Here is the situation on Friday, July 7, 2023.
- At least seven people were killed and dozens were injured after a Russian missile hit a residential building in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv, just 70km (43 miles) from the border with Poland. Regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said two bodies were recovered from beneath the rubble in operations that extended late into the evening. Many people were sleeping at the time of the attack. “There definitely will be a response to the enemy. It will be a noticeable one,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an online post accompanying a video of the damage in Lviv.
- Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, said one man was killed after Ukrainian shelling hit the village of Novopetrovka not far from the Ukrainian border.
- Speaking to CNN, Zelenskyy said the slow delivery of weapons to Ukraine had delayed its planned counteroffensive, and allowed Russia to bolster its defences in occupied areas, including with mines.
- Russia and Ukraine swapped more prisoners of war. The head of Ukraine’s presidential staff, Andriy Yermak, said 45 service personnel and two civilians had been returned to Ukraine. Yermak said some of those freed had fought in Mariupol and the southern city’s Azovstal steel plant.
- Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s military spy chief, said the threat of a Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was “decreasing”, but that it could easily return while the facility remained occupied by Russian forces.
- Ukraine has targeted Crimea with more than 70 drone attacks so far this year, the Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s security council. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
- Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) shot dead a 38-year-old Russian man who was allegedly planning to blow up an energy facility in Siberia’s Tyumen region. The FSB said an unspecified number of Russian citizens had been preparing to commit an act “at the request of representatives of Ukrainian paramilitary groups”.
Wagner mutiny fallout
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Progozhin was back in Russia. Under a deal to end the private army’s June 24 mutiny that was brokered by Lukashenko, Prigozhin was supposed to go into exile in Belarus. The Belarusian president said he was actually in St Petersburg. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow was not tracking Prigozhin’s movements.
- Russian state TV launched a fierce attack on Prigozhin and said an investigation into the mutiny was still under way. In a programme called 60 Minutes broadcast on Russia’s state Russia-1 TV channel, the Wagner boss was branded a “traitor”.
- Czech President Petr Pavel said Ukraine could count on Czech support following a meeting with Zelenskyy who is looking to build support for Ukraine’s membership in the European Union and NATO. Zelenskyy was in Bulgaria earlier and is expected in Turkey on Friday with the NATO summit due to start in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11.
- Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukraine planned to abandon conscription and move to a professional army after the war to bring Kyiv closer to NATO standards.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sweden’s NATO membership was within reach after a meeting in Brussels to overcome Turkish objections. Stoltenberg said leaders of Sweden and Turkey will meet in Vilnius on Monday on the eve of the NATO summit.
- Russia said it would expel nine Finnish diplomats and close a consulate in St Petersburg after Helsinki accused nine Russians working at the embassy of espionage and sent them home. Describing the Russian move as “harsh”, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Helsinki would also close the Russian consulate in Turku.
- Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the United States ambassador would be allowed to visit detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich “on a reciprocal basis”.
- The British government announced a new ambassador in Kyiv. Martin Harris will replace Melinda Simmons as the United Kingdom ambassador to Ukraine in September.
- The US is expected to announce on Friday a new military aid package for Ukraine that will include cluster bombs. More than 120 countries have banned cluster munitions, which release large numbers of bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area and pose a threat to civilians. The US, Russia and Ukraine are among the countries that have not signed the treaty banning their use.
- Human Rights Watch said cluster bombs used by Russia and Ukraine have killed Ukrainian civilians. It said both countries should stop using them and not try to secure more supplies.
- Romania said it would open a regional hub to train pilots, including Ukrainians, on US-made F-16 fighter jets.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies