Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 853

As the war enters its 853rd day, these are the main developments.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy giving an award to a Ukrainian soldier. He is wearing a dark green T-shirt and trousers. The soldier is in combat fatigues. Other soldiers are lined up to the side of Zelenskyy. There is a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on the wall
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited soldiers in the eastern Donetsk region [Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via AFP]

Here is the situation on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

Fighting

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited soldiers defending the eastern front line region of Donetsk and introduced Brigadier-General Andriy Hnatov, the new joint forces commander. Hnatov’s main tasks include “preserving as many fighters’ lives as possible” while pushing back invading Russian forces, Zelenskyy said in a video. The clip was recorded in front of the sign for Pokrovsk, where five people were killed and dozens injured in Russian attacks earlier this week.
  • Five Lithuanians were injured when their vehicle came under fire while they were delivering aid to troops in Pokrovsk, officials and team members said. “All five of us are in hospital,” Sigitas Maliauskas, one of the Lithuanians told the AFP news agency via Facebook. One of the volunteers had a leg amputated, a colleague said.
  • Oleh Syniehubov, governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, said the situation in the border town of Vovchansk was “volatile” amid intense fighting with invading Russian forces. He said several dozen Russian soldiers were blocked inside an industrial facility in the town, and that Moscow was also using aircraft to attack Vovchansk, which is about 5km (three miles) from the border.
  • A Russian missile attack struck Ukraine’s southern city of Odesa, damaging an administrative building, regional governor Oleh Kiper said. No casualties were reported.

Politics and diplomacy

  • Wall Street Journal correspondent  Evan Gershkovich went on trial behind closed doors in Russia on charges of espionage. Gershkovich, a US national, appeared in a glass-walled dock with his head shaved. He and the Journal have strenuously denied the allegations. The United States has designated the reporter as “wrongfully detained”. The next hearing will take place on August 13.
  • Russia said it had ordered Carola Schneider, the chief Moscow correspondent for Austrian broadcaster ORF, to leave the country in what it said was a “forced retaliatory move” after Vienna’s decision to revoke the accreditation of state news agency TASS’s chief correspondent in Austria.
  • The European Union announced sanctions against Belarus “to close the biggest loophole of our sanctions regime” against Russia, the EU presidency said in a statement. The bloc this week adopted its 14th package of sanctions against Russia over its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • The US Justice Department said it charged 22-year-old Russian Amin Timovich Stigal with conspiring to hack and destroy computer systems and data in Ukraine and allied countries, including the US, and announced a $10m reward for information on his whereabouts.
  • NATO selected Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the organisation’s next secretary-general taking over from Jens Stoltenberg. Rutte, who is a staunch supporter of Ukraine, will start his new role on October 1.
  • Russian pranksters who use the aliases “Vovan and Lexus”, released footage of a video call with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron after tricking him into thinking he was speaking to former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The foreign ministry did not comment on the video’s authenticity but acknowledged earlier this month that the call had taken place. “Vovan and Lexus” are well known inside Russia for having duped a string of Western politicians over the years, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Weapons

  • The EU is expected to sign a security agreement with President Zelenskyy on Thursday. The agreement will lay out the EU’s commitment to help Ukraine in nine areas of security and defence policy – including arms deliveries, military training, defence industry cooperation and demining – according to a draft seen by the Reuters news agency.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies