Ukraine news – live: Zelensky’s troops can retake territory lost to Russia, UK says

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·38 min read
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Boris Johnson has told Volodymyr Zelensky that he believes Ukrainian forces can retake territory recently captured by Russian forces, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Russia has made gains in eastern Ukraine and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) concluded Vladimir Putin’s army made “substantive progress” with the rapid capture of Lysychansk on Sunday, giving Moscow full control over Luhansk Oblast.

In a call with Mr Zelensky today, Mr Johnson also updated the president on the latest British military equipment, including 10 self-propelled artillery systems and loitering munitions, which would be arriving in the coming days and weeks.

The MoD predicts Mr Putin‘s forces will continue “levelling towns and cities” in Donetsk Oblast, which neighbours Luhansk in the Donbas region targeted by Russia.

In an intelligence update, the MoD said the battle for the Donbas was characterised by “slow rates of advance” and involved Russia’s mass “employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process”.

It added that the fighting in Donetsk will “almost certainly continue in this manner”.

Key Points

  • Boris Johnson: ‘Ukraine can retake territory from Moscow’

  • Lavrov touring Asia to drum up support for Russia

  • Hundreds of civilians detained without reason in Russian-held areas – UN

  • Russia plans railway link with Donbas – Tass

  • Finland and Sweden sign Nato accession protocol

Hundreds of civilians detained for no reason in Russian-held areas – UN

16:46 , Liam James

Hundreds of civilians have been detained without reason in parts of Ukraine held by Russian forces, the UN human rights chief said.

Arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances have become "widespread" in such areas, leading to several deaths, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

“Despite restrictions on access, we have documented 270 cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance. Eight of the victims were found dead,” Ms Bachelet told the Human Rights Council in Geneva in an update on the situation in Ukraine in the observed period from 24 February to 15 May.

In a speech at the same session, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister Emine Dzhaparova accused Russia of kidnappings on a “massive” scale, including of Kherson’s mayor Ihor Kolykhayev, and called for the immediate and unconditional release of detainees.

Russia’s envoy to the council said Ms Bachelet’s report was part of a disinformation campaign against his country designed “to cover up the crimes of the Kyiv regime”. Moscow has denied deliberately attacking civilians since invading Ukraine.

‘I was born in war, I will die in war’: Trying to survive on Ukraine’s new front line

16:10 , Holly Bancroft

Russia’s war has now arrived in the Donetsk city of Kramatorsk, as Moscow vows to push further into Ukrainian territory. Bel Trew meets some of those living there, for whom every day is a battle for survival

“Olena and her husband Nikolai were trying to bury an elderly neighbour when the sky cracked open, spitting shards of shrapnel that split open their teenage daughter’s head.

Nikolai, 52, was a little further up the hill in the Ukrainian frontline village, and still holding the neighbour’s body, which he used to shield himself from the worst of the blast. Cowering under a corpse, he could only watch powerless with horror as his wife and his child Anastasia, 15, were shredded by the Russian strike in their own back garden.

Their village in Donetsk is quite literally on the front line of the ferocious war that started with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Located just a few metres into patchily held Ukrainian territory, it may soon be engulfed by Russian troops, who have pressed on with an advance into Donetsk after capturing the whole of the adjacent Luhansk region.

And so it is a hellish no man’s land, where villagers cower in their basements as the tug of war rages above them.

“I was screaming Anastasia’s name, I was screaming Anastasia’s dead,” Olena, 51, says in tears from her hospital bed in Kramatorsk, a city that is itself under attack, around 18 miles south of the village. Medics tending to her say she received severe wounds to her head, arms and legs in the bombing, which took place the day before the interview.”

Read the full story here:

Greece PM: The war in Ukraine should not embolden aggression by other nations

15:45 , Associated Press

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said Russia’s war in Ukraine is a “turning point” in the course of Europe, stressing that any type of outcome that could embolden aggression by other nations on the continent must be avoided.

Greece, whose disputes with far larger neighbour Turkey have brought the countries to the brink of war three times in the last half-century, has voiced strong support for Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion.

“The battle of Ukraine is not just another event on the international scene. It is a turning point in the course of Europe,” Mr Mitsotakis said in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

“We owe it today to Ukraine to avert any type of fait accompli which could be imitated tomorrow by new potential trouble-makers.”

Mr Mitsotakis noted he was referring to “the constant aggressive behaviour of Turkey”, amid increasing strain between the two countries in the past two years.

Speaker in Russia’s parliament asks if they can scrap the maritime border with Norway

15:10 , Holly Bancroft

The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament asked a senior lawmaker on Tuesday to look into scrapping a treaty that establishes the country’s maritime border with NATO member Norway.

The treaty, which was signed in 2010, aimed to put an end to disputes between Russia and Norway in the Barents Sea, the part of the Arctic Ocean adjoining the northern coasts of Norway and Russia.

Responding to comments in parliament accusing Norway of blocking food deliveries destined for Russian-populated settlements on the Svalbard archipelago, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin asked the head of the chamber’s international affairs committee to look into “denouncing” the treaty.

“Let’s ask Leonid Eduardovich Slutsky to look into this issue and then inform deputies,” he said.

Svalbard, located between Norway’s north coast and the North Pole, is part of Norway, but Russia has the right to exploit its natural resources under a 1920 treaty, and some of its settlements are populated mainly by Russians.

Norway denies that it is blocking access to Svalbard, arguing that it is only applying international sanctions in response to Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, and that Russia has other ways to supply the settlements.

Reporting by Reuters

Finland and Sweden one step closer to Nato membership after accession protocol signed

14:48 , Holly Bancroft

The Nato membership bids of Sweden and Finland have been sent for approval after the 30 member countries of the alliance signed accession protocols for the two Nordic countries.

The protocol means that Finland and Sweden can now join in on Nato meetings and have greater access to intelligence. However they will not be protected by Nato’s defence clause, that an attack on one ally is an attack on all, until ratification.

“This is truly an historic moment,” Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said alongside the foreign ministers of the two countries. “With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger.”

Read the full story here:

Finland and Sweden one step closer to Nato membership after protocol signed

Russian-backed parts of southern Ukraine to sell grain to Middle East countries

14:35 , Holly Bancroft

Russia-backed authorities in parts of southern Ukraine have said they are going to start selling grain abroad, mainly to the Middle East, as part of a new trade agreement.

The planned deals include sales to Iraq, Iran and Saudia Arabia. The head of the Russian-installed administration in the region, Yevgeny Balitsky, reportedly said that there was a contract to supply 150,000 tonnes of grain to Iran.

Authorities in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, which is partially under Russian control, said that they have now reached an agreement to ship grain abroad, Moscow’s state news agency Tass reported.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing its grain.

Read the full story here:

Russian-backed parts of southern Ukraine to sell grain to Middle East countries

Religion is ‘collateral damage’ in Russia’s war on Ukraine, Liz Truss says

14:15 , Press Association

Liz Truss has said religion is “collateral damage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as she also called out the persecution of religious minorities in China and Afghanistan.

The Foreign Secretary addressed a UK Government-hosted international conference on freedom of religion or belief in London on Tuesday, at which faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury called for the protection of people’s right to follow a religion.

Ms Truss said: “(Russian President) Vladimir Putin and his enablers claim that Russia is waging a holy war, but in truth they believe nothing is sacred.

“We are seeing growing evidence of heinous war crimes committed by Russian troops.

“Innocent civilians are having to shelter from Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment in places of worship. Churches, synagogues and mosques have been reduced to rubble.

“Religion is proving to be collateral damage from Putin’s aggression.”

Ms Truss told a Ukrainian delegation in the audience that “the UK will not rest until you prevail and until your people are free to live, believe and thrive”.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

UK PM Johnson: Ukraine can retake territory from Russia

14:08 , Holly Bancroft

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a call on Tuesday he believed Ukraine‘s military could retake territory recently captured by Russian forces, a spokesperson for Mr Johnson’s office said.

Mr Johnson also updated Mr Zelensky on the latest British military equipment, including 10 self-propelled artillery systems and loitering munitions, which would be arriving in the coming days and weeks, the spokeswoman said.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Lavrov meets with leaders in Mongolia

13:41 , Holly Bancroft

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov met with leaders in Mongolia on Tuesday during a trip to Asia to seek support amid his country’s diplomatic isolation by the West and punishing sanctions leveled over its invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Lavrov met with Mongolian foreign minister Battsetseg Batmunkh and paid a courtesy call on president Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh, Mongolian state media reported.

Mongolia is a landlocked nation sandwiched between Russia and China, and has sought to maintain friendly relations with both neighbors while also cultivating close ties with the U.S., whose relations with Moscow and Beijing have become increasingly fraught.

Mongolian and Russian state media gave no details of any specific discussions about the Ukraine conflict, while emphasizing strong bilateral relations.

The two sides have signed a series of trade agreements, and a pipeline carrying Russian natural gas to China is being built through Mongolian territory.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Restrict Russia’s access to maritime transport - Ukraine’s foreign minister

13:12 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged the international community to restrict Russia’s access to maritime transport in order to “deplete Putin’s war machine”.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Kuleba said: “Russia’s export-oriented economy relies heavily on maritime transportation provided by foreign fleets.

“I urge partners: restrict Russia’s access to their services and deplete Putin’s war machine. After all, what Russia really exports to the world today is death, crisis, and lies.”

‘Ukraine is determined to fight back’ despite recent losses, Ukrainian MP says

12:46 , Holly Bancroft

Leisa Vasylenko, a Ukrainian MP for the Holos party, has conceeded that Russia was making military gains in the war, telling Sky News: “They will continue making them until and unless they are stopped.”

Ms Vasylenko added: “But the fight is ongoing, definitely, and the fight will be ongoing for as long as Ukraine gets the military support and, of course, the financial support necessary to fight back Russia.”

She said that “there have been losses in the Ukrainian army,” adding: “These losses have been big, and there are huge numbers of prisoners of war at the moment.”

She said that the losses would give the Ukrainian military “resolve” so they can “fight back harder”.

She continued: “To avenge the lives that have been lost. And to get back to their comrades.”

Mayor of Sloviansk urges residents to evacuate

12:31 , Holly Bancroft

The mayor of Sloviansk, a city in the Donetsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine, has urged his residents to evacuate.

“Sloviansk has already become a frontline, the nearest Russian positions are 7-10 km from the city,” Vadym Liakh said.

A shop worker carries away some goods from a destroyed store in a local market in Sloviansk (AFP via Getty Images)
A shop worker carries away some goods from a destroyed store in a local market in Sloviansk (AFP via Getty Images)
A resident walks among debris next to a destroyed house in Sloviansk (AFP via Getty Images)
A resident walks among debris next to a destroyed house in Sloviansk (AFP via Getty Images)

Zelensky has call with Boris Johnson

12:17 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has had another call with UK PM Boris Johnson, in which Mr Zelensky thanked the UK for its recent decision to provide £1billion in security aid.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Zelensky said: “Held talks with Boris Johnson. Thanked for the unwavering support of Ukraine - the recent decision to provide £1 billion in security aid and today’s - £100 million.

“Talked about food security for the world and security guarantees for Ukraine. Grateful for UK’s willingness to host URC2023.”

Watch: Putin declares victory in Luhansk region after fall of Lysychansk

12:00 , Holly Bancroft

Finland and Sweden sign Nato accession protocol

11:49 , Holly Bancroft

The Nato membership bids of Sweden and Finland have been sent for approval after the 30 member countries signed accession protocols for the two Nordic countries.

The protocol means that Finland and Sweden can now join in on Nato meetings and have greater access to intelligence. However they will not be protected by Nato’s defence clause, that an attack on one ally is an attack on all, until ratification.

“This is truly an historic moment,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said alongside the foreign ministers of the two countries. “With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger.”

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Pictures show the aftermath of fighting in Lysychansk

11:15 , Holly Bancroft

Russian forces have captured Lysychansk allowing the army to claim “substantive progress” in its invasion, the UK MoD said this morning.

Here are some photos which show the aftermath of fighting in Lysychansk:

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Russia plans to launch a railway link with Donbas, Russian media reports

11:03 , Holly Bancroft

Russia plans to launch a railway link between its southern Rostov region and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, state news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, citing the Rostov region government.

Russia established full control of Luhansk region on Sunday and is fighting to drive Ukrainian government forces out of Donetsk.

FSB spy takes over the government of Moscow-occupied Kherson region - reports

10:43 , Holly Bancroft

An FSB spy has taken over the government of the Moscow-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, Kremlin-installed authorities have said.

Sergei Yeliseyev “became head of the government in the Kherson region”, head of the Russian occupational administration Vladimir Saldo said.

His government reportedly took office on Tuesday.

A former Ukrainian lawmaker who switched sides to Russia in the conflict, Alexei Kovalev, was appointed as Mr Yeliseyev’s deputy, according to the reports.

It comes after the Russian authorities in Kherson said that “Russia is here forever”.

Demand for natural gas will slow because of Ukraine war, energy agency warns

10:20 , Holly Bancroft

Rising prices of natural gas and supply issues due to the war in Ukraine will slow demand for the fossil fuel in the coming years, the International Energy Agency has said.

In a report published on Tuesday, the energy ageny said that global demand for natural gas will rise by 140 billion cubic meters between 2021 and 2025.

The revised forecast is mostly due to expectations of slower economic growth rather than buyers switching from gas to coal, oil or renewable energy.

While the burning of gas emits less planet-warming carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels, methane released during the extraction process is a significant driver of climate change.

“Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine is seriously disrupting gas markets that were already showing signs of tightness,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the agency’s director of energy markets and security.

Basketball star detained in Russia calls on President Biden for help

09:43 , Holly Bancroft

Brittney Griner, a women’s national basketball association player who has been detained in Russia on drug charges since February, has called on President Biden not to forget about her.

The American sportswoman said in a handwritten letter to the President: “As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, familly, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishements, I’m terrified I might be here forever.”

She continued: “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Cost of rebuilding will cost $750bn, says Ukraine PM

09:12 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal has said that the cost of rebuilding his war-ravaged country will be an estimated $750billion.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the task of rebuilding the country would be “colossal”.

“This is Russia’s attack on everything that is of value to you and me,” he said.

“Therefore, the reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project, not a project of one nation, but a joint task of the entire democratic world.”

Ukraine raised in chat between US and China

08:35 , Holly Bancroft

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen “frankly” raised her government’s concerns about the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine in a conversation with Chinese vice premier Liu He, the Treasury Department has said.

She also raised unfair and non-market Chinese economic practices, her department said.

China’s commerce ministry said that vice premier Liu He had had a “constructive” virtual dialogue with the US treasury secretary, with both sides agreeing to better coordinate macro policies.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Belarus freezes foreign shareholdings in 190 of its companies

08:00 , Holly Bancroft

Belarus said on Tuesday it was freezing foreign shareholdings in 190 Belarusian companies, including EPAM Systems and Lukoil Belarus, in response to Western sanctions for its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and human rights violations.

A decree published on the official legislative portal said shareholders from countries that “commit unfriendly actions against Belarusian legal entities and/or individuals are prohibited from disposing of their shares.”

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Hanoi

07:34 , Holly Bancroft

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will fly to Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday for a two-day visit before heading to a G20 meeting later this week, the Vietnamese government said.

The visit is at the invitation of Vietnamese foreign minister Bui Thanh Son and comes as the two nations mark ten years of their “comprehensive strategic partnership”, the government said.

Russia is Vietnam’s biggest arms supplier and its companies are involved in several major energy projects in the country.

The two nations have close ties dating back to the Soviet era and Vietnam has not so far condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.

In April, Vietnam voted against a resolution to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council over the war.

Trade between Vietnam and Russia rose 25% last year to $7.1 billion, the statement said.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Russia finally achieved coordination in Lysychansk victory, says UK

07:07 , Arpan Rai

The British defence ministry has said Russia’s speedy capture of a major city in Luhansk will allow it to claim a victory towards its current aim in the war – “liberating” the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.

“Russia’s relatively rapid capture of Lysychansk extends its control across virtually all of the territory of Luhansk Oblast, allowing it to claim substantive progress against the policy objective it presented as the immediate purpose of the war, namely ‘liberating’ the Donbas,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update on Tuesday morning.

The ministry added that unlike in previous phases of the war, Russia appears to have “achieved reasonably effective coordination between at least two groupings of forces, the Central Grouping likely commanded by general-colonel Alexandr Lapin and the Southern Grouping probably under the recently appointed general Sergei Surovikin”.

As for Ukraine, the fighters from Kyiv have “likely largely withdrawn in good order, in line with existing plans”.

“The Ukrainian held areas of Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk consisted of a bulge or salient which the Russians could attack from three sides,” the ministry said.

There is a realistic chance, according to the ministry, that the “Ukrainian forces will now be able to fall back to a more readily defendable, straightened front line”.

Mapping out the next few weeks of the war in Europe, the ministry said: “The battle for the Donbas has been characterised by slow rates of advance and Russia’s massed employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process.”

The fighting in Donetsk Oblast, the other province in the Donbas region, will almost certainly continue in this manner, it claimed.

Putin tells troops to ‘absolutely rest and recover’ as Ukraine lays out defence in Donetsk

06:20 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian fighters are bracing for Russia to make a fresh offensive in Donetsk on Tuesday where major cities remain under Kyiv’s control, while focus also turns to the southern part of the besieged country, officials said.

Referring to Russia’s capture of Luhansk, Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to president Volodymyr Zelensky, said: “This is the last victory for Russia on Ukrainian territory.

“These were medium-sized cities. And this took from 4th April until 4th July – that’s 90 days. So many losses...,” he said.

The adviser to Mr Zelensky confirmed that Ukraine was hoping to launch counter offensives in the south of the country besides the ongoing battle for Donetsk.

“Taking the cities in the east meant that 60 per cent of Russian forces are now concentrated in the east and it is difficult for them to be redirected to the south,” Mr Arestovych said.

“And there are no more forces that can be brought in from Russia. They paid a big price for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk,” he added.

This comes after Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that he had confirmed the completion of “the operation” in Luhansk to Vladimir Putin.

Mr Putin said the military units “that took part in active hostilities and achieved success, victory” in Luhansk “should absolutely rest and recover their military preparedness”, while units in other areas keep fighting.

Putin likely directed an ‘operational pause’ after Russia captured Lysychansk - report

05:35 , Arpan Rai

Vladimir Putin is likely to have asked Russian military to carry out an operational pause after his soldiers managed to capture Lysychansk, according to an assessment by US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War.

“Russian president Vladimir Putin celebrated the Russian seizure of Lysychansk and the Luhansk Oblast border and appeared to direct the Russian military to conduct an operational pause,” the latest assessment read.

It claimed that Mr Putin met with Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu on 4 July (Monday) to “discuss recent Russian gains in Luhansk oblast and presented colonel general Alexander Lapin and major general Esedulla Abachev with the ‘Hero of Russia’ award for their leadership during the Lysychansk operation”.

It added that both the leaders “presented the capture of Lysychansk and Luhansk oblast as a major victory for Russian forces in Ukraine”.

Mr Putin also stated that the Russian units that participated in the battle for Lysychansk should rest to increase their combat capabilities, the report said.

The think tank has claimed that Mr Putin’s public comment was likely aimed at signalling “his concern for the welfare of his troops in the face of periodic complaints in Russia about the treatment of Russian soldiers”.

Ukraine’s reconstruction ‘common task’ of entire world - Zelensky

05:02 , Arpan Rai

The reconstruction of Ukraine is the “common task of the entire democratic world”, wartime president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday as the country charted out its $750bn recovery plan.

“The reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project, is not a project of one nation, but a common task of the entire democratic world — all countries, all countries who can say they are civilised,” Mr Zelensky said in an address to hundreds of attendees in Lugano.

He was delivering a virtual address to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland.

“Restoring Ukraine means restoring the principles of life, restoring the space of life, restoring everything that makes humans humans,” Mr Zelensky said.

He added that such ambitions will require wide-scale construction, funding and security “in all of our country which will be forced to continue living beside Russia”.

He underlined that Ukraine’s needs have been on an up-and-down march towards democracy ever since the Cold War ended and it now faces widespread devastation.

Meanwhile, the British foreign secretary has said that such a recovery will need a sort of “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine in its rebuilding endeavours.

Russia continues to terrorise Ukraine’s border in east, says Zelensky

04:28 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian offensive continues to terrorise the besieged country’s frontiers on the east, but added that the situation has not seen any drastic change.

“The situation on the frontline did not undergo significant changes during the day. The enemy continues to terrorise the border areas of the Sumy region, the city of Kharkiv and the Donbas region,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address late on Monday.

He added: “The armed forces of Ukraine respond, put pressure and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day. We need to break them.

“This is a difficult task, it requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative - this is about our independence, about our future, about the fate of the entire Ukrainian people,” Mr Zelensky said.

Ukraine raises its flag over Snake Island once again

04:00 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine raised its flag once againa over Snake Island in the Black Sea on Monday.

Military officials in Kyiv said the blue and yellow flag was raised after Russian forces withdrew from the strategic outpost last week.

“The military operation has been concluded, and... the territory (Snake Island) has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, told a news conference.

Ukraine claims it it has driven the Russian forces out after an artillery and missile assault.

Our foreign editor David Harding reports:

Ukraine raises its flag over Snake Island once again

03:00 , Emily Atkinson

Images capture the damage left behind at a school in Kharkiv after it was destroyed by a fierce missile attack.

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

G7 may use Danube to move Ukraine grain, says PM

02:00 , Emily Atkinson

Prime minister Boris Johnson has suggested that the G7 is looking at the possibility of using the Danube river to get grain out of Ukraine “in smaller quantities”.

His comments came in response to a question posed by Labour MP Stella Creasy in which she asked the PM to confirm whether he is looking at breaching the Montreux Convention “about larger forces in the Black Sea”.

Mr Johnson said: “She is right to raise that. No, we are not looking at that. There are alternative solutions that don’t involve the presence of UK or other warships in the Black Sea.

“Though they might involve a tougher approach, but what we are also looking at is the possibility of using the rivers, using the Danube in particular, to try to get... using the railways to try to get the grain out in smaller quantities than we would be able to do with a giant maritime convoy through the Black Sea.

“So we are looking at all the possible options, including smaller packets of grain coming out that way.”

Opinion: Have EU sanctions hurt Russia since it invaded Ukraine? Here’s the truth

01:00 , Emily Atkinson

Are the sanctions against Russia useful? Yes, they are already hitting Vladimir Putin and his accomplices hard, and their effects on the Russian economy will increase over time, writes Josep Borrell Fontelles.

Since Russia deliberately violated international law by invading Ukraine, the EU has adopted six packages of sanctions against Moscow. Our measures now target nearly 1,200 individuals and 98 entities in Russia as well as a significant number of sectors of the Russian economy.

Some may ask, do these sanctions really have an impact on the Russian economy? The simple answer is yes. Although Russia exports a lot of raw materials, it also has no choice but to import many high value-added products that it does not manufacture. For all advanced technologies, it is 45 per cent dependent on Europe and 21 per cent on the United States, compared with only 11 per cent on China.

Opinion: Have EU sanctions hurt Russia since it invaded Ukraine? Here’s the truth

Watch: Ukrainian houses hit by shelling in Sumy residential neighbourhood

Tuesday 5 July 2022 00:00 , Emily Atkinson

Belarus slapped with UK sanctions for supporting Russian invasion

Monday 4 July 2022 23:00 , Emily Atkinson

The UK will introduce new economic, trade and transport sanctions on Belarus over its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) also said it had sanctioned six Russians who were spreading disinformation.

The Belarus package will include import and export bans on goods worth around £60 million pounds, including on exports of oil refining goods, advanced technology components and luxury goods, and imports of Belarusian iron and steel.

Britain will also ban more Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London.

“The Belarus regime has actively facilitated Putin’s invasion, letting Russia use its territory to pincer Ukraine - launching troops and missiles from their border and flying Russian jets through their airspace,” the FCDO said in a statement.

Smoking out the enemy: How Ukraine is using e-cigarettes to fight a drone war against Russia

Monday 4 July 2022 21:50 , Emily Atkinson

Resourceful Ukrainians are using batteries from discarded vape pens as a way to power drones on the front line. Bel Trew reports from a lab in Kyiv where production has begun.

Smoking out the enemy: Ukraine uses e-cigarettes to fight drone war against Russia

Ukraine shares video of Russians allegedly dropping phosphorus bombs on Snake Island

Monday 4 July 2022 20:50 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian officials have shared footage of the moment they say the Russian military dropped phosphorus bombs on Snake Island.

This video, posted on Facebook on Friday (1 July) by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, is black and white footage showing bombs dropping on an island.

The claims come just one day after Russia said that it withdrew its troops from the island, also known as Zmiinyi Island.

Commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said the bombs were flown over the island from Crimea.

Ukraine shares video of Russians allegedly dropping phosphorus bombs on Snake Island

Efforts to remove Ukraine grain about stopping war and famine, says SNP

Monday 4 July 2022 20:20 , Emily Atkinson

The SNP’s Westminster leader has called on Boris Johnson to support efforts to get grain out of Ukraine, telling the Commons on Monday afternoon: “This is now not just about stopping war, it is about stopping famine too.

Ian Blackford continued: “I am sure the prime minister will agree that all of these global efforts will only begin and only work if there is trust between global leaders.

“Can the prime minister therefore explain that in this moment of many crises how exactly breaking international law and threatening to start a trade war with out neighbours helps anyone?”

Mr Johnson replied: “What the countries around the world see is the UK offering consistent leadership in the matter of standing up for the rule of law and standing up against Putin’s aggression, and that is, I promise you, that is what has been raised with me.”

Keir Starmer criticises Boris Johnson's 'lack of influence' over Nato

Monday 4 July 2022 19:50 , Emily Atkinson

Johnson accuses Putin of ‘using language of nuclear blackmail'

Monday 4 July 2022 19:22 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has been accused by his UK counterpart of “using the language of nuclear blackmail”.

Speaking to MPs on Monday, prime minister Boris Johnson also noted that a solution to the grain blockade in Ukraine might not receive Russian consent.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the defence committee, repeated calls for the UK to secure a UN General Assembly resolution to create a “humanitarian safe haven” around the port of Odesa to ensure “vital grain exports can not only reach Europe but also Africa and prevent famine there”.

Mr Johnson, in his reply, told the Commons: “The work is being led by the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, the UK is doing a huge amount to support.

“But as I’ve told the House before, we may have to prepare for a solution that does not depend upon Russian consent because that may not be forthcoming.”

Truss says free world must support Ukraine ‘whatever it takes’

Monday 4 July 2022 18:50 , Joe Middleton

Liz Truss has said it is Britain and the free world’s duty to “do whatever it takes to support” Ukraine in rebuilding its economy as quickly as possible.

The Foreign Secretary told a recovery conference in Switzerland on Monday that the UK will “remain at Ukraine’s side” as the war-torn nation emerges “stronger and more successful” after the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told leaders gathered at the event that rebuilding Ukraine is the “common task of the whole democratic world”.

Truss says free world must support Ukraine ‘whatever it takes’

Aiden Aslin: Captured Brit in Ukraine appeals against death sentence

Monday 4 July 2022 18:21 , Joe Middleton

British citizen Aiden Aslin has submitted an appeal against his verdict, after being sentenced to death by a court in the Russian-backed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

Mr Aslin, 28, was sentenced last month together with fellow Briton Shaun Pinner, 48, for “mercenary activities”.

They had been captured while fighting as foreigners for Ukraine’s army against Russian and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine.

Aiden Aslin: Captured Brit in Ukraine appeals against death sentence

Ukrainian houses hit by shelling in Sumy residential neighbourhood

Monday 4 July 2022 17:50 , Joe Middleton

Boris Johnson suggests G7 looking to Danube river to get grain out of Ukraine

Monday 4 July 2022 17:25 , Joe Middleton

Boris Johnson suggested the G7 is looking at the possibility of using the Danube river to get grain out of Ukraine “in smaller quantities”.

His comments came as Labour MP Stella Creasy asked him to confirm whether he is looking at breaching the Montreux Convention “about larger forces in the Black Sea”.

The Prime Minister said: “She is right to raise that. No, we are not looking at that. There are alternative solutions that don’t involve the presence of UK or other warships in the Black Sea.

“Though they might involve a tougher approach, but what we are also looking at is the possibility of using the rivers, using the Danube in particular, to try to get... using the railways to try to get the grain out in smaller quantities than we would be able to do with a giant maritime convoy through the Black Sea.

“So we are looking at all the possible options, including smaller packets of grain coming out that way.”

Have EU sanctions hurt Russia since it invaded Ukraine? Here’s the truth

Monday 4 July 2022 17:12 , Joe Middleton

We have begun show that, when provoked, Europe can respond powerfully, writes Josep Borrell Fontelles.

Opinion: Have EU sanctions hurt Russia since it invaded Ukraine? Here’s the truth

Ukraine raises its flag over Snake Island once again

Monday 4 July 2022 16:56 , Joe Middleton

Ukraine raised its flag once againa over Snake Island in the Black Sea on Monday.

Military officials in Kyiv said the blue and yellow flag was raised after Russian forces withdrew from the strategic outpost last week.

“The military operation has been concluded, and... the territory (Snake Island) has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, told a news conference.

David Harding reports.

Ukraine raises its flag over Snake Island once again

Full statement: Johnson updates parliament on Nato and G7 summit outcomes

Monday 4 July 2022 16:39 , Joe Middleton

Boris Johnson accuses Vladimir Putin of ‘using the language of nuclear blackmail'

Monday 4 July 2022 16:28 , Joe Middleton

Boris Johnson accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “using the language of nuclear blackmail” before noting a solution to the grain blockade in Ukraine might not receive Russian consent.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Defence Committee, repeated calls for the UK to secure a UN General Assembly resolution to create a “humanitarian safe haven” around the port of Odesa to ensure “vital grain exports can not only reach Europe but also Africa and prevent famine there”.

The prime minister, in his reply, told the Commons: “The work is being led by the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, the UK is doing a huge amount to support.

“But as I’ve told the House before, we may have to prepare for a solution that does not depend upon Russian consent because that may not be forthcoming.”

Putin will not congratulate Biden on US Independence Day after ‘unfriendly actions’

Monday 4 July 2022 16:17 , Joe Middleton

Russian president Vladimir Putin will not congratulate Joe Biden on Monday’s US Independence Day because of Washington’s “unfriendly” actions towards Moscow, the Kremlin has said.

“Congratulations this year can hardly be considered appropriate,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “The United States’ unfriendly policies are the reason.”

It comes as the US president blamed Russia for spiking gas prices as well as the global food shortage at Nato’s Madrid summit last week.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain reports.

Putin will not congratulate Biden on US Independence Day after ‘unfriendly actions’

Ukraine must ‘prevail' against Russia , Boris Johnson tells MPs

Monday 4 July 2022 15:56 , Joe Middleton

Boris Johnson told MPs this afternoon that Ukraine must “prevail” against Russia and welcomed new Nato allies Sweden and Finland to the military alliance.

The prime minister told the House of Commons: “Our immediate priority is to join with our allies to ensure that Ukraine prevails in her brave struggle against Putin’s aggression.”

Mr Johnson said the Madrid Nato summit “exceeded all expectations in the unity and single-minded resolve of the alliance to support Ukraine for as long as it takes”.

He added: “All of us understand that if Putin is not stopped in Ukraine he will find new targets for his revanchist attacks and we are not defending some abstract ideal but the first principle of a peaceful world, which is that large and powerful countries cannot be allowed to dismember their neighbours and if this was ever permitted, then no nation anywhere would be safe.”

The prime minister said that Ukraine “must have the strength to finish this war on the terms that President Zelensky has described”.

Mr Johnson also welcomed Sweden and Finland as new Nato allies and stressed that the alliance was “defensive” in its purpose.

Russian invasion is a ‘worldview confrontation’ Zelensky says

Monday 4 July 2022 15:47 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In his address to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia’s war “is not just an attempt to seize our land and destroy our state, but also a worldview confrontation.”

UK to introduce new economic and trade sanctions on Belarus

Monday 4 July 2022 15:27 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Britain said it would on Tuesday introduce new economic, trade and transport sanctions on Belarus over the country’s support for Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.

The new package will include import and export bans on goods worth around 60 million pounds including on exports of oil refining goods, advanced technology components and luxury goods, and imports of Belarusian iron and steel.

Britain will also ban more Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London.

“The Belarus regime has actively facilitated Putin’s invasion, letting Russia use its territory to pincer Ukraine - launching troops and missiles from their border and flying Russian jets through their airspace,” the British government said in a statement.

Britain has already raised import tariffs on a range of products from Belarus by 35 percentage points and sanctioned Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and senior government officials.

Britain, along with Western allies, has been imposing sanctions against Russian elites, banks and strategic industries since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Putin tells troops to press ahead with invasion of Ukraine following Luhansk fall

Monday 4 July 2022 15:11 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

President Vladimir Putin has instructed his troops to press ahead with the Ukraine invasion after gaining control in Luhansk.

During a brief televised meeting with his defence minister, Putin congratulated Russian forces on their “victories in the Luhansk direction”. Those who participated in the combat should “absolutely rest and recover their military preparedness”, while other units continue fighting in other areas, he said.

Liz Truss wants ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine

Monday 4 July 2022 14:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Foreign secretary Liz Truss called for a Marshall Plan-style programme for Ukraine, echoing the one used to rebuild Europe after World War II.

She told a recovery conference in Switzerland on Monday: “This needs to be a new Marshall Plan for Ukraine and it needs to be driven by Ukraine itself.

We will push for immediate investment and to drive economic growth because it’s absolutely imperative we get the Ukrainian economy going.”

Asked how to make the UK’s support sustainable, she said “the number one thing we have to do is to help Ukraine recover its economy in the shortest possible time-frame”, and open ports so the war-torn nation can export its agricultural goods.

Ukraine needs $750 bln for recovery plan, prime minister says

Monday 4 July 2022 14:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine needs $750 billion for a three-stage recovery plan in the wake of Russia‘s invasion, its prime minister said on Monday.

Denys Shmygal also told the Ukraine Recovery Conference hosted by Switzerland that there had been over $100 billion of direct damage to Ukrainian infrastructure from Russia‘s invasion.

“Today, the direct infrastructure losses of Ukraine stand at over $100 billion,” he said. “Who will pay for the renewal plan, which is already being valued at $750 billion?”

Shmygal added that the Ukrainian government believed that a key source of funding for the recovery plan should be assets confiscated from Russian oligarchs.

He said Ukraine‘s recovery plan had three phases: A first focused on fixing things that matter for people’s daily lives like water supply which is ongoing, a “fast recovery” component that will be launched as soon as fighting ends including temporary housing, hospital and school projects, and one that aims to transform the country over the longer term.

Ukraine needs $750 bln for recovery plan, prime minister says

Monday 4 July 2022 14:18 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine needs $750 billion for a recovery plan in the wake of Russia‘s invasion, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Monday.

Shmyhal also told the Ukraine Recovery Conference hosted by Switzerland that there had been over $100 billion of direct damage to infrastructure from Russia‘s invasion.

Film reveals Macron’s diplomatic bids amid war in Ukraine

Monday 4 July 2022 14:01 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Four days before President Putin ordered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron was making a last-ditch attempt to prevent the war in a key phone call revealed in a French TV documentary.

In the rare public recording of a discussion between two world leaders, Macron tries to convince the Russian president to “calm things down” in the region. But all his suggestions reach a dead end on Putin’s side.

The French documentary “A President, Europe and War” offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at months of diplomatic wrangling amid Europe’s worst crisis in decades. It was meant to focus on Macron during France’s leadership of the rotating EU presidency, but ended up capturing historic moments in Ukraine’s war, including following Macron to Moscow and on two trips to Kyiv.

Read more here:

Film reveals Macron’s diplomatic bids amid war in Ukraine

Briton appeals against death sentence in separatist-held east Ukraine

Monday 4 July 2022 13:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

British citizen Aiden Aslin, sentenced to death by a court in the Russian-backed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, submitted an appeal on Monday, the Russian Interfax agency reported on Monday.

“A cassation appeal against the verdict was filed today,” the lawyer representing him, Pavel Kosovan, told Interfax.

Aslin was sentenced to death last month together with fellow Briton Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun for “mercenary activities” because they had been captured while fighting as foreigners for Ukraine‘s army against Russian and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine.

TASS news agency reported on Friday the breakaway region’s supreme court had received appeals from lawyers for Saadoun and Pinner but that Aslin had yet to submit an appeal.

Ukraine says it has raised its flag again on Snake Island

Monday 4 July 2022 13:28 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Ukrainian flag has been raised again on Snake Island in the Black Sea, Ukraine‘s military said on Monday, after Russian forces withdrew from the strategic outpost last week.

“The military operation has been concluded, and ... the territory (Snake Island) has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine‘s southern military command, told a news conference.

Some analysts have said Russia‘s withdrawal from Snake Island off Ukraine‘s southwestern coast could loosen its blockade on Ukrainian ports.

But a Kyiv-based foreign diplomat told Reuters it was still not enough to allow for safe transit of Ukrainian grain.

“There is a requirement for demining, and Russia still has capabilities (military vessels, costal defence systems and air superiority) that will allow them to interdict shipping lanes,” the diplomat said.

To unblock its ports so it can ship grain, Ukraine would need allied support and for Turkey to play a key role, the diplomat added.

Russia said it had pulled out from Snake Island on Thursday 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.