Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 493

As the war enters its 493rd day, these are the main developments.

A Ukrainian serviceman jumps from a Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun during his combat shift, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv region, Ukraine June 30, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
A Ukrainian serviceman on a Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, on June 30, 2023 [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

This is the situation as it stands on Saturday, July 1.

Fighting

  • Human Rights Watch said it uncovered new evidence of indiscriminate use of antipersonnel landmines by Ukrainian forces against Russian troops. The group called on Ukraine to follow through with a commitment to not use the banned weapons, investigate their suspected use and hold accountable those responsible.
  • A Russian missile attack on a village school near the front line in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region killed two women and injured six, Ukrainian police said.
  • Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said forces are advancing in all directions in their counteroffensive against Russian troops. “We have seized the strategic initiative and are advancing in all directions,” Maliar told Ukrainian television.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered his top military commanders to boost defences in the northern military sector as Russia’s Wagner mercenary forces arrives in Belarus after an aborted mutiny to topple the Russian military leadership.

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces is “going slower than people had predicted”, but is making steady progress, United States Army General Mark Milley said. “It is advancing steadily, deliberately, working its way through very difficult minefields, et cetera,” he said.
  • The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s military said his forces’ counteroffensive was hindered by the lack of adequate firepower, from modern fighter jets to artillery ammunition. Valery Zaluzhny said it “pi**es me off” that some in the West complain about the slow progress of the counteroffensive, while Ukraine is still awaiting F-16 fighters promised by its allies.
  • Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Ukraine was preparing to commit a “terrorist” attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied that Russia intentionally attacked civilian targets in Ukraine, saying it only targeted military infrastructure or other military targets. Lavrov also said he believed the West wants to freeze the conflict in Ukraine to buy time to send more weapons to Kyiv.

Military

  • The US is considering providing cluster munitions to Ukraine, said General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • The Russian government will increase salaries for military servicemen by 10.5 percent from October 1, a decree published on an official web portal has shown. The increase follows the abandoned mutiny by the mercenary Wagner Group.
  • Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor blocked media outlets linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the Wagner mercenary force, Russian newspaper Kommersant reports.

  • In response to a question about the Wagner Group’s aborted mutiny last weekend, foreign minister Lavrov said his country has always emerged stronger and more resilient from any difficulties.
  • Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said Russia is reducing the number of personnel at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The Main Directorate of Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence (GUR) said on Telegram that the first to leave the power plant were three employees of Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom, who had been “in charge of the Russians’ activities”.

Aid

  • European Union leaders have declared they will make long-term commitments to bolster Ukraine’s security, following a summit in Brussels.

  • Hungary has rejected the European Commission’s plans to grant more money to Ukraine and is not willing to contribute additional funds to finance the EU’s increased debt service costs, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.
  • Belgium’s prime minister said Russia’s frozen assets could provide 3 billion euros ($3.27bn) a year to rebuild Ukraine.
  • The World Bank approved a $1.5bn loan to Ukraine to support reconstruction and recovery, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.

Peace

  • Pope Francis said there is no apparent end in sight to the war in Ukraine as his peace envoy completed three days of talks in Moscow. “The tragic reality of this war, that seems to have no end, demands of everyone a common creative effort to imagine and forge paths of peace,” the pope told a religious delegation from the patriarchate of Constantinople.
  • Former US President Donald Trump, a longtime admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Putin had been “somewhat weakened” by an aborted Wagner mutiny and that now is the time for Washington to try to broker a negotiated peace settlement between Russia and Ukraine.

Politics

  • Russia has demanded an explanation from Poland over its arrest of Russian citizens, state news agency RIA reported, citing foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Poland arrested a Russian ice hockey player on suspicion of having spied for Moscow while playing for a Polish club.
  • Ukrainian prosecutors charged a Russian politician and two suspected Ukrainian collaborators with war crimes over the alleged deportation of dozens of orphans from Ukraine’s Kherson region.
  • Putin discussed with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi the situation around Ukraine and how Moscow had resolved an armed mercenary mutiny, the Kremlin and Indian government said.

  • Belarusian journalist Pavel Padabed was sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted of “aiding extremist activities”. Belarus has stepped up its crackdown on the opposition and independent journalists since the start of the Russian war on Ukraine.
  • The United Nations has said it is concerned that no new ships have been registered since June 26 under a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of grain from Ukraine.
  • Russia has said it saw no reason to extend the Black Sea grain deal with Ukraine beyond July 17 but assured poor countries that grain exports would continue. “If the Black Sea Initiative ceases to operate, we will provide grain deliveries of a comparable or larger size to the poorest countries at our own expense, free of charge,” Russian foreign minister Lavrov said.
  • Russia introduced a ban on Polish trucks transporting cargo in its territory, with some exceptions, Russia’s TASS state news agency quoted the transport ministry as saying.

  • The Financial Times reported that Jacek Siewiera, head of Poland’s national bureau of security, fears the relocation of Wagner mercenaries to Belarus could see the destabilisation of Central and Eastern Europe.
  • A ban on Russian flights over Norway, introduced in reaction to the war in Ukraine, also applies to drones, the Norwegian Supreme Court has said.
  • Ukraine hopes to use Spain’s rotating EU presidency to try to “gain influence” in Latin America, where several countries have opposed Kyiv’s efforts to retake territory occupied by Russia, President Zelenskyy has told Spanish media.

 

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies