Dozens of ‘body fragments’ found in wreckage of bombed shopping centre

Dozens of “body fragments” have been found in the wreckage of a bombed shopping centre in Kremenchuk, according to Ukraine’s state emergency service.

In a Facebook post, they said: “As a result of shelling, 21 people died and 66 people were injured, of which 26 people were hospitalised.

“A total of 29 body fragments have been discovered since the beginning of the work.”

The shopping mall was struck by a missile on Monday 27 June. Russian president Vladimir Putin has claimed that troops intended to hit a weapons depot nearby, denying that the mall was a target.

Meanwhile, 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.

Key points

  • Investigators probe ‘terrible war crimes’ in apartment strike near Odesa

  • Russia accused of using phosphorus bombs on Snake Island

  • Children among 21 dead in apartment block strike, Odesa officials say

  • Two more Britons reportedly charged with ‘mercenary activities’ in Russia-backed separatist Ukraine

  • Dozens of ‘body fragments’ found in wreckage of bombed shopping centre

Investigators find missile fragments in apartment wreckage

00:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Investigators have combed through the wreckage from a Russian airstrike early Friday on residential areas near the Ukrainian port of Odesa that killed 21 people.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova said the investigators were recovering fragments from missiles that struck an apartment building in the small coastal town of Serhiivka.

They also were taking measurements to determine the trajectory of the weapons and “the specific people guilty of this terrible war crime,” she said.

Larissa Andruchenko said she was in the kitchen making tea at about 1 a.m. when a blast blew the doors open. At first she thought the propane gas tank had exploded, and called her husband to the kitchen

.“And right then the lights went off and it was nightmare. The two of us are in the kitchen with glass flying, everything was flying,” she said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said three anti-ship missiles struck “an ordinary residential building, a nine-story building” housing about 160 people.

The victims of Friday’s attack also included four members of a family staying at a seaside campsite, he said.‘I emphasise: This is deliberate direct Russian terror, and not some mistake or an accidental missile strike,” Zelensky said.

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

23:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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.

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

22:25 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

Two more Britons reportedly charged with ‘mercenary activities’ in Russia-backed separatist Ukraine

21:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

Turkey urged to detain Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain

21:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

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

20:20 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

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

19:41 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

Lukashenko says Belarus intercepted attempted missile strikes by Ukraine

19:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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.

Regulator urges Germans to prepare for possible gas shortage

18:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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.”

Smoking out the enemy: How Ukraine is using e-cigarettes to fight a drone war against Russia

17:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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

Ukrainians warn of intense bombardment in Donbas

17:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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 (REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak)

Smoke rises over the remains of a building destroyed by a military strike in Lysychansk on 17 June (REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak)

Kremenchuk shopping mall blast: 29 body fragments discovered

16:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine’s state emergency service said: Ukraine work on the demolition of rubble in the “Amstor” shopping center, which was destroyed on June 27 as a result of rocket fire, was completed.

They said: “As a result of shelling, 21 people died and 66 people were injured, of which 26 people were hospitalized. A total of 29 body fragments have been discovered since the beginning of the work.”

Ukrainian commander hits out at Russian ‘inconsistency’ over alleged Snake Island attack

16:00 , Andy Gregory

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s army has hit out at the supposed “accuracy” of Russia’s strikes as being the “the only thing in which the enemy is consistent”, as he accused Moscow of using phosphorus bombs to attack Snake Island just a day after it claimed to have retreated in a “gesture of goodwill”.

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

The following day, however, Russian Su-30 fighter jets launched from Crimea conducted two strikes on the island using phosphorus bombs, Ukrainian commander Valeriy Zaluzhnyi alleged.

“Everyone who talks about agreements with Russia should know these facts. The only thing in which the enemy is consistent is the constant ‘accuracy’ of the blows,” Mr Zaluzhnyi said, in comments made amid claims that Russia is using anti-ship missiles to hit land targets despite their increased threat to civilians.

Control over Snake Island means dominance over the land, and to some extent, air security of southern Ukraine, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov suggested back in May, as he explained why Kyiv would fight for the island “for as long as it takes”.

“Whoever controls the island can at any moment block the movement of civilian vessels in all directions to the south of Ukraine,” he said, adding: “This is a strategically important point in order to open trade sea routes, import weapons to us, and exclude any possible military actions by Russia on the territory of the PMR [Moldova’s Transnistria region], from which they can attack the western part of Ukraine.”

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

Chance of fair trial of captured Britons ‘vanishingly small’, Amnesty says

15:17 , Andy Gregory

Amnesty International has urged an immediate halt to the “sham judicial process” to which two Britons captured by Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk People’s Republic are being subjected.

Cambridgeshire aid worker Dylan Healy, 22, and military volunteer Andrew Hill have been charged with carrying out “mercenary activities”, local officials were quoted as saying by Russian state news outlet Tass.

“As with Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Saaudun Brahim, this is a sham process designed to exert diplomatic pressure on the UK, not least as it comes shortly after Britain announced a large shipment of weapons for Ukraine,” said Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International UK’s crisis response manager.

“Under the Geneva Conventions, captured combatants and other protected persons should be humanely treated at all times. In exploiting their capture of Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill like this, Russia and its proxies in the Donetsk People’s Republic are already adding to a huge catalogue of war crimes they’re committing in this war.

“The chances of Healy and Hill receiving a fair trial in either the Donetsk People’s Republic or in Russia itself are vanishingly small. Unless the authorities present clear evidence that Healy and Hill are implicated in war crimes, this sham judicial process should be halted immediately.”

German consumers urged to save energy amid fears of Russian gas cut-off

14:50 , Andy Gregory

People in Germany have been urged to save energy and prepare for the winter amid fears that Russia might cut off natural gas supplies.

The head of Germany’s energy regulator has urged people to save energy and prepare for winter, when use increases, fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies.

The president of Germany’s energy regulator, Klaus Mueller, urged house and apartment owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximise their efficiency, telling the Funke Mediengruppe news group: “Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10 per cent to 15 per cent.”

Mr Mueller said residents and property owners need to use the 12 weeks before cold weather sets in to get ready, urging families to 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”.

Earlier this month, Russia reduced gas flows to Germany, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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

14:22 , Andy Gregory

Our international editor David Harding has more details on the battle currently raging over Lysychansk, the last stronghold of resistance in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk province:

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

UK condemns ‘exploitation of prisoners of war and civilians’

13:14 , Andy Gregory

The UK government has condemned “the exploitation of prisoners of war and civilians for political purposes”, after two British men were 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 claimed both men were refusing to co-operate with investigators.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is understood to be actively investigating and is providing support to the men’s families, with a spokesperson saying: “We condemn the exploitation of prisoners of war and civilians for political purposes and have raised this with Russia.

“We are in constant contact with the government of Ukraine on their cases and are fully supportive of Ukraine in its efforts to get them released.”

Turkey urged to detain Russian ship carrying ‘thousands of tonnes of Ukrainian grain’

12:51 , Andy Gregory

Kyiv has urged Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged cargo ship carrying grain mounted from a Ukrainian port seized by Russia, my colleague Namita Singh reports.

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.

The prosecutor general’s office also requested Turkey to “conduct an inspection of this sea vessel, seize samples of grain for forensic examination, demand information on the location of such grain” in the letter, as it offered a joint investigation with the Turkish authorities.

Yevhen Batytskyi, Russia’s newly appointed governor of the occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia took to Telegram to announce the departure of the ship from Berdyansk, on the Sea of Azov, the BBC reported. He added that 7,000 tonnes of grain would be shared with “friendly” countries.

Turkey urged to detain Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain

Investigators probe ‘terrible war crime’ after Odesa apartment strike

12:22 , Andy Gregory

Investigators have sifted through the wreckage from the Russian airstrike on an apartment building in the village of Serhiivka, near Odesa, which killed 21 people.

Ukrainian prosecutor-general Iryna Venediktova said investigators were recovering fragments from missiles and taking measurements to determine the trajectory of the weapons.

“We are taking all the necessary investigative measures to determine the specific people guilty of this terrible war crime,” Venediktova said.

Volodymyr Zelensky said three anti-ship missiles struck “an ordinary residential building, a nine-story building” housing about 160 people. The victims of Friday’s attack also included four members of a familystaying at a “typical” seaside campsite, he said.

‘I emphasise – this is a deliberate direct Russian terror, and not some mistake or an accidental missile strike,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Friday.

Russia claims to hit five Ukrainian command posts

11:47 , Andy Gregory

Russia claims to have destroyed five Ukrainian army command posts in the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions.

Moscow’s defence ministry said the targets had been struck with high precision weapons. It also claimed to have hit three storage sites in the Zaporizhzhia region, and a weapons and equipment base at a tractor factory in Kharkiv.

Impounded tanker at centre of Iran-Greece diplomatic row ‘released’

11:08 , Andy Gregory

An Iranian-flagged tanker seized by Greece in April – part of whose cargo was confiscated by the United States – has reportedly been released.

The ship was being towed from the island of Evia to the port of Piraeus today, Reuters cited Greek coast guard officials as saying, following a two-month long diplomatic impasse.

In April, Greek authorities impounded the Lana and its oil cargo with 19 Russian crew members on board near the coast of Evia, due to sanctions following legal action by the US.

While that decision was overturned on 10 June due to complications regarding the boat’s ownership, it remained impounded by another firm over debts owed for towing services. But the tanker, which has engine problems, was officially released after the amount owed was paid off, legal sources told Reuters.

The removal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces last month to seize two Greek tankers in the Middle East Gulf and sail them back to Iran after Tehran warned of “punitive action” against Athens. They have not yet been released.

Russia launching intense attack on Lysychansk, regional governor says

10:36 , Andy Gregory

Russian forces are hammering the city of Lysychansk and its surroundings in an all-out bid to seize the last stronghold of resistance in the Luhansk region, its governor has warned.

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

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighbouring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago.

The Russian defence ministry claimed its forces took control of an oil refinery on Lysychansk’s edge in recent days, but Mr Haidai insisted on Friday that fighting for the facility continued.

Day of mourning to be held after strike near Odesa

09:46 , Reuters

Residents in the resort village of Serhiivka near Odesa helped workers pick through the rubble of the nine-storey apartment block, a section of which had been destroyed in Friday’s early-morning strike.

Walls and windows of a neighbouring 14-storey apartment block were damaged by the blast wave. Nearby holiday camps were also hit.

“We came here to the site, assessed the situation together with emergency workers and locals, and together helped those who survived. And those who unfortunately died. We helped to carry them away,” said Oleksandr Abramov, who lives nearby and had rushed to the scene when he heard the blast.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said 21 people had been confirmed killed, including a 12-year-old boy. Among the fatalities was an employee of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center set up by Ukraine‘s neighbour Moldova in the resort.

The region will observe a day of mourning on Saturday for those killed during the attack, Mr Bratchuk said.

Gerasimov inspects Russian forces involved in war, Moscow says

09:12 , Andy Gregory

Russia’s highest-ranking uniformed army officer, Valery Gerasimov, has inspected divisions of Russian troops involved in Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, Moscow has said.

Russia’s defence ministry published photographs of the chief of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces at work. It was not immediately clear when the visit took place or if Mr Gerasimov had visited Ukraine itself.

The ministry issued a similar statement about defence minister Sergei Shoigu last week.

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

08:37 , Andy Gregory

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.

08:13 , Andy Gregory

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:

Russia using anti-ship missiles on land ‘because of dwindling weapons stockpiles’

07:39 , Andy Gregory

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”.

Putin condemns Kyiv’s ‘dangerous and provocative nature’

06:55 , Namita Singh

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 (AP)

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

“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.”

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

06:30 , Namita Singh

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

Ukraine accuses Russia of using phosphorus bombs on Snake Island

06:07 , Namita Singh

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 (Reuters)

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

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.

German regulator hints at gas rationing priorities, claim reports

05:05 , Namita Singh

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 (Getty Images)

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 (Getty Images)

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.

Modi speaks with Putin, fails to publicly condemn Ukraine aggression

04:45 , Namita Singh

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 (Getty Images)

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Russian President Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)

“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.

Powerful blasts heard in Mykolaiv, says mayor

04:23 , Namita Singh

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 (AFP via Getty Images)

A burned car is pictured in front of a destroyed building in the city of Mariupol on 1 July 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

Two children among 21 people killed after missile strikes on Odesa

02:30 , Joe Middleton

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

EU prepares emergency plan to do without Russian energy

01:30 , Joe Middleton

The European Union’s executive arm on Friday pledged to draft an emergency plan this month aimed at helping member countries do without Russian energy in the wake of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the initiative would build on EU moves to ditch Russian coal, oil and natural gas and would complement a bloc-wide push to accelerate the development of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

“We are preparing emergency plans for Europe,” von der Leyen said in the Czech town of Litomysl, where she marked the start of the country’s six-month stint as holder of the rotating EU presidency. “Energy prices are high. People — rightly so — expect us to do something about it.”

She said the contingency plan, due around mid-July, would focus on two key points including having a “clear idea” of where to cut back on Russian energy supply and to do it “in a smart way” as well as to rally around EU countries facing supply squeezes.

EU prepares emergency plan to do without Russian energy

What happened to WNBA star Brittney Griner?

Saturday 2 July 2022 00:30 , Joe Middleton

WNBA star Brittney Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia since February after drugs were allegedly found in her luggage by officials at a Moscow airport.

Her detainment occurred shortly before Russia launched its war in Ukraine, with geopolitical tensions making it undoubtedly more difficult to secure her release.

Ms Griner’s family, friends and fans — alongside many public figures — have been calling on Russia to free her for months and for the US State Department to intervene.

Her trial began on Friday (1 July), days after a court ordered her detainment be extended until December.

Here’s everything we know about the ordeal:

What happened to WNBA star Brittney Griner?

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

Friday 1 July 2022 23:30 , Joe Middleton

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.

Jane Dalton reports.

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

Connection restored to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, says Ukraine

Friday 1 July 2022 22:30 , Joe Middleton

Ukraine‘s nuclear power operator said on Friday it had re-established its connection to surveillance systems at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, which is occupied by Russian forces.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s atomic watchdog, has said it wants to inspect the plant in southern Ukraine urgently, but Ukrainian authorities oppose any such visit while Russian forces remain in control.

It was the second time communications had been lost with the plant, made up of six reactors. Ukraine state Energoatom agency said on its Telegram channel that it had restored the connection “by its own efforts”.

The link, it said, had been lost “due to the cutting off by the occupiers in Enerhodar of all Ukrainian mobile operators, including Vodavone, with which the (IAEA) has a contract for data transmission.”

All “mandatory monitoring data are transmitted” and the IAEA had confirmed receipt, Energoatom said.

The IAEA said earlier this week that the loss of communication links “only adds to the urgency to dispatch this mission” to Zaporizhzhia. It said the connection had been lost “due to a disruption of the facility’s communication systems”.

‘Political pawn’ US basketball star Brittney Griner appears in Moscow court

Friday 1 July 2022 21:50 , Joe Middleton

Brittney Griner, an American basketball star, appeared in a Russian court on Friday, four months after she was arrested on cannabis possession charges at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport while travelling to play for a Russian team.

David Harding reports.

‘Political pawn’ US basketball star Brittney Griner appears in Moscow court

US sends Ukraine $820M in aid, including two surface-to-air missile systems

Friday 1 July 2022 21:21 , Joe Middleton

The United States is sending Ukraine two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, four additional counter-artillery radars and up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition as part of its latest weapons packages for Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The assistance package, worth $820 million was announced by US president Joe Biden on Thursday in Madrid following a gathering of Nato leaders that was focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Pentagon offered more details on Friday as it formalized the announcement, and said the latest round of security assistance also included additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

The new U.S. aid is meant to bolster Kyiv as it confronts heavy pounding by Russian artillery.

Russia’s stepped-up campaign of long-range missile attacks on Ukrainian cities has come as its forces have ground out success on the battlefield in the east, with a relentless assault to try to force Kyiv to cede two provinces to separatists.

PM dismisses Russia’s nuclear threats as “sabre-rattling”

Friday 1 July 2022 20:55 , Joe Middleton

Satellite images show destruction of Ukraine’s Snake Island after Russian troops flee

Friday 1 July 2022 20:00 , Joe Middleton

New satellite imagery from Thursday morning (30 June) shows the destruction left behind on Snake Island after Russian troops fled the Black Sea outpost.

Smoke can be seen from burning vehicles and structures at several locations across the northern section of the island, while a colour infrared view shows the areas that have recently burned.

Ukraine is celebrating a significant victory after Vladimir Putin’s troops withdrew following what the nation’s armed forces have described as a series of devastating attacks on the island and any Russian ship going near it.

Satellite images show destruction of Ukraine’s Snake Island after Russian troops flee

UNESCO declares borshch protected Ukrainian heritage

Friday 1 July 2022 19:27 , Joe Middleton

Ukraine claimed victory in a culinary dispute with Russia on Friday after the United Nations’ cultural agency placed a traditional beetroot soup on its list of protected Ukrainian cultural heritage.

UNESCO announced in a statement that it had placed borshch, a rich crimson soup packed with vegetables, on a list of cultural heritage in need of “urgent safeguarding” due to the risk posed to the soup’s status as an element of Ukraine‘s cultural heritage by Moscow’s invasion.

Ukraine‘s culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko wrote on Twitter: “Victory in the war for borshch is ours!”

Moscow decried the new protected Ukrainian status of the dish, which is also popular in Russia, as an example of “contemporary Kyiv nationalism”.

“Our borshch does not need protection, but is subject to immediate and complete destruction in a bowl,” Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram.

A UNESCO spokesman in Paris said the new status meant Ukraine could now apply for special funds to finance projects promoting and protecting the dish.

Briton condemned to death in breakaway Donetsk region appeals sentence

Friday 1 July 2022 19:01 , Joe Middleton

A British man condemned to death by a separatist court in east Ukraine has appealed against his sentence, Russian state news agency TASS has reported.

Shaun Pinner, 48, has formally lodged papers in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Russian-backed separatist region, said TASS on Friday. Another Briton also sentenced to death, Aiden Aslin, had not yet submitted an appeal, added the agency.

A third man condemned with the Britons, Brahim Saadoun from Morocco, had also lodged an appeal against his death sentence.

David Harding has the details.

Shaun Pinner: Briton condemned to death in Donetsk appeals sentence

Russian state TV presenter says Boris Johnson is ‘chubby’

Friday 1 July 2022 18:29 , Joe Middleton

Briton and Moroccan appeal death sentences in Russia-backed separatist court

Friday 1 July 2022 17:51 , Joe Middleton

A Moroccan and a British fighter sentenced to death by a Russian-backed separatist court in east Ukraine for fighting for Ukrainian forces have appealed against their sentences, the Russian state news agency TASS reported on Friday.

TASS said the Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), a territory recognised only by Russia and Syria, had received appeals from lawyers for Brahim Saadoun and Shaun Pinner.

It said another condemned Briton, Aiden Aslin, had not yet submitted an appeal, citing Mr Aslin’s lawyer.

‘Time running out’ to save Briton sentenced to death by Donetsk separatists

Putin jokes and defence spending rows: Inside Boris Johnson’s turbulent trip overseas

Friday 1 July 2022 17:18 , Joe Middleton

Adam Forrest travelled to the G7 and Nato summits and saw a prime minister unable to escape his political problems at home.

Putin jokes and defence spending rows: Inside Boris Johnson’s turbulent trip overseas

Ukraine calls on Turkey to detain Russian cargo ship carrying grain

Friday 1 July 2022 17:01 , Joe Middleton

Ukraine has requested that Turkey detain and arrest the Russian-flagged cargo ship Zhibek Zholy carrying a cargo of Ukrainian grain taken from the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk, according to a Ukrainian official and document seen by Reuters.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry official, citing information received from the country’s maritime administration, said the Zhibek Zholy had loaded the first cargo of some 4,500 tonnes of grain from Berdyansk, which the official said belonged to Ukraine.

In a letter dated June 30 to Turkey’s justice ministry, Ukraine‘s prosecutor general’s office separately that the Zhibek Zholy was involved in the “illegal export of Ukrainian grain” from Berdyansk and headed to Karasu, Turkey with 7,000 tonnes of cargo, which is a larger cargo than cited by the official.

Turkey’s foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the arrival of the Zhibek Zholy.

Norway pledges 1 billion euros to support Ukraine

Friday 1 July 2022 16:34 , Joe Middleton

Norway on Friday pledged 1 billion euros to support Ukraine for the rest of 2022 and 2023, Norway’s prime minister told a news conference with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Jonas Gahr Stoere said the money was to help Ukraine support people in need, defend itself and for reconstruction.

Putin mocks Johnson for claiming he would not have invaded if he was a woman

Friday 1 July 2022 16:24 , Joe Middleton

Serhiivka neighbours search for survivors after apartment block strike

Friday 1 July 2022 15:59 , Tom Barnes

 (EPA)

(EPA)

Neighbours in the resort village of Serhiivka, near Odesa, helped workers comb through the rubble of the nine-storey apartment block, a section of which had been completely destroyed on Friday morning by a Russian missile strike.

Walls and windows of a neighbouring, 14-storey apartment block had also been damaged by the blast wave. Nearby holiday camps were also hit.

“We came here to the site, assessed the situation together with emergency workers and locals, and together helped those who survived. And those who unfortunately died. We helped to carry them away,” said Oleksandr Abramov, who lives nearby and had rushed to the scene when he heard the blast.

At least 21 people, including two children, were killed in the blast.

Breaking: Odesa apartment bombing death toll rises to 21

Friday 1 July 2022 15:43 , Tom Barnes

At least 21 people have died following a Russian missile strike on an apartment block near Odesa, Ukranian officials have said.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said 21 people had been confirmed killed, including a 12-year-old boy. The boy is one of two children reported to have died.

Authorities said earlier 41 people had been rescued from the apartment building where 152 lived.

Video: Satellite images of Ukraine’s Snake Island after Russian troops flee

Friday 1 July 2022 15:14 , Tom Barnes

Russia seizes control of partly-foreign owned energy project

Friday 1 July 2022 14:48 , AP

Vladimir Putin has handed full control over a major oil and natural gas project partly owned by Shell and two Japanese companies to a newly created Russian firm, a bold move amid spiralling tensions with the West over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

Mr Putin’s decree late Thursday orders the creation of a new company that would take over ownership of Sakhalin Energy Investment Co, which is nearly 50 per cent controlled by British energy giant Shell and Japan-based Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

His order named “threats to Russia’s national interests and its economic security” as the reason for the move at Sakhalin-2, one of the world’s largest export-orientated oil and natural gas projects.

The presidential order gives the foreign firms a month to decide if they want to retain the same shares in the new company.

Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom had a controlling stake in Sakhalin-2, the country’s first offshore gas project that accounts for about 4% of the world’s market for liquefied natural gas, or LNG.

Japan, South Korea and China are the main customers for the project’s oil and LNG exports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that there is no reason to expect a shutdown of supplies following Mr Putin’s order.

Russian envoy to Bulgaria says she will ask Moscow to shut embassy

Friday 1 July 2022 14:18 , Reuters

Russia’s ambassador to Bulgaria said on Friday she would ask Moscow to close down its embassy in the Balkan country after her appeal for Sofia to reverse a decision to expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff was ignored.

In a statement addressed to the Bulgarian people, the ambassador, Eleonora Mitrofanova, said the closure of the Russian embassy would inevitably lead to the closure of Bulgaria‘s embassy in Moscow too.

Bulgaria, an EU and NATO member state and once a close ally of Russia, has been roiled by diplomatic tensions this week after outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov announced the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomatic staff on espionage concerns.

The move was the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats by Sofia in recent years and more than halved the size of Moscow’s diplomatic footprint in Bulgaria.

Russia’s ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova called the expulsions an “unprecedented hostile step and on Thursday told Sofia to reverse its decision by midday on Friday. If it did not, she said she would ask Moscow to consider ending Russia’s physical diplomatic presence in Bulgaria altogether.

Petkov earlier on Friday rejected her ultimatum.

“Unfortunately our appeal to Bulgaria‘s ministry of foreign affairs was ignored,” Mitrofanova, the Russian ambassador, wrote in a statement.

“I intend to quickly put the question of the closure of Russia’s embassy in Bulgaria before my country’s leadership, which will inevitably mean the closure of the Bulgarian diplomatic mission in Moscow,” she wrote.

Protests over Russian film set to be screened at Czech film festival

Friday 1 July 2022 13:58 , AP

An international film festival in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary opened on Friday amid controversy, following a protest by Ukraine over the screening of a Russian film alongside Ukrainian-made movies.

Before the start of the 56th edition of the festival, several leading Ukrainian filmmakers and Ukraine‘s ambassador to Prague protested over the scheduled screening of Captain Volkonogov Escaped.

Ukrainian ambassador Yevhen Perebyinis said in an open letter that it would be “inhuman” to screen Ukrainian films alongside a Russian movie made with support from Russia’s culture ministry at a time when Russian troops had “committed atrocities” during their invasion of his country.

Organisers said they consider the Russian movie, whose world premiere was at last year’s Venice Film Festival, as being indirectly critical of the current Russian leadership.

Four Ukrainian films and eight other nearly-completed movies produced or co-produced by Ukraine will also be screened at the festival.

Putin must be held accountable after Russia missile attacks near Odesa, Germany says

Friday 1 July 2022 13:36 , Reuters

Germany on Friday condemned missile strikes near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, saying attacks on civilians were war crimes.

“The Russian President Putin and those responsible will have to be held accountable,” a German government spokesman told a briefing.

Missiles rained near Odesa on Friday, hitting an apartment building and a resort and killing at least 19 people, hours after Russian troops were driven off the nearby Snake Island. Russian denies targeting civilians.

Turkey can re-export Black Sea grains to states in need, Erdogan says

Friday 1 July 2022 13:11 , Reuters

Turkey can re-export grain products like wheat, oat, and barley from the Black Sea to countries in need after talks with Russia and Ukraine, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, adding he would discuss the matter with both countries in coming days.

Ukraine is one of the top global wheat suppliers, but shipments have been halted by Russia’s invasion, causing global food shortages. The United Nations has appealed to both sides, as well as maritime neighbour Turkey, to agree to a corridor.

Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan said his office was working with Kyiv and Moscow to set up calls with his counterparts and that 20 Turkish vessels were ready to take part in the potential shipments.

After talks with the leaders of Ukraine and Russia, “we can send wheat, barley, oat, sunflower oil and all to countries in need by carrying out a re-export through us,” he said, adding Turkey’s stocks were “in good shape” for now.

‘Political pawn’ US basketball star Brittney Griner appears in Moscow court

Friday 1 July 2022 12:42 , Tom Barnes

More here on detained US basketball player Brittney Griner, who has appeared in a Moscow court this morning.

She was arrested on cannabis possession charges four months ago, but her wife says she is being treated as a ‘political pawn’

David Harding has the full story here:

‘Political pawn’ US basketball star Brittney Griner appears in Moscow court

Terrified shoppers run for cover in new footage of Russian attack on Ukraine mall

Friday 1 July 2022 12:25 , Tom Barnes

Ukraine has released new footage of shoppers diving for cover the moment a Russian missile hit a busy mall.

Video captured by CCTV cameras shows terrified customers running for their lives moments after the attack at the Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine on Monday.

The strike killed at least 18 in the shopping centre alone. A further 59 were injured, while a further 20 people remain missing.

A missile can be seen flying towards the building in footage from outside the shopping centre. Seconds later, a huge explosion takes place, throwing debris high into the air.

Before the strike, shoppers can be seen calmly browsing busy stores and walking around the exterior of the mall.

The footage, released by Ukraine’s security service, calls into question Russia’s claims the mall was “non-functioning” and was being used to store ammunition.

Terrified shoppers run for cover in new footage of Russian attack on Ukraine mall

Bulgaria destroys naval mine off its Black Sea coast

Friday 1 July 2022 12:01 , Reuters

Bulgaria’s military late on Thursday carried out a controlled explosion of a Soviet-era naval mine that had drifted close to the country’s Black Sea coast, the defence ministry said on Friday.

Black Sea countries began to report the appearance of such mines floating in the sea after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of planting them.

The defence ministry said the mine was first noticed some 27 nautical miles east of the mouth of the Kamchia river by a motor ship.

“Military experts classify the mine as an anchored “YaM” type, placed in a combat position. The mine has been destroyed with a controlled explosion carried out by a group of divers,” it said in a statement.

The Black Sea is a major shipping artery for grain, oil and oil products.

US basketball star detained in Russia appears in court

Friday 1 July 2022 11:37 , AP

Basketball star Brittney Griner (right) arrvies at court near Moscow in handcuffs (AFP via Getty Images)

Basketball star Brittney Griner (right) arrvies at court near Moscow in handcuffs (AFP via Getty Images)

American basketball star Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian court on Friday, four months after she was arrested on cannabis possession charges at an airport while travelling to play for a Russian team.

Griner was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Police said she was carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil.

The Phoenix Mercury star and two-time US Olympic gold medallist could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

Fewer than 1 per cent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and acquittals can be overturned.

At a closed-door preliminary hearing on Monday in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Griner’s detention was extended for another six months, to December 20.

Photos obtained by The Associated Press, including one of the few close-ups of Griner since her arrest on February 17, showed the 31-year-old in handcuffs and looking straight ahead.

She declined to answer questions from reporters in English as she was led through the court, according to video shown in Russian media.

Russian media later reported that Griner’s lawyers would not comment on how their client planned to plead.

ICYMI: Two children among 19 people killed after missile strike on Odesa

Friday 1 July 2022 11:18 , Tom Barnes

At least 19 people, including two children, have been this morning killed after Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two holiday camps near Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa.

Shweta Sharma now has the full story here:

Two children among 18 people killed after missile strike on Odesa

Death toll from Odesa apartment block strike rises to 19

Friday 1 July 2022 11:13 , Tom Barnes

Ukraine authorities now say 19 people have died, including two children, in a Russian strike on an appartment block near Odesa.

“A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they fight civilians,” Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said.

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

The attack comes after Russian forces withdrew from the strategically important Snake Island on Thursday, a move Ukrainians hoped would ease the threat to nearby Odesa.

Russia-backed separatists say they will start using death penalty from 2025 in new criminal code

Friday 1 July 2022 11:02 , Reuters

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine where two Britons and a Moroccan have been sentenced to death say the death penalty will start being used from 2025, according to an updated criminal code of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The DPR has had the death penalty on its statute books since 2014, but no legislation outlining how to enforce it until now. Rights group Amnesty International, which tracks the use of the death penalty worldwide, has not recorded any instances of official executions in the region.

A court in the DPR in June sentenced two Britons – Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner – and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun to death for “mercenary activities” after they were captured fighting with Ukrainian forces. Their lawyers say they will appeal the decision, which was handed down after a hasty non-jury trial with no access for independent or international media.

It was unclear what the new rules – outlined in an updated version of the DPR’s criminal executive code that was published on the website of the breakaway entity’s legislature – would mean for the men. Their lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

The new criminal code, in effect from Friday, also states that the death penalty should be carried out by firing squad and that the head of the Russian-backed separatist republic has the final say on issuing pardons to anybody sentenced to death.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said on Thursday it had issued an order to Russia to ensure that the men do not face the death penalty. The Kremlin said it was not bound by rulings from the ECHR, from which Russia has pulled out since it launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow denies striking apartments near Ukraine’s Odesa

Friday 1 July 2022 10:57 , Reuters

The Kremlin dismissed allegations that Russian missiles had struck an apartment building near the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday.

Ukrainian authorities said Russian missiles had hit an apartment building and two holiday camps, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens.

“I would like to remind you of the president’s words that the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters.

Russian forces capture Lysychansk oil refinery, Moscow claims

Friday 1 July 2022 10:42 , Tom Barnes

Russian state sources are claiming troops have caputured the Lysychansk oil refinery, the second-largest refinery in Ukraine.

The state-owned RIA news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying the refinery was now under its control, although details could not be immediately verified.

Russia has been targeting the refinery since May, but had upped its offensive in the area in recent days.

EU flag raised in Ukrainian parliament

Friday 1 July 2022 10:27 , Tom Barnes

The EU flag was raised in the Ukrainian parliament after the country was granted candidate status to join the bloc.

MPs applauded at the flag was carried into the Verkhovna Rada by soldiers on Friday morning.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told Ukraine’s parliament the country now had a “very clear European perspective” but the road to EU membership will take time and require hard work, in a speech on Friday.

EU leaders last week granted Ukraine candidate status to join the bloc, formally opening a process that is expected to take years before it becomes a member of the union that now comprises 27 countries.

More photos emerge from deadly apartment bombing

Friday 1 July 2022 09:52 , Tom Barnes

Ukrainian officials have released more images showing the damage caused by the bombing of an apartment block near Odesa this morning.

 (AP)

(AP)

 (via REUTERS)

(via REUTERS)

 (AP)

(AP)

 (AP)

(AP)

Ukraine releases more footage of missile strike on mall

Friday 1 July 2022 09:32 , Tom Barnes

Ukraine has released new footage of shoppers diving for cover the moment a Russian missile hit a busy mall.

Video captured by CCTV cameras shows terrified customers running for their lives moments after the attack at the Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine on Monday.

A missile can be seen flying towards the building in footage from outside the shopping centre. Seconds later, a huge explosion takes place, throwing debris high into the air.

Before the strike, shoppers can be seen calmly browsing busy stores and walking around the exterior of the mall.

The footage calls into question Russia’s claims the mall was “non-functioning” and was being used to store ammunition.

Russia ‘a state sponsor of terror’, Ukraine says after apartment strike

Friday 1 July 2022 09:07 , Tom Barnes

Ukraine says Russia should be recognised as a state sponsor of terrorism following a missile strike on an apartment block this morning left at least 18 people dead, including two children.

Video of the pre-dawn attack showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, located about 30 miles southwest of Odesa. Ukrainian news reports said missiles struck a multi-story apartment building and a resort area.

“[Russian] terrorists attacked Odesa region last night. According to Operational Command South and Odesa RMA, at least 18 people died,” Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Twitter.

“These are the same X-22 missiles that were fired at the mall in #Kremenchuk. It’s time to officially recognise russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Ukraine ‘now has clear European perspective’, EU’s von der Leyen says

Friday 1 July 2022 08:40 , Tom Barnes

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukraine now has a “very clear European perspective” following the European Union’s decision to grant the country candidate status to join the bloc, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament.

“Ukraine now has a very clear European perspective. And Ukraine is a candidate country to join the European Union something that seemed almost unimaginable just five months ago,” von der Leyen said in a speech by video-link to the assembly on Friday.

“So today is first and foremost. A moment to celebrate this historic milestone, a victory of determination and resolve and a victory for the whole movement that started eight years ago on the Maidan,” she added.

Children among 18 dead in apartment block strike, Odesa officials say

Friday 1 July 2022 08:24 , Tom Barnes

Russian missile attacks on residential buildings in Odesa early Friday killed at least 18 people, including two children, authorities have said.

The deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Kirill Tymoshenko, said 18 people died, including two children.

A spokesman for the Odesa regional government, Serhiy Bratchuk, said on the Telegram messaging app that another 30 had been injured.Ukrainian news reports said the target of the missile attack was a multi-story apartment building and a recreational area.

ICYMI: Key developments in the Ukraine conflict yesterday

Friday 1 July 2022 07:54 , Tom Barnes

Haven’t had a chance to catch up on the latest headlines from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Here were the key developments in the conflict yesterday.

Russian forces retreat from Snake Island

Russian forces have withdrawn from Snake Island off Ukraine’s coast in the Black Sea as a “gesture of goodwill”, its defence ministry announced.

Deadly airstrike on Mariupol theatre a ‘clear war crime’, Amnesty inquiry finds

Russian forces committed a “clear war crime” in Ukraine’s coastal city of Mariupol when they launched a deadly airstrike on a theatre they knew was sheltering hundreds of civilians, according to a new investigation by Amnesty International.

Putin rejects Boris Johnson’s claim a woman wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine

Vladimir Putin dismissed Boris Johnson’s claim that he wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman, citing Margaret Thatcher’s decision to send troops to the Falklands.

Russian troops withdrew from Snake Island due to isolation, UK says

Friday 1 July 2022 07:27 , Tom Barnes

Russian troops likely withdrew from the strategically significant Snake Island in western Ukraine due to their “increasingly vulnerability” to air strikes, the UK has said.

In its daily update on the situation in Ukriane, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) questioned Moscow’s claims it pulled troops from the island as a “gesture of goodwill”.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces conducted attacks against the Russian garrison in the past few weeks using missile and drone strikes,” the MoD said. “In addition, it used anti-ship missiles to interdict Russian naval vessels attempting re-supply the island.”

“ Russia has highly likely withdrawn from Snake Island owing to the isolation of the garrison and its increasing vulnerability to Ukrainian strikes, rather than as a ‘gesture of good will’, as it has claimed.”

Hungary must radically increase its defence capabilities, says PM

Friday 1 July 2022 07:13 , Arpan Rai

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban said that the country will speed up its defence development programme in a bid to end the ongoing war in Europe as soon as possible.

Speaking to state radio, Mr Orban said: “We must radically increase our defence capabilities.”

The prime minnister underlined Hungary’s interest seeking an end to the war in the neighbouring country as soon as possible.

Death toll in Russian missile strike climbs to 17

Friday 1 July 2022 06:06 , Arpan Rai

The death toll in a Russian missile strike on an apartment building and a resort near Black Sea port of Odesa has reached 17, Ukrainian officials said.

The missile struck the building in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi at around 1am on Friday, sparking fire in an attached store.

Three more people, including a child, were killed in a separate missile attack on a resort facility, said Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for Odesa regional administration.

Satellite images show destroyed Snake Island after Russia leaves

Friday 1 July 2022 06:00 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine marked its victory on Thursday after it drove Russian forces from the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island.

The island was captured by Russia on its first day of invasion of Ukraine.

However, Russia said it withdrew from Snake Island as a “gesture of goodwill” and that it was not hindering UN’s attempts to open a humanitarian corridor for shipping grains from Ukraine.

Satellite imagery published by Maxar Technologies showed smoke emitting from burning vehicles and structures at several locations across the northern section of the island.

Closer view of northern end of island and burning pier and buildings on 30 June (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies.)

Closer view of northern end of island and burning pier and buildings on 30 June (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies.)

An overview of a bombarded and destroyed Snake Island on 30 June. Russia had captured the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island on the first day of invasion. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

An overview of a bombarded and destroyed Snake Island on 30 June. Russia had captured the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island on the first day of invasion. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

A closer view of the southern end of the Snake Island. Ukraine forces announced they had wrested control of the island back from Russia on Thursday. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies.)

A closer view of the southern end of the Snake Island. Ukraine forces announced they had wrested control of the island back from Russia on Thursday. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies.)

A coloured infrared image shows an overview of Snake Island in Ukraine. Fighters from Kyiv retook the control of the Snake Island, which Volodymyr Zelensky has called a strategic point which significantly changes the situation in the Black Sea. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

A coloured infrared image shows an overview of Snake Island in Ukraine. Fighters from Kyiv retook the control of the Snake Island, which Volodymyr Zelensky has called a strategic point which significantly changes the situation in the Black Sea. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

Situation in Donbas ‘toughest, extremely difficult’, says Zelensky

Friday 1 July 2022 05:16 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the country’s fight in the east is fierce as Russia continues its weeks-long assualt to capture the separatist territory.

“The situation in Donbas remains the toughest, extremely difficult. The fire superiority of the occupiers is still extremely tangible – they have already taken everything from their reserves to hit us: the Luhansk region, the Donetsk region,” he said late on Thursday.

Mr Zelensky thanked the Ukrainian soldiers and said he is “grateful to everyone who defends our positions in such conditions”.

This is true heroism, he said.

He lauded the Ukrainian fighters including gunners, pilots of the army aviation and Air Force, the command of “Oleksandriya” for freeing the Snake Island from Russian forces after months.

“Undoubtedly, the main word today is Zmiinyi. Apparently, there was just as much talk about Zmiinyi only on the day when the Russian ship arrived there. Then the ship left – forever, and now the island is free again. I am grateful to the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, the fighters of “Alpha”, I am grateful to our gunners, pilots of the army aviation and Air Force, the command of ‘Oleksandriya’,” he said.

He added that the island, known as Zmiinyi Island in Ukraine, is a strategic point, and “significantly changes the situation in the Black Sea”.

“It does not guarantee safety yet, it does not yet guarantee that the enemy will not return. But it already limits the actions of the occupiers significantly. Step by step, we will drive them out of our sea, our land, and our sky,” Mr Zelensky said.

Russian missile strike on Odesa port kills 10

Friday 1 July 2022 04:32 , Arpan Rai

At least 10 people were killed after a Russian missile struck Ukraine’s southern port of Odesa early on Friday, regional official confirmed.

Preliminary reports indicated that at least six people, including three children, died in the night-time strike on a residential building.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for Odesa’s regional administration said: “The number of dead as a result of a strike on a multi-story apartment building has now risen to 10.”

This comes just hours after Ukraine expelled Russian forces from the key Black Sea outpost of Snake Island.

The missile had struck a nine-story apartment building in Ukraine’s Black Sea port, following which a section of the building collapsed.

Officials said that a rescue operation was underway as some people were reported buried under the ruble.

Western leaders, including Boris Johnson, would look ‘disgusting’ topless, says Putin

Friday 1 July 2022 03:00 , Emily Atkinson

A thin-skinned Vladimir Putin has hit back at the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other Western leaders who mocked his tough-man topless exploits, with the Russian leader claiming they would look “disgusting” if they tried to copy him.

Earlier this week, Mr Johnson jested that G7 leaders could take their clothes off to “show that we’re tougher than Putin” amid Russia-West tensions over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

He added that we need to “show our pecs”.

David Harding has more:

Putin says Boris Johnson topless would be a ‘disgusting sight’

Watch: Ukrainian soldiers train on range of complex weapons with British Army in UK

Friday 1 July 2022 02:00 , Emily Atkinson

Opinion: We deserve a say in the role Britain plays in Ukraine

Friday 1 July 2022 01:00 , Emily Atkinson

Let’s start with the headline that the government and the prime minister have helpfully provided: “The UK will provide an additional £1bn of military support to Ukraine.” What will it be spent on, Mary Dejevsky asks.

We deserve a say in the role Britain plays in Ukraine | Mary Dejevsky

US blocks trust which held property interest of sanctioned Russian oligarch

Friday 1 July 2022 00:11 , Emily Atkinson

The US treasury department has blocked a trust where sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov held a property interest.

“The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it has issued a Notification of Blocked Property to Heritage Trust, a Delaware-based trust in which OFAC-designated Russian oligarch Suleiman Abusaidovich Kerimov holds a property interest,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The trust held assets valued at over $1 billion as of Thursday, it added.

Boris Johnson’s 2030 military spending pledge ‘feeble’, say senior Tories

Thursday 30 June 2022 23:00 , Emily Atkinson

Boris Johnson sought to heal a cabinet rift by promising to hike defence spending to 2.5 per cent of Britain’s economic output by the end of the decade.

The prime minister wrapped up the Nato summit in Madrid with a pledge that could see more than £55bn added to military budgets this decade, following Ben Wallace’s pleas for more money.

However, senior Conservatives said the PM’s ambition remained “feeble” and the target too far off, given the gravity of the immediate threat from Vladimir Putin’s Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Adam Forrest reports:

Boris Johnson’s 2030 military spending pledge ‘feeble’, say senior Tories

Watch: Liz Truss says Putin’s ‘rhetoric’ and its threat towards Nato should be ignored

Thursday 30 June 2022 22:03 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin loses his 57th colonel in just four months of war

Thursday 30 June 2022 20:45 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has lost another colonel – the 57th in just four months of war, as fighting intensifies in eastern Ukraine.

Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Kislyakov, 40, was buried on Thursday with full military honours in his hometown in the Moscow region.

Kislyakov, commander of a prestigious unit of Russian paratroopers, is the 57th known colonel to have been killed since president Putin ordered his troops to launch a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Thomas Kingsley has more:

Vladimir Putin loses his 57th colonel in just four months of war

Boris Johnson plays down Putin’s nuclear threats

Thursday 30 June 2022 20:20 , Emily Atkinson

Boris Johnson has played down the estimated 35 nuclear threats made by president Vladimir Putin since the start his military operation – insisting instead that he would be able to overcome Ukrainian resistance by conventional means.

In an interview marking the end of the Nato summit in Spain, Mr Johnson told LBC’s Nick Ferrari : “I think it’s very, very important that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be side-tracked by this kind of sabre-rattling.

“Because fundamentally, what Putin is trying to do is to reframe this as about Russia versus Nato.

“It’s not. It’s about his attack on an entirely innocent country, with conventional weapons, with artillery, bombardments with planes, shells and so on.

“And it’s about the Ukrainians’ right to protect themselves. That is what this is about.

“And what we had today at Nato was, yet again, the alliance being tested, being asked, being interrogated. Are we resolved? Are we determined? Will we give the Ukrainians the means to protect themselves?

“And the answer was absolutely yes and, if anything, the strength of the unity is greater than it was before.”

Putin can hold onto power in Russia if he backs down over Ukraine, Boris Johnson says

Thursday 30 June 2022 19:55 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin still has a way to get out of the war in Ukraine without losing his grip on power in Moscow, Boris Johnson has suggested.

Ever since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour on 24 February, Mr Johnson has made clear that, while supporting Ukraine’s efforts to drive Putin’s troops out of the country, he was not seeking regime change in the Kremlin.

He has previously been critical of Western leaders, like France’s Emmanuel Macron, who have suggested that Putin must be offered a ladder to climb down to allow him to end the conflict without losing face.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the story:

Putin can hold onto power in Russia if he backs down over Ukraine, Boris Johnson says

Russian strikes more than double in fortnight, Kyiv claims

Thursday 30 June 2022 19:30 , Emily Atkinson

Missile strikes have more than doubled over the last fortnight, figures show.

It comes a Ukrainian brigadier general said on Thursday that Moscow was using inaccurate Soviet-era missiles for more than half of the attacks.

General Oleksii Hromov estimated that 68 civilian sites had been hit in the second half of this month.

Watch: Russian oil transfers off England’s coast

Thursday 30 June 2022 19:05 , Emily Atkinson

Ankara seeks intensified efforts for lasting Ukraine ceasefire

Thursday 30 June 2022 18:40 , Emily Atkinson

Efforts must be intensified for a lasting ceasefire in Ukraine, Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has said.

He was speaking at a news conference in Madrid at the end of a Nato summit on Thursday.

UK ‘underspend’ on climate crisis to be used to bolster military aid for Ukraine

Thursday 30 June 2022 18:15 , Emily Atkinson

The UK’s expanded £1bn commitment to military aid for Ukraine will be partly funded through underspending on climate finance, the business minister Kwasi Kwarteng has said.

Following the British government’s announcement it would nearly double support to Ukraine to help stave off the Russian invasion, Mr Kwarteng tweeted: “My department has contributed to the effort by surrendering climate finance and foreign aid underspends.”

The admission comes a month after The Independent revealed the UK government failed to deliver almost a quarter of a billion pounds in green projects aimed at hitting net zero emissions even as Boris Johnson urged governments around the world to drastically raise their investment in tackling the climate crisis.

Our environment correspondent Harry Cockburn reports:

UK ‘underspend’ on climate crisis to be used to bolster military aid for Ukraine

Putin downplays Ukraine grain blockage

Thursday 30 June 2022 17:50 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has denied that Moscow was blocking Ukrainian grain exports and questioned the impact of missing Ukrainian agricultural goods on the world food market.

“We do not prevent the export of Ukrainian grain. The Ukrainian military has mined the approaches to their ports, no one prevents them from clearing those mines and we guarantee the safety of shipping grain out of there,” Putin said, speaking alongside visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Putin repeated Russia’s assertion that Western sanctions are to blame for problems on the global food market and rising prices.

He also downplayed Ukraine‘s impact on the global market, saying there were only 5 million tonnes of wheat currently stuck in the country.

“This is a quantity which does not affect the world markets in any way,” he added, saying it represented just 0.5 per cent of global production.

Reuters

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