Over the last week (September 19th to the 25th), the Joint Forces Operation reported 52 ceasefire violations on the part of Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine. Unfortunately, 5 Ukrainian soldiers were injured as a result of these ceasefire violations.
The 2021 Russian parliamentary elections – marked by widespread voter fraud – concluded on September 19th. Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, officially received 49.9% of the vote. However, according to several independent election analyses, the party actually received only 30%, making this year the worst yet for United Russia. The Communist party received the second-most percentage points, with 19% of the vote. For the first time, residents of the Donbas region were allowed (and reportedly even forced) to vote in Duma elections, and Russian officials said that 150,000 from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions voted.
On September 20th, President Zelensky enacted the National Security and Defense Council’s decision to increase the defense budget of Ukraine from 5.93% to 5.95% of GDP in 2022. Three days later, the US House of Representatives passed the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. This $778 billion defense policy bill includes $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine as well as a proposal to increase the presence of US troops on NATO’s eastern flank. The House also approved several amendments, including sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and Russian oligarchs, high-ranking officials, and media. The NDAA still needs to be reconciled with the Senate version before it reaches the president’s desk to be signed into law.
The Rapid Trident 2021 annual multinational training exercise kicked off on September 21st with 6,000 troops from 12 partner nations. The Joint Efforts 2021 strategic command and staff exercises launched two days later, involving up to 12,500 forces from 15 partner countries and more than 600 units of armaments and military equipment. Jet artillery drills were conducted near the border of Crimea as part of a Joint Efforts exercise aimed at coordinating UAVs spotting enemy fire.
On September 23rd, President Zelensky spoke at the general debate of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, declaring “It’s time to wake up!” and inviting all 193 countries to join the Crimea Platform initiative. Zelensky mentioned the assassination attempt on his top aide, Serhiy Shefir, that had occurred the night before, stating: “Here is the price of change in the state, here is the price of reforms.”