- Ukraine says 21 dead in Russian missile strikes in Odesa region
- EU’s von der Leyen has said Ukraine’s EU candidacy goes “hand-in-hand” with helping to rebuild the country
- Ukraine has started exporting electricity to the EU, via Romania
- Donetsk separatists charge 2 more Britons with mercenary activities
This article was last updated at 22:16 UTC/GMT
EU official says plans to rebuild Ukraine should also address environment
According to the EU Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius, plans to rebuild Ukraine will need to address restoring the country’s war-torn ecosystems.
“The [environmental] price tag every day is increasing, because we see the barbaric actions of the Russian side [are] not stopping,” Sinkevicius said.
“They bomb chemicals facilities” and have put nuclear power plants at risk, he said, adding that “hundreds of thousands of tons” of destroyed Russian military machinery would need to be cleared.
He said environmental damage was “a crime of the biggest scale” that would “take generations to deal with.”
Ukraine says link restored to Zaporizhzhia nuclear station
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 in the past month that communications had been lost with the plant.
Zelenskyy denounces ‘deliberate’ Russian missile ‘terror’
In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced Friday’s Russian missile strikes in the southern Odesa region.
“Three missiles hit an ordinary residential building, a nine-story building in which no one hid any weapons, military equipment or ammunition, as Russian propagandists and officials always tell about such strikes,” Zelenskyy said.
The Ukrainian president called the attack “a deliberate, purposeful Russian terror, not some mistakes or an accidental missile strike.”
Zelenskyy also said that he was grateful to the United States of America and personally to US President Joe Biden for the new support package for Ukraine announced today, which includes NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems.
“An anti-aircraft missile complex that will significantly strengthen our air defense. We have worked hard for this supply. In total, this package is worth 820 million dollars and, in addition to NASAMS, also includes artillery munition and radars,” Zelenskyy said.
Polish city names square in honor of Mariupol
The northern Polish city of Gdansk has honored the resistance put up by the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol against Russian forces.
The city renamed a city square “Heroic Mariupol” in a ceremony that also included an exhibition of photography showing residents’ and soldiers’ endurance during the weeks-long Russian siege of the city.
Mariupol was shelled for weeks and most buildings there were destroyed as Russia tried to take the city.
Gdansk officials said it was a call for more help and support for Ukraine in its struggle to protect its sovereignty. The city also has a square named “Free Ukraine.”
US to give Ukraine $820 million in new military aid
The US has announced it will provide Ukraine with $820 million in new military aid, including new surface-to-air missile systems and counter-artillery radars.
The equipment is aimed at helping resist Russia’s heavy reliance on long-range strikes in the war.
In recent days, Russia has launched dozens of missiles across Ukraine and Kyiv has publicly called on Western allies to quickly send more ammunition and advanced systems.
In total, Washington has already provided more than $8.8 billion in weapons and military training to Ukraine to help it repel the Russians.
US President Joe Biden said the US was giving Ukraine “the capacity” so that “they can continue to resist the Russian aggression,”
As part of the package, the US will buy two Norwegian-developed anti-aircraft systems known as NASAMS, used to protect the airspace around the White House and Capitol in Washington.
Ukraine: Russia fired phosphorus weapons at Snake Island
Ukraine’s army accused Russia of carrying out strikes using incendiary phosphorus munitions on Snake Island Friday, just a day after withdrawing its forces from the rocky outcrop in the Black Sea.
“Today at around 18:00… Russian air force SU-30 planes twice conducted strikes with phosphorus bombs on Zmiinyi island,” it said in a statement, using another name for Snake Island.
Moscow has portrayed its departure from the island as a “goodwill gesture” to help unblock the exports of grain via the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian army accused the Russians of being unable to “respect even their own declarations”.
The statement was accompanied by a video that showed a plane drop munitions at least twice on the island. White streaks appeared to be rising above it, consistent with the use of phosphorus weapons.
The use of phosphorus weapons against civilians is banned under an international convention, although it is allowed for military targets.
Snake Island was abandoned at the end of June by the Russians, in what Moscow called a “goodwill gesture”
Separatists charge 2 more Brits with ‘mercenary activity’
Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine say two more British men have been charged with mercenary activities, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
It said officials had filed criminal charges against the men, 21-year-old Dylan Healy and 35-year-old Andrew Hill.
TASS cited a source in the power structures of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), a territorial entity recognized only by Russia and Syria.
Healy was reportedly caught along with another British man, Paul Urey, on Monday at a checkpoint south of the city of Zaporizhzhia in south-eastern Ukraine.
The pair had been trying to help people flee parts of the country under Russian occupation, according to the UK non-profit organization Presidium Network. A family that the pair had tried to evacuate said Russian troops who interrogated them appeared to believe the pair were “British spies.”
Hill was fighting as a contracted member of the Ukrainian armed forces. The International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine has stressed that, under the Geneva Convention, he should be considered a prisoner of war and enjoy the protection offered by that status.
Two other British men, Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin, were sentenced to death last month in a show trial staged by DPR authorities.
Odesa death toll rises to 21
The death toll from Russian missile attacks on residential areas near the Ukrainian port of Odesa has risen to 21, authorities say. The attack came a day after the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops from an island in the Black Sea .
The Ukrainian president’s office said three Kh-22 missiles fired by warplanes had struck an apartment block and a campsite.
Ukrainian authorities say the attack was revenge for Russian troops being forced from Snake Island, although Moscow has sought to portray their departure as a “goodwill gesture” to help unblock the exports of grain via the Black Sea.
Russian forces took control of the island in the opening days of the war, apparently hoping to use it as a staging ground to launch an assault on Odesa, which is Ukraine’s biggest port and the headquarters of its navy.
“The occupiers cannot win on the battlefield, so they resort to vile killing of civilians,” said the head of Ukraine’s SBU security service, Ivan Bakanov. “After the enemy was dislodged from Snake Island, he decided to respond with the cynical shelling of civilian targets.”
Soldiers sentenced to death appeal decision
Two of the three soldiers sentenced to death by a Russian-backed separatist court in eastern Ukraine have appealed against their sentences, the Russian state news agency TASS says.
According to the agency, lawyers for Brahim Saadoun and Shaun Pinner have handed in appeals for their clients to the “Supreme Court” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) — a territorial entity recognized only by Russia and Syria.
Saadoun is a Moroccan and Ukrainian citizen , and Pinner is a former British soldier who was living in Ukraine before the war. Although both were serving members of the Ukrainian armed forces, authorities in the DPR accused them of being mercenaries and sentenced them to death in a show trial along with another condemned Briton, Aiden Aslin.
Aslin — who was also a serving member of the Ukrainian armed forces and a Ukrainian citizen — has not yet submitted an appeal, according to his lawyer.
Norway announces $1 bn in aid to Ukraine
Norway has announced almost a billion euros of aid to Ukraine, over two years. News of the aid worth 10 billion Norwegian crowns (960 million euros, $1 billion) came as Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store visited the country.
It comes in addition to previous aid announced by Norway and is for “humanitarian aid, reconstruction of the country, weapons, and support for the functioning of the Ukrainian authorities,” the Norwegian government said in a statement .
Addressing a news conference in Kyiv alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Store said Norway wanted to express its solidarity with Ukraine in its war for survival.
“I’m here to say that Ukraine’s fight is not only for Ukraine,” said Store. “This is about some fundamental principles of the world we are going to offer to our children. This is about security in Europe, this is about the fate of your neighbor.”
Ukraine asks Turkey to hold Russian ship full of grain
Ukraine has called on Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged ship carrying several thousand tons of grain Kyiv claims Russia has stolen.
According to documents seen by Reuters news agency, the Zhibek Zholy cargo ship took grain from the Russian-occupied Ukrainian port of Berdyansk on its way to the Turkish port of Karasu.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general wrote a letter to Turkey detailing what it called the “illegal export of Ukrainian grain.”
Reuters reported that Turkey had not responded to a request for comment on the arrival of the ship.
Ukraine appoints new human rights ombudsman
Lawmakers in Ukraine have voted for a new human rights ombudsman to replace Lyudmyla Denisova.
Dmytro Lubinets received a clear majority of votes according to Ukrainian national television.
Outgoing ombudsperson Denisova was sacked in May after being accused of concocting stories of child rape involving Russian soldiers.
She was unable to produce proof of the allegations and was found to have damaged the reputation of Ukraine.
Denisova had spent four years in office.
Ukraine’s grain exports plummet 43% in June
Grain exports in Ukraine dropped 43% year-on-year to 1.41 million metric tons in June, the agriculture ministry said on Friday, highlighting the devastation being inflicted on a key sector of the economy by Russia’s invasion.
Ukraine’s grain exports have dropped significantly since the conflict began with its Black Sea ports being largely blocked off, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.
Germany condemns Odesa attacks as death toll reaches 19
Germany has condemned missile strikes that killed 19 people near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, describing attacks on civilians as war crimes.
“Russian President [Vladimir] Putin and those responsible will have to be held accountable,” a German government spokesman said at a briefing.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths from the Russian missile strikes has increased to 19.
“The death toll is 19 people,” wrote Sergiy Kruk, head of the Ukrainian emergency services, on Facebook. Thirty-eight people were wounded, including six children, he added.
Ukrainian borscht added to UN’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Ukrainian borscht — which in 2023 was set to be added to the UN’s list of endangered cultural heritage items — has had its inscription hastened by the “negative impact on this tradition” caused by the war, UNESCO said.
Ukraine considers borshct — a thick soup usually made with beetroot — as a national dish although it is also widely consumed in Russia, other ex-Soviet countries and Poland.
The culture borshch cooking in Ukraine “was today inscribed on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding” by a UNESCO committee.
Modi, Putin discuss energy and food markets
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Friday to discuss international energy and food markets, Modi’s office said in a statement.
“They exchanged ideas on how bilateral trade in agricultural goods, fertilizers and pharma products could be encouraged further,” the statement said. “The leaders also discussed global
The statement added that Modi had urged Putin to pursue dialogue and diplomacy over the conflict in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Putin told Modi that Russia is still a reliable producer and supplier of grains, fertilizers and energy, the Kremlin said in a readout of a phone call between the two leaders.
Putin “drew attention to the systemic mistakes made by a number of countries that have disrupted free trade architecture in food goods and triggered significant rises in their prices”, the Kremlin said.
India continues to buy crude oil from Russia, despite Europe’s keenness to wean itself off Russian energy dependence as a response to the conflict.
West pushing Russia to integrate more with Belarus, says Putin
President Vladimir Putin on Friday said pressure from the West was forcing Russia to speed up its integration with neighboring Belarus.
Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow and Minsk must take urgent joint measures to enhance their defensive capabilities, as well as their troops’ readiness for combat.
DPR separatists to introduce death penalty from 2025
Moscow-backed separatists in the east of Ukraine — where two Britons and a Moroccan are to be executed — will introduce the death penalty from 2025, according to an updated criminal code of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
The DPR has had the death penalty on its statute books since 2014, but there has been 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.
Last month, a DPR court sentenced two Britons — Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner — and a Moroccan — Brahim Saadoun — to death for “mercenary activities” after they were captured fighting for Ukraine.
On Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Russia not to execute the two Britons captured after fighting for Ukraine.
Odesa death toll increases to 18 after Russian missile strikes
The death toll from Russian air strikes in Odesa has increased, while the number of wounded would also appear to have gone up.
Ukrainian emergency services initially said 17 people had been killed and 30 wounded in both attacks. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior official at the Ukrainian presidency, later wrote on Telegram that the death toll had risen to 18, and among those who had perished were two children.
The strikes that hit a multi-story apartment building and a hospital facility in and around Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi were launched by aircraft that flew in from the Black Sea, according to Odesa military administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk.
“The worst-case scenario played out and two strategic aircraft came to the Odesa region,” he said, adding they had fired “very heavy and very powerful” missiles.
Ambassador tearful as EU flag introduced to Ukrainian parliament
The Ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, admitted he was “moved to tears” upon seeing the EU flag being brought in and erected in the the plenary hall of the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on Friday.
The flag was introduced to the parliament at the end of a speech to lawmakers, via video link, from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cautioned that the flag should be “not just a beautiful
In her speech, Von der Leyen stressed the need for further “reforms” on the “long road” toward EU membership.
Indonesian president ‘really appreciates’ Putin’s food and fertilizer guarantees
Indonesia’s president concluded a trip to Kyiv and Moscow saying he hoped for progress reintegrating global food and fertilizer deliveries disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
President Joko Widodo was speaking at a press conference alongside his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
His visit to Moscow comes after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday.
“I really appreciate President Putin who said earlier that he will provide security guarantee for food and fertilizer supplies from both Russia and Ukraine. This is good news,” said the Indonesian president.
“For the sake of humanity, I also support the United Nations’ efforts to reintegrate Russian food and fertilizer commodities and Ukrainian food commodities to re-enter the world supply chain,” he said.
The Indonesian president said he had urged G7 leaders to ensure sanctions on Russia did not hinder food and fertilizer deliveries.
Von der Leyen: ‘Massive investments’ needed to help rebuild Ukraine
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Friday that “massive investments” will be needed for the reconstruction of Ukraine, but the country’s path to EU membership will go “hand in hand” with that process.
“There is a long road ahead for Ukraine but Europe will be at your side every step of the way. From these dark days of war until the moment you cross the threshold that leads into our Union,” she said in a virtual address to the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv.
Earlier this month, the EU granted Ukraine candidate status to join the bloc.
Zelenskyy: Ukraine exporting electricity to EU, via Romania
Ukraine has “launched a significant export of electricity to the territory of the EU, via Romania,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, as Russia reduces gas deliveries to the bloc.
The Ukrainian electricity grid was connected to the European network in mid-March, helping to keep supplies flowing despite the Russian invasion.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Ukrainian exports “will provide an additional source of electricity for the EU. And much-needed revenues to Ukraine.”
Orban wants peace to halt inflation, doesn’t want EU embargo on Russian gas
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has reiterated Hungary’s stance for the war in neighboring Ukraine to end as soon as possible, and that as a NATO ally, Budapest must stay out of the war.
Orban said Hungary was not willing to negotiate about any potential EU embargo or limitations on Russian gas imports as that would hurt the country’s economy.
“It’s not sanctions that would be needed but an immediate ceasefire and peace talks,” he said, adding that peace was also needed to stem the flow of what he called “war inflation.”
Inflation in Hungary is currently running in double digits despite price caps on fuels, energy bills, and basic foodstuffs.
Czech Republic’s EU presidency to focus on Ukraine
The Czech Republic will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on Friday, the second time it has done so since the country joined the EU in 2004.
During its six-month chairmanship, the Czech Republic plans to focus on the war in Ukraine and its consequences. This includes coping with the influx of refugees and improving energy security.
To mark the occasion, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala are meeting on Friday at Litomysl Castle, about 160 kilometers east of Prague.
France held the rotating presidency for the first half of this year.
17 dead in Russian missile strikes in Odesa region
A Russian missile struck a multi-story apartment building in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in Odesa region early on Friday, killing at least 14 people and wounding 30, the emergency services said.
Seven people were rescued from the rubble of the building, including three children, they said.
Another Russian missile hit a hospitality facility near Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi. In that case, three people were killed and one person injured, emergency services said.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said that the missiles had been fired by aircraft from the Black Sea.
Watch video 02:22
Ukraine: Odesa’s tourism industry collapses amid the war
Recap of key events on Thursday
The Russian military said its had withdrawn its troops from Snake Island, an island belonging to Ukraine located in the Black Sea.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it pulled out its forces from the island near the Black Sea port of Odesa as a “goodwill gesture.”
However, the commander of Kyiv’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said that Ukrainian-made Bohdana howitzers had played a significant part in liberating Snake Island from Moscow forces and thanked foreign partners for their support.
German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said he suspected that Russia may not resume natural gas supplies to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after planned maintenance work next month.
While closing a NATO summit in Madrid, US President Joe Biden described the meeting as “historic,” noting the last time the military alliance updated its strategic concept, in 2010, Russia was classified as a partner. Some 12 years on, the alliance described Russia as “the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.”
Biden also said the US would provide Ukraine with additional weapons aid to the value of $800 million (€768 million).
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that a new “iron curtain” was descending between Russia and the West.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke on the phone with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. Steinmeier congratulated the Ukrainian leader on his country’s EU candidate status and expressed respect for Zelenskyy’s “heroic fight against the Russian aggressor.”
dh/msh (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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