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Ukraine news – live: Russia accused of dropping phosphorus bombs on Snake Island

Allegations come as Moscow denies targeting civilians after apartment strike ‘leaves at least 21 dead’

Namita Singh,Andy Gregory
Saturday 02 July 2022 08:54
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Moment Russian missile hits Ukrainian shopping centre

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

Two Russian Su-30 planes conducted two airstrikes on the island on Friday using the weapons, from an airfield in Crimea, according to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

The use of phosphorus – which can kill, main and poison victims – is banned in heavily populated civilian areas under international law, but it is not considered a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Not far from the island, powerful explosions rocked the city of Mykolaiv early on Saturday, the city’s mayor said, while Germany has warned that Vladimir Putin must be “held to account” for a missile strike on an apartment block near Odesa, said by authorities to have killed at least 21 people.

The Kremlin has denied Moscow targeted the building, insisting “the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets”.

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Russia accused of potentially ‘symbolic attack’ as western leaders pledge support for Ukraine

A series of strikes on residential buildings in recent days have prompted allegations that Russia may be using the attacks to send a message to western leaders as they gathered at various fora this week.

Three days after EU leaders agreed to make Ukraine a candidate for membership, at least six people were killed after missiles struck Kyiv, in what mayor Vitali Klitschko suggested was “maybe a symbolic attack”.

The former commanding general of US army forces in Europe, retired Lt Gen Ben Hodges, went further in connecting the attack and the meetings, claiming: “The Russians are humiliating the leaders of the west.”

A day after the Kyiv attack, as G7 leaders met in Germany to discuss further support for Ukraine during their annual summit, Russia fired missiles at a crowded shopping centre in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, killing at least 19 people.

The timing of both attacks appeared to be juxtaposed with the European meetings of Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Putin and his officials deny that Russia hit residential areas, and say the attack on the Kremenchuk shopping centre was directed at a nearby weapons depot.

Andy Gregory2 July 2022 08:37
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In a report on the mood in Moscow, published as a strike near Odesa is alleged to have killed at least 21 people, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich describes overhearing this jarring conversation in a restaurant in Russia’s capital:

Andy Gregory2 July 2022 08:13
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Russia using anti-ship missiles on land ‘because of dwindling weapons stockpiles’

Russia is using air-launched anti-ship missiles for attacks on land, “likely because of dwindling stockpiles of more accurate modern weapons”, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said.

In its latest “intelligence update”, the ministry also claimed that analysis of CCTV footage shows the missile that impacted the Kremenchuk shopping centre on 27 June 2022 was highly likely a Kh-32 – an upgraded version of the Soviet-era Kh-22 KITCHEN.

“Although the Kh-32 has several performance improvements over the Kh-22, it is still not optimised to accurately strike ground targets, especially in an urban environment. This greatly increases the likelihood of collateral damage when targeting built up areas,” it said.

Furthermore, it warned that the Soviet-era missiles – which “are even less accurate and unsuitable for precision strikes” – were likely used in the Odesa region on Thursday, and “have almost certainly repeatedly caused civilian casualties in recent weeks”.

Andy Gregory2 July 2022 07:39
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Putin condemns Kyiv's ‘dangerous and provocative nature’

Russia’s president condemned Kyiv for its “dangerous and provocative nature” as it blames the West for escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin levelled the accusation during his telephonic conversation with India’s prime minister Narendra Modi.

The Government is continuing to impose sanctions on the allies of Russian president Vladimir Putin

“At the request of Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin gave an update on the key aspects of Russia’s ongoing special military operation and underscored the dangerous and provocative nature of the approach of the [Kyiv] regime and its Western patrons to escalate the crisis and torpedo efforts to resolve it by political and diplomatic methods,” said Kremlin in the statement released on Friday.

The leaders of the two countries also voiced “their mutual commitment to strengthening the specially privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India.”

Namita Singh2 July 2022 06:55
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Two 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.

My colleague Jane Dalton reports:

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

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

Namita Singh2 July 2022 06:30
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Ukraine accuses Russia of using phosphorus bombs on Snake Island

Ukraine has accused Russian troops of using phosphorus bombs to attack Snake Island, reported Al Jazeera.

Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s army, claimed that two Russian Su-30 fighters dropping phosphorus bombs were flown over Snake island.“Today at around 18:00 … Russian air force Su-30 planes twice conducted strikes with phosphorus bombs on Zmiinyi island,” said the army, referring to the Snake Island.

White phosphorus, which ignites on contact with air, is often used to mark enemy targets and produce a smokescreen to hide troop movements.

It can also be used to start fires, and can burn through bone when it comes into contact with flesh. It can kill, maim and poison victims.

Surveillance shows an aircraft flying past and dropping explosives, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in a location given as Zmiinyi (Snake) Island

The use of phosphorus is banned in heavily populated civilian areas under international law – but it is not considered a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Russia has been accused of using white phosphorus munitions before.

Phosphorus bombs were dropped in attacks on the cities of Lutsk in the west and Popasna in the east earlier this month, according to Ukrainian officials.

Namita Singh2 July 2022 06:07
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German regulator hints at gas rationing priorities, claim reports

Germany’s energy regulator has identified priority areas which will have protected access to power this winter if the country experiences gas shortages.

These range from households and hospitals to pharmaceutical companies and paper producers.

The authorities are propelled to make urgent preparation ahead of winters due to sharp cuts to deliveries of Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipeline.

“We can’t classify every business as systemically important,” Klaus Mueller, head of Germany’s Federal Network Agency watchdog, told the Funke newspaper group in an interview published on Saturday.

“Products and services for entertainment will be less important ... Swimming pools clearly aren’t critical and nor is chocolate biscuit making.”

A young woman holds a sign urging an embargo on Russian oil and gas during a protest gathering to demand Europe keep its promises towards supporting Ukraine on 5 June 2022 in Berlin, Germany

While households are a top priority, Mr Mueller didn’t rule out the possibility of power cuts.

“If it comes to rationing, we will have to reduce industrial consumption first,” he said.

“I can guarantee that we will do everything to avoid private households being left without gas. But we have learned from the coronavirus crisis that we shouldn’t make promises that we are not certain of being able to keep.”

Russia has blamed technical difficulties resulting from sanctions for Nord Stream pipeline flows being halved in recent weeks, though German officials say the cuts are a retaliation for western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Namita Singh2 July 2022 05:05
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Modi speaks with Putin, fails to publicly condemn Ukraine aggression

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi spoke with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin on Friday, where he reiterated the country’s “position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy”.

“The two leaders reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken during President Putin’s visit to India in December 2021,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a statement. “In particular, they exchanged ideas on how bilateral trade in agricultural goods, fertilisers and pharma products could be encouraged further”.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Russian President Vladimir Putin

“The leaders also discussed global issues, including the state of the international energy and food markets,” it said, reported the Indian Express. “In the context of the ongoing situation in Ukraine, the prime minister reiterated India’s long-standing position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy.”

The two leaders have earlier spoken to each other thrice since Russia invaded Ukraine in February this year. The Indian government – though it has criticised the killings in Bucha – has so far failed to directly condemn the Russian aggression.

Namita Singh2 July 2022 04:45
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Powerful blasts heard in Mykolaiv, says mayor

Powerful explosions were heard early on Saturday in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, said mayor Oleksandr Senkevich.

“There are powerful explosions in the city! Stay in shelters!” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The cause of the explosions was not immediately known.

Air raid sirens sounded across the whole Mykolaiv region before the blasts, reported Reuters, adding that they were not able to independently verify the claims by the mayor.

A burned car is pictured in front of a destroyed building in the city of Mariupol on 1 July 2022

Namita Singh2 July 2022 04:23
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Two children among 21 people killed after missile strikes on Odesa

At least 21 people, including two children, have been killed after Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two holiday camps near Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa on Friday morning, Ukrainian authorities have said.

Ukrainian officials told The Independent that at least 18 people perished in the strike on a nine-storey apartment block in the village of Serhiivka, and another three died in a hit on the resort.

A member of Odesa’s military administration said that two children at the resort were in critical condition and the hunt for those who were still missing continued.

Bel Trew and Shweta Sharma report.

Two children among 21 people killed after missile strikes on Odesa

One rocket hit a nine-storey residential building and another struck a recreation centre, Ukrainian officials say

Joe Middleton2 July 2022 02:30

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