Russian forces have struck a market in “massive shelling” of the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk.
The Ukraine-controlled city of around 100,000 people has become Moscow’s next target in its campaign to conquer the Donbas region
“Sloviansk! Massive shelling of the city. The centre, the north. Everyone, take shelter,” Vadim Lyakh, the city’s mayor, wrote on Facebook.
Reporters saw yellow smoke billowing up from an auto supplies shop on Tuesday afternoon, while flames engulfed rows of market stalls as firefighters battled to extinguish the blaze.
It was not immediately clear what munitions had been used in the attack on the city. Police said the number of casualties was not yet known.
Russia’s pounding of Sloviansk has killed at least six people and injured another 19 since Sunday as the front line closes in.
Follow the latest updates below.
Austria plans to order industry to switch to oil from gas where it can
Austria will order industry and utilities to make plants run on alternatives to natural gas where possible, as the country scrambles to hoard gas in case Russia cuts it off.
The country obtains 80 per cent of its natural gas from Russia but most of its electricity comes from hydropower and it uses relatively little gas in power plants.
Gas does, however, play an important role in industries like steel and paper, and in heating. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Austria has been seeking alternative sources of gas.
“Power plants and industrial companies will be instructed to upgrade their systems for dual operation to the extent that it is technically and economically feasible,” Austria’s energy minister Leonore Gewessler said, outlining an edict her ministry is drafting.
Russia seeks new gains after seizing Luhansk
Russian forces struck targets across Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on Tuesday to prepare the way for an expected new battle campaign.
The strikes followed Moscow’s capture of the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk on Sunday, a move that handed it total control of the Luhansk region. Seizing Donetsk, the neighbouring region in Donbas, is Moscow’s next aim.
Ukrainian troops who retreated from Lysychansk at the weekend took up defensive lines in the Donetsk area on Tuesday, according to Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region.
Ukrainian forces were resisting Russian attempts to advance towards Sloviansk.
But Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said on TV that his region had been hit overnight.
“Sloviansk and Kramatorsk came under shelling. They are now also the main line of assault for the enemy,” he said. “There is no safe place without shelling in the Donetsk region.”
Police in Sloviansk said a woman had been killed and at least three other people wounded by a Russian strike on the market there.
Foreign ships ‘seized by pro-Kremlin officials in Donetsk’
Russian-backed separatists have seized two foreign-flagged ships in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, claiming they are now “state property”, in the first such moves against commercial shipping.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, via its foreign ministry, informed two shipping companies that their vessels were the subject of “forcible appropriation of movable property with forced conversion into state property”, without any compensation to the owners, according to letters seen by Reuters.
Smarta Shipping, the owner of the Liberia-flagged Smarta bulk vessel, one of the two vessels taken, said it was informed of the seizure by email on June 30, calling it unlawful and “against all norms of international law”.
It said the 19-member crew had been forcibly taken by the Russian military to Donetsk and released a month later.
The other vessel seized was the Panama-flagged Blue Star I, according to the letter. More than 80 foreign-flagged ships remain stuck in Ukrainian ports,
Sweden attempts to woo Turkey for Nato bid
Sweden has left the door open to alleged terror suspects being extradited to Turkey in order to secure its support for a bid to join Nato, Joe Barnes reports.
There are concerns in Stockholm that a backroom deal was brokered to convince Turkey to drop its refusal to admit Sweden and Finland into the alliance.
Ann Linde, its foreign minister, insisted their was no formal agreement to send people to Turkey despite the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying his parliament would veto the accession if the extradition of 73 alleged terrorists are not approved by Stockholm.
But at a press conference to mark Sweden and Finland officially being invited to join the alliance, Ms Linde did not rule out future talks over extraditions or deportations with Ankara to smooth the path to membership.
She insisted there “will be no other ways, other legal ways than what we have already” to extradite people.
In Sweden, the Supreme Court decides on whether extradition requests should be accepted, not politicians.
Russia accuses Ukraine of torturing prisoners of war
Russia said on Tuesday it was investigating the torture of Russian soldiers held prisoner in Ukraine and released as part of a recent swap with Kyiv.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said in a statement that it was “verifying facts of inhuman treatment of Russian soldier prisoners in Ukraine”.
Last week Moscow and Kyiv exchanged 144 prisoners of war each – the biggest exchange since President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.
The committee said Moscow’s soldiers told investigators about “the violence they had suffered”.
According to its statement, one of the soldiers said Ukrainian medics treated him without anaesthesia and that he was “beaten, tortured with electricity” in captivity, and that he was left without food and water for days.
Russian strike on Ukrainian city of Sloviansk kills one – police
Russian forces struck a market in the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, killing a woman and wounding at least three other people, police said.
A Reuters reporter on the scene saw yellow smoke billowing up from an auto supplies shop, and flames engulfed rows of market stalls as firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.
It was not immediately what munitions had been used in the attack on the city, which lies in the Donetsk region.
Police said it was not clear how many people were at the market at the time of the attack but that the market had been in the process of closing for the day, with some shops still open.
Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine as Nato pushes expansion
Fighting has raged on Tuesday in and around Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as Russian troops tried to build on recent battlefield gains, while Nato pressed ahead with Finland and Sweden’s historic membership bids.
With the war now well into its fifth month, Kyiv’s allies have committed to support Ukraine’s long and expensive recocery and agreed on the need for broad reforms to boost transparency and battle corruption.
The talks in Switzerland heard that the rebuilding of war-shattered Ukraine is estimated to cost at least $750 billion (£626bn).
But on the battlefield the conflict continued to wreak devastation, with Ukraine’s presidency reporting Russian shelling and missile strikes in several regions overnight.
In Moscow, the defence ministry reported that over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have targeted the city of Kharkiv with “high-precision” weapons killing up to 150 Ukrainian servicemen.
The attack followed shelling in Donetsk, which Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered his troops to continue assaulting as they bid to take total control of the Donbas.
‘Religion is proving to be collateral damage from Putin’s aggression’
Religion is “collateral damage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as she also called out the persecution of religious minorities in China and Afghanistan, Liz Truss has said.
The Foreign Secretary addressed a UK Government-hosted international conference on freedom of religion or belief in London on Tuesday, at which faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke.
Ms Truss said: “Vladimir Putin and his enablers claim that Russia is waging a holy war, but in truth they believe nothing is sacred.
“We are seeing growing evidence of heinous war crimes committed by Russian troops.
“Innocent civilians are having to shelter from Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment in places of worship. Churches, synagogues and mosques have been reduced to rubble. Religion is proving to be collateral damage from Putin’s aggression.”
War in Ukraine: latest pictures
Russia claims Ukraine arms spreading to Middle East
Russia has claimed that some of the weapons the West is sending to Ukraine are spreading across the Middle East and ending up on the black market.
Speaking in televised remarks, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Ukraine had received more than 28,000 tonnes of military cargo so far, and some of the Western weapons were appearing in the Middle East.
He did not provide any details to back up his claim.
“In the hope of prolonging the conflict in Ukraine, the collective West is continuing large-scale arms supplies to the Kyiv regime,” Shoigu said.
“According to information at our disposal, some of the foreign weapons supplied by the West to Ukraine are spreading across the Middle Eastern region and are also ending up on the black market.”
Russia gives first approval to laws moving towards war economy
Russia’s parliament has approved the first stage of laws that could shift Moscow to a war economy.
The two bills would authorise the Kremlin to oblige businesses to supply the military with goods and their employees to work overtime to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
One of the bills – approved in a first reading by the State Duma, the lower house of parliament — said the state could impose “special economic measures” during military operations, requiring firms to supply goods and services to the military at the demand of the Russian government.
An explanatory note attached to the bill said the military needed new materials and weapons repairs to pursue its Ukraine campaign.
A second bill, also adopted in its first reading, would amend the labour code to grant the government the right to regulate working hours and determine off-days at given companies.
Watch: Putin orders troops deeper into Ukrainian territory
Russia using Holocaust denial to justify Ukraine war, says Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said the Kremlin has used Holocaust denial and distortion to justify the war in Ukraine.
At an international conference on freedom of religion or belief in London, he called out the “persecution of Uighurs in China, the persecution of Christian minorities”.
“And, of course, I’m mindful of a worrying increase of antisemitism right around the world.
“We have seen how Holocaust denial and distortion have been used by Russian leaders to justify the war in Ukraine. We have seen how conspiracy theories are now mainstream.”
Russia cutting Syria aid would be ‘catastrophic’, says UN
A “politicised” closure threatened by Russia of the last aid corridor from Turkey into northwest Syria’s rebel-held areas would spell “catastrophe”, the UN has warned.
“This is one of the most vulnerable populations anywhere in the world,” said Mark Cutts, UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis. “It is absolutely essential that we keep this lifeline going.”
Cutts spoke ahead of a UN Security Council vote to renew the world body’s authorisation to deliver assistance through the Bab al-Hawa crossing before its mandate expires on July 10.
More than 4,600 aid trucks, carrying mostly food, have crossed it so far this year, helping some 2.4 million people.
Russia, an ally of Damascus, has threatened to veto the proposal to extend the aid mechanism having already forced a reduction in the number of crossings, arguing that it violates Syria’s sovereignty.
“We know things this year are even more politicised than in previous years,” Cutts told AFP. “The tensions are very high with the war Ukraine… failure to renew this resolution will be a catastrophe”
Ukraine pushing Moscow to expand its military goals – Duma
Russian parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has said Ukraine is doing “everything” to ensure that Moscow’s troops would not stop their “special military operation” at the borders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) in eastern Ukraine, the RIA Novosti agency reported.
Moscow on Sunday claimed the “liberation” of the entire LPR, and is pressing on with its campaign to wrest the adjoining DPR out of Kyiv’s control.
But its forces have also taken control of the city of Kherson and large parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in Ukraine’s south and bombed targets all across Ukraine, as well as mounting an abortive advance on the capital Kyiv.
Oil could soar if Japan’s price cap idea implemented – Medvedev
Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev has claimed a reported proposal from Japan to cap the price of Russian oil at around half its current level would lead to significantly less oil on the market and could push prices above $300-$400 (£250-£330) a barrel.
Commenting on the proposal, which was reportedly put forward by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Mr Medvedev said Japan “would have neither oil nor gas from Russia, as well as no participation in the Sakhalin-2 LNG project” as a result.
G7 leaders agreed last week to explore the feasibility of introducing temporary import price caps on Russian fossil fuels, including oil, in an attempt to limit Russian resources to finance its military campaign in Ukraine.
“There will be significantly less oil on the market, and its price will be much higher. Moreover, higher than the predicted astronomical price of $300-400 per barrel,” Mr Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, wrote on social media.
Conscripts not being sent to Ukraine – Kremlin
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that conscripts are not being sent to Ukraine to fight in Russia’s “special military operation”, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.
Though President Vladimir Putin had previously said that draftees would not be deployed to Ukraine, the defence ministry admitted in March that a number of conscripts had seen action in the conflict zone.
Russia conscripts around 400,000 young men annually for one year’s compulsory military service, and their treatment is a sensitive political issue.
Russia aims to sell Ukrainian grain to Middle East
Russian-imposed authorities in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, which is partly under Russian control, have said that an agreement had been reached to sell grain abroad, mainly to the Middle East, Russian state news agency TASS said.
The countries involved are mainly Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, TASS reported, citing Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the Russian-installed administration of the Zaporizhzhia region.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain. Moscow denies this.
Russia plans railway link with Donbas
Russia plans to launch a railway link between its southern Rostov region and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, state news agency TASS has reported, citing the Rostov region government.
Russia established full control of Luhansk region on Sunday and is fighting to drive Ukrainian government forces out of Donetsk.
Russia accuses Ukraine of torturing prisoners of war
Russia has said it is investigating the torture of Russian soldiers held prisoner in Ukraine and recently released as part of a prisoner swap with Kyiv in late June.
The Russian Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said in a statement that it was “verifying facts of inhuman treatment of Russia soldier prisoners in Ukraine”.
Last week Moscow and Kyiv exchanged 144 prisoners of war each – the biggest exchange since the start of Moscow’s Ukraine campaign launched on February 24.
The Russian committee said Moscow’s soldiers told investigators about “the violence they had suffered”.
According to its statement, one of the soldiers said Ukrainian medics treated him without anaesthetic and that he was “beaten, tortured with electricity in captivity”.
The soldier allegedly said he was left without food and water for days.
Another injured Russian soldier, who had his left amputated, said he was badly beaten and had his wound irritated by Ukrainian medics, the statement said.
The testimonies of the freed Russian soldiers are examples of “violations of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war”, the Russian committee said.
Nato launches ratification process for Sweden, Finland
The process to ratify Sweden and Finland as the newest members of Nato has been formally launched, the military alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said, marking a historic step brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“This is a good day for Finland and Sweden and a good day for Nato,” Mr Stoltenberg told reporters in a joint press statement with the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers.
“With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” he added.
FSB official takes over Kherson
An official from Russia’s powerful FSB security services took over the government of the Moscow-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, Kremlin-installed authorities have said.
Sergei Yeliseyev, until now the deputy head of government in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, “became head of the government in the Kherson region”, said Vladimir Saldo, who heads the Russian occupational administration.
His government takes office today, he added.
A graduate of the FSB Academy, 51-year-old Mr Yeliseyev served in the security services in unspecified functions, according to the Kaliningrad region website.
Alexei Kovalev, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who has switched to Russia’s side in the conflict and survived an assassination attempt in June, was appointed as Mr Yeliseyev’s deputy.
“Ukraine is forever in the past for the Kherson region. Russia is here forever,” the Moscow-installed authorities said on Telegram.
Kherson city, which lies close to Moscow-annexed Crimea, was the first major city to fall to Russian forces since the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine in February.
Fields Medal awarded to four mathematicians, including Ukrainian
Four mathematicians were on Tuesday awarded prestigious Fields medals, including Ukrainian Maryna Viazovska, the International Mathematical Union jury said.
French Hugo Duminil-Copin, US-based June Huh and British James Maynard were also awarded the medals at a Helsinki ceremony, recognising “outstanding mathematical achievement” for mathematicians under 40 and handed out every four years.
Ms Viazovska is only the second woman to win the prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in the field.
Lysychansk today, in pictures
Ukraine, allies lay foundations for reconstruction
Allies of Ukraine meeting in Switzerland are due Tuesday to adopt a declaration spelling out the principles and priorities of rebuilding the war-shattered country, estimated to cost at least $750 billion.
Leaders from dozens of countries, international organisations and businesses have been meeting in the southern Swiss city of Lugano under tight security since Monday, discussing the best path forward for reconstruction, even as Russia’s war continues to rage in Ukraine.
Speaking on the first day of the Ukraine Recovery Conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a long line of government ministers described the massive destruction caused by Russia’s February 24 invasion.
“Reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local task of a single nation,” Zelensky said via video message.
“It is a common task of the whole democratic world,” he said.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the recovery “is already estimated at $750 billion”.
“The key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs,” he said.
“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it”.
Sergei Lavrov to visit Vietnam
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will fly to Hanoi today for a two-day visit to Vietnam before heading to a G20 meeting later this week in Indonesia, the Vietnamese government said.
The visit at the invitation of Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son comes as the two nations mark the 10th anniversary of their “comprehensive strategic partnership”, the government said in a statement .
Russia is Vietnam’s biggest arms supplier and its companies are involved in several major energy projects in the country.
The two nations have close ties dating back to the Soviet era and Vietnam has not so far condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.
In April, Vietnam voted against a resolution to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council over the war.
Russia can claim ‘substantive progress’ in aim of ‘liberating’ Donbas – MoD
Reality of the ‘Canadian Ukrainian Volunteer’
He was one of the most dashing foreign volunteers fighting in Ukraine, wowing his thousands of Twitter fans with tales of daring missions into enemy territory.
But the Canadian volunteer’s vivid descriptions of front line action have been exposed as a fabrication by internet sleuths identifying his weapons as nothing more than mock air guns.
The story of “Canadian Ukrainian Volunteer” highlights the information war being fought on social media channels and how online amateur detectives caught a fraud who they said was endangering lives.
Ukraine among topics raised in US-China chat
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had a “constructive” virtual dialogue with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday, with both sides agreeing to better coordinate macro policies, according to China’s commerce ministry.
In its statement, the Treasury Department said Ms Yellen “frankly” raised issues of concern including the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on the global economy and unfair and non-market Chinese economic practices.
There was no mention of the war in Ukraine in the Chinese statement, but it said Mr Liu and Ms Yellen believed the current global economy was facing “grim” challenges.
The invitation for the video call came from the US Treasury Secretary, according to the ministry.
‘I’m terrified I might be here forever’
Brittney Griner’s plea to President Joe Biden:
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” she wrote in a letter, excerpts of which have been shared by her representatives.
“On the 4th of July, our family normally honours the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War veteran.
“It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.
“I realise you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.
“I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore.
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
Basketballer pleads for US President’s help
American basketball star Brittney Griner has made a direct plea to President Joe Biden to stand up for her in an emotional letter sent to the White House on Monday as she remains detained in Russia on drug charges.
Griner, who was held at a Moscow airport on February 17 when a search of her luggage allegedly revealed multiple cannabis oil vape cartridges, went on trial on Friday and could face up to 10 years in a Russian jail.
The case takes place against a backdrop of high tension between Moscow and Washington over the conflict in Ukraine. American officials say Griner has been detained wrongfully.
Griner, who competes in the US Women’s National Basketball Association but has also played regularly in Russia, was formally told at the first hearing that she was charged with intentionally importing narcotics into Russia.
The judge set the next hearing for July 7.
Social media fines over Kremlin disinformation
Facebook and other social media firms will face multi-billion pound fines if they fail to take down Kremlin disinformation under new laws.
They will be placed under a new legal duty to “proactively” prevent and remove attempts by Russia, other hostile states and their agents to use their sites to mislead the public or interfere in the UK’s political system.
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