Ukraine latest updates: ‘Foreign fighters appeal sentences’

Ukraine news from July 1: Foreigners sentenced to death by a Russian-backed separatist court in eastern Ukraine launch appeal, Russian state media reports.

Russian troops drive armoured vehicles near Novoazovsk in the Donetsk region on Friday
Service members of pro-Russian troops drive armoured vehicles during near Novoazovsk in the Donetsk region [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]
  • A British and Moroccan fighter sentenced to death by a Russian-backed separatist court in east Ukraine for fighting for Ukraine have appealed against their sentences according to the Russian state news agency TASS.
  • Germany has condemned alleged Russian missile attacks on Ukraine’s Odesa region.
  • According to Kyiv, at least 19 people were killed in the southwestern region on Friday, including two children. Moscow denies responsibility.
  • President Vladimir Putin says sanctions and political pressure from the West are pushing Russia and Belarus closer.


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These were the updates on Friday, July 1:


Russia firing phosphorus bombs on Snake Island: Ukraine

The Ukrainian army has accused Russia of carrying out attacks using incendiary phosphorus munitions on Snake Island, just a day after withdrawing its forces from there.

“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.

Houses in Bakhmut hit by rocket fire: Residents

Bakhmut resident Viktor Rosenberg told Al Jazeera the roof of his home was hit by rockets causing the ceiling to collapse.

“There is a lot of rubble. I am 81-years-old. There is no one to help,” he said.

Volunteers were helping elderly people evacuate the town which lies some 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the strategic city of Severodonetsk, which Russia captured last week.

A resident walks by a damaged apartment building in Ukraine
A local resident walks in front of an apartment building destroyed in a missile attack in Bakhmut, Ukraine [File: Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

Link restored to Zaporizhzhia nuclear station: Kiev

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, which is made up of six reactors.

US pledges more military aid to Ukraine

The US has said it will provide Ukraine with $820m in new military aid, including new surface-to-air missile systems and counter-artillery radars to respond to Russia’s heavily reliance on long-range attacks in the war.

A Ukrainian soldier carries a U.S.-supplied Stinger as he goes along the road, in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region
A Ukrainian soldier carries a US-supplied Stinger as he goes along the road, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Eight percent more grain, pulses exported by Ukraine

Ukraine exported 8 percent more grain and pulses in the 2021-22 financial year, which finished at the end of June, compared with the previous year, the Ministry of Agriculture in Kyiv has announced.

Some 48.5 million tonnes was exported, an increase from 44.7 million tonnes in 2020-21

In June, however, exports were 44 percent below the previous year’s figure at 1.4 million tonnes due to the loss of sea exports, the ministry said.

Germany wants faster talks on bringing Balkan states closer to EU

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wants to accelerate the discussion about bringing the Western Balkan states closer to the European Union.

No more time should be lost in the efforts for integration and harmonisation, the Green politician said after talks with her Slovenian counterpart Tanja Fajon in Berlin.

“No niche must be created in the Balkans in which Russia or other actors can settle,” Baerbock said.

Attack on Odesa building targeted: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described a Russian missile attack on a residential building in the southern Ukrainian region of Odesa as not accidental.

This was a targeted missile attack by Russia, terror by Russia against Ukrainian towns and villages, against the Ukrainian people, adults and children, Zelensky said after a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Gahr Store in Kyiv, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Ukrainian soldiers are seen standing guard behind a barricade in Odesa
Soldiers stand guard behind a barricade, with the Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre seen in the background [File: Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters]

EU prepares emergency plan to do without Russian energy

The European Union’s executive arm has pledged to draft an emergency plan this month aimed at helping member countries do without Russian energy amid the 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.”

Norway pledges $1bn in aid to Ukraine

Norway has announced $1bn of aid to Ukraine over two years, as Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store visited the country.

The fund of 10 billion Norwegian kroner is for “humanitarian aid, reconstruction of the country, weapons and operational support to the [Ukrainian] authorities”, the Norwegian government said in a statement.

“We stand together with the Ukrainian people,” Store said in the statement.

Moroccan and Briton appeal death sentences

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 has reported.

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.

NATO in talks to build naval base in Albania

Albania’s prime minister says his government is in talks with NATO to build a naval base at Porto Romano, a port under construction on its Adriatic coast.

Edi Rama told a news conference that Porto Romano, situated close to the coastal town of Durres and intended as the country’s biggest port, would have a commercial section as well as a military naval base.

He said the base would be built and co-financed by NATO and Albania, which became a member of the security alliance in 2009.

Back in May, Rama said his government was also offering NATO its Pashaliman naval base some 200km (124 miles) south of Tirana.  Pashaliman was set up by Moscow as a submarine base in the 1950s to host 12 submarines near Vlore, where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet.

Norway pledges one billion euros in support for Ukraine

Norway’s prime minister has pledged one billion euros ($1.04bn) of support to Ukraine for the rest of 2022 and 2023.

Jonas Gahr Stoere told reporters at a news conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the funds would help Ukraine defend itself, support people in need and with reconstruction efforts.

Ukrainian borshch soup culture added to UNESCO heritage list

The United Nations cultural agency (UNESCO) has inscribed the culture of cooking borshch soup in Ukraine on its list of endangered cultural heritage.

Read more here.

A local resident cooks a borshch, a traditional Ukrainian tomato soup, on the outskirts of eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on April 11, 2017. - After three years of war, Irina and her husband Arkady have all but lost hope of ever seeing the day the big guns fall silent and Ukraine becomes whole again. The middle-aged couple live in the shelled-out northern outskirts of the Russian-backed separatist rebels' de facto capital city of Donetsk in the eastern industrial heartland of the divided former Soviet state. (Photo by Aleksey FILIPPOV / AFP)
Ukraine considers borshch – a thick nourishing soup usually made with beetroot – as a national dish [Aleksey Filippov/AFP]

No specific extraditions discussed with Turkey, Finnish official says

Finland and Turkey did not discuss the extradition of any specific individuals or groups of people during negotiations at the NATO summit in Madrid this week, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has said.

“We agreed that now we have a signed a text and everything that we have signed is in the text,” Haavisto told a news conference in Helsinki, referring to a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday.

“We did not, in Madrid, discuss about any individuals or any listings [with Turkey],” he added.

After four hours of talks in Madrid on Tuesday, Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed a joint memorandum on security measures in exchange for Turkey lifting its opposition to their NATO membership bids, imposed by Ankara in May due to its concerns about “terrorism”. The signed memorandum did not list any individuals for extradition.

Germany condemns Odesa attacks

Germany’s government has condemned alleged Russian missile attacks in Odesa, saying attacks on civilians were war crimes.

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

Ukrainian officials put death toll from Odesa strikes at 19

Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) says the death toll from reported Russian missile attacks in the southwestern region of Odesa now stands at 19 people, including two children.

An earlier toll provided by Ukrainian authorities said 18 people had died in the attacks.

Another 38 people, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalised after being wounded during the strikes, the SBU said in a Telegram post.

It alleged that Russian bombers had fired the three X-22 missiles which struck an apartment building and two campsites. Russia has denied responsibility for the attack.

Turkey can re-export Black Sea grains: Erdogan

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey can re-export grain products like wheat, oats and barley from the Black Sea to countries in need after talks with Russia and Ukraine.

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 the talks, “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.

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 reach an agreement on resuming exports.

Trial of WNBA star Brittney Griner begins in Russia

The trial of US professional basketball player Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia in February after authorities found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage, has begun in Moscow.

Read more here.

Kremlin: Putin told Modi Russia is reliable supplier of grain, fertiliser, energy

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Russia is still a reliable producer and supplier of grains, fertilisers and energy during the pair’s talks by phone, the Kremlin has said in a readout of the call.

In detailed discussions on the global food market, 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.

Kremlin sees no grounds for LNG supplies from Sakhalin-2 to stop

Russia sees no grounds for liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies from its Sakhalin-2 project to stop, the Kremlin has said after Moscow moved to create a new firm to take over the entirety of the rights and obligations of the project.

Asked by reporters whether Sakhalin-2 could become an example for other projects involving Western companies operating in Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that each case will be reviewed individually.

The decree, signed on Thursday, creates a new firm to take over all rights and obligations of Sakhalin Energy Investment Co, in which Shell and two Japanese trading companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi hold just under 50 percent control.

Modi, Putin discuss energy, and food markets in talks by phone

Modi and Putin have held talks by phone during which they discussed the state of global energy and food markets, the Indian leader’s office said in a statement.

“They exchanged ideas on how bilateral trade in agricultural goods, fertilisers and pharma products could be encouraged further,” the statement said. “The leaders also discussed global issues, including the state of the international energy and food markets.”

The statement added that Modi had urged Putin to pursue dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the war in Ukraine.

When will the war in Ukraine end?

Thousands of troops have died, billions of dollars worth of military hardware have been used and entire cities have been subjected to relentless bombardment – but more than four months on, Russia’s fierce military campaign in Ukraine continues unabated.

Now, forecasts about when the war will end differ widely. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned it could last for years, while Western intelligence agencies have reportedly said Russia’s combat capabilities could be depleted in the coming months.

Read more here.

The Ukrainian national flag is seen through the window of an apartment destroyed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the town of Borodianka, in Kyiv region.
Russia’s offensive in Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced millions of others and destroyed hundreds of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure [File: Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters]

Rescue efforts continue following Odesa missile attacks: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, says rescue efforts are continuing following the reported Russian missile attacks in Odesa.

“The worst-affected building was a nine-storey apartment block, part of which collapsed,” Fisher said.

“The big concern of course is that because of [previous] air raids many people had opted to spend the night in the basement of buildings, but when buildings collapse that means they can be trapped and that is why since very early this morning there has been a rescue operation at the site [of the collapsed] apartment block,” he added.

“People are removing the rubble by hand, and digging down to see if there are other lives they can save.”

Moscow denies striking civilian areas in Odesa

The Kremlin has dismissed reports from Ukrainian officials that Russian missiles hit residential areas in Odesa early on Friday morning and reiterated its claim that Moscow does not target civilians.

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

Ukrainian authorities had earlier said Russian missiles hit an apartment building and two holiday camps in the region, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens of others.

Putin: Western pressure speeding up Russia’s integration with Belarus

Putin has said political pressure from the West is pushing Russia to accelerate its integration with neighbouring Belarus.

His remarks came after Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu last week said the two countries must take urgent joint measures to improve their defence capabilities and troops’ combat readiness.

EU slams Russian threat to sever diplomatic ties with Bulgaria

Russia’s threat to sever diplomatic ties with Bulgaria in response to its decision to expel 70 Russian diplomats is unjustified, the EU has said.

The bloc said in a statement that Bulgaria’s action was “fully in line with international law”, as the diplomats of the Russian embassy were acting in violation of international treaties.

“The European Union stands in full support and solidarity with Bulgaria in these circumstances and will follow this matter closely,” it added.

Bulgaria’s outgoing prime minister on Thursday called on Russia to withdraw its diplomatic ultimatum, which included a threat to close Russia’s embassy in the Balkan nation.

Erdogan says Nordic nations must fulfil NATO deal: Report

Erdogan has been quoted as saying that Finland and Sweden must keep promises made to Ankara in exchange for its backing over their NATO membership bids or risk losing his government’s support.

Speaking to reporters on a flight back from the NATO summit in Madrid, the Turkish president said there was no need to rush ratifying the two Nordic countries’ bids to join the alliance through his country’s parliament.

Ankara should first see if they keep promises made under the memorandum, including on extraditing suspects sought by Turkey, he said.

“This should be known: these signatures don’t mean the issue is done … Without our parliament’s approval, this does not go into effect. So there is no need to rush,” Turkish broadcaster NTV quoted Erdogan as saying. “The ball is in their court now. Sweden and Finland are not NATO members currently.”

Timeline: Week 18 of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Click here for Al Jazeera’s rundown on the major events that marked the 18th week of the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s decree on Sakhalin-2 project not a requisition: Japan

Japan does not consider Russia’s decree on the Sakhalin-2 gas and oil project as a requisition, the country’s minister of economy, trade and industry has said.

The Japanese government believes the decree signed by Putin is asking current stakeholders whether they agree to hand over all rights of the project to a new company, Koichi Hagiuda told reporters.

Putin signed the decree on Thursday to take charge of the Sakhalin-2 project in Russia’s far east, a move that could force Shell and Japan’s Mitsui and Mitsubishi to abandon their investments in the project.

EU chief urges Ukraine to speed anti-corruption reform

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has urged Ukraine to press forward with anti-corruption reforms on the path to EU membership.

“You have created an impressive anti-corruption machine,” she told the lawmakers by video link. “But now these institutions need teeth, and the right people in senior posts.”

Von der Leyen’s warm address heaped praise on Ukraine’s parliament and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government for their swift and successful push to become candidates for EU membership.

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

Ukraine now has a “very clear European perspective” following the European Union’s decision to grant the country candidate status to join the bloc, von der Leyen has 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.

Russia’s Snake Island withdrawal based on troop vulnerability, not goodwill: UK

Russia withdrew its troops from Snake Island due to their vulnerability to Ukrainian attacks, as well as their isolation – as Ukraine’s anti-ship missiles often prevented Russian naval vessels from resuppling the island – rather than Moscow’s claimed “gesture of goodwill,” the United Kingdom’s defence ministry has said.

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

Russia’s defence ministry announced its forces had withdrawn from Snake Island, which Russia had seized on the first day of the invasion, on Thursday. The island sits along the main shipping lanes to Odesa and its adjacent ports,” the UK’s ministry said.

“Separately, Russian ground forces claim to have captured the village of Pryvilla, north-west of the contested Donbas town of Lysychansk,” the ministry added.

Russian forces capture part of Lysychansk oil refinery: Governor

Russian forces have captured part of the Lysychansk oil refinery, some 17km southwest of the city, the governor of Luhansk has said.

“The occupiers are storming the Lysychansk oil refinery, holding the north-western and south-eastern parts of the plant,” Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram.

Moscow’s troops are still attempting to surround Ukraine’s military in Lysychansk, the military’s last stronghold in Luhansk, attacking the city from the south and west, he said, adding that this was “in vain”. He said Russian forces had also so far failed to capture the highway connecting Lysychansk to Bakhmut in the neighbouring Donetsk region.

“Residents of Lysychansk spend almost 24 hours in basements and houses. The shelling of the city is very dense,” he added.

Russian attacks kill at least 18 in Odesa region: Ukrainian officials

Russian missile attacks on residential areas in a coastal town near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa have killed at least 18 people, including two children, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Video of the pre-dawn attack showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, located about 50km (31 miles) southwest of Odesa. Ukrainian news reports said the Russian missiles hit a multi-storey apartment building and a resort area.

“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 Zelenskyy 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.

Sixteen of the 18 victims died in the strike on the apartment building, Ukrainian emergency officials said. Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians during its offensive.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the death toll from the reported incidents.

Russia hit 68 civilians sites in second half of June: General

A Ukrainian brigadier general has estimated that Russia hit 68 civilian sites in the second half of June.

Oleksii Hromov earlier said the number of Russian missile strikes on Ukraine had more than doubled in the last two weeks and that Moscow was using inaccurate Soviet-era missiles for more than half of the attacks.

Russia used a Soviet-era Kh-22 missile in the attack on the crowded shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk on Monday, which killed at least 18 people, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Russia consistently denies targeting civilians.

Basketball star Griner trial to start in Russia

US basketball player Brittney Griner is due to go on trial in Russia on Friday on drug charges that could see her face up to 10 years in jail, in a case that highlights the fraught relations between Moscow and Washington.

Griner, a star player in the US-based Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on February 17, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, unleashing a broader confrontation with the West.

Russian authorities said the 31-year-old was carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, a substance illegal in the country. She was charged with smuggling a large quantity of drugs, an offence that can carry up to 10 years in jail.

US officials and a score of athletes have called for the release of Griner – or “BG” as she is known in the basketball community. They say she has been wrongfully detained and should be immediately returned to her family in the US.

Seven wounded in Odesa missile attack: Official

An Odesa official says seven people were wounded in Friday morning’s missile strike on a nine-storey building, which reportedly killed 10 people.

A rescue operation is under way, said Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration.

He said some people remained buried under the rubble after a section of the building collapsed.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify Bratchuk’s report.

China not giving material support for Russia’s war in Ukraine: US official

The United States has not seen China evade sanctions or provide military equipment to Russia, a senior US official has said, adding that enforcement measures taken earlier in the week targeted certain Chinese companies, not the government, Reuters reports.

The Commerce Department added five companies in China to a trade blacklist on Tuesday for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and defence industrial base as Moscow carries out its war in Ukraine. US officials have warned of consequences, including sanctions, should China offer material support for Russia’s war effort, but have consistently said they have yet to detect overt Chinese military and economic backing of Moscow.

“China is not providing material support. This is normal course-of-business enforcement action against entities that have been backfilling for Russia,” a senior Biden administration official told Reuters, referring to the Commerce blacklist.

“We have not seen the PRC (People’s Republic of China) engage in systematic evasion or provide military equipment to Russia,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Ukraine receives 446.8 million euro ($467.8m) loan from World Bank: Finance ministry

Ukraine has received a 446.8 million euro ($467.8m) loan from the World Bank with 424.6 million euros ($444.6m) of it guaranteed by the United Kingdom, the finance ministry has said.

“The funds raised will secure funding for public sector employees. We are grateful to the government of the United Kingdom and the World Bank team for supporting Ukraine in this difficult period of our history,” finance minister Serhiy Marchenko was quoted by his ministry as saying on Thursday.

A local resident stands next to a house damaged by a Russian missile in the village of Maiaky, in Odesa region, Ukraine June 27, 2022
A local resident stands beside a house damaged by a Russian missile in the village of Maiaky, in Odesa region, Ukraine on June 27, 2022 [Igor Tkachenko/Reuters]

‘Disgusting sight’ if G7 leaders undressed: Putin fires back

Putin has fired back at leaders of the Group of Seven for mocking his macho image, saying that if they undressed, it “would be a disgusting sight anyway” regardless if it was “from top or from the bottom”.

Speaking at a news conference during a visit to Turkmenistan on Wednesday, Putin advised the leaders to refrain from alcohol abuse and to do exercise.

The comments came after G7 leaders poked fun at their absent adversary at a meeting in Germany, where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be heard asking colleagues if they should keep their “jackets on, or jackets off? We’ve got to show them we are tougher than Putin.”

“We are not having the best period of our relations, this is understandable. Nevertheless they are all world leaders, it means they have character. And if they want to, they can certainly achieve the desired success. They just need to work on themselves,” Putin told journalists.

Funeral held for Ukrainian serviceman in the village of Babyntsi

A funeral service was held on Thursday in a small Ukrainian village for a 45-year-old soldier killed in the east of the country.

Village head Andriy Kuprash said Volodymyr Kochetov was one of four soldiers from Babyntsi, which is near Bucha, who have been killed in the war. Each loss has taken a heavy toll on the small village, which has a population of around 2,700 people. Local authorities said Kochetov was killed on June 24 in the Donetsk region.

“Just today we received news about the death of a fourth soldier who was killed near Kharkiv, in Kharkiv region,” Kuprash said.

Residents took the knee along the streets of Babyntsi as soldiers carried Kuprash’s coffin, covered in the Ukrainian flag.

Natalia, the wife of Ukrainian serviceman Volodymyr Kochetov, 46, who was killed in a fight during Russia's invasion, reacts during his funeral in the village of Babyntsi, Ukraine June 30, 2022
Natalia, the wife of Ukrainian serviceman Volodymyr Kochetov, 46, who was killed in a fight during Russia’s invasion, reacts during his funeral in the village of Babyntsi, Ukraine on June 30, 2022 [Gleb Garanich/Reuters]


Russia will create a firm taking over obligations of Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project operator

Russia will create a firm which will take over all rights and obligations of the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company amid Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, a decree signed by President Putin said on Thursday.

Sakhalin Energy Investment Company is a consortium for developing the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in Russia’s Far east.

Its shareholders include Russian gas giant Gazprom (50 percent plus one share) and Shell (27.5 percent minus one share). Leading Japanese traders, Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp own stakes of 12.5 percent and 10 percent respectively in the firm.

Ukraine’s Lviv symbolically votes to ban formerly Moscow-affiliated church

The local council in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv has become the first to ban a branch of the Orthodox church that was until last month directly affiliated with Moscow.

According to Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi, the unanimous council vote to ban the activity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) – with longstanding ties to Moscow – was “political” and without legislative effect, as rules on religious organisations are made at the national level.

“This is a position that we have publicly voiced, and now state bodies must get to work on it,” Sadovyi was quoted as saying by the city administration’s site.

The UOC, which until May reported to Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, was the official representative of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine until 2019, when the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine was officially recognised by church leaders in Istanbul.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine is now exporting power to EU

Zelenskyy has said the launching of power transmissions to Romania was the start of a process that could help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

Zelenskyy’s comments in his nightly video message on Thursday followed an announcement by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal that exports had started earlier in the day – with a volume of 100 megawatts – four months into Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The president said the start of exports was “another significant step in our movement toward the European Union”.

“Thanks to Ukrainian electricity, a significant part of the Russian gas used by European consumers can be replaced. This is therefore not just a question of export earnings for us but a question of security for all of Europe,” Zelenskyy said.

Russian missile strike kills 10 in Odesa: Official

A Russian missile struck a nine-storey apartment building in the Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 10 people, according to a local official.

“The number of dead as a result of a strike on a multi-storey apartment building has now risen to 10,” Bratchuk, the spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said in a Telegram post. Earlier reports said six people had died in the incident.

Bratchuk also said a second missile had hit a recreation centre and casualty numbers were being determined. He said Russian forces had launched rockets from the direction of the Black Sea.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify Bratchuk’s report.

Finland’s, Sweden’s NATO plans show Putin his strategies are wrong: Macron

Plans by Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance send a clear signal to Russia that Putin’s strategies are wrong and self-defeating, French President Emmanuel Macron has said.

“He (Putin) achieved to have countries, which up to now have had a more careful and withdrawn approach toward the alliance, decide to join it,” Macron said at a NATO summit news conference in Madrid on Thursday.

Macron also said France would soon deliver six further CAESAR howitzers to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

“The fight for Ukraine, although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, is our fight. It’s a fight for our values, for our principles, principles of European democracy and democracy in the alliance,” Macron said.

We will continue cooperation with Russia: Widodo

Indonesia will continue cooperation with Russia, Indonesia’s Widodo told reporters after meeting with Putin in Moscow on Thursday.

Speaking through a translator, he also said it was important to move towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo shake hands after a joint news conference after their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo shake hands after a joint news conference after their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, June 30, 2022 [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP]

Russia ready to fulfil Indonesia’s demand for fertilisers: Putin

Russia is ready to fulfil Indonesia’s demand for fertilisers, Putin told reporters after meeting with Indonesia’s President Widodo in Moscow on Thursday.

Putin also said that Russia intends to honour its obligations under contracts for the supply of energy, food and fertilisers abroad.

Widodo said during an earlier press conference with Putin, that global food supply issues would not improve if Russian fertiliser and Ukrainian wheat was unavailable, and said he urged G7 leaders to ensure sanctions on Russia do not affect food and fertiliser supplies.

Russia’s Snake Island withdrawal unlikely to ease grain crisis: Analyst

Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island is unlikely to help ease the crisis over Ukraine’s blockaded grain, a leading Kyiv-based military analyst has said.

“This will not unblock the export of grain. Russia retains shooting control over this area of the waters. One option is that the United Nations forms a humanitarian convoy, then maybe there would be a chance to get these ships out with grain from our ports for export,” said Oleg Zhdanov.

It was also unlikely that Ukraine would itself take up positions and deploy anti-ship weapons on the island to try to beef up its coastline defences because the island remained within the firing range of Russian forces, Zhdanov said.

Mathieu Boulègue, an analyst at Chatham House, said Russia’s pullback might be part of a plan to let the Kremlin strengthen its military forces elsewhere in the Black Sea. “We should not be fooled by it … It might be short-term relief but there will be long-term pain.”

Zelenskyy hails Russia’s Snake Island withdrawal

Zelenskyy has said Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island “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,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.

“Step by step, we will drive them out of our sea, our land and our sky,” he added.

Moscow keeps up push to take Lysychansk

Moscow kept up its push to take control of the city of Lysychansk on Thursday, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province. Ukraine said the Russians were shelling Lysychansk and clashing with Ukrainian defenders around an oil refinery on its edges.

The Ukrainian military said Thursday evening that Russia had seen “partial success” that day around the plant, some 17 kilometres south-west of the city. They made no reference to claims that attacking forces had been able to cross the strategic Siversky Donets river and enter the city from the north.

A representative of Russia-backed separatists in Luhansk claimed that pro-Russian forces entered Lysychansk on Thursday, after a perilous river crossing — which, if true, would be a significant development.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai denied that Lysychansk had been encircled. Nevertheless, Haidai noted that as of Thursday evening, evacuations from the city were impossible due to heavy shelling and mined access roads.

Top Russian economic expert faces embezzlement charges

A leading economic expert in Russia has been detained on embezzlement charges as part of a high-profile case that some observers saw as linked to purges targeting members of the country’s liberal elite.

Investigators accused Vladimir Mau, the rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, embezzling funds from the institution, a leading school for public servants. Mau denied the charges.

Since the early 1990s, Mau has served as a senior economic adviser to the Russian government. He received high state awards from President Vladimir Putin in 2012 and 2017.

Kremlin critics have described the arrests as part of a widening government crackdown on independent voices amid the military action in Ukraine.


Read all updates for June 30 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies