EU extends protection for Ukrainian refugees until 2025

The Council of the EU extended temporary protection for over 4 million Ukrainian refugees living on the territory of the member countries from March 4, 2024, to March 4, 2025, the Council announced on Sept. 28.

"The EU will support the Ukrainian people for as long as it takes," Spanish acting Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gomez said.

"The prolongation of the protection status offers certainty to the more than 4 million refugees who have found a safe haven in the EU."

The EU-instituted system provides immediate and collective protection to refugees without the need for examination of individual cases.

It aims to alleviate pressure on national asylum systems and ensure refugees' access to residence, labor market, medical assistance, social welfare, and education.

The EU first implemented the measure on March 4, 2022, in response to the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which drove millions of Ukrainians to seek refuge abroad.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the majority of the displaced Ukrainians plan or hope to return home after the war.

Polish government confirms Ukrainian air defense missile fell on Polish soil last year

The projectile that caused the death of two people in Poland's Przewodow last November was a stray Ukrainian anti-air missile, Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro confirmed, the Polish Radio Lublin reported on Sept. 28.

According to the minister, an investigation by Poland's Prosecutor's Office "categorically" established that Ukraine launched the missile that hit a Polish grain facility near the Ukrainian border on Nov. 15, 2022.

"It was a Soviet-made missile, but it belonged to the Ukrainian military," Ziobro said.

The newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported on the findings of the Prosecutor's Office two days ahead of the official announcement.

According to the news outlet, the investigators concluded that the Ukrainian air defense launched two S-300 missiles with a range of 75-90 kilometers in an effort to intercept a massive missile strike that Russia launched on that date.

Ukraine had only 1,500 soldiers in south when Russia launched full-scale invasion

At the onset of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine had only around 1,500 soldiers defending the south against 20,000 invading Russian troops, General Andrii Sokolov, who led the southern defense in 2022, told Ukrainska Pravda on Sept. 18.

"The southern grouping of troops was founded on a rotational basis. That is, some people came to be replaced by other people later," the former deputy commander of the Southern Operational Command said in an interview.

Namely, the 59th Motorized Brigade counted only 1,300 troops as it was pulled back from the Donbas in December 2021 and was restoring its combat capabilities, the general said.

"The recovery process had not yet been completed when they were assigned to our group... The staffing of this brigade was about 60%."

Artillery and sapper units were also reportedly incomplete as they were conducting training in other oblasts. The general said he had the 137th Marine Battalion under his command, which was staffed only at around 50% with 250 soldiers, some of whom were conscripts.

According to Sokolov, the defense plans counted on at least two brigades to be deployed in the south in the case of an escalation, or even four, including two Territorial Defense brigades.

However, the general said that in reality, he had received only the incomplete 110th Zaporizhzhia Brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces under his command at the end of the first day of the invasion.