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Ukraine war: Russian drones hit Romania claim, Sweden spy trial, Kyiv defence minister dismissed

A Ukrainian soldier of the 28th brigade launches a drone at the frontline close to Bakhmut, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023.
A Ukrainian soldier of the 28th brigade launches a drone at the frontline close to Bakhmut, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. Copyright LIBKOS
Copyright LIBKOS
By Euronews with AFP/AP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Kyiv claims Russian drones hit Romania

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Ukraine said on Monday that Russian drones fell on NATO member Romania, following a wave of huge overnight strikes. 

Bucharest "categorically" denied Kyiv's claim. 

Citing information from Ukrainian border guards, Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook: "During a massive attack carried out by Russia in the Izmail port area, Russian shaheds fell and exploded on Romanian territory." 

"This is further confirmation that Russian missile terror poses a huge security threat not only to Ukraine but also to neighbouring countries, including NATO member states," he added.

The Romanian Defence Ministry said it was "monitoring the situation" and "at no time" have Russia's attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure posed a "direct military threat" to Romania or its territorial waters. 

On Monday, Ukraine intercepted 17 Russian drones in the southern Odesa region, which damaged buildings in the Izmail port district, according to a local governor. 

Warehouses and production buildings, agricultural machinery and industrial equipment were damaged," wrote Oleg Kiper on Telegram.

The attack lasted three and a half hours and caused no casualties, he said. 

Izmail's river port has become one of the main exit routes for Ukrainian grain since Moscow ended a deal that allowed Kyiv's export over the Black Sea in July. 

Over the weekend, Russian drones hit industrial sites on the Danube River, said the office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. 

Russian-Swedish man on trial for alleged spying

Sergei Skvortsov, a Russian-Swedish man in his 60s, appeared in a Stockholm court on Monday, accused of passing Western technology to Moscow for nearly a decade.

Skvortsov was charged with “illegal intelligence activities” against Sweden and the United States, following a police investigation by Swedish authorities and the FBI. 

He moved to Sweden with his wife in the 1990s, and allegedly used companies importing and exporting electrical components for his espionage activities. 

According to experts quoted by the Swedish media, such technologies could be used for researching nuclear weapons.

The trial comes amid heightened national security concerns for Sweden, months after a former Swedish intelligence agent was convicted of aggravated espionage for Russia.

Skvortsov, in custody since his arrest in November 2022, faces up to four years in prison.

“He is not guilty of any charges brought by the prosecutor,” his lawyer, Ulrika Borg, told judges.

The trial is scheduled to last until September 25 but will partly take place behind closed doors for national security reasons.

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Ukraine dismisses defence minister

Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has been dismissed from his post, Zelenskyy has announced.

In his nightly address, Ukraine's president said "new approaches" were needed in the defence ministry, with Reznikov at the helm since Russia invaded last February.

Rustem Umerov has been appointed his successor.

He is a prominent official of the Crimean Tatar community who has represented Kyiv in sensitive negotiations with Moscow.

Umerov, 41, was born in what was then the Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, where his family had been exiled under Stalin. As a child, his family resettled in Crimea when the Tatars were allowed to return during the 80s and 90s.

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Russia claims it destroyed Ukrainian speedboats

Moscow said on Monday it had eliminated military speedboats carrying Ukrainian soldiers in the Black Sea.

The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed its Black Sea Fleet destroyed four US-made Willard Marine speedboats heading towards Cape Tarkhankut on the west of the annexed peninsula, overnight from Sunday to Monday. 

It said the speedboats were carrying landing groups of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

Last week, the Russian MoD claimed it had destroyed four Crimea-bound military boats with 50 Ukrainian special forces on board, without providing further information.

On August 24, Ukraine carried out a rare commando raid against the Black Sea peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014, and claimed to have hoisted its national flag there.

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