What you need to know
A barrage of Russian missile strikes killed two people in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kherson and wounded at least 21 more across the country, officials said on Thursday.
Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko said at least seven people had been injured by Russian attacks in the capital. In the western city of Lviv, the strikes caused a fire in an industrial zone.
For the first time since last winter, Ukraine's energy system was also attacked.
Russian officials at the same time reported they had destroyed over 20 Ukrainian drones, mostly over the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula.
Here are the main headlines concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Thursday, September 21:
'No alternative' but to support Ukraine — Biden
US President Joe Biden received Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House and spoke of the long-term commitment to Ukraine's security.
Biden said there was "no alternative" but to back giving fresh military aid to Ukraine in its fight against invading Russian forces.
"I'm counting on the good judgment of the United States Congress. There's no alternative," Biden said when asked by a reporter whether Congress would pass the funding.
Biden hailed "the brave people of Ukraine" and said they had been an inspiration to the rest of the world adding: "The American people are determined to see to it that we do all we can to ensure the world stands with you."
Zelenskyy was seated with Biden beneath portraits of former US presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and thanked Biden for the support.
"We greatly appreciate the assistance provided by the United States to combat Russian terror, really terror," Zelenskyy told Biden.
Zelenskyy also thanked Congress and the people of America for the "big, huge support."
The Ukrainian president's visit comes as Biden's request to Congress for an additional $24 billion (€22.5 billion) for Ukraine's humanitarian and military aid, hangs in the balance.
Republican and Democratic leaders are locked in a bitter spending battle that could spark a US government shutdown.
Thousands of Russians to be told to leave Latvia
Latvia's migration authority will be sending letters to around 3,500 Russian citizens, asking them to leave the country.
The government body said those in question had not submitted paperwork to extend their permanent residence permits or registered to do a Latvian language test by September 1.
According to a statement from the migration authority, those issued letters would be required to leave by November 30.
Latvia made an amendment to a law passed in 2022 making residency rules more stringent for Russians living in Latvia, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Those wishing to continue living in Latvia would need to apply for permanent residence and prove their capabilities in the Latvian language.
Ukraine's Zelenskyy to meet US president at the White House
US President Joe Biden will be hosting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House on Thursday.
Zelenskyy spoke with lawmakers from the lower chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, on arrival in the capital. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said there was no time to convene a joint session of both the House and the Senate, as had happened during his visit in December.
The president later moved on to the Pentagon.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that Biden was expected to highlight "the continued need for the American people to step up and support Ukraine as they battle on the frontlines of the free world," during his talks later in the day.
Thursday's meeting is the sixth in-person meeting between Biden and Zelenskyy and its also the Ukrainian president's third visit to the White House.
Britain charges 5 with spying for Russia
The UK has charged three men and two women with spying for Russia, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced on Thursday.
The five individuals, aged between 29 and 45, are all Bulgarian nationals.
They will be charged with "conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy for a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interest of the state," according to a CPS statement.
Their actions are believed to have been conducted between August 30, 2020 and February 8, 2023.
Three of the defendants were previously charged in February with possessing false identity documents with "improper intention."
"Criminal proceedings against the five individuals are active and they each have the right to a fair trial," the CPS said.
The five defendants are scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on September 26.
Ukraine caused 'severe damage' to Crimea airfield, Kyiv says
The Saki airbase in Moscow-annexed Crimea has been heavily shelled by Ukraine, international and Ukrainian media reported on Thursday.
Citing sources within Ukraine's intelligence and security agency SBU, reports said the Ukrainian navy and the SBU carried out a joint overnight operation against the airbase.
According to the SBU, Ukrainian forces first overwhelmed the airbase's aerial defense systems with a drone attack and subsequently shelled the base with missiles, causing "severe damage" to Russian equipment.
While Russian military bloggers gave similar accounts of the fighting, the reports could not be independently verified. Ukraine's military confirmed there had been an attack on the Saki airbase without giving details.
Russia has neither confirmed nor denied the claims but said on Thursday it had downed 19 Ukrainian drones over and around Crimea.
Ukraine and Poland to hold talks on grain dispute 'in coming days'
Ukraine said on Thursday it would soon conduct negotiations with Poland over the country's decision to ban Ukrainian grain imports.
"The next negotiations will take place in the coming days, during which the issues prepared by both sides will be discussed," Ukraine's Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.
Poland has extended an EU embargo on Ukrainian grain despite the European Commission's decision to allow them again. The PiS-led government — which is gearing up for reelection and needs the support of Polish farmers — says it is protecting its agricultural sector.
Ukraine has filed a complaint against the ban with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Poland says it's not supplying Ukraine with weapons 'at the moment'
Poland's state assets minister Jacek Sasin confirmed on Thursday that his country was not currently supplying arms to Ukraine, but did not exclude future deliveries.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had announced Poland would no longer arm Ukraine and instead focus on its own defense.
"At the moment it is as the prime minister said, in the future we will see," Jacek Sasin told Polish private broadcaster radio Plus when asked about Morawiecki's comments.
The Polish government's announcement to stop weapons supplies comes as relationships are already tense over Poland banning Ukrainian grain imports.
Ukraine has launched a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over this, while Poland argues it is protecting it is agriculture. Farmers have been key supporters of the governing PiS party, which is seeking reelection in October.
Russia claims over 20 Ukrainian drones destroyed overnight
Russia's Defense Ministry said on Thursday that its forces downed over 20 Ukrainian drones overnight.
Most of them were destroyed over Russian-occupied Crimea and the surrounding Black Sea, where Russian forces "thwarted" an attack by Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the ministry wrote on the messaging platform Telegram.
"Air defense systems destroyed 19 Ukrainian UAVs over the Black Sea and the territory of the Republic of Crimea, and one each over the territories of Kursk, Belgorod and Oryol regions," the ministry said.
Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014 and has been a prime target of Ukrainian forces recently, as they try to recapture the territory.
The Russian regions of Belgorod and Kursk share a border with eastern Ukraine. Oryol is located north of them, closer to the capital, Moscow.
At least 2 killed, over 20 injured in massive Russian attack
Overnight Russian attacks on Kyiv and at least five other Ukrainian cities injured numerous people early on Thursday.
At least 21 people were injured in missile strikes across the country, Ukrainian authorities said. Two people were killed overnight by Russian shelling in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.
"It is a restless morning. Explosions were heard in different regions of Ukraine," Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko wrote on Telegram.
In addition to the capital, Ukrainian officials reported blasts in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskiy, Rivne, Vinnytsia, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.
Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko said at least seven people had been injured — including a 9-year-old girl — and infrastructure had been damaged in the capital.
In the western region of Lviv, close to the Polish border, the strikes caused a fire in an industrial zone, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
36 out of 43 Russian missiles were downed by Ukrainian air defense systems according to authorities.
Thursday's attacks were the first to target Ukraine's energy system since last winter. Ukraine reported damaged facilities and blackouts, raising concerns over energy security ahead of a second winter of war.
Scholz: Germany to host Ukraine reconstruction talks
Germany will host an international conference on the reconstruction of war-torn Ukraine next year, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in New York.
The aim of the conference is to bring together international leaders and financial institutions to secure funds for Ukraine's post-war reconstruction.
The last such summit brought together representatives of 60 countries and institutions in London earlier this year.
Scholz and Zelensky met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, where both had delivered their speeches earlier in the day.
They discussed the political, military and humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and "the priority needs of the defense forces of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said on messaging platform Telegram.
fc/rs (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)