President Vladimir Putin orders Russian troops to press their offensive deeper into the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine after Moscow's forces seized the strategic city of Lysychansk in an ongoing offensive – now in its 132nd day.

Millions of tons of Ukrainian grain sitting in silos waiting to be shipped to world markets.
Millions of tons of Ukrainian grain sitting in silos waiting to be shipped to world markets. (AFP)

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Türkiye to 'intensify' negotiations for Ukraine grain deal 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he intends to “intensify” negotiations with Russia and Ukraine in the hope of reaching a deal on a UN plan to export Ukrainian grain to world markets. 

Türkiye is working with the United Nations, Ukraine and Russia on a plan that would allow millions of tons of Ukrainian grain sitting in silos to be shipped through safe corridors in the Black Sea. 

“We will intensify our talks within a week or 10 days and try to reach a result,” he told reporters in Ankara. 

Ukrainian governor urges evacuation of 350,000 residents 

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has said that getting the 350,000 people remaining in Donetsk province out is necessary to save lives and to enable the Ukrainian army to better defend towns from the Russian advance. 

“The destiny of the whole country will be decided by the Donetsk region,” Kyrylenko told reporters in Kramatrosk, the province's administrative centre and home to the Ukrainian military's regional headquarters. 

“Once there are less people, we will be able to concentrate more on our enemy and perform our main tasks,” Kyrylenko said. 

No plans for bases in Sweden or Finland: NATO 

NATO has no current plans to send troops to Sweden and Finland once they complete the membership process launched this week, the defensive alliance's deputy chief told AFP. 

"We don't plan to have an additional presence in either country, they have formidable national forces. They're capable of defending themselves," Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said in a telephone interview. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned last week that "if military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us". 

Mayor: Ukrainian city of Sloviansk hit by 'massive shelling'

At least two people were killed and seven more injured as Russian forces pounded the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, local authorities have said, as Moscow ramps up its assault on the Donbas region.

"Sloviansk! Massive shelling of the city. The centre, the north. Everyone, take shelter," city mayor Vadim Lyakh wrote on Facebook.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, which includes Sloviansk, said on Telegram that two people had been killed and seven others injured in shelling which the mayor said targeted the city market.

Arbitrary detention widespread in Russian-held parts of Ukraine: UN rights chief

Arbitrary detention of civilians has become "widespread" in parts of Ukraine held by Russia's military and affiliated armed groups, with 270 cases documented, the UN human rights chief said, unveiling plans to boost monitoring in the country.

The findings were based on information from monitors' field visits and interviews conducted with just over 500 victims and witnesses of human rights violations, as well as other sources of data, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

Despite restrictions on access, we have documented 270 cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance. Eight of the victims were found dead.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

West should do more to unblock Ukraine's ports: official

Western partners should do more to help unblock Ukraine's Black Sea ports to release exports of grain, metals and mining products, a Ukrainian official said, warning the country's finances were increasingly precarious.

Logistics problems linked to the conflict with Russia, notably at seaport Odessa, hit exports, causing currency inflows to Ukraine to drop to around $2.5 billion per month from around $7 billion before the conflict, Rostyslav Shurma, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, said on the sidelines of the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

"We are in the process with the United Nations trying to unblock this process, but I think we need much more decisive steps from our Western partners to unblock the Black Sea," he said, seeking strong security guarantees for seaports.

IIHF disciplinary board upholds ban on Russia, Belarus

The disciplinary board of the International Ice Hockey Federation rejected appeals from Russia and Belarus that asked for their national teams to be reinstated to participate in IIHF competitions.

The international governing body banned both nations from international play on February 28, following Russia's attack against Ukraine. Belarus has supported the Russian effort.

At the time, the IIHF cited safety concerns as the reason for the ban. The organisation also subsequently relocated two tournaments - the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2023 IIHF World Championship - from Russia to other nations.

Separatist leader: Russian-backed forces head for Donetsk front

Russian-backed separatist forces move towards the Donetsk region after Russia takes full control of Luhansk region last week, the Russian state news agency TASS has cited so-called Donetsk People’s Republic leader Denis Pushilin as saying.

Russia has made control of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, which together make up the Donbass region, the central objective of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Though Russia took the final Ukrainian strongholds in Luhansk region last week, Ukraine still controls around 45 percent of the neighbouring Donetsk region.

Duma gives first approval to laws moving Russia towards war economy

Russian lawmakers have given the first stamp of approval to two bills that would authorise the government to oblige businesses to supply the military with goods and their employees to work overtime to support Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

The initiatives come more than four months into what Russia calls its "special military operation," which has prompted Western countries to impose a wave of sanctions against Moscow.

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.

Supporters outline principles for Ukraine's recovery

An international conference to support Ukraine after the devastating Russian offensive has outlined a series of principles to steer Kiev's recovery and condemned Moscow's actions.

Representatives from more than 40 countries and international organisations like the European Investment Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) signed up to the Lugano Declaration at the two-day conference in Switzerland.

Signatories including the United States, Britain, France and Japan welcomed commitments to provide political, financial and technical support and launched the Lugano Principles to guide the reconstruction effort, which Kiev says could cost up to $750 billion.

Russian parliament speaker: Ukraine has become a 'terrorist' state

The speaker of the lower house of Russia's parliament has told members in a plenary session that Ukraine had become a "terrorist state", according to remarks posted on the State Duma's website.

Vyacheslav Volodin was quoted as saying that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was the head of a "criminal regime".

Russian officials have since the beginning of Moscow's "special military operation" in Ukraine sought to paint their neighbour as being controlled by anti-Russian fascists and "neo-Nazis", but have not pushed the idea that it is a terrorist state.

Russian Duma speaker: Ukraine pushing Moscow to expand military goals

Russian parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has said that Ukraine was doing "everything" to ensure that Moscow's troops will not stop their "special military operation" at the borders of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) in eastern Ukraine, the RIA Novosti agency has reported.

Moscow has claimed the "liberation" of the entire LPR on the territory of Ukraine's Luhansk province, and is pressing on with its campaign to wrest the adjoining DPR - Ukraine's Donetsk province - out of Kiev'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 Kiev.

Russian defence minister: Conscripts not being sent to Ukraine

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 has 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 accuses Ukraine of torturing prisoners of war

Russia has said it was investigating the torture of Russian soldiers held prisoner in Ukraine and recently released as part of a prisoner swap with Kiev 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 Kiev exchanged 144 prisoners of war each - the biggest exchange since the start of Moscow's Ukraine campaign launched on February 24.

Russian-held part of south Ukraine aims to sell grain to Middle East

Russian-imposed authorities in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine, which is partly under Russian control, has 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.

Russian security service takes over Moscow-occupied Kherson region

An official from Russia's powerful FSB security services has taken 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 on Tuesday, he added. A graduate of the FSB Academy, 51-year-old Yeliseyev served in the security services in unspecified functions, according to the Kaliningrad region website.

Ukrainian forces undeterred, Putin hails Luhansk victory

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his armed forces were undeterred in their efforts to "break" Moscow's will to pursue a nearly five-month conflict, while Russia's Vladimir Putin hailed his military's victory in the gruelling battle of Luhansk.

With the conflict entering its next phase, Ukrainian forces took up new defensive lines in the eastern part of the country.

"There have been no significant changes on the battlefield in the past 24 hours," Zelenskyy said in a video message.  

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day. We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative."

For live updates from Monday (July 4), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies