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Ukraine news – live: Probe over ‘terrible war crime’ after apartment strike near Odesa

Volodymyr Zelensky labels Serhiivka attack ‘deliberate direct Russian terror’

Moment Russian missile hits Ukrainian shopping centre

War crime investigators in Ukraine are sifting through the wreckage of a nine-storey apartment block near Odesa destroyed by a Russian strike reported to have killed 21 people.

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova said investigators were recovering fragments from missiles and taking measurements to determine the trajectory of the weapons, believed to have been Soviet-era anti-ship missiles.

The UK ministry of defence said it believes Russia was resorting to the chaos-inducing projectiles “likely because of dwindling stockpiles of more accurate modern weapons”.

Germany warned Vladimir Putin must be “held to account” over the strike, which Volodymyr Zelensky described as “deliberate direct Russian terror”. Russia has denied targeting the building, insisting “the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets”.

Meanwhile, Ukraine again accused Russia of dropping phosphorus bombs, this time on Snake Island, just a day after Moscow claimed to have retreated from the Black Sea outpost in a “gesture of goodwill”.

Mykolaiv residents were urged to remain in shelters on Saturday as the mayor warned of “powerful explosions” in the southern city.

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Fighting intensifies for Ukraine's last bastion in eastern Luhansk province

Fighting intensified on Saturday for Lysychansk, Ukraine‘s last bastion in the strategic eastern province of Luhansk, while blasts shook a southern city after the civilian toll from Russian strikes climbed in towns well behind the frontlines.

Andrei Marochko, an officer of the pro-Russian Luhansk People’s Militia, was quoted by Russia‘s TASS news agency as saying that the militia’s red hammer-and-sickle flag was now flying over the administrative building in Lysychansk, although Ukraine‘s military rejected claims that the city was encircled.

Russian media showed videos of Luhansk militia parading in the streets of Lysychansk waving flags and cheering, but Ukraine National Guard spokesman Ruslan Muzychuk told Ukrainian national television the city remained in Ukrainian hands.

“Now there are fierce battles near Lysychansk, however, fortunately, the city is not surrounded and is under the control of the Ukrainian army,” Muzychuk said.

He said the situations in the Lysychansk and Bakhmut areas, as well as in Kharkiv region, were the most difficult on the entire front line.

“The goal of the enemy here remains access to the administrative border of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Also, in the Sloviansk direction, the enemy is attempting assault actions,” he said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 23:00
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Hit by all kinds of weapons: The bloody battle for Ukrainian city of Lysychansk rages

Russian forces are firing “all available kinds of weapons” in their bid to take the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, officials said.

Ukrainian fighters have come under intense fire in recent days as they try to defend the city and keep it from falling to Russia, as neighbouring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago.

Fighting has raged around an oil refinery on the city’s edge, with both Russia and Ukraine claiming they have control of the key facility.

“Over the last day, the occupiers opened fire from all available kinds of weapons,” said Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai on Saturday.

Hit by all kinds of weapons: The bloody battle for Ukrainian city rages

Lysychansk is the last Ukrainian stronghold of resistance in the province of Luhansk, in the east of the country

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 22:25
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Two more Britons reportedly charged with ‘mercenary activities’ in Russia-backed separatist Ukraine

Two British men captured by Russian forces in separatist-held Ukraine have been charged with being mercenaries, Russian media has said.

Aid worker Dylan Healy, 22, was stopped at a checkpoint earlier this year while helping a woman and children to flee a battle zone in Russian-backed territory, according to an aid charity.

Andrew Hill, a military volunteer who was detained in the Mykolaiv region around the same time, was shown in camouflage gear on Russian state television.

A source in the power structures of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said investigators had filed charges of carrying out “mercenary activities” against both men, according to Tass.

It claimed both men were refusing to cooperate with the investigation, writes Jane Dalton.

Two more Britons charged with ‘mercenary activities’ in separatist-held Ukraine

Aid worker and military volunteer charged in Russian-backed Donbas with being mercenaries

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 21:45
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Turkey urged to detain Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain

Kyiv has urged Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged cargo ship carrying grain mounted from a Ukrainian port seized by Russia.

Ukrainian foreign ministry officials believe that the 7,146 deadweight tonnage (DWT) Zhibek Zholy had loaded the cargo of some 4,500 tonnes of grain from Berdyansk, reported Reuters citing Ukraine’s foreign ministry officials.

Earlier in a letter dated 30 June, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office had written to Turkey’s justice ministry informing them about the “illegal export of Ukrainian grain” on its way from Berdyansk to Turkey’s Karasu.

Read more from Namita Singh here:

Turkey urged to detain Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain

Ukraine suspects grain was loaded from a port seized by Russia

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 21:15
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FCDO ‘condemns exploitation’ as Britons charged with being mercenaries by Russia

The Foreign Office said it condemns the exploitation of prisoners of war and civilians for political purposes, after two British men were captured by Russian forces and charged with being mercenaries in Ukraine.

Cambridgeshire aid worker Dylan Healy, 22, and military volunteer Andrew Hill have been charged with carrying out “mercenary activities”, officials in the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic said, according to Russian state media Tass.

The outlet reported both men were refusing to co-operate with investigators.

Read more here:

FCDO ‘condemns exploitation’ as Britons charged with being mercenaries by Russia

Officials are in ‘constant contact’ with the government of Ukraine about the case.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 20:20
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Russia accused of dropping phosphorus bombs on Snake Island after claiming retreat

Russia has again been accused of using phosphorus bombs in its war on Ukraine, this time in an attack on Snake Island, just a day after Moscow claimed to have retreated from the Black Sea outpost in a “gesture of goodwill”.

Located just 22 miles from the shores of Nato member Romania, the island – also known as Zmiinyi – had been held by Moscow since February, when it took on symbolic as well as strategic importance after a Ukrainian soldier’s defiant response to a Russian warship was adopted as a popular battle cry.

On Thursday, after Kyiv reported launching a barrage of strikes on the island, Russia’s foreign ministry said it had ceded the territory in conjunction with UN-brokered agreements “in order to organise humanitarian grain corridors”.

Read more from Andy Gregory here:

Russia accused of dropping phosphorus bombs on Snake Island after claiming retreat

Moscow’s stockpiles of more accurate weapons might be dwindling, UK Ministry of Defence claims

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 19:41
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Lukashenko says Belarus intercepted attempted missile strikes by Ukraine

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said on Saturday Ukraine had tried to strike military facilities on Belarusian territory three days ago, but all its missiles had been intercepted, the state-run Belta news agency reported.

Lukashenko, who did not provide evidence for the claim, said Belarus did not want war with Ukraine, but would fight if its own territory was invaded.

The Ukrainian military did not immediately comment.

“They are provoking us. I have to tell you, three days ago, maybe a bit more, an attempt to strike military facilities on Belarusian territory was made from the territory of Ukraine,” Belta quoted Lukashenko as saying.

“But, thank God, the Pantsir anti-aircraft systems managed to intercept all the missiles launched by Ukrainian armed forces.”

Lukashenko said there were no troops from Belarus fighting in what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Belarus is a close ally of Russia and allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to send troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 19:00
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Regulator urges Germans to prepare for possible gas shortage

Fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies, the head of Germany’s regulatory agency for energy called on residents Saturday to save energy and to prepare for winter, when use increases.

Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller urged house and apartment owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximise their efficiency.

“Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10% to 15% ,” he told Funke Mediengruppe, a German newspaper and magazine publisher.Mueller said residents and property owners need to use the 12 weeks before cold weather sets in to get ready.

He said families should start talking now about “whether every room needs to be set at its usual temperature in the winter - or whether some rooms can be a little colder.”

Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom blamed a technical problem for the reduction in natural gas flowing through Nord Stream 1, a pipeline which runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

The company said equipment getting refurbished in Canada was stuck there because of Western sanctions over Russia‘s war in Ukraine.

German leaders have rejected that explanation and called the reductions a political move in reaction to the European Union’s sanctions against Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also Germany’s economy and climate minister and responsible for energy, has warned a “blockade” of the pipeline is possible starting July 11, when regular maintenance work is due to start.

In previous summers, the work has entailed shutting Nord Stream 1 for about 10 days, he said.

The question is whether the upcoming regular maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline will turn into “a longer-lasting political maintenance,” the energy regulator’s Mueller said.

If the gas flow from Russia is “to be lowered for a longer period of time, we will have to talk more seriously about savings,” he said.

According to Mueller, in the event of a gas supply stoppage, private households would be specially protected, as would hospitals or nursing homes.

“I can promise that we will do everything we can to avoid private households being without gas,” he said, adding: “We learned from the coronavirus crisis that we shouldn’t make promises if we’re not entirely sure we can keep them.”

He said his agency “does not see a scenario in which there is no more gas coming to Germany at all.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 18:15
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Smoking out the enemy: How Ukraine is using e-cigarettes to fight a drone war against Russia

Across the country, Ukrainians have launched groundbreaking initiatives to support and even arm the Ukrainian military against Russia, after President Putin’s considerably larger army invaded in February.

A new and unusual one has just been launched by engineer and PhD student Maksym Sheremet and his organisation “Drone Lab”.

His team of volunteers have set up drop-off bins outside the campuses and dorm rooms of Kyiv Polytechnic Institute where Sheremet studies and teaches to collect disposable e-cigarettes and retrieve a valuable commodity inside them: lithium polymer batteries.

Bel Trew reports from a lab in Kyiv wher production has begun:

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

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

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 17:45
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Ukrainians warn of intense bombardment in Donbas

With Russia reported to to be increasingly relying on heavy fire in its bid to seize eastern Ukraine, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai has warned Moscow’s forces are firing “all available kinds of weapons” in their bid to take the city of Lysychansk, the last stronghold of resistance in the region.

One Ukrainian soldier returning from Lysychansk told Reuters of the Russian barrage: “Definitely they are trying to demoralise us. Maybe some people are affected by that, but for us it only brings more hatred and determination.”

Chiming with this assessment, Russia’s Tass news agency quoted a source close to Russian-backed forces in Luhansk saying Ukraine’s last forces in Lysychansk were under intense attack, claiming: “They will be defeated in the near future if they do not surrender.”

Troops speaking to the news agency in Konstyantynivka, a market town situated some 72 miles west of Lysychansk, said they had managed to keep the supply road to the embattled city open – for now – despite the bombardment.

“We still use the road because we have to, but it’s within artillery range of the Russians,” said one soldier, who asked not to be named, adding: “The Russian tactic right now is to just shell any building we could locate ourselves at. When they’ve destroyed it, they move on to the next one.”

Smoke rises over the remains of a building destroyed by a military strike in Lysychansk on 17 June

Maryam Zakir-Hussain2 July 2022 17:15

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