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Zelenskyy says key island retake is warning to Russia

July 8, 2022

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country's flag on Snake Island shows Moscow that Ukraine "will not be broken." Meanwhile, Russia's Vladimir Putin threatened to intensify his attack on Ukraine.

Ukrainian service members install a national flag on Snake Island
Kyiv says the Ukrainian flag was poised on Snake Island after a two-month operationImage: Ukrainian Armed Forces/REUTERS
  • US to send $400 million in military aid to Ukraine
  • Russia's Putin warns war on Ukraine has not started 'in earnest'
  • Zelenskyy sees Ukraine's flag on Snake Island as a warning to Russian forces
  • War overshadows G20 foreign ministers meeting in Indonesia

The article was last updated at 18:22 UTC/GMT

This live updates article has been closed. Please click here for the latest on the war in Ukraine. 

US to send $400 million in military aid to Ukraine

The US will send another $400 million (€393 million) in military equipment to Ukraine, including four more HIMARS advanced rocket systems, a senior defense official said.

The package will also include 1,000 rounds of a new kind of 155 mm ammunition for artillery supplied by Ukraine's Western allies.

A senior defense official said the new artillery rounds were both longer range and more precise than what the Pentagon has provided previously.

Since the first HIMARS launchers were provided to Ukraine last month, analysts believe Ukrainian forces may have successfully destroyed a dozen or more Russian ammunition depots far behind the front lines.

Donetsk separatists to allow death penalty

Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk region have cleared the way for the execution of three foreigners sentenced to death. The region has lifted a moratorium on the death penalty that should have lasted until 2025.

The move comes as two British citizens and one Moroccan await their fate after being sentenced to death by the separatists around a month ago. They have been accused of fighting for the Ukrainian army as mercenaries.

Ukraine, however, claims that the three of them are regular soldiers and must therefore be granted the rights of prisoners of war.

The verdict by the court in Donetsk is not internationally recognized and the execution of the men could be regarded as a war crime under international law.

Russia warns Lithuania of 'harsh' measures over Kaliningrad transit

Russia warned Lithuania and the EU that it could adopt "harsh measures" against them if the transit of some goods to and from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad did not resume.

"If the situation does not stabilize in the coming days, then Russia will take harsh measures against Lithuania and the European Union," Maria Zakharova, spokesperson of the Russian foreign ministry, said in a statement. "The issue has taken too long to resolve."

In June, the Lithuanian authorities imposed a transit ban through their territory to Kaliningrad. The ban applied only to goods subject to EU sanctions, imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Putin warns of energy price catastrophe for West

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of possible "catastrophic consequences" of Western sanctions on the global energy market.

"Sanctions restrictions on Russia will bring far bigger losses for the countries that impose them," Putin told a televised government meeting.

Western countries have hit Moscow with a barrage of international sanctions since Putin launched his military campaign in Ukraine on February 24.

"Europeans are trying to replace Russian energy resources, but the result of such actions is predictable: an increase in gas prices in the market and an increase in the cost of energy resources for end consumers, including households," Putin said.

Ukraine seizes assets owned by Russian state companies

Ukraine has seized assets worth over 2.1 billion hryvnias (€70 million) owned by Russian state oil company Rosneft, gas firm Gazprom and nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, Ukraine's state security service SBU said.

The SBU said in a statement that Russia had used some of the profits from those assets to prepare its invasion of Ukraine and fund sabotage and intelligence activities.

By the end of June, it had seized assets in Ukraine worth 31 billion hryvnias (€1.03 billion) from Russian individuals and companies it accuses of being complicit in the war. Earlier seizures targeted Russian oil company Tatneft and Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, among others.

Canada imposes sanctions on Patriarch Kirill

Canada introduced another package of sanctions against Russia. It includes 30 "disinformation agents," mostly Russian propagandists, but also Patriarch Kirill, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Fifteen Russian "disinformation entities" have also been sanctioned "for enabling and supporting Russia's unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine," the Canadian government said. The list includes mostly state-owned media outlets as well as Roskomnadzor, Russia's media watchdog.

Canada also banned the import of certain gold goods from Russia.

German energy giant Uniper seeks bailout amid Ukraine war

German energy giant Uniper said it is asking the government for a bailout amid a growing natural gas crunch due to the war in Ukraine.

Uniper, Germany's biggest importer of Russian gas, said in a statement that its board has applied to the government for "stabilization measures."

The move could see the government pump billions of euros into Uniper to keep the company afloat. Germany's Cabinet had approved a plan preparing for such measures earlier this week.

The company downgraded its financial outlook for this year last week, pointing to a sharp reduction in gas deliveries by Russia's Gazprom in recent weeks that has forced it to buy substitute supplies at significantly higher prices.

Russian ambassador says Russia's forces unlikely to leave southern Ukraine

Russia is unlikely to withdraw from a swathe of land across Ukraine's southern coast and will defeat Ukrainian forces in the whole of the eastern Donbas region, Russia's ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, told Reuters.

When asked how the conflict might end, Kelin said it was difficult to see Russian and Russian-backed forces withdrawing from the south of Ukraine, and that Ukraine's soldiers would be pushed back from all of Donbas.

"We are going to liberate all of the Donbas," Kelin said. "Of course, it is difficult to predict the withdrawal of our forces from the southern part of Ukraine because we have already experience that after withdrawal, provocations start and all the people are being shot and all that."

Since the February 24 invasion, Russian forces have taken control of a big chunk of territory across Ukraine's southern flank above Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Greece, Bulgaria open new pipeline as alternative to Russian gas

Greece and Bulgaria opened a long-awaited natural gas pipeline designed to help Bulgaria, which has for years been heavily dependent on Russian gas, obtain energy from other sources.

The pipeline underlines efforts by countries in southeastern Europe "to achieve energy independence," outgoing Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told the inauguration ceremony in northern Greece.

"Over the coming weeks, the pipeline will be filled with Azeri gas and compensate for the discontinuation of Russian gas," he said.

Bulgaria ended deliveries from Russian giant Gazprom in April, weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The project to build the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) was initially conceived in 2009 but construction did not begin until 2019. The IGB has a capacity of three billion cubic meters, with an option to upgrade to five.

Russian envoy claims London made little effort for sentenced British citizens 

Russian Ambassador to London Andrei Kelin told the Reuters news agency that Britain had not demanded the release of the British citizens sentenced to death in eastern Ukraine

The two were captured by Russian forces in the Donetsk region and handed the death penalty by a separatist court. 

"We had a formal request here in London and in Moscow about these two guys - that they exist - and a phrase like 'we put all responsibility on Russia for them,'" Kelin said in an interview with Reuters.

"There was no demand for mediation, no demand for their release or anything like that. 'Let's talk about their fate and what can be done in this situation.' Nothing," he added.

According to Kelin, London has also not asked Moscow to pressure the separatist court to release the two men. 

Moscow renames street housing British Embassy

A street sign outside the British Embassy in Moscow was replaced with one that read "Luhansk People's Republic Square," referring to the separatist region in eastern Ukraine largely seized by Rusian forces.  

Moscow recognized the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people's "republics" shortly before it launched the war in Ukraine — a move that was widely condemned by the West. 

The British Embassy has not changed its address on its website. 

"The British government, like the entire international community, does not recognise the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republic," it said in a statement ahead of the change.

"The renaming of streets is the responsibility of local authorities but this, of course, will not in any way affect the position of the British government on Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine."

Occupied Sievierodonetsk suffering dire humanitarian condition, governor warns 

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said that the occupied city of Sievierodonetsk, which was a key battlefield before Russian forces took over, "is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe." 

According to Haidi, the city in the eastern Donbas region is without water, power or a working sewage system. He added that the bodies of the dead were decomposing in hot apartment buildings.

"The Russians have completely destroyed all the critical infrastructure, and they are unable to repair anything," he wrote on social media. 

'Positive signal' from Canada on Nord Stream maintenance: report

A German government spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency that Berlin received a "positive signal" from Canada about the delivery of parts needed for the maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. 

The Kremlin had said that it would increase gas supplies to Europe through the pipeline — after sharply cutting them — if a turbine that was being serviced in Canada was returned.

Russia's energy giant Gazprom cites maintenance issues for the reduction of gas supplies to Europe. But European officials have slammed the move as politically motivated. 

Canada had not returned the turbine due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

Russian city councilor sentenced for condemning war

A Moscow court has handed a seven-year prison sentence to a city councilor over his criticism of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The 60-year-old member of Moscow's Krasnoselsky municipal council was found guilty of spreading "knowingly false information" about the Russian army in Ukraine. 

According to the legal aid group Net Freedoms, he is the first person sentenced to serve time behind bars for a conviction on that charge

Appearing in court, Alexei Gorinov held a poster that read: "Do you still need this war?" 

US tells Russia to 'let the grain out' 

Speaking at a closed-door G20 meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Russia's top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, and demanded that Moscow allow grain exports from Ukraine. 

Blinken has repeatedly accused Russia of blocking grain shipments and causing a global crisis by "weaponizing food."

"To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out," Blinken told Lavrov, according to a Western official present at the talks.

But diplomats said that Lavrov had walked out before Blinken's remarks. 

Lavrov refused to meet with Blinken separately. Blinken was also reported to have ruled out such a one-on-one meeting ahead of the summit in Indonesia. 

Russia says it would allow the shipment of Ukrainian products if Ukraine demined its ports. Kyiv rejects the condition, fearing the risk to the safety of its Black Sea coast. 

In a virtual address to the G20 meeting, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Moscow of playing "hunger games" and called on the international community to further pressure Russia. Lavrov was also not in the meeting room during his Ukrainian counterpart's video address.

Russia says West 'avoided' G20 mandate at summit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his Western counterparts were off-topic during the G20 summit in Bali as they criticized the war in Ukraine. 

"During the discussion, Western partners avoided following the mandate of the G20, from dealing with issues of the world economy," Lavrov said.

He added that the West's talks "strayed almost immediately, as soon as they took the floor, to the frenzied criticism of the Russian Federation in connection with the situation in Ukraine. 'Aggressors', 'invaders', 'occupiers' — we heard a lot of things today." 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was a "strong chorus" in the meeting calling for Russia to end the war in Ukraine. 

German lawmakers to vote on Sweden, Finland's NATO accession

The German parliament, the Bundestag, is set to ratify Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO. 

Berlin's two northern allies have moved to join the alliance after the start of Russia's war in Ukraine. 

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has welcomed Finland and Sweden, but the ratification requires unanimous approval of the alliance's 30 members.

Turkey had initially threatened to block their membership bids, accusing Finland and Sweden of supporting Kurdish militants. 

Helsinki and Stockholm have denied the claim, but Turkey's approval still seems shaky.

Zelenskyy: Snake Island signals Ukraine 'will not be broken' 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a two-month operation to raise his country's flag on a key Black Sea island sends a key message to Russian forces. 

"And now let every Russian captain — whether of a ship or an aircraft — see the Ukrainian flag on Zmiinyi (Snake Island) and know that our state cannot be broken," Zelenskyy said. 

Russian forces withdrew from the island last week, claiming it was a gesture of "goodwill" to allow the export of Ukrainian agricultural products. But Kyiv says it pushed out Russia's troops. 

G20 host Indonesia calls for end to Ukraine war

Indonesia called for an end to the war in Ukraine at a G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bali.

"It is our responsibility to end the war sooner than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not the battlefield," Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.

Marsudi added that it is important for the host of the G20 to "create an atmosphere that's comfortable for everyone."

"This is the first time, since February 24, all major players are sitting in the same room," she said, referring to the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Putin warns Russian actions in Ukraine 'haven't even started' yet

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia had barely started its actions in Ukraine and urged Kyiv and its Western allies to reach a deal with Moscow.

Putin accused the West of wanting to "fight [Russia] until the last Ukrainian" in providing military and economic support to Kyiv.

"It's a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it looks like it's heading in that direction," Putin said.

"Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven't even yet started anything in earnest," Putin warned.

Russia's president said that the Kremlin was ready to sit down for peace talks, and stressed that "those who refuse to do so should know that the longer it lasts the more difficult it will be for them to make a deal with us."

UK's Johnson says he will work to end Ukraine grain blockade

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that he will continue to work with partners to end the grain blockade on Ukraine in the coming weeks, a spokesperson for the prime minister said following Johnson's announcement that he would resign as prime minister. 

"President Zelenskyy thanked the Prime Minister for his decisive action on Ukraine, and said the Ukrainian people were grateful for the UK's efforts," the spokesperson said after a call between Johnson and Ukraine's president.

Recap of Thursday's events

Kazakhstan's president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, ordered officials to find oil export routes that don't go through Russian territory.

At least eight civilians were killed and several others injured in Russian strikes in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian officials said.

Foreign analysts said Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in Ukraine as the Russian military attempts to reassemble its forces for a renewed assault.

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, posted a video on Telegram of three soldiers raising a large Ukrainian flag on Snake Island, from which Russian forces withdrew on June 30.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said a Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain had been allowed to leave the Turkish port of Karasu, calling it an "unacceptable situation" and summoning Turkey's ambassador.

Finland's parliament on Thursday voted in favor of legislation that would allow barriers on the country's border with Russia and enable the closure of the 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) frontier to asylum seekers in case of exceptional circumstances.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht rejected the delivery of Fuchs armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, citing Germany's own security interests.

Click here for all the updates from Wednesday.

fb, sdi/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)