Russian missile strikes have killed at least one person and damaged a school in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.
Oleksandr Senkevych, the city’s mayor, said the attacks caused several fires, damaged a number of residential and business buildings and left smoke hanging over the port city.
“I keep saying it’s still dangerous in the city. Before, people were going out in droves but they go out less now,” Mr Senkevych said.
Vitaliy Kim, the regional governor, said earlier today that seven missiles had hit Mykolaiv.
Viterra, the grain handling company, said its terminal in Mykolaiv was on fire after being hit in an attack, but that no one had been killed there.
The number of people killed in the strike has not yet been independently verified.
That’s all for today
Thank you for following, here are five key updates from today:
Pro-Russian separatists claimed they were close to surrounding the Ukrainian forces defending the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, the site of fierce weeks-long fighting.
Meanwhile, Russian missile strikes killed at least one person and damaged a school in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
A suspected Ukrainian combat drone hit a major oil refinery in Russia’s south and caused a large fire, in what appears to be a fresh attack by Kyiv on Russian soil.
The head of the International Energy Agency warned that Russia may cut off gas to Europe entirely as it seeks to bolster its political leverage, adding that Europe needed to prepare now.
And finally, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Ukraine needs massive financial help to rebuild after the devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion, adding that the reconstruction would be a “task for generations”.
Ukrainian servicemen take part in military exercises near Odesa
Danger of ‘tactical’ Russian victory in Severodonetsk as villages captured
Russia has taken several villages in the past few days, raising fears that its forces will soon be in a position to seize the key eastern cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, reports Roland Oliphant.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, acknowledged in an online video that “the threat of a tactical Russian victory is there, but they haven’t done it yet” following Russian gains to the southeast of Lysychansk.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, confirmed on Wednesday morning that Russian forces had captured the villages of Pidlisne and Myrna Dolyna and were making a “partially successful” attack towards the settlement of Bila Gora, targeting police, state security and prosecutors’ buildings as they went.
“Hellish battles in Severodonetsk and surrounding villages, massive shelling on Lysychansk, and hostile attempts to cut the ‘road of life’,” he said in an update on Telegram. “The enemy is trying to establish full control over Severodonetsk.”
Zelensky: Ordinary Ukrainians resisting invasion are my role models
Volodymyr Zelensky has said his role models were ordinary Ukrainians resisting invading Russian forces.
The Ukrainian President, dressed in a military uniform, was answering questions via videolink from students at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
Asked by one student who his role models were, Mr Zelensky said: “The people of Ukraine… and there are very many of them.”
“An ordinary Ukrainian farmer who could take his tractor and close off a road to Russian tanks, an ordinary woman who would go out and stop armoured vehicles with her bare hands… Those are the people I look up to,” he said via an interpreter.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko speaks during funeral ceremony of Battalion Commander
Biden pleads for fuel tax break as Americans suffer over ‘Putin’s price hike’
US President Joe Biden has asked Congress to suspend the federal fuel tax for three months as skyrocketing prices cause widespread anger among Americans ahead of crucial midterm elections, reports Jamie Johnson.
That would mean the government would stop collecting 18 cents per gallon on petrol and 24 cents per gallon on diesel until the end of September, covering the peak summer driving season as Americans get away for their holidays.
The White House will call on state governments to do the same to “provide direct relief to American consumers who have been hit with Putin’s price hike,” a senior administration official said.
Petrol prices are averaging around $5 per gallon (3.78 litres) having risen almost $2 since Vladimir Putin began building up forces on the Ukrainian border earlier this year.
The Biden administration has been consistently framing the issue as “Putin’s price hike.”
Moscow names area outside US Embassy after breakaway territory
Moscow city authorities have renamed an intersection adjoining the US Embassy after a Russian-backed breakaway territory of Ukraine.
In a decision published on its website, the city government said the name “Donetsk People’s Republic Square” had come top in an online poll.
Workers have put up street signs with the new name directly outside the Embassy complex, located near the home of the Russian government in central Moscow.
The previous proposal had produced a wry response from the US Embassy which suggested that the “Defenders of Donbas” were actually the Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russian aggression.
“The country should know its heroes,” it said.
TV centre in separatist-held city of Donetsk damaged by shelling
The Petrovskiy television centre in the Ukrainian separatist-held city of Donetsk has been badly damaged by shelling and broadcasting has been interrupted, the Russian news agency TASS cited the local Donetsk news agency as saying today.
The broadcast tower is still standing but part of its equipment has been damaged, while some equipment has been moved out, according to the Donetsk news agency.
New podcast episode: Battle for the Donbas
Ukraine sends reinforcements into Severodonetsk
Ukraine has sent reinforcements into Severodonetsk, the eastern city which Moscow says it has surrounded.
Moscow told Ukrainian forces last week they were trapped in the strategic city, now a major focus of Russia’s assault, and should surrender or die after the last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river to Ukrainian-held territory was destroyed.
But Oleksandr Ratushniak, a freelance photographer who reached Severodonetsk with Ukrainian forces in recent days, filmed reinforcements crossing in an inflatable raft and troops fighting in the ruins of the frontline industrial zone.
He said he entered the city with troops from Ukraine’s Svoboda battalion and stayed for two nights, providing a rare glimpse of a pivotal battle in Russia’s invasion.
Estonia accuses Russia of ‘escalatory’ actions
Estonia has accused Russia of engaging in escalatory actions ahead of next week’s Nato summit, including alleged missile simulations and airspace violations.
It also referenced Russia’s threat this week against Estonia’s fellow Baltic state Lithuania over its restriction of rail traffic to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave.
“Currently, there is no immediate military threat against Estonia. However, we see that the Russian Federation is escalating its rhetoric and activities ahead of the Madrid Summit,” Estonian defence ministry spokesman Thomas Mell told AFP.
“Russia turning the implementation of European Union sanctions, which were announced months ago, against Lithuania, simulating missile attacks against targets in the Baltics and the Russian Federation’s helicopters violating Baltic borders are all coinciding in time and space,” he added.
“Such escalatory behaviour is further confirmation that the upcoming Nato summit in Madrid is indeed timely.”
He did not offer any details regarding the alleged simulations or the airspace violations.
UK supports Lithuanian ban on sanctioned goods travelling to Russia
Britain fully supports Lithuania’s decision to ban the transit of Russian goods sanctioned by the European Union through its territory, Liz Truss said today.
Russia has warned Nato member Lithuania that unless the transit of goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea was swiftly restored then Moscow would take undisclosed measures to defend its national interests.
“The UK fully supports Lithuania stopping sanctioned goods from Russia travelling through their country. We must stay strong in the face of Russian aggression and challenge these unjustified threats,” the Foreign Secretary said on Twitter.
Returning UK’s stockpile of weapons to pre-Ukraine levels could take years, says head of the armed forces
Returning the UK’s stockpile of weapons to pre-Ukraine war levels could take years, the head of the armed forces has said, reports Dominic Nicholls.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, who took over as Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) in November 2021, said even replacing less sophisticated weapons sent to Ukraine could take “several years” due to constraints on the UK’s industrial capacity.
Answering questions from the Lords International Relations and Defence Committee on Wednesday, CDS also said it could take “five to 10 years” before the UK could deploy a division with the capabilities to fight alongside US forces.
He said: “We could throw out a division now, but it’s not the one we would want.”
The UK has provided a wide range of weapons to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, including anti-tank missile launchers, armoured vehicles and heavy artillery systems.
Separatists claim they are close to encircling Severodonetsk and Lysychansk
Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine have claimed they are close to surrounding the Ukrainian forces defending the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, the site of fierce weeks-long fighting.
An officer in the separatist army of Luhansk – a pro-Russian breakaway region in eastern Ukraine – said their forces had surrounded Ukrainian troops in the villages of Hirsk and Zolote, a day after capturing the neighbouring village of Toshkivka.
The three settlements are located a few kilometres outside Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which Moscow’s forces have been trying to seize for weeks.
“Very soon (Ukrainian) groups in Lysychansk and Severodonetsk will also be surrounded,” Andrei Marochko told Russian state TV.
In Zolote and Hirsk “there is a full encirclement of Ukrainian troops”, he added, also claiming that “a group of foreign mercenaries had been eliminated”.
The claims have not yet been independently verified.
Zelensky: I believe all EU members back candidate status for Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelensky said he believed all European Union members would back a proposal to grant Ukraine EU candidate status at a summit later this week.
“I do believe that all 27 European Union countries will support our candidate status,” the Ukrainian President said, speaking via a video link with students at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy in Toronto.
“This is like going into the light from the darkness,” he added.
Ukraine hits Snake Island in ‘significant’ blow to Russia’s Black Sea forces
Russian forces on Snake Island have been dealt a severe blow after Ukraine claimed a “significant victory” on the Black Sea outpost, Verity Bowman reports.
The southern operational command claimed it had caused major losses to Russian troops after it “aimed strikes with the use of various forces” on the island.
Damage inflicted by Ukrainian forces could be seen on satellite images, with a tower and vegetation destroyed. Russian vehicles, a radar station and a Pantsir anti-aircraft system were also damaged.
The strategic island, which sits just 80km off Ukraine’s southern coast, was seized by Russian forces early on in the war. It has become the site of numerous bombing raids.
Funeral ceremony in Kyiv for Battalion commander Oleh Kutsyn
Italian MPs back Draghi on Ukraine despite coalition splits
Italian lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to back Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s policy on Ukraine, the day after the largest partner in his coalition government imploded over the issue.
Mr Draghi has taken a firm line on Russia’s invasion, sending weapons to Kyiv, backing sanctions on Moscow despite Italy’s reliance on Russian gas and supporting Ukraine’s hopes of joining the European Union.
But there have been rumblings of unease within his coalition government, which burst into the open yesterday with a split in parliament’s biggest party, the Five Star Movement.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio announced he was leaving the party, accusing it of showing “ambiguity” over Ukraine at a time when Western unity was crucial.
An estimated 60 lawmakers are following him into the grouping, dubbed “Together for the Future” – just over a quarter of the Five Star’s parliamentary members.
Ukrainian journalist was killed by Russian forces, report states
Russian soldiers killed Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin in March, possibly after having tortured him, media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in an investigation published today.
They reached their conclusions after sending a team to Ukraine to investigate Levin’s death.
RSF told AFP it would file a complaint specifically related to Levin’s killing with the International Criminal Court in The Hague – its sixth such complaint related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Levin’s body was found with that of his friend, soldier Oleksiy Chernyshov, on April 1 in a forest on the edge of Moschchun, a village about 20 kilometres (12 miles) outside Kyiv.
They had been missing since March 13 after Levin embedded with Ukrainian soldiers in an area that was experiencing heavy fighting.
Scholz: Ukraine and Russia still ‘far from’ peace negotiations
Ukraine and Russia are a long way from ending the war through negotiations, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said today, adding that Vladimir Putin still wrongly believed he could dictate the terms of peace.
“The truth is, we are far from negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. Because Putin still believes in the possibility of a dictated peace,” Mr Scholz said in an address to German lawmakers.
Putin signs decree on foreign debt service as possible default looms
Vladimir Putin has signed a decree establishing temporary procedures to fulfil foreign debt obligations, the Russian news agency Interfax reported, as investors keep a close eye on a potential default.
The agency said Putin had ordered the government to choose banks within 10 days to handle payments on Eurobonds under a new scheme.
Russia’s failure to service its foreign debt due to Western sanctions is taking it closer to its first default on international bonds since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago.
Ukraine needs ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild, says Scholz
Ukraine needs massive financial help to rebuild after the devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said today, saying the reconstruction would be a “task for generations”.
In reference to the US initiative providing billions to help western Europe rebuild after World War II, Mr Scholz said he had invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate in the G7 summit starting this Sunday, to “agree on what such a ‘Marshall Plan for Ukraine’ would look like”.
Scholz: Germany’s upgraded army will also defend allies
Olaf Scholz said Nato partners in eastern Europe could rely on Germany as it was re-equipping its army such that it could defend allies as well as itself against all future attacks.
“In Europe’s biggest security crisis for decades, Germany – the EU’s biggest economy and most populous country – is taking on a very special responsibility,” the German Chancellor said in a speech to parliament today about the upcoming European Union, G7 and Nato summits.
“And not just for its own security but also for the security of its allies.”
Russia warns against Article 5 talk in Kaliningrad standoff
A top Russian official warned the West to stop talking about triggering Nato’s “Article 5” mutual defence clause in a standoff between Lithuania and Russia.
Moscow has promised practical retaliation that will affect Lithuania’s population after the Baltic state blocked the transit of goods subject to EU sanctions from Russia to its Baltic exclave.
“I would like to warn Europeans against dangerous rhetorical games on the topic of conflict,” the Russian news agency Interfax quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying today.
Putin: Russia is rerouting trade and oil to BRICS countries
Vladimir Putin said that Russia was in the process of rerouting its trade and oil exports towards countries from the BRICS group of emerging economies in the wake of Western sanctions over Ukraine.
The BRICS countries comprise Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
In a video address to the BRICS Business Forum participants, Putin said Russia was discussing increasing the presence of Chinese cars on the Russian market as well as the opening of Indian supermarket chains.
“In its turn, Russia’s presence in the BRICS countries is growing. There has been a noticeable increase in exports of Russian oil to China and India,” Putin said.
Putin attends ceremony marking anniversary of beginning of WW2
Germany ‘firmly rejects’ Russia’s Lithuania threats over rail ban
Germany has warned Russia not to seek reprisals over Lithuania’s rail transit ban on EU-sanctioned goods to Moscow’s exclave of Kaliningrad.
Germany “firmly rejects” Russia’s threat of “serious” consequences for the transit stop, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said at a regular press conference.
“We call on Russia not to take any measures that violate international law,” he added.
Lithuania: We’re ready if Russia cuts us out of power grid
Lithuania will be prepared if Russia disconnects it from the regional power grid in retaliation for blocking rail shipments of some Russian goods to Moscow’s Kaliningrad exclave, but no military confrontation is expected, its president said today.
He spoke after the Kremlin warned Lithuania on Tuesday that Moscow would respond to the ban on the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to Kaliningrad in such a way that citizens of the Baltic state would feel the pain.
Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Nato members Poland and Lithuania and supplied by rail via the territory of Lithuania.
Lithuania shut the route for transport of steel and other ferrous metals from mainland Russia on Friday, saying it had to do so under EU sanctions that took effect that day.
“We are ready and we are prepared for unfriendly actions from Russia (in response), such as disconnection from the BRELL (power grid) system, or others,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in the interview with Reuters.
Italy’s foreign minister quits party over Ukraine weapons row
Italy’s foreign minister has quit his party, the Five Star Movement, in a bitter dispute over whether Italy should continue supporting the Anglo-American hard line against Russia by sending weapons to the Ukrainians, reports Nick Squires in Rome.
The departure of Luigi Di Maio is a bitter blow for the Five Star Movement, which has seen its support plummet from a high of 33 per cent a few years ago to 12 per cent in recent local elections.
The foreign minister, who will continue to remain a key member of the governing coalition, will take at least 60 MPs and senators with him and intends to set up a new political group in parliament.
Tensions within the ruling coalition over support for Ukraine in the war against Russia have been simmering for weeks.
Five Star and the hard-Right League party, both of which have been soft on Moscow in the past, have objected to the dispatch of more armaments to Kyiv and have called for immediate peace talks.
Russia may cut off gas to Europe entirely, says energy agency head
Russia may cut off gas to Europe entirely as it seeks to bolster its political leverage amid the Ukraine crisis, the head of the International Energy Agency said today, adding that Europe needed to prepare now.
“Considering this recent behaviour, I wouldn’t rule out Russia continuing to find different issues here and there and continuing to find excuses to further reduce gas deliveries to Europe and maybe even cut it off completely,” Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, said in a statement to Reuters.
“This is the reason Europe needs contingency plans”.
Moscow accuses Berlin of ‘Russophobic hysteria’ on anniversary of Nazi invasion
Russia’s foreign ministry has accused Germany of anti-Russian sentiment in a statement on the anniversary of the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi troops in 1941 as tensions rage over Ukraine.
“Russophobic hysteria is systematically fuelled by almost daily public attacks against our country by members of the German government,” the ministry said, adding that authorities in Berlin undermine the process of “historical reconciliation” between Russians and Germans after the Second World War.
PM looks at messages from Ukrainian children given during Kyiv visit
Ukrainian steelmaker urges customers not to buy ‘stolen’ Mariupol steel
Ukraine’s largest steelmaker has urged customers not to buy any products made at its plants in Mariupol because it fears they may have been stolen by Russian forces occupying the southern city.
Metinvest said in a statement that more than 234,000 tonnes of steel products manufactured by its Ilyich Steel and Azovstal factories had been in storage in Mariupol when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.
The two plants have not cooperated with Russian representatives since Russian and separatist forces took full control of Mariupol in May, it said.
Russian forces have blockaded Ukrainian ports in the Back and Azov seas, preventing Azovstal and Ilyich Steel from exporting products to clients in Europe and the Middle East. But ships loaded with grain and metals will leave Mariupol soon, a pro-Russian separatist leader said last week.
“Metinvest enterprises have underlined that there is a high probability of theft and smuggling of Ukrainian steel products,” Metinvest said in a statement.
Turkish ship leaves Mariupol after grain talks with Russia
A Turkish cargo ship left Ukraine’s Russian-occupied port of Mariupol today after a round of “constructive” grain talks with Moscow, the Turkish defence ministry said, without specifying if it was carrying wheat.
“The meeting in Moscow gave its first concrete result,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement.
“Just a few hours after the end of the long meeting, the Turkish dry cargo ship, which had been waiting for days, left the Ukrainian port.”
Inside occupied Mariupol, a city rebuilding itself yet surrounded by death
Rare access shows bodies filling makeshift morgues as markets spring up and school terms begin again in obliterated city, report Luc Lacroix and Alexandra Dalsbaek.
Valeriya Chigrina walked towards the cluster of warehouses on the eastern edge of Mariupol. They once stored vegetables but are now full of dead bodies.
She was looking for help. Her 32-year-old husband was killed in front of their daughter in mid-March by a rocket.
“I’ve been everywhere. I’m now here to try to convince the undertakers to move my husband,” she said, with a streak of desperation, on her return to her home city after fleeing into Russia at the start of the conflict.
Mariupol was once a thriving city of 400,000 people lying on Ukraine’s southern coast, along the Sea of Azov. A predominantly working-class place, with Europe’s largest steelworks at the centre of its relatively prosperous economy.
Now, instead, it is a place of death. Death, here, assaults the senses. You can see the miles of mass graves dug to bury thousands of civilians, smell the rotting bodies of those left unburied and hear the silence of the empty apartment blocks and destroyed family homes.
Russian refinery blames drones ‘from Western border’ for fire
The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia’s Rostov region, bordering Ukraine, suspended operations today after two unmanned aerial vehicles attacked its facilities “from the Western border”, the refinery said in a statement.
Social media footage showed a drone flying towards the refinery, located just five miles from the border with Ukraine, before a large ball of flame and black smoke billowed up into the sky.
Finland is ready to fight Russia if attacked, says defence chief
Finland has prepared for decades for a Russian attack and would put up stiff resistance should one occur, its armed forces chief said.
The Nordic country has built up a substantial arsenal. But aside from the military hardware, General Timo Kivinen said, a crucial factor is that Finns would be motivated to fight.
“The most important line of defence is between one’s ears, as the war in Ukraine proves at the moment,” Kivinen said in an interview.
Finland fought two wars in the 1940s against its eastern neighbour, with which it shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border.
EU sanctions that prompted Lithuania transit ban ‘unacceptable’ – Kremlin
The Kremlin has said that the EU sanctions that led Lithuania to impose a ban on the transit of some goods from mainland Russia to the exclave of Kaliningrad were “absolutely unacceptable”, and that Moscow was working on retaliatory measures.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had yet to decide when it would impose countermeasures.
Russian McDonald’s sells ‘record’ number of burgers
The new, rebranded McDonald’s in Russia appears to be off to a roaring start: The chain sold a record 120,000 burgers on its opening day, the chain’s CEO told Reuters.
“We have never seen such daily turnover in the whole time McDonald’s has worked in Russia,” Oleg Paroev told Reuters in an exclusive interview published on Tuesday. Mr Paroev was the former CEO of McDonald’s Russia.
McDonald’s exited the Russian market in May after 32 years in the country, citing “the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment.”
The US fast-food chain sold the Russian business to local licensee and businessman Alexander Govor, and it reopened on June 12 under the new name ‘Vkusno & tochka’, which translates to “tasty and that’s it.” A total of 15 rebranded shops opened in and around Moscow on June 12, with another 35 opening the next day, according to Reuters.
Photos from Vkusno & tochka’s opening in Russia earlier this month show restaurants packed with diners.
Last week, James Kilner sent this report on the opening of Vkusno & tochka.
Despite the horror, Ukrainians carry on with daily life
Russia’s lowering of gas flows a ‘rogue move’
Russian reductions of gas flows to Europe are “very rogue moves” a senior European Commission official has said, adding plans to step up coal use in the bloc would be temporary and climate goals remained intact.
“The unlawful invasion by Russia of Ukraine has resulted in an emergency situation in the EU,” Elina Bardram, acting director for International Affairs and Climate Finance at the European Commision, told the Africa Energy Forum in Brussels.
“With the very rogue moves we are observing from the Putin administration in terms of Gazprom lowering the flow very suddenly, we are doing some very important measures, but all of those measures are temporary”, she added, referring to coal use.
The EU and other developed economies have widened sanctions on Russia to include its oil and coal but have held off on banning gas imports.
However, gas prices have hit record highs as a slowdown in flows from Russia in recent days has deepened worries over supply in higher-demand winter months.
‘Kamikaze drone’ causes fire at Russian oil refinery
A fire at Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk refinery in the Rostov region began after two Ukrainian drones were spotted over the plant, TASS cited an unidentified source in the local authorities.
“One of them made an impact, crashing into a heat transfer unit, after which the blaze started. The second one flew away,” the source told TASS.
The local emergency service said the blaze has been put out, Interfax news agency reported.
Dozens of civilians killed in Kharkiv region after heavy Russian shelling
Fight with Russia in Severodonetsk ‘hell’ – Kyiv
Ukraine has said that the eastern industrial city of Severodonetsk was “hell” as Russian forces moved to encircle two key cities in the Donbas where Moscow has concentrated its military efforts.
“For four months all our positions have been under fire from everything – and I just want to emphasis this – from all the weapons that the Russian army has,” the Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media.
“It’s just hell out there,” he added, referring to Severodonetsk. “Our boys are holding their positions and will continue to hold on as long as necessary,” he added.
Ukrainians use American weapons to fire at Russians
Sergei Lavrov heads to Iran for talks
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was due in Iran Wednesday for talks on boosting trade and energy cooperation as the two countries grapple with Western economic sanctions.
Tehran and Moscow both have huge oil and gas reserves but are constrained by sanctions that limit their ability to export their output.
“Lavrov will meet our foreign minister (Hossein Amir-Abdollahian) tomorrow (Thursday),” Iran’s official IRNA news agency said.
Russia was slapped with sanctions following its February invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, while Iran’s economy has been reeling under biting sanctions reimposed by the US in 2018, following Washington’s withdrawal from a nuclear accord between Tehran and major powers.
The moment a Russian journalist auctions his Nobel Peace Prize for £84m to aid Ukrainian refugees
Ukraine continues to fight for Severedontesk, in pictures
Indonesian president to visit Kyiv, Moscow this month
Indonesian President and G20 chair Joko Widodo will visit the leaders of Ukraine and Russia this month to discuss the economic and humanitarian fallout of Moscow’s invasion, his foreign minister said on Wednesday.
The G20 summit – which will be held on the Indonesian island of Bali in November – has been shrouded in controversy thanks to Jakarta’s decision to invite Russia despite alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Indonesia holds the rotating presidency of the G20 this year, and has come under pressure from some Western countries, led by the United States, to exclude Russia from the meeting.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Mr Widodo would visit Kyiv and Moscow after representing Indonesia as a guest country at the G7 summit in Germany on June 26 and 27, becoming the first Asian leader to travel to both countries since fighting began.
“In the visit to Kyiv and Moscow, the president will meet with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky and President (Vladimir) Putin,” Mr Marsudi said in an online briefing on Wednesday.
MoD latest update
Britain says casualty rate nears 55pc among forces of Donetsk Republic
Casualties have amounted to about 55 per cent of the original strength of the forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, Britain said on Wednesday.
Figures published by the DPR showed that by June 16, 2,128 military personnel had been killed in action, with 8,897 wounded since the beginning of 2022, the defence ministry said in a daily Twitter update.
Russian authorities have not released the tally of military casualties in Ukraine since 25 March, it added.
Key Ukrainian city under ‘massive’ Russian bombardment
Ukrainian forces are facing “massive” and relentless artillery attacks in a battleground eastern city, Kyiv warned, as Russian troops gained ground throughout the Donbas region.
Moscow’s troops have been pummelling eastern Ukraine for weeks and are slowly advancing, despite fierce resistance from the outgunned Ukrainian military.
With President Vladimir Putin’s forces tightening their grip on the strategically important city of Severodonetsk in the Donbas, its twin city of Lysychansk is now coming under heavier bombardment.
“The Russian army is massively shelling Lysychansk,” Sergiy Gaiday, governor of the Lugansk region, which includes both cities, wrote on Telegram.
“They are just destroying everything there… They destroyed buildings and unfortunately there are casualties.”
Howitzers arrive in Ukraine, first in pledged weapons package from Germany
German self-propelled howitzers have arrived in Ukraine in the first delivery of heavy weapons promised by Berlin, Ukraine’s defence minister said on Tuesday.
Ukraine has pleaded with the West to send more and better artillery as the country runs out of ammunition for its existing Soviet-era arsenal, which is dwarfed by Russia’s.
“We have replenishment!…The German Panzerhaubitze 2000 with trained Ukrainian crews joined the Ukrainian artillery family,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on social media.
EU to welcome Ukraine candidacy on Thursday
In a symbolic decision, Ukraine is set to become an official candidate for European Union membership on Thursday, EU diplomats said.
Russia’s failure to make a major breakthrough so far since invading Ukraine means time is on the side of Ukrainians, according to some military analysts.
“It’s a heavyweight boxing match. In 2 months of fighting, there has not yet been a knockout blow. It will come, as RU forces become more depleted,” retired US Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, a former commander of US ground forces in Europe, wrote on Twitter.
Italy’s government hit after Five Star party split over war
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition government was rocked by fresh turmoil on Tuesday after the largest party in parliament split, with the foreign minister starting a breakaway group.
Luigi Di Maio said his decision to leave the Five Star Movement (M5S) – the party he once led – was due to its “ambiguity” over Italy’s support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
But it follows months of internal tensions in the party, which has lost most of the support that propelled it to power in 2018 and risks being almost wiped out in national elections due next year.
As many as 60 former Five Star lawmakers have already signed up to Mr Di Maio’s new group, “Together for the Future”, media reports said.
Latest photos of the war in Ukraine as fighting continues in the east
Ukraine strengthening defences in Luhansk
Ukrainian and Russian forces remained entrenched in eastern Ukrainian battlegrounds going into Wednesday, a day of commemoration in both countries to mark the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
Fighting in the months-long war has favoured Russia in recent weeks because of its huge edge in artillery firepower, a fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged in a late Tuesday night address.
“Thanks to tactical maneuvers the Ukrainian army is strengthening its defences in the Luhansk region,” he said. “That is really the toughest spot. The occupiers are also pressing strongly in the direction of Donetsk.”
“And just as actively as we are fighting for a positive decision by the European Union on Ukraine’s candidate status, we are also fighting every day for modern weaponry for our country. We don’t let up for a single day,” Mr Zelensky said, urging those nations supporting his country to speed up arms deliveries.
Today’s Top Stories
Mariupol was once a thriving city of 400,000 people lying on Ukraine’s southern coast, along the Sea of Azov. A predominantly working-class place, with Europe’s largest steelworks at the centre of its relatively prosperous economy. Now, instead, it is a place of death. Death, here, assaults the senses
Germany has “finally” delivered its first shipment of heavy weapons to Ukraine nearly five months into the war with Russia, Kyiv said on Tuesday
Ukrainian forces have launched a “massive” night-time mission to retake Snake Island, the Black Sea outpost captured by Russia at the start of the war
Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would deploy its newest intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of reaching Britain in three minutes, by the end of the year