladimir Putin have raised speculation he will supply ammunition to Russia for its war efforts in Ukraine in exchange for receiving advanced weapons or technology from Russia as the two nations deepen their ties while both are increasingly isolated and sanctioned in separate confrontations with the West.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti published a video showing Kim’s armored train pulling into a station in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Kim’s convoy sweeping out of the station shortly afterward. TASS news agency said Kim and local Russian officials were headed for a plant that produces Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets.

Kim is to travel next to Vladivostok to view Russia’s Pacific fleet, a university, and other facilities, Putin told Russian media after his summit with Kim.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. I’m Jordyn Beazley with the latest developments.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is expected at the White House and on Capitol Hill next week as he visits the US during the United Nations General Assembly.

Zelenskiy’s trip comes as Congress is debating President Joe Biden’s request to provide as much as $24bn in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as it fights the Russian invasion.

More on that story later, but first, here is a summary of today’s news so far from Ukraine:

  • Cuba is not against the legal participation of its citizens in Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Russian state-run RIA news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Cuban envoy to Moscow. Last week, Cuban authorities said they had arrested 17 people over a human trafficking ring that allegedly had lured young Cuban men to serve in the Russian military. The Cuban ambassador to Moscow, Julio Antonio Garmendia Pena said: “We have nothing against Cubans who just want to sign a contract and legally take part with the Russian army in this operation. But we are against illegality and these operations that have nothing to do with the legal field,” RIA quoted the ambassador as saying.

  • Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un gifted each other rifles when they met in far eastern Russia, the Kremlin said on Thursday and confirmed the isolated Russian leader would visit North Korea though no further details have been revealed. The Russian president, who has sought to strengthen alliances with other hardline leaders, met Kim on Wednesday amid speculation they would agree on an arms deal to bolster Russia’s war in Ukraine.

  • Britain’s most senior military officer, Sir Tony Radakin, said that Ukraine “continues to hold the initiative, it is pushing Russia back” in a short assessment of the current state of the fighting.

  • Russia said it is expelling two US diplomats accused of working with a Russian national who is accused of collaborating with a foreign state. The US said the move was unprovoked and wholly without merit. Separately, Slovakia has expelled a diplomat based in Russia’s embassy, the Slovak foreign ministry said on its website on Thursday. The ministry said: “The reason is his activities, which were in direct violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”

  • South Korea has expressed “deep concern and regret” over a meeting between the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, which focused on expanding military cooperation.

  • Alexander Lukashenko left Belarus on Thursday for an official visit to Russia, according to his press service. Talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, are scheduled for Friday.

  • Satellite images appear to show the dismantling of a Wagner militia base southeast of the Belarus capital, Minsk. The images of activity in recent weeks showed tents being taken down at the Tsel military base in the Mogilev region, and may indicate the winding down of the Russian mercenary company’s presence in the country after a brief mutiny inside Russia.

  • Bulgaria decided on Thursday not to extend a ban on Ukrainian grain imports in five eastern EU nations that are set to expire this week, AFP reported. Ukraine’s foreign ministry reportedly said that any decision by European states to extend import restrictions on Ukrainian food from 15 September would be illegal and harm common economic interests.

  • Ukraine’s military said on Thursday it had damaged two Russian patrol ships in the Black Sea in a morning attack. Ukraine also claimed to have destroyed a Russian air defense system near the town of Yevpatoriya in occupied Crimea in a drone and missile attack that was conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine and the navy on Thursday morning.

  • A six-year-old boy was reportedly killed and other people injured by Russian shelling in the village of Novodmytrivka, which is located in the Kherson region.

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