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Ukraine news – live: Russian attacks stall as troops ‘make no gains for first time’

Moscow ‘taking operational pause ahead of renewed assault,’ according to Institute for the Study of War

Putin declares victory in Luhansk region after fall of Lysychansk

Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in Ukraine as it 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 US-based think tank 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.

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

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

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

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."

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

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.

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

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."

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One killed as Russian missile hits Kramatorsk

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.

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

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’.”

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Russia says prisoner swaps ‘difficult'

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.

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

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:

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

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:

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Russian missile hits tanker drifting in Black Sea, Ukraine says

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.

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

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:

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