Ukraine news - live: Putin warns Russian invasion has only just begun

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Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had barely gotten started and dared the West to try to defeat it on the battlefield.

Four months after launching the invasion, the Russian president said that Moscow was still open to the idea of peace talks but warned that they would get more difficult the longer the war goes on.

Speaking at a meeting with leaders of the Kremlin-controlled parliament, he said: “Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say, let them try.

“We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading towards this.

“Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest.

“At the same time, we don’t reject peace talks. But those who reject them should know that the further it goes, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.”

Since invading Ukraine on 24 February, Russian forces have captured large swathes of the country, including the eastern region of Luhansk last Sunday.

Key Points

  • Russia taking ‘operational pause’ ahead of renewed assault, say analysts

  • Russia says missile strike hit and killed Ukrainian troops on Snake Island

  • Russia expands fleet in Black Sea: Ukrainian officials

  • Weapons from west ‘working powerfully’, says Zelensky

  • Punishing Russia could risk nuclear war, Medvedev says

  • Heavy shelling as battle for Donetsk rages

Russian invasion killed at least 347 children, says Ukraine

08:53 , Tom Batchelor

Russia says US asks that American fighters detained in Ukraine be recognised as combatants

08:38 , Tom Batchelor

More developments from the G20 summit in Indonesia, where Russia’s Interfax news agency is reporting that Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday the United States had asked that American fighters detained in Ukraine be recognised as combatants.

British diplomats ‘barred from upper chamber of Russia’s parliament'

08:06 , Tom Batchelor

The Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, has today barred British diplomats, including the ambassador, from accessing its building, Russian news agencies are reporting.

Lavrov dismisses ‘frenzied’ criticism of war in Ukraine at G20 meeting

07:46 , Tom Batchelor

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed what he cast as the west’s “frenzied” criticism of the war in Ukraine at a G20 meeting.

“During the discussion, Western partners avoided following the mandate of the G20, from dealing with issues of the world economy,” Mr Lavrov said.

He said the west’s discussion “strayed almost immediately, as soon as they took the floor, to the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation in connection with the situation in Ukraine. ‘Aggressors’, ‘invaders’, ‘occupiers’ - we heard a lot of things today.”

Indonesia urged the G20 on Friday to help end the war in Ukraine, as foreign ministers from the group met for a summit that has put some of the staunchest critics of Russia’s invasion in the same room as Moscow’s top diplomat.

Shouts of “When will you stop the war“ and “Why don’t you stop the war“ were heard as Mr Lavrov shook hands with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi at the start of the meeting.

Putin’s troops pausing to replenish before offensive in Donetsk, claims UK

07:25 , Tom Batchelor

The British defence ministry has claimed that Russian fighters in Ukraine’s east are taking a brief pause to replenish before launching a fresh offensive in Donetsk.

“Russia is likely concentrating equipment on the front line in the direction of Siversk, approximately 8km west of the current Russian front line. Its forces are likely pausing to replenish before undertaking new offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast,” the MoD said on Friday morning in its latest intelligence update.

The ministry also confirmed gradual advances by the Ukrainian forces in the south-western Kherson sector.

“There is a realistic possibility that Russia’s immediate tactical objective will be Siversk, as its forces attempt to advance towards its most likely operational goal of the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk urban area,” officials said.

Russia says ready to negotiate on food grains with Ukraine, Turkey

07:02 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow is ready to negotiate with Ukraine and Turkey to discuss food grain situation.

Turkey has been making efforts to ease the global food crisis severely magnified by the war in Europe as it seeks a safe passage for the grains stuck in the Black Sea ports.

Mr Lavrov said that Russia is ready to negotiate but it is unclear when these talks might take place.

Triggering a global food crisis and leading to surging inflation, Russia has seized large parts of Ukraine’s coast in the more than four months of the war, as the west and Kyiv accuse Moscow of weaponising food.

Ukrainians ‘very much concerned’ after Boris Johnson’s resignation

06:11 , Arpan Rai

People in Ukraine are now “concerned” after Boris Johnson’s resignation as Tory leader as worries mount for the key western ally’s support in the ongoing war against Russia, a politician from Kyiv said on Thursday.

“I understand that there are different assessments of Boris Johnson himself and people look at him very differently, but we in Ukraine, now, look at different western politicians from a single standpoint: the level of support to Ukraine,” deputy leader of the Holos Party Inna Sovsun said.

She added: “We don’t have the luxury to debate anything else, except for that. And in that sense, Boris Johnson has, of course, been a great friend to Ukraine.”

Mr Johnson was “really driving the support, the political support, for the country. He was very outspoken, he was always on Ukraine’s side”, she said.

“We are very much worried if this policy of the UK government will continue,” Ms Sovsun said.

Ukrainians ‘very much concerned’ after Boris Johnson’s resignation

Nasa slams Russia for promoting invasion of Ukraine through ISS

05:48 , Arpan Rai

Nasa has censured Russia for promoting its invasion of Ukraine via the International Space Station (ISS) after Moscow’s space agency Roscosmos showed three Russian cosmonauts holding flags from the disputed territories of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The American space agency said that it “strongly rebukes” Russia for its political move on the ISS related to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Nasa strongly rebukes Russia using the International Space Station for political purposes to support its war against Ukraine, which is fundamentally inconsistent with the station’s primary function among the 15 international participating countries to advance science and develop technology for peaceful purposes,” Nasa said, according to a report by Space News.

Russia released images on Telegram on 4 July showing three cosmonauts Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev holding flags of separatist regions Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine’s east, over which Russia also claims control.

Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainians feel 'personal gratitude' towards Boris Johnson

05:07 , Arpan Rai

The decision by Boris Johnson to resign as prime minister became the main talking point in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday, adding that he spoke with the outgoing British PM and thanked him for his support during the course of war.

“Britain’s role in protecting freedom is truly global. And although this is a reflection of the position of British society, the leadership and charisma of the state leader are always of special importance. Especially at such a time - the time of Russia’s full-scale anti-European war, which started its attack on Europe precisely from our state,” Mr Zelensky said, adding that it is not “surprising that Ukrainians feel personal gratitude” towards Mr Johnson.

He recounted all the assistance received from Britain and said that Ukraine received stinger air defence systems, NLAW anti-tank systems, artillery, ammunition, armoured vehicles and many other things.

“Substantial political support, strong sanctions against Russia, financial assistance to our state - more than two billion pounds have been allocated for security and defence needs alone since 24 February,” he said.

He added that “Great Britain’s support for Ukraine should not change, no matter what happens in London’s power circles”.

Chants of ‘why don’t you stop the war’ heard at G20 summit

04:37 , Arpan Rai

Shouts of “When will you stop the war” and “Why don’t you stop the war” were heard on Friday at the G20 summit when Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was seen shaking hands with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

The summit will continue on Friday as foreign ministers from the group will meet and participate alongside Moscow’s top diplomat amid the backdrop of the war and its impact on the global economy.

Ms Marsudi said that she was informed by the G7 nations that they would not attend Thursday’s welcome dinner, because Mr Lavrov was in attendance.

“It is our responsibility to end the war sooner than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not at the battlefield,” she said on Friday at the opening of talks.

Ukraine raises flag on recaptured island, loses key supporter in Boris Johnson

03:30 , Chiara Giordano

Ukrainian forces raised their national flag on a recaptured Black Sea island on Thursday in a defiant act against Moscow, but Kyiv lost one of its main international supporters after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would step down.

Russian forces also shelled potential conquests in eastern Ukraine ahead of an expected new offensive.

Moscow did not conceal its delight at the political demise of Johnson, a leader whom it has long criticised for arming Kyiv so energetically.

"The moral of the story is: do not seek to destroy Russia," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. "Russia cannot be destroyed. You can break your teeth on it - and then choke on them."

Johnson said Britain's support for Ukraine would continue regardless but his resignation comes at a time of domestic turmoil in some other European countries that support Kyiv amid doubts about their staying power for what has become a protracted conflict.

In a phone call, Johnson promised Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that he will continue to work with partners to end the grain blockade in the coming weeks, and told him "You're a hero, everybody loves you," a spokesman for Johnson said.

Moscow was fast to respond to Ukraine's defiant flag-raising ceremony on Snake Island, located about 140 km (90 miles) south of the Ukrainian port of Odesa.

Its warplanes struck the strategic island shortly afterwards and destroyed part of the Ukrainian detachment there, it said.

Russia abandoned the island at the end of June in what it said was a gesture of goodwill - a victory for Ukraine that Kyiv hoped could loosen Moscow's blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Images released by Ukraine on Thursday showed three Ukrainian soldiers raising the blue and yellow national flag on a patch of ground next to the remains of a flattened building.

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, suggested the moment was one that would be repeated across Ukraine in the coming months.

Removed from warzone, a Ukrainian circus troupe delights in France

02:30 , Chiara Giordano

Inside a packed circus tent in central France's Loire valley, Ukrainian acrobat Anastasiia Mazur delights the crowd with her balletic routine from a suspended ring.

Mazur, 31, fled her homeland weeks after Russia invaded, one of nearly a dozen acrobats, clowns, jugglers and contortionists who responded to a French theatre director's offer of refuge and the chance to put on a show to raise awareness of the war.

"I'm here and my family is in Germany," Mazur said in an interview in between rehearsals. "The war doesn't stop and we want more people to know about it. I hope it will end soon."

The newly formed troupe has called itself 'zirka!', meaning star in Ukrainian. Some left loved ones behind in Ukraine, others arrived with their children and belongings they could carry.

The show is an exhibition of hope and freedom, its organisers say. In some acts, the performers wear military-style camouflage fatigues and drape themselves in their national flag.

"The show is about telling what is currently happening in Ukraine in a light-hearted manner," said stage director Gerard Fasoli. "The audience can make up their own version of the story from what we give them."

Vyacheslav Iroshnikov said he had agonised over leaving his country in the face of Russian aggression. In the end he and his companion, a fellow circus performer, fled with his two children.

ICYMI: Ukrainian MP calls on Boris Johnson successor to ‘do more’ for Kyiv in war against Russia

01:30 , Chiara Giordano

A prominent Ukrainian opposition MP has called on the next UK prime minister to “do more” for Kyiv than Boris Johnson, as the British leader’s premiership looked close to ending in disgrace and the appointment of a new PM imminent.

Mr Johnson has been a vocal ally of Ukraine since its invasion by Russia in February and has visited President Zelensky in Kyiv on two occasions. His last visit came in June when he pledged British training for Ukrainian forces.

Our international correspondent Bel Trew has the full story:

Ukrainian MP calls on Boris Johnson successor to ‘do more’ for Kyiv

Russia joins G20 meeting overshadowed by Ukraine conflict

Friday 8 July 2022 00:30 , Chiara Giordano

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will have his first close encounter with the fiercest critics of his country’s invasion of Ukraine at a G20 gathering in Indonesia that was getting under way on Thursday with the war all but certain to dominate discussions.

A closed-door foreign minister’s meeting on Friday will be the first time Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat Lavrov will come face-to-face with the most vocal opponents of the invasion of Ukraine in February, which Moscow has called a “special military operation”.

Lavrov planned to meet some of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, Russian news agency TASS reported, but ministers including Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have ruled out separate meetings with him.

Underlining tensions in the buildup to the meeting, Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s foreign minister, said G7 counterparts had informed her they could not attend Thursday’s reception ceremony, decisions that the host nation understood and respected. It was not immediately clear if Lavrov attended.

“We’re talking about trying to create a comfortable situation for all,” Retno told reporters.

“I understand your position. Because once again, everyone has to feel comfortable to attend.”

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her country and like-minded nations would use the G20 meeting to highlight the impact of the war.

“We will be making very clear collectively our views about Russia’s position and Russia’s behaviour,” she said.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, however, may leave early: the BBC reported she planned to return to London amid the political drama around Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.

Lithuania crowdfunding secures combat drone for Ukraine

Thursday 7 July 2022 23:30 , Chiara Giordano

Lithuania will present a combat drone to Ukraine after a private crowdfunding campaign among ordinary residents raised nearly six million euros (£5 million) for the purpose within days.

The campaign's success inspired Turkey's Baykar defence company, which makes the Bayraktar TB2 drone, to provide it free of cost.

Some of the money raised in Lithuania was used to arm the drone, and the rest would be funnelled to Ukraine to address "critical needs", the Lithuanian government said.

Lithuanian defence minister Arvydas Anusauskas presented the drone, which arrived in the country earlier this week, to the public at a local air base.

"One weapon won't win a war but symbols are extremely important in any war," he told public broadcaster LRT on Wednesday.

It would be handed over to Ukraine in the coming days.

The crowdfunding initiative was launched at the end of May with a target amount of five million euros (£4 million), which it reached in days as thousands of citizens chipped in.

Poland and Lithuania leaders meet troops at Nato bottleneck

Thursday 7 July 2022 22:30 , Chiara Giordano

The presidents of Nato members Poland and Lithuania voiced confidence Thursday that allied troops can fully safeguard a strategically vital corridor, which links their countries, between Russian ally Belarus and a Russian Baltic Sea exclave.

Concern over Nato’s ability to defend the so called Suwalki Gap, a 43-mile wedge joining Poland and Lithuania, has rocketed since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

The bottleneck separates Belarus from the Kaliningrad exclave, where Russia’s Baltic Fleet - and nuclear-capable missiles - are based.

President Andrzej Duda of Poland and Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda visited the sparsely populated area Thursday and met with Nato troops on the Polish and the Lithuanian side.

“This is a very sensitive area and the eyes of an aggressor could potentially be directed here,” Nauseda said in Szypliszki, on the Polish side.

The corridor links Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia — all former Soviet republics bordering Russia — to Poland and other Nato members.

“We have decided to come to this place ... to show that it is safe ... just because of what you can see here today: the daily, calm but full of vigilance service of the Polish, Lithuanian and other Nato troops,” Poland’s Duda said.

Russia's war in Ukraine to overshadow G20 talks in Bali

Thursday 7 July 2022 21:30 , Chiara Giordano

Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations are gathering in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for talks bound to be dominated by the conflict in Ukraine despite an agenda focused on global cooperation and food and energy security.

The one-day gathering will take place on Friday on the mostly Hindu “island of the gods” in the majority Muslim archipelago nation.

Underscoring the backdrop of tensions hanging over the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov stopped in various Asian capitals on their way to Bali, drumming up support and fortifying their ties in the region ahead of the talks.

Read more on this story here:

Russia's war in Ukraine to overshadow G20 talks in Bali

Russia’s delight at fall of ‘stupid clown’ Boris Johnson

Thursday 7 July 2022 20:45 , Chiara Giordano

Russian officials reacted with glee at the fall of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who resigned on Thursday.

Following an extraordinary 24 hours in British politics, when the scandal-ridden PM faced more than 40 ministerial resignations from his government and widespread calls to end his premiership, the joy in Moscow at Mr Johnson’s demise was unchecked.

Our foreign editor David Harding has more details:

Russia’s delight at fall of ‘stupid clown’ Boris Johnson

ICYMI: Ukraine war helps push 71 million into poverty due to soaring food and oil prices, UN says

Thursday 7 July 2022 20:00 , Chiara Giordano

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a further 71 million people have been dragged into poverty due to skyrocketing food and energy prices, according to a new UN report.

Just three months after Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded the neighbouring country in February, a staggering 51.6 million people were living off $1.90 (£1.60) a day or less, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has estimated.

Joe Middleton has the full story:

Ukraine war helps ‘push 71 million into poverty’ due to soaring food and oil prices

Boris Johnson hails Volodymyr Zelensky as ‘hero’ as he resigns as Conservative leader

Thursday 7 July 2022 19:15 , Chiara Giordano

Boris Johnson has spoken to Volodymyr Zelensky and described the Ukrainian leader as a “hero”, after he resigned as Conservative leader.

Mr Zelensky is reported to have thanked Mr Johnson for his “decisive action” to help Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

Mr Johnson said there is “unwavering cross-party” support in the UK for Ukraine, and he pledged defensive aid would continue for as long as needed.

During his resignation speech outside Number 10 earlier on Thursday, Mr Johnson said the UK’s support for Ukraine is one of the key achievements of his premiership.

He most recently visited Kyiv last month.

The call between the two leaders took place this afternoon.

‘Very hard to comprehend’ level of cruelty in Ukraine, says Irish premier after visit to warn-torn country

Thursday 7 July 2022 18:30 , Chiara Giordano

Irish Premier Micheal Martin said it has been difficult to comprehend the level of cruelty that has happened in Ukraine, following a visit to the war-torn country.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Martin said the resilience of the Ukrainian people was one of the things that stood out to him.

"When you're in a place like Bucha, you have to visualise the Russian troops were there, which is on the outskirts of Kyiv, and that the Ukrainian military and people managed to push them back out again," the Taoiseach said.

"That to me demonstrated extraordinary resilience on behalf of the people of Ukraine.

"And then the needless atrocities and deaths, particularly the deaths of children.

"We went to a museum where all the children who were killed and murdered in this war - it's very hard to comprehend how any man can start a war which results in the deaths and the murder of so many children.

"As we left Kyiv last evening, there is an exhibition in the railway which documents the terrible scenes we all saw on our TV screens of thousands and thousands of people fleeing to leave.

"Very, very emotional exhibition."

Canada's Ukrainians urge Trudeau to refuse Russian demand to return gas turbine

Thursday 7 July 2022 17:45 , Chiara Giordano

Canada's Ukrainian community is urging prime minister Justin Trudeau to refuse to compromise the country's sanctions against Russia in order to return a turbine that Moscow says is critical for supplying natural gas to Germany.

Russia's state-controlled Gazprom cut the capacity along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 40 per cent of usual levels last month, citing the delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany's Siemens Energy in Canada.

Canada has one of the world's biggest Ukrainian diasporas outside of countries that border Ukraine and has successfully pressured Ottawa to impose increasingly strict sanctions against Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.

Ukrainian Canadian Congress national president Alexandra Chyczij urged Trudeau in a letter to see through Russia's "obvious ploy" to divide Ukraine's allies.

Ottawa should instead broker a solution that does not involve waiving sanctions, she wrote in the letter, posted on the Congress's website.

"Any waiver of Canadian sanctions would be viewed as a capitulation to Russian blackmail and energy terrorism, and would only serve to embolden the Russian terrorist state," Ms Chyczij said.

A Canadian government source said the Ukrainian government itself opposes the turbine's return.

Ukraine expects Britain's support to continue after Johnson's resignation

Thursday 7 July 2022 17:00 , Chiara Giordano

Ukraine expects Britain's support to continue despite the resignation of prime minister Boris Johnson, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's office said, thanking Johnson for defending Ukraine's interests after Russia's invasion.

"We all heard this news (of Johnson's resignation) with sadness. Not only me, but also the entire Ukrainian society, which is very sympathetic to you," Mr Zelensky's office said in a statement after the two leaders spoke by phone.

"We have no doubt that Great Britain's support will be preserved, but your personal leadership and charisma made it special."

One killed as Russian missile hits Kramatorsk

Thursday 7 July 2022 16:15 , Chiara Giordano

At least one person has reportedly been killed and six wounded in a Russian missile strike in the heart of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said the missile had damaged six buildings including a hotel and an apartment bloc in the large industrial hub.

"A Russian missile hit the centre of Kramatorsk. It's known for sure that one person was killed and six wounded, but these figures may change," he said.

"This is a deliberate attack on civilians... This will continue until we drive them out."

The nearby city of Sloviansk, also in the Donetsk region, also came under fire. Mayor Vadym Lyakh said there had been casualties but gave no further details.

Russia did not immediately comment on the situation in Kramatorsk or Sloviansk. It has denied deliberately targeting civilians.

Boris Johnson tells Zelensky Ukraine has UK’s ‘steadfast support’ in phone call as he quits

Thursday 7 July 2022 15:55 , Chiara Giordano

Boris Johnson spoke to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky “to reiterate the United Kingdom’s steadfast support” as he quit as Tory leader.

“The prime minister highlighted the UK’s unwavering cross-party support for president Zelensky’s people, and said the UK would continue to supply vital defensive aid for as long as needed,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

“The prime minister added that he would continue to work at pace with partners to try and end the grain blockade in the coming weeks.

“He thanked president Zelensky for everything he’s doing to stick up for freedom, for his friendship and for the kindness of the Ukrainian people.

“President Zelensky thanked the prime minister for his decisive action on Ukraine, and said the Ukrainian people were grateful for the UK’s efforts.

“The prime minister finished the call by praising president Zelensky, saying: ‘You’re a hero, everybody loves you’.”

Russia says prisoner swaps ‘difficult'

Thursday 7 July 2022 14:45 , Chiara Giordano

Russia has said it is difficult to exchange prisoners with the United States and suggested Washington be silent about the fate of Brittney Griner, the US basketball player detained in Russia on drugs charges.

Referring to a letter written by US president Joe Biden that NBC news reported he intends to send to Griner, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said "hype" around the case does not help, and that "this kind of correspondence does not help".

In April, former US marine Trevor Reed was released from a Russian prison, where he had been convicted of assaulting two police officers. He was freed in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been jailed on drug trafficking charges in the US.

Griner was arrested on 17 February at Moscow's Sheremteyevo airport, after cannabis-infused vaporiser cartridges were allegedly found in her luggage. She faces 10 years in prison on drugs charges.

Ukraine thanks Boris Johnson for leading support against Russian invasion as PM resigns

Thursday 7 July 2022 14:05 , Chiara Giordano

Ukraine has thanked Boris Johnson for “being at the forefront” of support for Kyiv in its war with Russia.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the British leader had been instrumental in securing international support for the country and recognising the Russian “monster”.

Our foreign editor David Harding has the full story:

Ukraine thanks Boris Johnson for leading support against Russian invasion

Ukraine war helps push 71 million into poverty due to soaring food and oil prices, UN says

Thursday 7 July 2022 13:40 , Chiara Giordano

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a further 71 million people have been dragged into poverty due to skyrocketing food and energy prices, according to a new UN report.

Just three months after Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded the neighbouring country, a staggering 51.6 million people were now living off 1.90 dollars a day or less, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has estimated.

Joe Middleton has more details:

Ukraine war helps ‘push 71 million into poverty’ due to soaring food and oil prices

Russian missile hits tanker drifting in Black Sea, Ukraine says

Thursday 7 July 2022 17:09 , Chiara Giordano

A Russian missile has hit a tanker that has been drifting in the Black Sea for over four months and had been carrying diesel, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported on Thursday, citing Ukraine's military which called the ship an "ecological bomb".

The Moldova-flagged tanker Millennial Spirit has now been struck twice since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

It was first hit with a missile fired from a warship days after the invasion. Moldova said at the time that the ship had a Russian crew and two were seriously wounded.

Ukraine's southern military command said when the vessel was struck in February it had more than 500 tonnes of diesel on board and that since then it had been drifting without a crew.

"Probably the remainder of the cargo is burning," the military said in a statement cited by Interfax-Ukraine saying the tanker had been hit for a second time.

It called the vessel a "delayed-action ecological bomb" and blamed the fact it was drifting without a crew on a Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports. It said a Russian Kh-31 air-to-surface missile had struck the ship.

Russia’s delight at fall of ‘stupid clown’ Boris Johnson

Thursday 7 July 2022 13:00 , Chiara Giordano

Russian officials reacted with glee at the fall of British prime minister Boris Johnson, who resigned this afternoon.

One leading tycoon called the British leader a “stupid clown” who was getting his just reward for arming Ukraine against Russia.

Our foreign editor David Harding has the full story:

Russia’s delight at fall of ‘stupid clown’ Boris Johnson

Ukraine summons Turkish ambassador after Russian ship ‘full of stolen grain' leaves port

Thursday 7 July 2022 12:20 , Chiara Giordano

A Russian ship carrying “stolen Ukrainian grain” has been allowed to leave the Turkish port of Karasu, according to Ukraine’s foreign ministry which has summoned Turkey’s ambassador over the "unacceptable situation”.

"We regret that Russia's ship Zhibek Zholy, which was full of stolen Ukrainian grain, was allowed to leave Karasu port despite criminal evidence presented to the Turkish authorities," foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter.

"Türkiye’s Ambassador in Kyiv will be invited to Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify this unacceptable situation."

Russia taking ‘operational pause’ ahead of renewed assault, say analysts

Thursday 7 July 2022 11:35 , Chiara Giordano

Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in Ukraine as the country's military attempts to reassemble its forces for a renewed assault, analysts have said.

Russian forces made no claimed or assessed territorial gains in Ukraine on Wednesday "for the first time in 133 days of war", according to the Institute for the Study of War.

The think tank based in the US suggested Moscow may be taking an "operational pause" that did not entail "the complete cessation of active hostilities".

"Russian forces will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to set conditions for more significant offensive operations and rebuild the combat power needed to attempt those more ambitious undertakings," the institute said.

Shelling continued in the east of Ukraine, where at least nine civilians were killed and six wounded in 24 hours, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine's presidential office said in its Thursday morning update that cities and villages in seven Ukrainian regions had been shelled in the past day. Most of the civilian deaths occurred in Donetsk province, where fighting was ongoing. Seven civilians were killed there, including a child, the presidential office said.

Russia says missile strike hit and killed Ukrainian troops on Snake Island

Thursday 7 July 2022 10:49 , Chiara Giordano

Russia's defence ministry said a Russian warplane struck and killed an unspecified number of Ukrainian troops on Snake Island in the Black Sea this morning after they landed there to raise the Ukrainian flag.

"At about 5am, several Ukrainian servicemen landed on the island from a motor boat and took pictures with the flag,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“An aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces immediately launched a strike with high-precision missiles on Snake Island, as a result of which part of the Ukrainian military personnel was destroyed.”

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, earlier posted a video on Telegram of three soldiers raising a large Ukrainian flag on the island, from which Russian forces withdrew on 30 June after coming under heavy bombardment from Ukrainian artillery.

Ukrainian service members install a national flag on Snake Island (Press service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via Reuters)
Ukrainian service members install a national flag on Snake Island (Press service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via Reuters)

The tiny island, captured by Russia from Ukraine at the start of the war in February, is strategically important because of its proximity to sea lanes close to Ukraine's port of Odesa.

Russia said it had pulled out from Snake Island last week as a "gesture of goodwill" to show it was not obstructing United Nations attempts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grain to be shipped from Ukraine.

Ukraine said it had driven the Russian forces out after an artillery and missile assault.

ICYMI: One killed as Russian missile hits Ukraine’s Kramatorsk, says regional governor

Thursday 7 July 2022 17:04 , Chiara Giordano

At least one person was killed and six wounded in a Russian missile strike in the heart of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Thursday, the top regional official said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said the missile had damaged six buildings including a hotel and an apartment bloc in the large industrial hub.

"A Russian missile hit the centre of Kramatorsk. It's known for sure that one person was killed and six wounded, but these figures may change," he said.

"This is a deliberate attack on civilians ... This will continue until we drive them out."

A Reuters reporter in Kramatorsk saw a crater several metres deep where the missile had landed, in a courtyard between residential buildings. Trees had been ripped up and several cars turned over and badly damaged.

Every window in the surrounding homes had been destroyed. Residents, some with bandages over fresh wounds, collected rubble from their apartments and threw it out into the courtyard. A soldier combed the crater for remnants of the missile.

The nearby city of Sloviansk, also in the Donetsk region, also came under fire. Mayor Vadym Lyakh said there had been casualties but gave no further details.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, did not immediately comment on the situation in Kramatorsk or Sloviansk. It has denied deliberately targeting civilians.

Finland passes laws to strengthen security on Russian border

Thursday 7 July 2022 09:15 , Chiara Giordano

Finland’s parliament has voted in favour of legislation that would allow barriers on the country’s border with Russia and enable the closure of the 800-mile frontier from asylum seekers in case of “exceptional circumstances”.

Russia's war in Ukraine to overshadow G20 talks in Bali

Thursday 7 July 2022 08:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations are gathering in Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for talks bound to be dominated by the conflict in Ukraine despite an agenda focused on global cooperation and food and energy security.

The one-day gathering will take place on Friday on the mostly Hindu “island of the gods” in the majority Muslim archipelago nation.

Underscoring the backdrop of tensions hanging over the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov stopped in various Asian capitals on their way to Bali, drumming up support and fortifying their ties in the region ahead of the talks.

Russia's war in Ukraine to overshadow G20 talks in Bali

Ukrainians cling to life at front line: 'We are patriots'

Thursday 7 July 2022 08:39 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Viktor Lazar shares his war-side balcony with a pair of opera glasses and a tiny orange snake, his only companion in an apartment that seems to sit at the edge of the world.

The opera glasses, more of a joke, are hardly needed — the front line is visible without them. The rumbling of Russian and Ukrainian shelling is audible even now, although Lazar claims not to notice. Below his balcony is a crater, one of many. On the nearby street, a Grad rocket launcher rolls by.

Lazar estimates the Russians are just 10 kilometers (6 miles) away.

Ukrainians cling to life at front line: 'We are patriots'

Ukrainian MP calls on Boris Johnson successor to ‘do more’ for Kyiv in war against Russia

Thursday 7 July 2022 08:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A prominent Ukrainian opposition MP has called on the next UK prime minister to “do more” for Kyiv than Boris Johnson, as the British leader’s premiership looked close to ending in disgrace and the appointment of a new PM imminent.

Mr Johnson has been a vocal ally of Ukraine since its invasion by Russia in February and has visited President Zelensky in Kyiv on two occasions. His last visit came in June when he pledged British training for Ukrainian forces.

Ukrainian MP calls on Boris Johnson successor to ‘do more’ for Kyiv

Russia attends G20 meeting set to be dominated by Ukraine conflict

Thursday 7 July 2022 07:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has flown into Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for a meeting of G20 foreign ministers, which is set to be overshadowed by tensions triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The G20 gathering runs until Friday in host country Indonesia, which this year has grappled with the balancing act of running a global summit buffeted by geopolitical pressures and a global food crisis blamed on the war.

There was tight security on Thursday in Bali’s Nusa Dua area, where the summit is being held, as foreign diplomats descended on the tropical island for the meeting.

Speaking ahead of her arrival in Bali, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia must not be allowed to use the G20 meeting as a platform given its war in Ukraine.

“It is in the interest of us all to ensure that international law is respected and adhered to. That is the common denominator,” Baerbock said in a statement.

The summit will see the first face-to-face meeting between President Vladimir Putin’s long-serving foreign minister Lavrov and some of Russia‘s biggest critics since the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow has called a “special military operation”.

Lavrov had arrived in Bali and planned to meet some G20 counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, Russian news agency TASS reported, but ministers including Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have ruled out meeting Lavrov.

Russian grain ship leaves Turkish port -data

Thursday 7 July 2022 07:41 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A Russian-flagged cargo ship, the Zhibek Zholy, which was suspected of carrying stolen Ukrainian grain, left the Turkish northwest port of Karasu late on Wednesday, Refinitiv ship tracking data showed.

On Sunday, Ukraine‘s ambassador to Turkey said Turkish authorities had detained the ship. Reuters previously reported that Ukraine had asked Turkey to arrest the ship.

On Wednesday, Russia‘s foreign ministry dismissed as false reports of the ship’s detention by authorities.

Kyiv has accused Moscow of stealing grain from territories seized by Russian forces since their invasion began in late February.

The Kremlin, which calls the action a “special military operation” has previously denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.

G20 meeting can't be business as usual due to Russia situation - senior U.S. official

Thursday 7 July 2022 07:24 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The G20 and the agenda of this week’s meeting of its foreign ministers in Bali is important but it cannot be business as usual due to the situation with Russia, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday.

The United States wants to make sure that nothing from the G20 lends legitimacy to what Russia is doing in Ukraine, the official said, adding the meeting would be a good opportunity to drive the food security agenda forward.

The official said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would hold a trilateral meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts and that his meeting with China’s foreign minister was about managing their relationship responsibly.

Russia could back its invasion financially in Ukraine with new law, claims UK

Thursday 7 July 2022 07:04 , Arpan Rai

The Kremlin could use its latest law on special economic measures proposed on Tuesday to financially aid its invasion in Ukraine, the British defence ministry said on Thursday.

“On 5 July, a law proposed by the Russian government on 'special economic measures' passed its first reading in the Duma. The legislation is likely to be adopted and will give the authorities special powers over labour relations; the reactivation of mobilisation facilities; and to release assets from state reserves,” the MoD said in its latest intelligence update.

It added that the legislation is “likely an attempt by the Kremlin to put in place economic measures to support the 'special military operation' with a formal declaration of state mobilisation, which remains politically sensitive”.

It also allows Russia to avoid acknowleding it is engaged in a war or its failure to overcome Ukraine's military that was outnumbered and outgunned, the ministry said.

On the front line, the defence ministry confirmed heavy shelling along the Donetsk boundary on Wednesday, “but with few advances being made by Russia”.

Russian units involved in the last week’s gains are now likely re-constituting, it added.

71 million pushed into poverty since Ukraine war began, says UN

Thursday 7 July 2022 06:41 , Arpan Rai

At least 71 million more people across the globe have been pushed into poverty due to rising food and energy prices stirred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations Development Programme said on Thursday.

Releasing the report, the UNDP said that its estimates show 51.6 million more people slipped into extreme poverty in the first three months after the war — March-May, and were forced to live off $1.90 (£1.50) a day or less.

Another 20 million touched the poverty line of $3.20 (£2.60) a day, the UNDP said.

Top UNDP official Achim Steiner said that the “cost of living impact is almost without precedent in a generation... and that is why it is so serious”.

Inflation pushed 71M people into poverty since Ukraine war

Russia to attend G20 meet today as war rages in Ukraine’s east

Thursday 7 July 2022 05:39 , Arpan Rai

Russia is set to participate in the two-day long G20 meeting starting today with ministers in Indonesia as the war plays out in Europe, intensifying in Ukraine’s east.

Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will be participating alongside other G20 ministers and tensions from the Russian invasion are likely to overshadow the summit.

Russia’s presence has been objected to at the summit due to its role in Ukraine’s invasion.

The country “must not be allowed to use the G20 meeting as a platform given its war in Ukraine”, said German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock ahead of her arrival in Bali.

"It is in the interest of us all to ensure that international law is respected and adhered to. That is the common denominator," Ms Baerbock said in a statement.

Zelensky says fighting for entire south, Donbas: ‘Most brutal confrontation'

Thursday 7 July 2022 04:48 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky said his troops are fighting the ‘most brutal confrontation’ in the entire Ukrainian Donbas region as he shared the ground situation from the besieged country late on Wednesday.

“Ukrainian forces are currently advancing in several tactical directions, in particular in the south - in the Kherson region, in the Zaporizhzhia region. We will not give up our land - the entire sovereign territory of Ukraine will be Ukrainian. People should know it,” Mr Zelensky said.

He added: “Therefore, if you have an opportunity to speak with people in the south of our country - with Kherson, Henichesk, Berdyansk, Melitopol and other cities and villages - please spread the truth there. Use every opportunity to tell the people in the occupied areas that we remember them and we are fighting for them.”

Mr Zelensky said “we are fighting for our entire south, for the entire Ukrainian Donbas - the most brutal confrontation is currently there, near Slovyansk and Bakhmut”.

“We are fighting for the Kharkiv region. The occupiers should not think that their time on this land is long-lasting and that the superiority of their artillery is eternal,” he said.

Russia expands fleet in Black Sea: Ukrainian officials

Thursday 7 July 2022 04:35 , Arpan Rai

Russia has increased its presence by deploying additional units in the Black Sea, officials from the Ukrainian military said.

The amping up of naval presence by Moscow has been confirmed by Ukraine’s southern operational command, reported The Kyiv Independent.

Russia has deployed an additional five missile carriers, two submarines and one amphibious assault ship, the Ukrainian military said.

The general staff of Ukraine's armed forces, in its war update early on Thursday, said: "In the waters of the Black and Azov seas, the enemy keeps four ‘Calibre’ sea-based cruise missile carriers in readiness for launching missile strikes on infrastructure facilities on the territory of Ukraine".

Weapons from west ‘working powerfully’, says Zelensky

Thursday 7 July 2022 04:25 , Arpan Rai

The artillery received from western nations to aid Ukraine in the ongoing Russian invasion has “started working powerfully”, Volodymyr Zelensky said late on Wednesday.

“Finally it is felt that the western artillery - the weapons we received from our partners - started working very powerfully. Its accuracy is exactly as needed. Our defenders inflict very noticeable strikes on depots and other spots that are important for the logistics of the occupiers,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address.

He added that the bonus military prowess has helped Ukrainian fighters “significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian army”.

The losses of the occupiers will only increase every week, as will the difficulty of supplying them, Mr Zelensky added.

He also detailed the losses in the besieged country in the past 24 hours.

“Today in Kharkiv, the Pedagogical University was destroyed by a Russian missile strike - the main building, lecture halls, university museum, scientific library. This characterises the Russian invasion with 100 per cent accuracy,” he said.

Mr Zelensky said that when it comes to the “definition of barbarism, this strike fits the bill the most”.

“Only an enemy of civilisation and humanity can do such things - strike missiles at a university, a pedagogical university,” he said.

Russia says Japan has ‘unfriendly’ stance toward Moscow

Thursday 7 July 2022 03:20 , Liam James

Japan has taken an “unfriendly” position toward Russia which does not help to develop ties in either trade and economy or the energy sector, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The east asian island nation has joined its Western allies in slapping sweeping economic sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine. Moscow has also been annoyed by reports that Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has proposed capping the price of Russian oil at around half its current level.

“Japan is taking a very unfriendly position towards Russia. In any case, such an unfriendly stance does not help to facilitate relations on trade and the economy, including the energy dialogue,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We discussed Mr Kishida’s proposal yesterday and have said that this is only an initiative announced, there were no consolidated decisions taken,” Peskov said. “It is doubtful whether such decisions could be taken, frankly speaking.”

Commenting on Kishida’s reported comments, Russia‘s former president Dmitry Medvedev warned on Tuesday that global oil prices might exceed $300-$400 (£250-£335) per barrel if the price cap proposals were implemented.

Scholz says Germany must speed up green transition due to Ukraine war

Thursday 7 July 2022 02:20 , Liam James

Germany must implement the transition to green energy faster because of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, adding that Russia was using energy as a political weapon.

“Energy policy is not just a question of price. Energy policy is also security policy,” Mr Scholz said at an event hosted by the Renewable Energy Association.

“That’s why we now have to turbo charge the expansion of renewable energy,” he said.

Germany has agreed with other EU countries to ban imports of Russian oil from December, with a ban on petroleum following on 5 February 2023. Last month Russia closed the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany for scheduled maintenance works but Berlin fears Moscow will not turn the pump back on.

Russia blocks oil pipeline to Europe citing ‘environmental concerns’

Thursday 7 July 2022 00:20 , Liam James

A court in Russia ordered a pipeline bringing oil from Kazakhstan to Europe halted for 30 days for what it said were environmental violations, Russian media reported.

The ruling by a court in Russia’s southern city of Novorossiysk cited the results of a recent inspection of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium.

Kazakh leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told EU Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday that Kazakhstan “is ready to use its hydrocarbon potential in order to stabilise the situation on the world and European markets”.

European Union countries are moving away from Russian gas in response to the war in Ukraine but officials fear that Moscow will cut off supplies before replacement sources are found.

Russia has already cut supplies on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline serving Germany and France and has reduced the flow of gas to other countries including Italy and Poland.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday called for emergency plans to prepare for a complete cut-off by Moscow.

Ukraine thwarting Russian advance into Donetsk, officials claim

Wednesday 6 July 2022 23:20 , Liam James

Ukraine has so far thwarted an attempted Russian advance into the north of its Donetsk region, but the city of Slovyansk and other populated areas there were being pounded by artillery and missiles, Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday.

Russia and separatist proxies were already in control of the southern part of Donetsk province when they largely completed the seizure of the neighbouring Luhansk region on Sunday with the capture of Lysychansk, much of which now lies in ruins.

Moscow says fully pushing the Ukrainian military out of both regions is central to what it calls its “special military operation” to ensure its own security, a more than four-month-long offensive that the West calls an unprovoked war.

Donetsk and Luhansk provinces comprise the Donbas, the eastern, heavily industrial region of Ukraine that has become the biggest battlefield in Europe for generations and over which Russia wants to wrest control for separatists it supports.

Ukrainian officials reported heavy fighting as Russian forces tried to push southwards into Donetsk from Luhansk and towards Sloviansk.

“We are holding back the enemy on the [Luhansk/Donetsk[ border,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian TV.

He said Russian regular and reserve forces had been sent there in an apparent effort to cross the Siverskiy Donets river and that two small settlements just inside Luhansk’s boundary witnessed fierce fighting.

Reuters

Biden speaks with American sports star detained in Russia

Wednesday 6 July 2022 22:20 , Liam James

Joe Biden spoke today with the wife of a US basketball player who is detained in Russia, the White House said.

Brittney Griner, the 31-year-old WNBA star who was arrested in Moscow four months ago, is facing a 10 year prison term in Russia on charges including intentionally transporting narcotics.

After a call today to her wife from the president and Vice President Kamala Harris, the White House said: “The president called Cherelle [Griner] to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other US nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world.”

The White House earlier said that freeing the detained sports star was a priority for the president.

Enduring Russian campaign ‘challenging’ but West won’t change tack

Wednesday 6 July 2022 21:20 , Liam James

Western officials have said the sustainability of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine is “challenging” but described the impact on their munitions and morale as “remarkable”.

The capture of Lysychansk over the weekend meant Russia had made “genuine headway” on the objective it claimed was the rationale for the invasion – the supposed liberation of the Donbas, officials told the PA News Agency.

But one official said it “remains highly uncertain whether Russia will secure the limits of Donetsk Oblast this year”.

They also said there has been “better cooperation” amongst Russian forces in the south after General of the Army Sergey Surovikin took over command of the southern group of forces.

One official said: “Russia has made some significant command changes in recent weeks.

“Notably General of the Army Sergey Surovikin has taken over command of the southern group of forces, which is overseeing the occupation of southern Ukraine and the advances on the Donbas from the south.

“He’s a controversial figure even by the standards of Russian general officers.

“It is unclear whether it’s his influence which has led to the recent successes around Lysychansk, but certainly there’s been better cooperation amongst groups of forces on the Russian side than we saw in the earlier phases of the war.”

An official said Russia’s tactical success in the Donbas region “does not mean that we have changed our position”.

Mystery as fifth Russian Gazprom-linked executive found dead in his swimming pool #ICYMI

Wednesday 6 July 2022 20:40 , Liam James

Another top Russian executive linked to energy giant Gazprom has been found dead at his mansion, local media has reported.

Yury Voronov, the head of a logistics company that held lucrative contracts with Gazprom, was found dead in a swimming pool at his home in a luxury suburb near St Petersburg.

He reportedly died of a gunshot wound to the head. Mr Voronov was the founder and CEO of the transport and logistics company Astra-Shipping, which worked with Gazprom in the Arctic.

According to Russian media outlet 47news, a grand power pistol was found near the swimming pool and there were several shell casings at the bottom. He was found at around 2pm on Monday.

Mr Voronov’s widow allegedly told the police that her husband had been drinking heavily recently due to a falling out with his contractors and business partners.

His death is at least the sixth linked to the Russian gas industry in recent months.

Mystery as fifth Russian Gazprom-linked executive found dead in his swimming pool

UN report finds world hunger soared even before Ukraine war

Wednesday 6 July 2022 19:50 , Liam James

A new report from the UN found world hunger rose last year and is expected to rise further as the war in Ukraine cuts off vital grain supplies and sends food prices soaring.

Around 2.3 billion people faced moderate or severe difficulty obtaining enough to eat in 2021, with the number facing severe food insecurity rising to about 924 million, the UN report said.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World paints a grim picture, saying the statistics “should dispel any lingering doubts that the world is moving backwards in its efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms.”

“The most recent evidence available suggests that the number of people unable to afford a healthy diet around the world rose by 112 million to almost 3.1 billion, reflecting the impacts of rising consumer food prices during the pandemic,” the heads of five UN agencies that published the report said in the forward.

They warned that the war in Ukraine “is disrupting supply chains and further affecting prices of grain, fertiliser and energy” resulting in more price increases in the first half of 2022. At the same time, they said, more frequent and extreme climate events were also disrupting supply chains, especially in low-income countries.

Lavrov in Vietnam to strengthen ties during Asian trip

Wednesday 6 July 2022 19:10 , Liam James

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov visited Vietnam today as part of an effort to bolster ties with a country that has not openly condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine or brought sanctions in response to it.

Mr Lavrov, on his way to the Indonesian island of Bali for a meeting of the G2, sought to strengthen ties with Vietnam, which also has a strong relationship with the United States.

“I expressed my appreciation for the very balanced objective position of Vietnam which is demonstrated by the refusal of this country to join the illegal sanctions,” he said at a news conference after meeting his Vietnamese counterpart, Bui Thanh Son.

Commenting on the situation in Ukraine, Mr Lavrov said the West should realise its responsibility for the deaths of civilians in the regions where Ukraine is using Western weapons.

The foreign minister is currently on a trip to Asia to seek support while his country continues to be shunned by the West. He visited Mongolia a day before arriving in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. Mongolia also retains ties with Moscow but has burgeoning relations with Washington.

Ukrainian MP calls on Boris Johnson successor to ‘do more' for Kyiv in war against Russia

Wednesday 6 July 2022 18:30 , Liam James

A prominent Ukrainian opposition MP has called on the next UK prime minister to “do more” for Kyiv than Boris Johnson, as the British leader’s premiership looked closed to ending in disgrace and the appointment of a new PM imminent (Bel Trew writes in Dnipro).

Mr Johnson has been a vocal ally of Ukraine since its invasion by Russia in February and has visited President Zelensky in Kyiv on two occasions. His last visit came in June where he pledged British training for Ukrainian forces.

The Ukrainian president has called Mr Johnson “our country’s great friend”, and there are fears in Kyiv that once he is gone, the next British leader will be less enthusiastic about the war in Ukraine at a time when the UK faces many of its own severe challenges from a faltering economy to a deepening cost of living crisis.

Ukrainian MP calls on Boris Johnson successor to “do more” for Kyiv

Mariupol port working ‘at full capacity’, Russia claims

Wednesday 6 July 2022 17:45 , Liam James

The port of Mariupol in Russian-controlled territory of Ukraine is operating at full capacity, Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reports, citing port officials.

Russia captured Mariupol on Ukraine‘s southern coast in May after months of fierce fighting for control of the city.

Yesterday, Russian-backed separatists seized two foreign-flagged ships in Mariupol, saying they were now “state property”, in the first such moves against commercial shipping.

Liberia registered Smarta Shipping, the owner of the Liberia-flagged Smarta bulk vessel, one of the two vessels taken, said it was informed of the seizure by email on June 30, calling it unlawful and “against all norms of international law”.

“Such forced appropriation is in breach of fundamental human rights in so far as property rights are concerned,” the company said in a statement.

The company said the Smarta arrived in Mariupol on 21 February to load a steel cargo and was hit by shelling on 20 March that seriously damaged its bridge.

Over 80 foreign-flagged ships remain stuck in Ukrainian ports, IMO data showed. Some of those terminals remain under Russian control. The International Maritime Organisation said it was “aware of at least one ship departing from Mariupol, however little else has changed.”

EU chief urges emergency plans for Russian gas cut-off

Wednesday 6 July 2022 17:05 , Liam James

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union needs to make emergency plans to prepare for a complete cut-off of Russian gas in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

The EU has already imposed sanctions on Russia, including on some energy supplies, and is trying to find other sources.

But Ms von der Leyen said the bloc needed to be ready for shock disruptions coming from Moscow.

Russia blocks oil pipeline to Europe citing ‘environmental concerns’

Wednesday 6 July 2022 16:33 , Liam James

A court in Russia ordered a pipeline bringing oil from Kazakhstan to Europe halted for 30 days for what it said were environmental violations, Russian media reported.

The ruling by a court in Russia’s southern city of Novorossiysk cited the results of a recent inspection of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium.

Kazakh leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told EU Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday that Kazakhstan “is ready to use its hydrocarbon potential in order to stabilise the situation on the world and European markets”.

European Union countries are moving away from Russian gas in response to the war in Ukraine but officials fear that Moscow will cut off supplies before replacement sources are found.

Russia has already cut supplies on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline serving Germany and France and has reduced the flow of gas to other countries including Italy and Poland.

Russia ‘kills eight civilians in Ukraine over past 24 hours'

Wednesday 6 July 2022 16:00 , Associated Press

Russian shelling has killed at least eight civilians in Ukraine over the past 24 hours and wounded 25 more, Ukrainian officials said.

Meanwhile, Pro-Russia separatists said attacks by Ukrainian forces have killed four civilians.

The Ukrainian presidential office said Russian forces targeted cities and villages in the country’s south-east, with most civilian casualties occurring in Donetsk province, where Russia has stepped up its offensive in recent days.

Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post that two people died in the city of Avdiivka, which is located in the centre of the province, and the Donetsk cities of Sloviansk, Krasnohorivka and Kurakhove each reported one civilian killed.

“Every crime will be punished,” he wrote.

Mr Kyrylenko urged the province’s more than 350,000 remaining residents to flee late on Tuesday, saying that evacuating Donetsk is necessary to save lives and allow the Ukrainian army to put up a better defence against the Russian advance.

Reporting by Associated Press

Russia 'should not be allowed to use G20 meeting as platform’

Wednesday 6 July 2022 15:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia must not be allowed to use the G20 meeting this week as a platform given its war in Ukraine, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Annalena Baerbock (AP)
Annalena Baerbock (AP)

“It is in the interest of us all to ensure that international law is respected and adhered to. That is the common denominator,” said Ms Baerbock in a statement ahead of her trip to Indonesia – where the G20 meeting will be held.

“And it is also the reason why we will not simply stand aside and allow Russia to use the meeting as a platform.”

EU considering using frozen Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine

Wednesday 6 July 2022 15:05 , Lamiat Sabin

The European Commission is looking into the possibility of using frozen Russian assets – including those of oligarchs – to rebuild Ukraine.

The Commission’s president Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference in Strasbourg: “I think it is a matter of justice to consider this issue.

“We are working on the legal framework so that the assets of Russia and partly the assets of oligarchs can be used to restore Ukraine.”

Punishing Russia could risk nuclear war, Medvedev says

Wednesday 6 July 2022 14:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Vladimir Putin’s predecessor has warned the US that any attempt by the West to punish Russia risked endangering humanity.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said attempts to use courts or tribunals to investigate Russia’s actions in Ukraine would be futile.

File photo of Dmitry Medvedev [R] shaking hands with Vladimir Putin (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
File photo of Dmitry Medvedev [R] shaking hands with Vladimir Putin (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Russian security council, said on Telegram: “The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity.”

Russia and the US control about 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear warheads, with around 4,000 warheads each in their military stockpiles, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most serious nuclear fears in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Austria to dispute EU gas ‘greenwashing’ amid Ukraine war

Wednesday 6 July 2022 14:00 , Reuters

Austria will bring a legal complaint against the European Union’s decision to classify gas and nuclear energy as green and sustainable transitional energy sources, its climate protection minister said.

Leonore Gewessler said in a statement: “Especially with the war waging in Ukraine, we can’t have a greenwashing programme for investment in nuclear power and fossil gas.

“Nuclear energy and natural gas do not contribute to climate protection.”

On Tuesday, the European Parliament declined to block the European Commission’s so-called energy taxonomy decision.

“As soon as this greenwashing programme comes into force, Austria will lodge its already-prepared complaint against it with the European Court,” she said, adding that Austria would seek to recruit other member states as allies in its legal action.

Reporting by Reuters

Ukraine says its grain harvest ‘not bad given the difficulties’

Wednesday 6 July 2022 13:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukraine expects a grain harvest of at least 50 million tonnes this year.

Ukrainian farmers mix barley and wheat after harvest in the Odesa area of Ukraine (EPA)
Ukrainian farmers mix barley and wheat after harvest in the Odesa area of Ukraine (EPA)

This amount is “not bad given all the difficulties,” Ukrainian deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy said.

Ukraine, a major global grain exporter, harvested a record 86m tonnes of grain in 2021.

Russia says Japan has ‘unfriendly’ stance toward Moscow

Wednesday 6 July 2022 13:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Japan has taken an “unfriendly” position toward Russia which does not help to develop ties in either trade and economy or the energy sector, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Asked about comments by Japanese PM Fumio Kishida on capping the price of Russian oil at around half its current level, Peskov said Tokyo was taking a “very unfriendly” position toward Moscow.

Russia says Griner can appeal any drug charge sentence

Wednesday 6 July 2022 12:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia’s foreign ministry said that detained US basketball player Brittney Griner may appeal her sentence or apply for clemency once a verdict has been delivered.

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Ms Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on 17 February – just days before Russia invaded Ukraine – on drug charges.

Brittney Griner (AP)
Brittney Griner (AP)

She has been accused of having cannabis-infused vaping cartridges in her baggage. In May, the US State Department designated her as “wrongfully detained”.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Alexei Zaitsev said: “Attempts to present the case as though the American woman was illegally detained do not stand up to criticism.”

Russian cosmonauts pose with LPR flag while on ISS

Wednesday 6 July 2022 12:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian spacemen have displayed the flag of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) while on the International Space Station (ISS).

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has published photos showing Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov appear to be holding the flags of the two Moscow-backed separatist-controlled territories.

In response to the displaying of the LPR flag, Kyiv city council member Kseniia Semenova called on space authorities to “react” to the “outrageous act of neglecting international law.”

The occupiers of LPR and the neighbouring Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) are only recognised as legitimate by Russia and Syria among the UN member states.

The message accompanying the pictures published by Roscosmos says: “Liberation Day of the Luhansk People’s Republic! We celebrate both on Earth and in space.”

This recent move by the three cosmonauts sharply contrasts with them having previously worn blue and yellow spacesuits, in what was thought to be a show of support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion – which Moscow dismissed as false.

Russia denies reports that Turkey seized ‘ship of stolen grain’

Wednesday 6 July 2022 11:34 , Lamiat Sabin

Moscow has rejected reports that a Russian-flagged cargo ship was detained in Turkey on suspicion of transporting stolen grain from Ukraine.

The Russian foreign ministry said that the reports about cargo ship Zhibek Zholy being seized in the Turkish port Karasu are false.

Foreign ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said the vessel was “undergoing standard procedures”.

It comes after Ukraine‘s ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday that Turkish authorities had detained the ship.

At least five civilians killed in Donetsk over past 24 hours

Wednesday 6 July 2022 11:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian shelling has reportedly killed at least five civilians over the past 24 hours and wounded 21 in the eastern Donetsk province, where Russia has stepped up its assault over recent days.

Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post this morning that two people were killed in Avdiivka, one in Sloviansk, one in Krasnohorivka, and one in Kurakhove.

Fire burns at a shopping mall after it was struck by a missile on July 03, 2022 in Sloviansk (Getty Images)
Fire burns at a shopping mall after it was struck by a missile on July 03, 2022 in Sloviansk (Getty Images)

He wrote: “Every crime will be punished.”On Tuesday, Mr Kyrylenko urged 350,000 residents of the area to leave, saying that an evacuation of Donetsk is necessary.

Russian invasion ‘kills and injures 1,000 Ukrainian children’

Wednesday 6 July 2022 10:30 , Lamiat Sabin

About 1,000 Ukrainian children have reportedly died or been wounded amid the Russian invasion of their country.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office said 346 children were killed and more than 645 have been injured.

It said: “As of the morning of July 6, 2022, over 991 children suffered in Ukraine as a result of the full-scale armed aggression of Russia.

“According to official information from juvenile prosecutors, some 346 children were killed and more than 645 were wounded.

“Children in Donetsk region suffered the most, namely 346 children, while 186 in Kharkiv; some 116 in Kyiv; some 68 in Chernihiv; some 61 in Luhansk; some 53 in Mykolaiv; some 52 in Kherson; some 31 in Zaporizhia.”

According to the figures, 2,108 schools have been damaged and 215 were completely destroyed by Russian troops.

EU ‘needs to make urgent preparations for Russian gas cut-off'

Wednesday 6 July 2022 10:00 , Lamiat Sabin

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen that the EU needs to make emergency plans to prepare for a complete cut-off of Russian gas.

Ursula von der Leyen delivering her speech in Strasbourg (AP)
Ursula von der Leyen delivering her speech in Strasbourg (AP)

The EU has already imposed sanctions on Russia, including on some energy supplies.

Ms von der Leyen told the European Parliament in Strasbourg: “We also need to prepare now for further disruption of gas supply and even a complete cut-off of Russian gas supply.”

Two people die in shelling of Sloviansk in Donetsk region

Wednesday 6 July 2022 09:30 , Lamiat Sabin

The death toll resulting from shelling in the Ukrainian city of Sloviansk has risen to two, according to mayor Vadym Liakh.

Seven people have been wounded by the attacks by Russian forces on Tuesday, he said.

Mr Liakh said on Facebook: “According to the results of yesterday’s shelling, we have two dead and seven wounded.

“In total, since the beginning of large-scale hostilities, some 17 people have died and 67 people have been wounded in the community.”

The city is in the Kramatorsk district of the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

The British Ministry of Defence has warned that “there is a realistic possibility that the battle for Sloviansk will be the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas”.

Russia ‘loses 36,500 troops’ amid invasion of Ukraine

Wednesday 6 July 2022 09:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia has lost 36,500 military personnel, 1,600 tanks, and 3,789 armoured combat vehicles since February – according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Russia’s Lavrov and US’s Blinken to be at Bali G20 meetings

Wednesday 6 July 2022 08:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Foreign ministers of countries in the G20 are set to talk about the war in Ukraine and its impact on global energy and food security when they meet in Indonesia this week.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is one of the ones expected to attend the meetings in Bali.

Also to attend are US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

It will be the first time that Lavrov and Blinken will be in the same place since January, the month before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

The US state department said there would not be a formal meeting between the two.

“We would like to see the Russians be serious about diplomacy,” US spokesman Ned Price said.

“We have not seen that yet. We would like to have the Russians give us a reason to meet on a bilateral basis with them, with foreign minister Lavrov, but the only thing we have seen emanating from Moscow is more brutality and aggression against the people and country of Ukraine.”

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