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Saturday, July 02, 2022

Russia Ukraine War News Highlights: Ukraine expected to be approved as EU candidate; Ukraine defense minister hails arrival of US rocket systems

Ukraine War Today News, Ukraine Russia Updates: Russian President Vladimir Putin laid flowers at a memorial flame for the dead on the "Day of Remembrance and Sorrow".

By: Express Web Desk |
Updated: June 24, 2022 7:37:17 am
European lawmakers and Ukrainian representatives unfurl a 30-metre-long Ukrainian flag outside EU Parliament, on the day leaders are set to meet to discuss giving Ukraine candidate status to join the European Union, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Brussels, Belgium June 23, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Russia Ukraine War Crisis Highlights: Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov hailed the arrival of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the United States. European leaders will formally set Ukraine on the long road to EU membership at a summit in Brussels on Thursday. Though mainly symbolic, the move will help lift national morale at a very difficult time in a four-month conflict.

According to the British and Ukrainian military officials, the Russian military expanded its grab of territory in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. It has captured two villages and is vying for control of a key highway in an offensive that could cut supply lines and encircle some frontline Ukrainian forces

Russia has launched fresh rocket attacks on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in recent days, signalling a possible shift in tactics by Moscow. Ukraine said at least 20 people were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday in the country’s second-largest city, which lies near the Russian border. Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video address that the aim of the strikes is to “terrorise the population” of the city. He also claimed the attacks are an attempt by Russia to divert Ukrainian troops from the key Donbas region where massive air and artillery strikes are in progress.

Leaders attending the upcoming G7 and Nato summits in Europe will discuss new proposals to pressure Russia amid its ongoing assault on Ukraine. US President Joe Biden will attend the G7 summit in the German region of Bavaria this weekend, along with the leaders of UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Live Blog

Russia Ukraine War Crisis: European Union set to make historic offer of candidate status to Ukraine. Follow the updates here.

22:30 (IST)23 Jun 2022
US to send rocket systems, other aid to Ukraine

The US will send another $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems, US officials said Thursday.


The latest package will include a number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS. The initial four that the US sent have already gone into Ukraine and are in the hand of troops there. The package will also include ammunition and other supplies.


The new aid comes just a week after the US announced it will send an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine, as America and its allies send Ukraine the longer-range systems that they believe will allow forces to better fight back against Russia. (AP)


In this May 23, 2011, file photo a launch truck fires the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) produced by Lockheed Martin during combat training in the high desert of the Yakima Training Center, Wash. US officials will send another $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems. (Tony Overman/The Olympian via AP, File)
21:39 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Ukraine and Russia: Latest updates

  • Ukrainian troops may need to retreat from the eastern frontline city of Lysychansk to avoid encirclement after Russian forces captured two settlements to its south, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said.
  • Ukrainian troops were still holding out in the eastern city of Sievieorodonetsk, adjacent to Lysychansk, and can still receive weapons and evacuate their wounded despite damage to supply routes, a senior Ukrainian defence official said.
  • Three cruise missiles hit Ukraine's southern port city of Mykolaiv, while air defences shot down another two missiles near the southern city of Odesa, the Ukrainian armed forces said. Russia's defence ministry said it had used high-precision weapons to strike Ukrainian army fuel tanks and military equipment near Mykolaiv, Interfax news agency reported. (Reuters)

21:08 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Boris Johnson signals UK's willingness to demine, help export grain from Ukraine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain was willing to assist with demining operations off Ukraine's southern coast and was considering offering insurance to ships to move millions of tonnes of grain stuck in the country.


Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine and blockade of its Black Sea ports has prevented the country, traditionally one of the world's top food producers, from exporting much of the more than 20 million tonnes of grain stored in its silos. This has helped push food prices to record highs and left tens of millions of people struggling to eat, a crisis which Western officials say could last two years.


Turkey is trying to broker talks between the United Nations, Ukraine and Russia to create a possible safe sea corridor in the Black Sea, but Moscow wants some Western sanctions lifted first to facilitate its grain and fertiliser exports. (Reuters)

20:47 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Ukraine begins first trial of Russian soldier charged with rape

Ukraine on Thursday held a preliminary hearing in its first trial of a Russian soldier charged with raping a Ukrainian woman during Russia's invasion, the first of what could be dozens of such cases.


The suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, who is not in Ukrainian custody and will be tried in absentia, is accused of murdering a civilian in the Kyiv capital region on March 9 and repeatedly raping the man's wife, according to court files. Moscow has denied allegations of war crimes.


Romanov is accused of raping a 33-year-old woman after he and another Russian soldier shot her husband Oleksiy at point blank in the village of Bohdanivka to the northeast of Kyiv.The two soldiers then left and later returned twice more to rape her, the court files said. The identity of the second soldier had not been established. (Reuters)

20:23 (IST)23 Jun 2022
BRICS support Russia-Ukraine talks in declaration - Kremlin website

The BRICS group of emerging economies said on Thursday after a videoconference summit that they supported talks between Russia and Ukraine, according to the text of a declaration published on the Kremlin website.


The BRICS countries comprise Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.


Russia has looked to fellow BRICS members to replace some of the trade links that have been ruptured by sweeping Western sanctions imposed in response to its decision in February to send a huge contingent of troops into Ukraine. (Reuters)

19:39 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Russia may switch grain, sunseed export tax to roubles, agency says

Russia may gradually switch state export taxes for grains and sunflower seeds to the rouble currency from the U.S. dollar, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, citing a source in one of the ministries involved in discussing the change.


Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter and a major supplier of sunflower seeds, is facing a raft of US and European sanctions as a result of Moscow's decision to send troops into Ukraine.


Russia's grain exports have been constrained as the new marketing season starts on July 1 amid a high export tax, strong rouble, problems with freight and lack of forward sales caused by the sanctions. (Reuters)

18:55 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Germany faces natural gas 'crisis,' raises warning level

Germany activated the second phase of its three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies Thursday, warning that Europe's biggest economy faces a ``crisis'' and storage targets for the winter are at risk after Russia reduced energy deliveries to several countries.


The government said the decision follows cuts Russia made to natural gas flows starting last week and surging energy prices stoked by the war in Ukraine. Industrial customers are being asked to reduce the amount of natural gas they use, and Germany and other countries are turning back to coal as a replacement, threatening climate goals in Europe as energy tensions escalate between Russia and the West.


"Even if we can't feel it yet - we are in a gas crisis,'' Economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeck said. (AP)

18:27 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Ukraine troops may need to pull back from Lysychansk to avoid encirclement - governor

Ukrainian troops may need to retreat from the frontline city of Lysychansk to avoid encirclement after Russian forces captured two settlements to its south, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Thursday.


Lysychansk and nearby Sievierodonetsk have become the focus of Russia's offensive in the eastern Donbas region and the battle there is approaching a "fierce climax," a Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Wednesday.


The general staff of Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday confirmed the loss of Rai-Oleksandrivka and Loskutivka, which lie around 5 km (3 miles) from Lysychansk, and said Russian troops were trying to surround Ukrainian forces there. (Reuters)

18:04 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Ukraine defence minister welcomes arrival of US rocket systems

High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the United States have arrived in Ukraine, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Thursday.

"Thank you to my US colleague and friend Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for these powerful tools! Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them," he said on Twitter. (Reuters)

17:10 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Russians focus firepower to seize 2 villages in east Ukraine

The Russian military expanded its grab of territory in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, capturing two villages and vying for control of a key highway in an offensive that could cut supply lines and encircle some frontline Ukrainian forces, British and Ukrainian military officials said.


Britain's defense ministry said that Ukrainian forces had withdrawn from some areas near the city of Lysychansk, the latest major battlefield in Russian President Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine, to avoid the possibility of being encircled as Russians sent in reinforcements and concentrated their firepower in the area.

Ukraine's General Staff said Russian forces took control of the villages of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka, and were trying to capture Syrotyne outside Sievierodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region. (AP)

16:59 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Missiles hit Ukraine's southern port city of Mykolaiv - Ukrainian military

Three cruise missiles hit Ukraine's southern port city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, while air defences shot down another two missiles near the southern city of Odesa, the Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement.


It said one civilian was wounded in the strikes on Mykolaiv. (Reuters)

16:30 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Kremlin insists Russia has not stolen Ukrainian grain as Turkey investigates

The Kremlin on Thursday reiterated its assertion that Russia has not stolen any grain from Ukraine as Turkey said it was probing allegations from Kyiv and would not allow any such grain to be brought to Turkey.


Kyiv's ambassador to Ankara said in early June that Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russia had stolen from Ukraine, adding he had sought Turkey's help to identify and capture individuals responsible for the alleged shipments.


Asked about Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's comments that Ankara would investigate, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: "You should ask the foreign ministry. Russia has not stolen any grain." (Reuters)

16:04 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

  •  Ukrainian forces are defending the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk and the nearby settlements of Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said, though Russia had captured Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka to the south.
  • TASS news agency quoted pro-Moscow separatists as saying they had captured most of Vovchoyarivka, a village some 12 km (7.5 miles) southwest of the city of Lysychansk.
  • According to Britain's defence ministry, Russian forces have highly likely advanced more than 5 km (3.11 miles) towards the southern approaches of Lysychansk since June 19.
  • Russian forces pounded Kharkiv and its surroundings, killing at least 20 people. Kyiv said Moscow was trying to force it to divert battlefield resources to protect civilians there. (Reuters)

15:32 (IST)23 Jun 2022
3 summits offer test of Western unity, dominated by Ukraine

Three consecutive summits over the next week will test Western resolve to support Ukraine and the extent of international unity as rising geopolitical tensions and economic pain cast an increasingly long shadow.

  • On Thursday and Friday, European Union leaders will meet in Brussels to consider officially making Ukraine a candidate for membership. 
  • From Sunday to Tuesday, the Group of Seven leading economic powers will hold their annual summit in Germany.
  • And right after that, NATO leaders will gather in Madrid, with a standoff over the membership hopes of Finland and Sweden looming large. (AP)
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, France's President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attend a conference at the Mariyinsky palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo)
15:13 (IST)23 Jun 2022
European Union leaders set to grant Ukraine candidate status

European Union leaders on Thursday are set to grant Ukraine candidate status to join the 27-nation bloc, a first step in a long and unpredictable journey toward full membership that could take many years to achieve.


Making the war-torn country a contender now seems to be a done deal after leaders were initially divided on how fast they could move to embrace the war-torn country's bid that was launched only a few days after Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24. According to several EU diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity before the summit in Brussels, Ukraine will receive the unanimous approval that is required for the launch of discussions. (AP)

Ukrainians living in Belgium protest outside the European Council building, on the day leaders are set to meet to discuss giving Ukraine candidate status to join the European Union, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Brussels. (Reuters)
From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani Sadriu, European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron pose for a group photo during an EU summit in Brussels. (Reuters)
14:55 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Explosions heard in Ukraine's southern city of Mykolaiv - mayor

Explosions were heard in Ukraine's southern city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said, urging residents to take shelter. He did not provide further details in his post on messaging app Telegram.

A Russian missile strike killed at least one person and damaged buildings including a school in Mykolaiv on Wednesday, according to local authorities. Russia denies targeting civilians. (Reuters)

14:12 (IST)23 Jun 2022
12 EU states affected by Russian cuts to gas supply: Climate policy chief

A dozen EU member states have suffered reductions in gas supply from Russia, according to Frans Timmermans, the bloc's climate policy chief.

He said 10 countries had issued an "early warning" on gas supply, the first in the three levels of crisis laid out in EU regulations on security of supply.

On Thursday, Germany moved to the second, "alarm" level of its emergency plan. All EU member states are required to have such a three-stage plan. (DW)

13:33 (IST)23 Jun 2022
G7, Nato leaders to discuss new punitive measures on Russia

Leaders attending the upcoming G7 and Nato summits in Europe will discuss new proposals to pressure Russia amid its ongoing assault on Ukraine.

"We will roll out a concrete set of proposals to increase pressure on Russia," a senior US official told reporters.

US President Joe Biden will attend the G7 summit in the German region of Bavaria this weekend, along with the leaders of UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Biden will later attend a Nato summit in Madrid on the next leg of his European tour. (DW)

12:56 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Rights groups call on Biden to negotiate for US basketball star's release from Russia

A coalition of human rights groups on Wednesday called on US President Joe Biden to "make a deal" to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner who has been detained in Russia.

Brittney Griner

Griner was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17 when a search of her luggage allegedly revealed multiple cannabis oil vape cartridges. She could face up to 10 years in prison.

Forty advocacy groups including the National Organisation for Women, Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD said they appreciated the Biden administration's efforts, which included labelling the 31-year-old "wrongfully detained" and assigning diplomats to work for her release. But they said more needs to be done. (Reuters)

12:14 (IST)23 Jun 2022
Indian-Americans express solidarity with Ukrainians

A group of eminent Indian-Americans on Wednesday came together to express their solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Organised by American Hindu Coalition along with US India Security Council at the US Capitol, the event “Indian Americans Against Genocide in Ukraine” called for an urgent end to the human sufferings in Ukraine by Russia, which has waged a war against the country.

Observing that Indo-US relationship transcends political parties and elected leaders, Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said the heart of this relationship is an embrace of human rights and embrace of secular democracy and freedom.

“I understand that there are complications (in India-US relationship), and I hope that we can work with the Indians and the government of India to resolve those complications over time,” Krishnamoorthi said in his remarks at the event. (PTI)

International concern has focused on trying to restore Ukrainian exports of food, now shut by a de facto Russian blockade. Ukraine is one of the world's leading sources of grain and food oils, leading to fears of global shortages. Russia blames the food crisis on Western sanctions curbing its own exports.

Demonstrators supporting Ukraine gather outside the United Nations. (AP)

The war has also disrupted energy markets, including Russian shipments of oil and gas to Europe, still the continent's main source of energy and Moscow's primary income source. Moscow blames EU sanctions for a decline in gas volumes, saying they prevented it from restoring pipeline pumping equipment.

On Monday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Washington is in talks with Canada and other allies to further restrict Moscow's energy revenue by imposing a price cap on Russian oil.

Moscow, meanwhile, threatened to retaliate against EU member Lithuania for banning transport of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory.

Russia's foreign ministry summoned Lithuania's top diplomat and demanded Vilnius reverse the "openly hostile" move or Russia "reserves the right to take actions to protect its national interests." Lithuania said EU sanctions obliged it to enforce the ban.

Kaliningrad's governor said Russia's foreign ministry would summon the EU ambassador to Moscow on Tuesday over the ban.

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