- 7 Jul 2023 - 20:48(20:48 GMT)
Ukrainian counteroffensive slower than expected, but too soon to tell end result: Pentagon
Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces is going more slowly than some expected, but it remains too early to draw conclusions about Kyiv’s prospects for battlefield gains, a senior Pentagon official says.
Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy adviser, told reporters that Russia was more successful digging into defensive positions “than perhaps was fully appreciated”.
He expressed confidence that Kyiv was doing its best in a difficult fight.
“It’s too early to judge how the counteroffensive is going one way or the other because we’re at the beginning of the middle,” Kahl said at the Pentagon.
“They are still probing Russian lines, Russian areas for weak spots, and the real test will be when they identify those, how rapidly they’re able to exploit those weak spots.”
- 7 Jul 2023 - 20:41(20:41 GMT)
Russian exports might evaporate if Black Sea deal not extended by Moscow: UN
If Russia does not agree to extend a deal allowing the safe export of grain and fertiliser from Ukrainian ports, it is unlikely Western states would continue cooperating with UN officials helping Moscow with its exports, the UN aid chief says.
“The world has seen the value of the Black Sea Initiative. … This isn’t something you chuck away,” Martin Griffiths told reporters.
Russia has threatened to quit the deal, which expires on July 17, because several demands to dispatch its own grain and fertiliser have not been met. The last three ships travelling under the deal are loading cargo at the Ukrainian port of Odesa and are likely to depart on Monday.
The UN and Turkey brokered the Black Sea Initiative with Russia and Ukraine in July 2022 to help tackle a global food crisis worsened by Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor and blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Rebeca Grynspan, who is working to ease Russia’s food and fertiliser exports, hopes to travel to Moscow before July 17 while Griffiths hopes to meet with the parties next week in Istanbul, where a joint coordination center of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials implements the Black Sea deal.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 20:30(20:30 GMT)
Sending cluster munitions to Ukraine a ‘difficult decision’, Biden says
Biden says sending cluster munitions to Ukraine was a “difficult decision” but Ukraine needed them because it was running out of ammunition in its war against Russia.
“It was a very difficult decision on my part. And by the way, I discussed this with our allies,” Biden told US media outlet CNN. “The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.”
- 7 Jul 2023 - 20:18(20:18 GMT)
Zelenskyy praises US, Biden for taking ‘decisive’ steps
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has thanked US President Joe Biden for a “much-needed” defence package after Washington said it would provide cluster munitions to Kyiv.
“A timely, broad and much-needed defense aid package from the United States,” Zelenskyy posted on Twitter, thanking the US people and Biden for their “decisive steps”.
“The expansion of Ukraine’s defense capabilities will provide new tools for the de-occupation of our land and bringing peace closer.”
A timely, broad and much-needed defense aid package from the United States. We are grateful to the American people and President Joseph Biden @POTUS for decisive steps that bring Ukraine closer to victory over the enemy, and democracy to victory over dictatorship. The expansion…
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 7, 2023
- 7 Jul 2023 - 19:59(19:59 GMT)
Muted response from allies so far about US cluster munitions decision
Reactions from allies about the US decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine have been muted so far.
NATO chief Stoltenberg stressed on Friday that the military alliance takes no position on cluster munitions and it is a decision that individual members will make.
Germany, which has signed a treaty to ban the weapons, said it won’t provide the bombs to Ukraine but expressed understanding for the American position.
“We’re certain that our US friends didn’t take the decision about supplying such ammunition lightly,” German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told reporters in Berlin.
“We need to remember once again that Russia has already used cluster ammunition at a large scale in its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.”
- 7 Jul 2023 - 19:50(19:50 GMT)
US to select rounds with lower dud rates: Pentagon on cluster munitions to Ukraine
Brigadier General Pat Ryder says the US Department of Defense has “multiple variants” of the cluster munitions and “the ones that we are considering providing [to Ukraine] would not include older variants with [dud] rates that are higher than 2.35 percent.”
At a Pentagon briefing, he said the US “would be carefully selecting rounds with lower dud rates, for which we have recent testing data”.
A 2009 law bans exports of US cluster munitions with bomblet failure rates higher than 1 percent, which covers virtually all of the US military stockpile.
Biden can waive prohibitions around the munitions as then-US President Donald Trump did in January 2021 to allow the export of cluster munitions technology to South Korea.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 19:36(19:36 GMT)
Zelenskyy meets Erdogan in Istanbul ahead of NATO summit
Zelenskyy has met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul as part of a tour of some NATO members as he lobbies the military alliance to take concrete steps at it summit next week towards granting Kyiv membership.
A key element of Zelenskyy’s talks in Istanbul is to be the fate of a deal brokered last year by Turkey and the UN to allow the safe export of grain from Ukrainian ports over the Black Sea despite the war raging across Ukraine.
The Kremlin made it clear it would be watching the talks closely, saying Putin has appreciated the mediation of Erdogan in attempting to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 19:20(19:20 GMT)
Use of cluster munitions in Ukraine ‘humanitarian disaster’: HRW
Human Rights Watch has slammed the US decision to provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, saying they pose immense danger to civilians.
“They are absolutely awful for civilians. When legislators and policymakers here in the US see the photos coming back of children with missing limbs, parents injured [and] killed, by our own American cluster munitions, there is going to be a real awakening to the humanitarian disaster that this is,” Sarah Yager, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera.
These bombs make no distinction between civilians and military personnel with experts suggesting 5 to 40 percent of bomblets do not explode on impact and can then remain present on battlefields for decades.
“It has been a norm in the world that cluster munitions should not be used. The fact that Russia is using them is just another reason why they should not be used,” Yager said.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 19:07(19:07 GMT)
NGOs condemn US plans to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine
Humanitarian organisations has condemned plans by the United States to supply controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine, citing the long-lasting danger posed by the weapons which leave behind unexploded bomblets.
“This is a death sentence to civilians over the long term. There are people who have not yet been born who will fall victim” to cluster bombs, Baptiste Chapuis of Handicap International – Humanity and Inclusion (HI) said on Friday.
When they detonate, cluster bombs spread dozens of tiny bomblets over an area the size of several football pitches, with a large number burying themselves in the ground rather than exploding.
The weapons therefore effectively leave a large field of antipersonnel mines in their wake – prompting a wave of condemnations even before the American delivery was confirmed.
“The USA’s plan to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine is a retrograde step, which undermines the considerable advances made by the international community in its attempts to protect civilians from such dangers,” Amnesty International researcher Patrick Wilcken said in a statement, saying the aid group “urges the USA to reconsider”.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 18:59(18:59 GMT)
US has no clear answer on how to return reporter detained by Russia
US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser has said there was no clear answer on how to return Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter detained by Russia, to the United States.
“I do not want to give false hope,” said the Biden aide, Jake Sullivan, in a briefing with reporters on Friday.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 18:52(18:52 GMT)
Ukraine will not be joining NATO at current time: White House
Ukraine will not join NATO following next week’s summit, but its members will discuss what steps are necessary for Kyiv to qualify for the military alliance’s membership, the White House has said.
Ukraine’s pathway to NATO will be discussed at the summit, but Kyiv “still has further steps that it needs to take before membership” and “will not be joining” at the current time, said White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 18:36(18:36 GMT)
For US, cluster munitions for Ukraine ‘best of bad options’: AJ correspondent
The White House says Russia has been using cluster munitions against Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict and Ukraine’s use of artillery rounds is so frequent it is hard to keep up production.
“The White House is saying that there is a shortage of conventional weapons, and in absence of the ability to ramp up production here in the US in a timeline the US would like, they have to turn to an alternative, and that is these cluster munitions. It’s the best of the bad options,” said Kimberly Halkett, Al Jazeera’s White House correspondent.
“And in lieu of that, the US has worked with Ukraine getting the assurances it needs that these concerns [that] civilians will be adversely affected can be mitigated,” she said.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 18:25(18:25 GMT)
US defends case for providing cluster munitions to Ukraine
The Pentagon is expected to make an announcement about providing cluster munitions to Ukraine later in the day, but the White House has argued that this move would be a necessary evil given that Kyiv is in short supply of weapons to battle invading Russian troops.
“We will not leave Ukraine defenceless,” Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, said.
Rights groups have warned that using cluster bombs would harm civilians, but the White House said Kyiv has provided written assurances it would minimise that risk.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 17:52(17:52 GMT)
Sunak tells Erdogan he hopes Sweden’s NATO accession will proceed soon
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he hoped NATO could proceed with ratifying Sweden’s accession to the alliance as soon as possible, pointing out the “significant benefits” of the country’s membership.
A Downing Street spokesperson said the two spoke on Friday on a range of matters, including Ukraine, their bilateral relationship and tackling illegal immigration.
“He underlined the significant benefits of Sweden joining NATO and the progress they have made in addressing Turkey’s legitimate security concerns and hoped the alliance could proceed with ratifying their accession as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said before a NATO summit next week.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 17:28(17:28 GMT)
US expected to announce $800m security package to Ukraine
The United States is expected to announce on Friday that it will send Ukraine widely banned cluster munitions as part of an $800m security package, a move Ukraine said would have an “extraordinary psycho-emotional impact” on occupying Russian forces.
Cluster munitions are prohibited by more than 100 countries. They typically release large numbers of smaller bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area and those that fail to explode pose a danger for decades after a conflict ends.
Human rights groups oppose Washington’s decision, but the munitions could provide a boost to a Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim territory seized by Russian forces since they invaded in February 2022.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 17:09(17:09 GMT)
UN warns against using cluster munitions
The UN secretary general wants countries to stop using cluster munitions, UN spokesman Farhan Haq says.
Antonio Guterres “supports the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which, as you know, was adopted 15 years ago. And he wants countries to abide by the terms of that convention. And so as a result, of course, he does not want there to be continued use of cluster munitions on the battlefield,” Haq said.
The statement followed an announcement by a senior Ukrainian official saying Kyiv would welcome receiving cluster munitions from the United States because they would have an “extraordinary psycho-emotional impact” on Russian forces.
Three US officials speaking on the condition of anonymity this week said a weapons aid package that includes cluster munitions was expected to be announced as soon as Friday.
Such a move is opposed by human rights groups but could provide a powerful new element to Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 16:52(16:52 GMT)
Black Sea grain export deal indispensable for global food security: UN
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describes the deals allowing safe shipments across the Black Sea of food and fertiliser from Ukrainian ports and facilitating Russia’s own such exports as playing an “indispensable role” in global food security.
The Black Sea grain deal is due to expire on July 17, and there are fears that Russia will not extend it.
“The secretary-general and his team remain fully committed to building on the progress already made and are in constant contact with a wide range of stakeholders in this regard,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
“The secretary-general calls on all concerned to prioritise global food security,” Haq said.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 16:34(16:34 GMT)
NATO’s Vilnius summit to be guarded by Patriot missiles, fighter jets
With the war in Ukraine still casting a shadow over Europe, the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital on Tuesday and Wednesday will be guarded by Patriot missile batteries from Germany and fighter jets and forces from 17 nations.
US President Joe Biden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be among the 31 NATO leaders attending the summit in the Baltic state.
Zelenskyy is also expected to attend to press for Ukraine to be admitted into NATO after the war with Russia comes to an end.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 16:15(16:15 GMT)
Kakhovka Dam breach has hallmarks of ‘scorched-earth strategy’: Experts
The Kakhovka Dam breach in Ukraine caused economic, agricultural and ecological devastation that will last for years, experts say.
While the long-term effects of the dam break are difficult to calculate, two experts – Susanne Wengle of the University of Notre Dame and Vitalii Dankevych of Polissia National University – believe that it will have a lasting effect on the climate of southern Ukraine.
On June 6, 2023, an explosion breached the Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine, causing flooding of the city of Kherson and threatening the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
But the two experts believe that the dam explosion has all the hallmarks of a scorched-earth strategy, “intended to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy”.
Farmland that is no longer irrigated and cultivated because canals are destroyed and the reservoir drained will dry up, becoming more vulnerable to soil erosion and dust storms. Agricultural production could be reduced for years to come, with impacts that ripple through supply chains and affect food security around the world.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 15:47(15:47 GMT)
‘Ukraine and Slovakia are definitely stronger today’: Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy thanked Slovakia for its support during a news conference in Bratislava with its president and said he and Caputova discussed defence cooperation.
Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter in Ukrainian: “Today we are in Slovakia – we work for the interests of our peoples, and we really thank all the people of Slovakia for their support. Now, of course, the first priority is security, the protection of our common values, which make Europe Europe.
“With President Zuzana Caputova, we discussed our defence and foreign policy cooperation in quite a lot of detail: very specific projects, very specific things that really help here and now. Ukraine and Slovakia are definitely stronger today.”
Сьогодні ми у Словаччині – працюємо заради інтересів наших народів і дійсно дякуємо за підтримку всім людям Словаччини.
Зараз, звичайно, перший пріоритет – це безпека, захист наших спільних цінностей, які і роблять Європу Європою.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 7, 2023
- 7 Jul 2023 - 15:27(15:27 GMT)
Russia labels HRHF group ‘undesirable’
Russia is banning the Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), an Oslo-based non-profit group, accusing it of creating social discord.
HRHF is a coalition of 80 independent human rights organisations advocating for freedom of assembly and expression in the western Balkans, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine.
The Russian prosecutor general’s office said it was declaring HRHF’s activity “undesirable”, amounting to a ban, because the group aimed to “destabilise” the domestic political situation in Russia, discredit its foreign policy, and “shape public opinion about the need to change power in an unconstitutional way.”
It also accused the organisation of “discrediting” the Russian armed forces.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 14:58(14:58 GMT)
Russia must not endanger nuclear plant: UK
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Russia must not further endanger the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
“The IAEA must have full access to inspect the plant and ensure nuclear safety and security,” he said on Twitter.
Russia must not endanger the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant further.
The IAEA must have full access to inspect the plant and ensure nuclear safety and security.
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) July 7, 2023
- 7 Jul 2023 - 14:33(14:33 GMT)
IAEA chief says he is pushing for access to power plant roofs
The head of the UN nuclear agency says he is pushing for access to the roof of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine following accusations that Russia had planted explosives there.
Finishing a four-day visit to Japan, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said his agency was making progress on access to the plant, but there had been “some limitations.”
“It’s like a conversation and I’m pushing to get as much access as possible,” Grossi said, in an interview with The Associated Press in Tokyo, adding that there was “marginal improvement.”
Grossi also told the AP that experts had gained access to the cooling pond and fuel storage areas, where they confirmed that there were no mines, which Ukraine had previously claimed otherwise.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 14:12(14:12 GMT)
Still ‘gaps’ before Turkey approves Sweden’s membership: NATO chief
Stoltenberg says there are still “gaps” to bridge for Turkey to approve Sweden’s NATO membership bid.
During a press conference ahead of next week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, the alliance’s secretary general said he would meet Swedish and Turkish leaders on Monday, the day before the meeting.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 13:50(13:50 GMT)
Next week’s summit should give Ukraine a clear path: Slovakia
NATO’s summit next week should give Ukraine a clear view of future membership in the alliance, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said after hosting Zelenskyy in Bratislava.
Caputova told a news conference alongside Zelenskyy that Ukraine’s membership was a question of “when”, not “if”.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 13:29(13:29 GMT)
Zelenksyy says he expects unity at NATO summit
Zelenskyy says he expects unity among NATO member states at next week’s summit in Vilnius.
He added that he wanted concrete steps in Ukraine’s path to joining the alliance.
Speaking at a joint news conference with the Slovak president, the Ukrainian leader said he also expects the NATO summit to discuss more defence packages for Kyiv and security guarantees.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 13:13(13:13 GMT)
NATO prepares $545m aid package for Kyiv
NATO is preparing an additional 500-million-euro ($545m) aid package for Ukraine, its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, says.
“NATO countries are preparing a new emergency package of assistance to Ukraine, including fuel, spare parts, medical supplies, demining equipment and pontoon bridges, for 500 million euros,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Brussels.
Stoltenberg added that the alliance has also provided Ukraine with “assistance in the construction of military hospitals”.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 12:40(12:40 GMT)
Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 499
Click here for a roundup of the key events from day 499 of the war.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 12:21(12:21 GMT)
Zelenskyy arrives in Slovakia
Zelenskyy has arrived in Slovakia and met with President Zuzana Caputova as he continues a tour of several NATO states to raise support behind Kyiv’s bid to join the alliance.
The Ukrainian president arrived in Slovakia after talks in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria over the past two days, and he is expected to travel to Turkey later in the day.
He is expected to discuss the situation on the front lines and at the NATO summit on Tuesday and Wednesday in Lithuania.
Slovakia has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters and is one of the few allies to provide fighter jets to Kyiv, handing over 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 planes this year.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 12:04(12:04 GMT)
Ukraine welcomes cluster munitions, says official
A senior Ukrainian official said Ukraine would welcome the delivery of cluster munitions from the United States because they would have an “extraordinary psycho-emotional impact” on Russian forces.
“Undoubtedly, the transfer of additional volumes of shells to Ukraine is a very significant contribution to the acceleration of de-occupation procedures,” presidential political adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the Reuters news agency.
“Especially if we are talking about cluster ammunition, which is undoubtedly capable of having an extraordinary psycho-emotional impact on already demoralised Russian occupation groups.”
Earlier this week, three US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a weapons aid package that includes cluster munitions is expected to be announced as soon as Friday.
Human rights groups oppose the move.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 11:42(11:42 GMT)
Leaders will come together to bring Kyiv into alliance: NATO chief
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says NATO leaders will reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance and also discuss how to bring Kyiv closer to this goal when they meet in Vilnius next week.
“For [nearly] 500 days, Moscow has brought death and destruction to the heart of Europe,” Stoltenberg told reporters in a news conference in Brussels previewing the summit.
“Our summit will send a clear message: NATO stands united, and Russia’s aggression will not pay.”
- 7 Jul 2023 - 11:30(11:30 GMT)
Kremlin says will ‘closely follow’ Zelenskyy-Erdogan talks
The Kremlin says it will “closely follow” upcoming talks between Zelenskyy and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, describing their meeting in Istanbul as “important”.
“We will very closely follow the results of these talks,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“It will be interesting for us to find out what was discussed. It’s important,” he added.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 11:11(11:11 GMT)
At least six people killed in blast at Russian factory
At least six people were killed and two injured during a blast at an explosives factory in the city of Chapayevsk in central Russia, state news agency TASS reported.
TASS said the explosion happened as pipework was being dismantled and that there had not been a fire.
Alexander Khinstein, a member of parliament for the Samara region, said the blast appeared to have been caused by welding and might have been the result of explosive remains being left in the pipes.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, there have been numerous blasts or fires at fuel depots, factories, railway lines and other infrastructure inside Russia.
Authorities have attributed some of them to Ukraine and others to “pro-Ukrainian saboteurs”.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 10:39(10:39 GMT)
Russia’s budget deficit narrows in June
Russia’s budget deficit for the first half of the year is 2.6 trillion roubles ($28.4bn), narrowing in June as spending fell and revenues increased.
During the same period last year, Russia posted a surplus of 1.48 trillion roubles ($16.2bn). However, supporting its military campaign in Ukraine and dealing with Western sanctions on its oil and gas exports have hit the government since then.
Defence spending has kept Russia’s industrial sector ticking along, spawning forecasts for economic growth this year and helping Moscow to continue its conflict with Kyiv.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 10:16(10:16 GMT)
Wagner Group paid no visit to barracks: Belarus
A Belarusian official tells reporters that no one from the Russian Wagner Group has visited the camp President Alexander Lukashenko offered them since the mutiny ended.
Asked if Wagner had come to look at the site, adviser to the Belarus defence minister, Leonid Kasinsky, said, “They have not come, they have not looked.”
Under the terms of an agreement brokered by Lukashenko to the rebellion last month, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was supposed to move to Belarus along with his fighters who did not sign with the Russian defence ministry.
Kasinsky also said that the 300 tents put up at the disused cap were for an exercise, not for the Wagner Group.
On Thursday, Lukashenko told reporters that Wagner’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had visited Belarus briefly but was now back in Russia.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 10:02(10:02 GMT)
What are cluster munitions?
According to senior US government officials, on Friday, the Biden administration is expected to announce that Washington will send cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of a new military aid package worth $800m.
As a signatory of a convention against the weapons, Germany has already said they will not send cluster munitions and that it is “not an option” for them.
Human Rights Watch has also urged the US not to send the weapons.
But what exactly are cluster munitions, and why are they so controversial?
Here’s everything you need to know.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 09:35(09:35 GMT)
Germany opposes sending cluster munitions to Kyiv
Germany says it opposes sending cluster munitions to Ukraine a day after US officials said Washington was planning to provide Kyiv with the weapons.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Germany, as one of 111 states party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), opposed the plan as well.
Asked for comment on what US officials had said, Baerbock told reporters at a climate conference in Vienna, “I have followed the media reports. For us, as a state party, the Oslo agreement applies.”
A total of 111 states signed the CMM banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions.
Human Rights Watch also called on Russia and Ukraine to stop using cluster munitions and urged the US not to supply them.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 09:15(09:15 GMT)
Ukraine, Turkey to discuss grain deal and prisoner swaps
The presidents of Ukraine and Turkey will discuss the Black Sea grain deal and a possible prisoner exchange between Moscow and Kyiv, a senior Turkish official said ahead of Friday’s talks.
A key element of Zelenskyy’s talks in Istanbul with President Tayyip Erdogan will be the fate of the grain deal brokered last year by Turkey and the United Nations.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to leave the deal once it expires on July 17 after it said obstacles to its fertiliser and grain exports are yet to be removed.
Turkey has retained cordial relations with Russia and Ukraine during the conflict.
Zelenskyy will meet the Turkish leader as part of a tour of NATO capitals to encourage them to take concrete steps toward’s Kyiv’s membership at next week’s summit.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 08:57(08:57 GMT)
Ukrainian troops advance by more than 1km near Bakhmut
A Ukrainian military spokesperson says troops have advanced by more than a kilometre (0.62 mile) in the past 24 hours near Bakhmut.
“The defence forces continue to hold the initiative there, putting pressure on the enemy, conducting assault operations, advancing along the northern and southern flanks,” military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi told Ukrainian television.
“In particular, over the past day, they have advanced more than one kilometre [0.62 mile].”
A spokesperson for the Ukrainian armed forces general staff added that Ukrainian forces had “partial success” near the village of Klishchiivka, just southwest of Bakhmut.
Military analysts have said securing Klishchiivka would help Ukraine take back Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian forces in May.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 08:40(08:40 GMT)
EU discussing ways to use frozen Russian assets: Czech PM
The European Union is discussing ways to use frozen Russian assets to help with Ukraine’s reconstruction, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said.
“This is not a simple topic, either from a legal or other points of view, but intensive negotiations are also taking place here precisely so that we can also use these frozen assets to help Ukraine,” Fiala said after meeting with Zelenskyy in Prague.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 08:24(08:24 GMT)
Zelenskyy tells Czech counterpart that Kyiv needs long-range weapons
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his visit to the Czech Republic that Kyiv needs long-range weapons to fight Russian forces.
“Without long-range weapons it is difficult not only to carry out an offensive mission but also to conduct a defensive operation,” he told a joint press conference with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
“First of all, we are talking about long-range systems with the United States and it depends only on them today.”
- 7 Jul 2023 - 07:57(07:57 GMT)
Czech PM Fiala says Ukraine’s future is in EU, NATO
Ukraine’s future is in the European Union and the NATO military alliance, according to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
He made the remarks after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Prague.
The Czech Republic has been a strong backer of Kyiv since Russia’s invasion, and Fiala said on Friday more support would come, including the donation of more military helicopters.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 07:30(07:30 GMT)
Ukraine ends rescue operations in Lviv after Russian attack killed 10
Ukraine has halted rescue operations in the western city of Lviv and said the death toll had risen to 10 from a Russian missile strike on a residential building.
Regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said rescuers had worked through the night to clear debris despite heavy rain after a missile hit the building on Thursday in what he called the biggest attack of the war on civilian infrastructure in Lviv.
The city is only 70km (43 miles) from the border with Poland, a NATO and European Union member, and is far from the front lines of the war.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 06:58(06:58 GMT)
EU members strike deal to boost ammunition production to aid Ukraine
The European Union will devote 500 million euros ($544m) to boosting the production of ammunition for Ukraine and replenishing the stocks of EU member countries, it says.
The European Council and European Parliament representatives have struck a provisional agreement overnight which is expected to enter into force before the end of this month.
Under the deal, subsidies will be given to European arms firms to increase their production capacities and tackle identified bottlenecks.
The scheme is the third part of a broader EU effort to get more ammunition and arms to Ukraine, particularly 155mm artillery shells, which Kyiv has requested.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 06:27(06:27 GMT)
Zelenskyy to visit Turkey for grain deal talks with Erdogan: Anadolu
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Turkey on Friday for talks with President Tayyip Erdogan on the Black Sea grain deal and developments in the war in Ukraine, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Turkey and the United Nations brokered last year’s deal, which allows for the export of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports despite the ongoing war.
But Russia has threatened not to allow it further renewal beyond July 17.
Zelenskyy and Erdogan will hold face-to-face talks and also attend inter-delegational meetings, Anadolu said.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 06:17(06:17 GMT)
Ukraine requests to join CPTPP trade pact: Japan minister
Ukraine has submitted its request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to the trade pact’s depositary country New Zealand, according to Japan’s economy minister Shigeyuki Goto.
The CPTPP includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, with the United Kingdom becoming the 12th member state.
Japan, as a CPTPP member, “must carefully assess whether Ukraine fully meets the high level of the agreement” in terms of market access and rules, Goto told a regular press conference.
- 7 Jul 2023 - 06:01(06:01 GMT)
Ukraine urges NATO summit to send ‘clear signal’ on membership
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on NATO leaders to take concrete steps towards Ukrainian membership at a summit next week.
He said his country, engaged in the 17th month of the war against the Russian invasion, needed much more than the general statement of more than 10 years’ standing that the door to NATO was merely “open”.
Ukraine is seeking a clear indication from NATO at a July 11-12 summit in Vilnius that it can join the military alliance when the war ends as quickly as possible.
But NATO members have been divided over how fast that step should be taken. Some member countries are wary of moves they fear could take the alliance closer to the ongoing war with Russia.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies