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

Boris Johnson told Zelensky that Kyiv’s recent losses can be reversed

Arpan Rai,Holly Bancroft,Liam James
Tuesday 05 July 2022 19:40
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'Third World War has already started', Ukraine defence minister claims

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”.

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UK adds two more Russians to sanctions list

Britain added two more Russians to its sanctions list today, subjecting them to an asset freeze and travel ban.

The sanctions list was updated to add Denis Gafner and Valeriya Kalabayeva – both of whom Britain said were involved in spreading disinformation and promoting Russian actions in Ukraine.

More than 1,000 Russian and Russian-linked individuals have been sanctioned by the UK since Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine on 24 February.

Liam James5 July 2022 19:40
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Slovyansk under fire as Russian troops press forward

The city of Slovyansk has come under heavy fire days after Russia took hold of territory nearby, the local mayor said.

Russia on Sunday declared victory over Lysychansk, a city some 30 miles west of Slovyansk that was the last Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk region.

On Tuesday, Slovyansk mayor Vadim Lyakh said “massive shelling” pummeled his city and urged residents to evacuate or take cover in shelters. The city had a population of about 107,000 before Russia invaded Ukraine more than four months ago.

At least one person was killed and another seven wounded in shelling, Mr Lyakh said. He said the city’s central market and several districts came under attack, adding that authorities were assessing the extent of the damage.

The barrage targeting Slovyansk indicated that Russian forces were positioned to advance farther into Ukraine’s Donbas region, a mostly Russian-speaking industrial area where Moscow’s forces are concentrated.

Security forces halt motorists as smoke rises from the central market of Slovyansk after a strike on Tuesday

Firefighters tackle a fire at the Slovyansk central market after shelling on Tuesday

Liam James5 July 2022 19:10
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Dozens of countries call for Russia and Belarus sports ban

Dozens of international allies have called for Russia and Belarus to be suspended from international sport federations due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sports organisations should also consider suspending the broadcasting of competitions in Russia and Belarus, a joint statement by sports ministers from 35 countries said.

Signatories included the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea. China, India and states in Latin America and Africa were notably not listed as signatories.

The joint statement said that in cases where athletes from Russia and Belarus are permitted to compete, it should be made clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states. The use of official Russian and Belarusian flags, emblems and anthems should be prohibited.

In March, the US and its partners had said Russia and Belarus should not be permitted to host, bid for or be awarded any international sporting events.

Since the invasion of Ukraine in Februart, a number of sporting bodies have banned athletes representing Russia and Belarus, Moscow’s close ally. Fifa and Uefa suspended Russian teams and clubs from international football days after the invasion, while Belarus is not allowed to play home matches within its borders.

The below tweet shows the statement as released by the US State Department:

Liam James5 July 2022 18:40
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Irish prime minister to visit Ukraine tomorrow

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin is due to travel to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv tomorrow for a number of engagements in the city.

The trip is on invitation from Volodymyr Zelensky and will be the first Irish state visit to Ukraine.

Simon Coveney, Irish foreign affairs minister, visited Kyiv in April and met with his counterparts, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Ireland has taken in more than 36,000 Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion in February and has given millions of euros in humanitarian support and assistance to Ukraine, as well as health equipment and medical donations worth over €4.5m.

Mr Martin has also been a vocal advocate for Ukraine’s fast-tracked membership of the EU.

Liam James5 July 2022 18:11
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Russian Duma backs lengthy jail terms for foreign cooperation

Russia’s parliament has backed a bill providing for jail terms of up to eight years on those found to cooperate in secret with international organisations, part of a package of new “crimes against state security”.

The Kremlin had already branded political opponents of Vladimir Putin “extremists” and shut them down and jailed their leaders. Many dissidents have fled into exile during the crackdown, which has intensified over the past two years. Russia’s most prominent human rights group was shut down this year for failing to properly register as a foreign agent.

Since sending troops into Ukraine in February, Moscow has further restricted dissent, including imposing jail terms of up to 15 years for reporting that diverges from official accounts of its “special military operation”. Virtually all independent media have since been shut.

The new package amendments to the criminal code, which passed its second of three readings in the State Duma lower house today, would impose a sentence of up to eight years for “confidential cooperation” with foreign organisations, or sharing information that could be used against Russia.

It introduces a maximum four-year term for “repeated public demonstration of symbols of Nazism and extremist organisations”.

Russians who take part in military action “contrary to the interests of the Russian Federation” could be jailed for up to 20 years.

Liam James5 July 2022 17:49
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Britain mulls bigger military after Russian invasion of Ukraine

The UK defence secretary said he was considering increasing the number of Britain’s armed forces personnel in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Appearing before a parliamentary Defence Committee, Ben Wallace faced questions on the defence budget after Boris Johnson said it was likely to be raised to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of this decade.

Britain has consistently met Nato’s target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence, though the figure has dropped in the past decade and troop numbers have sharply declined in that period.

Mr Wallace last year announced that Britain’s army would be cut to 72,500 personnel by 2025, reversing a target of more than 80,000 set in 2015, and compared with more than 100,000 in 2010.

Before the committee today the defence secretary said: “I have made it perfectly clear that we took, before Russia invaded Ukraine, we took a decision that there would be a dip, sort of a sunset and sunrise, in capabilities.

He said “the threat has changed” so the capabilities the government needs to fund have changed.

“If the decision was to be made to increase the size of the army ... do not be surprised if it is not in the cavalry or the infantry. It is quite interesting how attached people are to platforms,” he told the committee.

He said the lesson of Ukraine was that more investment was needed in the areas of electronic warfare and air defence, which he described as “deeply inadequate”.

Liam James5 July 2022 17:31
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Hundreds of civilians detained for no reason in Russian-held areas – UN

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.

Liam James5 July 2022 16:46
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‘I was born in war, I will die in war’: Trying to survive on Ukraine’s new front line

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:

Holly Bancroft5 July 2022 16:10
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Greece PM: The war in Ukraine should not embolden aggression by other nations

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.

Associated Press5 July 2022 15:45
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Speaker in Russia’s parliament asks if they can scrap the maritime border with Norway

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

Holly Bancroft5 July 2022 15:10

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