Last week (August 21–27), Ukraine strengthened relations with the Balkan countries, which at the summit in Athens supported the European integration course and the territorial integrity of our state. Despite the frantic pressure from Russia, more and more countries are showing respect for the indivisibility of sovereign Ukrainian territory, which was also reflected at the third summit of the Crimean Platform.

On the other hand, Russia is losing its influence on international politics. The high hopes placed on the BRICS summit did not meet the aggressor's expectations. The countries participating in the summit did not play to the Kremlin's advantage and promote stereotyped narratives about the war in Ukraine.

At the same time, Ukrainian troops continue to liberate the occupied territory and are on the verge of a breakthrough. The increasing number of explosions on the territory of Russia, the destruction of the strategic objects of the aggressor, and the landing of the Ukrainian military in the occupied Crimea indicate the inevitable failure of Putin's venture in Ukraine.

Finally, more and more countries are agreeing to support the security guarantees of Ukraine and to join the exercises of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters.

Ukraine is getting closer with the Balkan countries, and Russia is furious because of the participation of Serbia and Bosnia in the Crimean Platform

On August 21, a summit of the leaders of the Balkan countries was held in Athens, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the so-called "Thessaloniki Declaration". In this document, adopted at the EU summit in June 2003, Brussels confirmed that it unconditionally supports the European choice of the Western Balkan states. However, Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have not yet become members of the EU. The exception is Croatia that joined the European Union in 2013. The summit in Athens actually became a platform designed to update the movement of the countries of the region towards European integration.

In addition to the host country, three more EU states (Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and five countries of the Western Balkans took part in the summit (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Kosovo), which are candidates or potential candidates for EU accession. Also, for the first time in history, Ukraine and Moldova, with the recently granted status of EU⁠candidate countries, were invited to participate in the summit that has been held regularly for the last few years. Due to the fact that 7 countries participating in the summit aspire to become members of a united Europe, observers called it the "EU enlargement summit".

The final declaration of the summit was signed by all 11 participating countries. It highlighted that the EU enlargement process should continue “without any workarounds to certain conditions.” The participants also expressed their readiness to support Ukraine and Moldova in the next steps in the EU accession process as soon as they complete the necessary reforms.

In addition, in the adopted declaration, all the participants of the summit expressed their support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine against the background of the continuation of Russia's full-scale invasion. This was even done by Serbia, which is considered a country pulling for Russia. For example, Serbia did not join the EU sanctions against Russia and did not close their airspace to their aircraft, although it condemned Russian aggression in the UN institutions.

Also on the sidelines of the Athens Summit, a meeting of the Presidents of Ukraine and Serbia was held, where Volodymyr Zelensky invited the Serbian side to support the Ukrainian formula for peace and participate in the third summit of the international Crimean platform on August 23 this year.

Serbia accepted the invitation. The Prime Minister of the country, Ana Brnabic, took part in the summit remotely. In her address, she supported the territorial integrity and European integration aspirations of our country. She also noted Serbia's readiness to participate in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.

Some Ukrainian political observers even called this move by Serbia a "knife in the back" of Russia. However, this is not entirely true. Despite a certain warming of relations between Belgrade and Kyiv, Moscow still has a powerful political influence in Serbia. Thus, on August 25, the day after the meeting with the Russian ambassador, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that his country, despite participating in the summit, did not support the declaration of the Crimean Platform, which was adopted on August 23, 2021 and is open for joining. Its signatories condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and have pledged to seek a format for a peaceful end to Russia's temporary occupation of the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

Of course, the Russians do not like the Ukrainian idea of returning the occupied Crimea. That is why they published a statement threatening Bosnia and Herzegovina for the participation of their delegation in the summit. The text of the statement says that Russia perceives the presence of Bosnia's representatives at the summit as an "openly hostile act" and an attempt on its territorial integrity, and Moscow "reserves the right to respond to unfriendly actions."

At the same time, returning to the summit in Athens, we must say that Ukraine received something more than political support. Thus, Greece announced that it would train Ukrainian pilots on the F-16. In addition, the media report that Athens will stop servicing Russian anti-aircraft missile systems and transfer them to Ukraine. Croatia also announced the transfer of a new military aid package of 30 million euros.

It is not quiet on the territory of Russia and in the occupied Crimea [again]

Another news from last week was about a significant number of "drone visits" to Russia. Thus, on August 21, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported the destruction of two allegedly Ukrainian drones in the Moscow region, and the next day the incident repeated. On August 23, another drone hit the Moscow City business center, and on August 26, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin claimed that a drone was shot down at the approaches to the capital.

It should be mentioned that on August 21, explosions were also heard in Rostov-on-Don, and the Belgorod region was attacked by drones three times. It is also noteworthy that drone attacks, primarily on Moscow, caused trouble for Russian air transportation. In particular, on August 21, Moscow's Vnukovo and Domodedovo airports temporarily did not accept or send flights.

Commenting on the frequent drone strikes on Moscow, which Russia blames on Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock said she considered them legitimate. At the same time, United States Senator Richard Blumenthal, during a press conference in Kyiv, which took place in a shelter because of the air alarm, stressed that Ukraine had the moral right to attack the territory of the Russian Federation: "Ukrainians attack Russia on its territory with Ukrainian weapons. How can we question Ukrainians using their weapons while sitting in a bunker? ”.

Of course, the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, called the drone attacks on Moscow "terrorist acts" but these are not all the problems that befell Russia last week. According to the Main Intelligence Directorate, on August 23, an explosion destroyed the S-400 Triumph complex, missiles installed on it, as well as personnel in the occupied Crimea. On the same day, Ukrainian intelligence reported another successful special operation, as a result of which it converted a Russian Mi-8 pilot who landed a helicopter in the Kharkiv region. In addition, over the Black Sea, the Security and Defense Forces  of Ukraine attacked a Russian aircraft when it tried to destroy a Ukrainian boat near Snake Island.

Moreover, on the Independence Day of Ukraine , the MID ⁠personnel landed in Crimea near the village of Mayak, where they damaged four high-speed boats and killed at least 30 Russians. On August 25, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation said that at night 42 drones tried to attack the annexed Crimea. Andriy Yusov, a representative of the MID, said that the strike was carried out against the Russian 126th Separate Coast-Guard Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet in the village of Perevalne. It is noteworthy that the head of the MID, Kyrylo Budanov, in an interview, emphasized the capability of the Defense Forces to hit the enemy anywhere in the occupied Crimea.

No less Ukrainian success last week was the destruction of two Tu-22 aircraft and damage to two more aircraft of this class as a result of operations at the Russian military airfields Soltsi (Nizhny Novgorod region) and Shaikovka (Kaluga region).

Also last week, there were a number of official announcements about military and other support for Ukraine. Thus, several more countries joined the declaration on "security guarantees" of Ukraine, which was adopted by G7 on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius: Kosovo, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Montenegro and Slovenia. In addition, Ukraine has started negotiations with Canada to conclude a bilateral agreement on the provision of security guarantees.

As for military assistance, Norway decided to transfer anti-aircraft missiles for IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine, and will also become the third country to provide F-16s. Finland approved the provision of the 18th package of military assistance to Ukraine in the amount of approximately 94 million euros. Germany transferred missiles for Patriot installations and a drone detection system. In addition, Greece may soon withdraw from service 21 Tor-M1 self-propelled air defense systems and 38 Osa-AKM self-propelled complexes. According to, they could potentially be transferred to Ukraine.

Greece and Portugal announced their readiness to join the aviation coalition, which will take part in the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters. Also, the United States will join this program in the near future. The EU's chief diplomat Josep Borrell admitted that the European Union would decide to partially compensate the costs of the member states that decided to transfer F-16 fighters to Ukraine. This is important given that, according to Air Force Spokesman Yuriy Ignat, Ukraine needs as many as 128 fighters to replace the old fleet and gain an advantage in the sky. It is remarkable that State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky said that the transfer of the F-16 to Ukraine by Denmark and the Netherlands allegedly "will not make any difference for the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

This week there were positive developments on the front line — the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated the village of Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia region, from where civilians were evacuated, and continued to be successful in the direction of Novodanylivka and Novoprokopivka. In addition, according to The Wall Street Journal, Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhny told U.S. officials that the Ukrainian military was on the verge of a breakthrough. Zaluzhny also stressed that this war is "not a fight against the rebels but the Battle for Kursk," referring to one of the largest battles of the Second World War.

Another news from last week was the death of the founder of Wagner PMC Dmitry Utkin, its sponsor Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the head of the logistics and security service Valery Chekalov, after the plane crash in the Tver region of the Russian Federation. We will not go into the details of the death of Ukraine's enemies, but we will quote the words of US President Joe Biden, who emphasized that in  Russia "hardly anything is happening without Putin behind."

The BRICS summit demonstrates the decline of Russia's influence in the international arena. The Kremlin's policy is toxic with a permanent desire for territorial conquest

On August 24, the three-day summit ended of the BRICS intergovernmental association, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. A key outcome of the meeting was the expansion of the BRICS by inviting six countries to full membership: Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina, Iran, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

On the eve of the summit, it became known that China that pushed the association to expand to become a full-scale competitor of the G7. Against the backdrop of growing rivalry with the United States and the decline of the economic boom, China seeks to strengthen its global influence. On the other hand, for the Kremlin, the summit has become an international platform for promoting narratives about the failures of the West's attempts to isolate the Russian Federation.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova boasted that the results of the summit were “brilliant,” and “isolation as a U.S. weapon is overthrown forever.” However, Russia's diplomatic defeat cannot be concealed by the Kremlin's bravura statements.

Thus, according to CNN, the absence of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on the world political arena due to the warrant of the International Criminal Court for his arrest indicates the isolation of the Russian Federation. In addition, at the summit, Putin tried to convince the participating countries that the West's desire to maintain its hegemony in the world had allegedly led to a serious crisis in Ukraine, and Russia decided to support the people and put an end to the war unleashed by the satellites of the West.

The Russian dictator also tried to promote stereotyped messages about Ukraine's small role in ensuring food security in the world, and to justify the failure of the "grain deal". Yet, the Kremlin did not see a consoling reaction at the summit.

In the summit's final declaration, the countries confirmed their national, more neutral positions on the need for a peaceful settlement through dialogue and diplomacy, mentioning the peace initiative of African leaders as an example. In addition, the countries supported the reform of the UN Security Council, of which the aggressor country of the Russian Federation is a member, noting that this body should be made more effective in order to properly respond to global challenges.

At the same time, the expansion of the BRICS will not play in favor of Putin's ambitions because the circle of allies is not united by a common geography, military-political cooperation, or geopolitical strategy. Instead, the organization will include US allies — the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The latter even recently hosted an international meeting organized by Ukraine to discuss the Formula for Peace.

The Kremlin's attempts to trade on the topic of de-dollarization of international trade also failed. The end of the dominance of the dollar in the world is one of the priorities of the information policy of the Russian side. However, the summit did not adopt anything essential —  the parties only agreed on the importance of encouraging the use of national currencies in international trade.

The only thing that can play into Moscow's favor is the concern set out in the declaration in connection with the use of unilateral coercive measures incompatible with the principles of the UN Charter. However, joint statements on sanctions policy in the world were set out cautiously, without mentioning specific countries, which looks more like a small bonus for Russia.

Finally, it can be stated that the Kremlin's public expectations from the summit were exaggerated. The participating countries did not act to please the Kremlin.

Last week, many countries continued to impose sanctions against the Russian military-industrial complex. Thus, Canada and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on persons involved in the Russian military-industrial complex, a number of banks and holdings. In addition, the United States announced sanctions against criminals involved in the deportation of Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

All this does not prevent Putin from promoting a message to the domestic audience that Russia is one of the top five economies in the world. Moreover, the Russian dictator continues to incite hatred against Ukrainians to win the support of population for the invasive war, because, according to the Ukrainian MID, Russia is currently considering the possibility of recruiting an additional 450,000 people.

On August 23, at an event in honor of the 80th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Kursk, Putin once again drew parallels between the battles of World War II and the current war in Ukraine, awarding the participants of the SMO who "are worthy of the glory of the heroes of the Kursk Bulge — those who fought against the Nazis in the summer of 1943." Other Kremlin representatives spoke in the same spirit, and Dmitry Medvedev generally admitted the possibility of annexing the occupied Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Finally, according to the Ukrainian side, Putin should finally lose his intra-elite legitimacy as a reasonable and capable leader, because only this can give Russia a chance for post-war modernization and open the way to a "diplomatic" format.