- Russian missiles hit the western Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, killing at least 23
- Ukraine says Black Sea security a 'priority' for the safe export of grain
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls for a 'special tribunal' to investigate Russia's invasion
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EU condemns Vinnytsia 'atrocity'
The European Union strongly condemned what it called an "atrocity" after 23 people were killed in a Russian missile strike that hit Vinnytsia in central Ukraine.
"This atrocity in Vinnytsia is the latest in a long series of brutal attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.
"There can be no impunity for violations and crimes committed by the Russian forces and their political superiors."
UN Secretary-General Guterres condemns missile strike on Vinnytsia
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned Russia's missile strike on Vinnytsia that killed at least 22 people.
In a tweet, Guterres wrote that he "is appalled by today's missile attack."
Ukraine receives donated radiation protection and monitoring equipment
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that it had delivered to Ukraine "a large batch of vital radiation protection and monitoring equipment" donated by Australia and France.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that the shipment included personal protective equipment, radiation dosimeters and radiation and contamination monitors.
"This is a major step forward in our joint work to help Ukraine reduce the risk of a nuclear accident or a radiological emergency," Grossi said.
US embassy issues 'Missile Threat Awareness' security alert
The US Embassy in Kyiv sent out a security alert in the form of a "Missile Threat Awareness." It warned Americans to "avoid large gatherings and organized events as they may serve as Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including its western regions."
Additional points of advice urged seeking cover immediately in a hardened structure when sirens are activated and "if that is not possible, lie down and cover your head with your hands." The embassy added that if indoors, go to the lowest level of a structure, close doors, sit near an interior wall away from windows or other openings.
OSCE expresses 'grave concern' over Russia's filtration centers
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expressed "grave concern" about the treatment of Ukrainians at Russia's so called "filtration centers" in Ukraine.
A 115-page report produced by three experts covering Russia's war against Ukraine from April 1 until June 25 reports that "people are subject to harsh interrogations and humiliating body searches in such centers." It called the development of such sites "alarming."
A previous mission covering the period of the war from Russia's invasion on February 24 until April 1 had already found "clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations." In the latest report, these "clear patterns" were upgraded to "grave breaches," particularly in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha and Irpin, accessible to the OSCE's experts.
Russia's "filtration centers" in occupied Donetsk in eastern Ukraine precede deportation to Russia, where some have returned and others have disappeared. Personal data along with finger prints are taken and IDs are copied.
Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Ukraine's ambassador to the OSCE, said there are around 20 such facilities set up by Russia on Ukrainian territory.
Russian oil imports increase to Cuba, Saudi Arabia — reports
The Liberia-flagged Afranax tanker Suvorovsky Prospect arrived at Cuba's Matanzas port with 700,000 barrels of fuel loaded at Russia's Ust-Luga port. The oil is worth an estimated $70 million (€70 million). The tanker, owned by Sovcomflot, is under British, Canadian and US sanctions and operated without Western insurance.
By contrast to Cuba which gets most of its oil from heavy crude production, Saudi Arabia, is the world's largest oil exporter. Yet, it has more than doubled imports of Russian fuel oil in the second quarter to meet domestic demands during the hot summer season when air conditioners are on full blast.
Reuters reports Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking data indicates Saudi Arabia imported 647,000 tons (48,000 barrels per day) of Russian fuel oil from Russian and Estonian ports in April through June of this year. Russian fuel oil helps free up the kingdom's sweet crude for export.
US President Joe Biden is due to visit Saudi Arabia later in the week. It is expected he will encourage the Saudis to increase supplies to global markets to alleviate pressure on consumers and industry.
French troops deployed near Ukraine highlighted in Bastille Day military parade
The flags of nine NATO allies on the alliance's eastern flank were presented at the opening of the traditional military parade held on Bastille Day on the Champs-Elysees. The presentation included the flags of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, all of which endured Soviet-backed communism either as captive nations or satellites during the Cold War.
Troops representing France's presence in NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups, said to deter Russia, followed the flags.
French Rafale fighter jets are involved in Baltic air policing in Poland and Estonia, where ground forces are deployed as well. France sped up the deployment of 500 troops to Romania in the days following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has said more could be on the way if needed.
US and 40 other countries agree to coordinate Russian war crimes investigations
The US along with 40 other nations vowed Thursday at The Hague to coordinate investigations into suspected war crimes carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine following the invasion on February 24.
The signed declaration vows the countries will work together on investigations into war crimes in Ukraine. With 24,000 war crimes investigations currently open, officials emphasized the work needed to be credible and the evidence considerable.
Russia has repeatedly denied a role in committing war crimes such as targeting civilians for acts of state terror such as rape, torture and summarily executions, despite the prevalence of these acts in areas where Russian forces have been operational militarily.
Ukrainian official proposes commission to track weapons
Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, proposed creating a special commission to track weapons delivered from allies after an article in the Financial Times reported NATO and the EU are pushing for better methods for tracking weapons.
The Financial Times article detailed some concerns from NATO and the EU officials that criminals could make use of Ukraine's ample weapons stocks for personal gain on the black market.
Yermak proposes a "Temporary Special Commission" in parliament to "deal with the preparation and consideration of issues related to control over the use of weapons received from our partners."
"The issue of weapons is a priority for our country," Yermak said.
Zelenskyy calls for a 'special tribunal' to investigate Russia's invasion
Addressing a conference at The Hague organized by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the European Commission and the Netherlands, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a "special tribunal" to investigate Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Existing judicial institutions cannot bring all the guilty parties to justice. Therefore, a special tribunal is needed to address the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine," Zelenskyy said.
The ICC opened an investigation into war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine in March, shortly after the invasion began on February 24.
Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, said there are 20,000 open investigations into war crimes allegedly committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. Ukraine's top prosecutor said Ukraine had already identified 127 of those suspected of committing war crimes.
At least 23 killed in Russian missile strike in Vinnytsia
Authorities in the western Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia raised the number of those killed in a Russian missile strike in the city to 23. Earlier 12 people, including a baby, had reportedly been killed.
On Facebook, police chief Ihor Klymenko announced 90 more were injured in the strike that saw three rockets hit an office center.
The southern port city of Mykolayiv was also hit by missiles overnight, striking a school and a hotel, with only one injury reported.
Russian-installed officials aim for referendum in occupied Ukrainian region
Russian-installed officials in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine are aiming to hold a referendum on joining Russia in September.
Vladimir Rogov from the Zaporizhzhia civil-military administration told Russian news outlet RIA Novosti: "We will finally announce when it will be once we understand the level of readiness and involvement of the people."
Although Russia has seized the majority of the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine still holds a significant chunk — namely, the city of Zaporizhzhia itself, home to half the region's population before the invasion.
The coastal region neighbors the Donbas, home to two self-declared, breakaway republics recognized only by Russia, Syria and North Korea.
Russian official hints at peace conditions
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Rudenko outlined several conditions that Moscow "would respond positively to" in order to negotiate peace with Ukraine, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
One of the main conditions he hinted at was that Kyiv should become a non-aligned and non-nuclear nation.
Rudenko also said Ukrainian officials would have to accept certain "territorial realities" such as Russia’s occupation of Crimea and the self-declared breakaway republics in the Donbas.
Ukrainian officials, including President Zelenskyy, have repeatedly insisted that Ukraine will not cede any territory to Russia.
Russia's war in Ukraine the main threat to global economy, Yellen tells G20
US Treasury Secretary on Thursday said the Russian invasion of Ukraine posed the main threat to the global economy and was sending inflation soaring across the world.
She was speaking on the sidelines of the gathering of finance ministers and central bank chiefs of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Bali, Indonesia.
Yellen said, at the G20, it "cannot be business as usual" with Russia following its military aggression.
"I think I've made clear that it cannot be business as usual with respect to Russia's participation at these meetings," she said.
Russia, Ukraine agree progress made on possible grain deal
Officials from both Russia and Ukraine said that talks over the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea had made progress and that a deal could be reached as soon as next week.
"There has indeed been a substantive discussion on this issue," said Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
"It was possible to formulate some elements of a possible agreement which Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are now discussing in their capitals through their military departments," she added.
Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov also said progress was made at Wednesday's talks.
"We are definitely a step closer to a result," the minister told Reuters news agency.
A preliminary date for the next four-way meeting is July 20 or 21, the Russian RIA news agency reported.
Zelenskyy accuses Russia of inflicting terror after missile strike kills 12 in Vinnytsia
Russian missiles have killed 12 people in the city of Vinnytsia in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called "an open act of terrorism."
Zelenskyy said a child was among the dead. while dozens more were wounded in the attack far from the frontlines of fighting.
Ukraine's national police said three missiles struck an office building and damaged nearby residential buildings in the city located some 240 kilometers (149 miles) southwest of Kyiv. The strikes sparked a fire that ultimately engulfed around 50 vehicles in an adjacent parking lot.
"Every day Russia is destroying the civilian population, killing Ukrainian children, directing missiles at civilian objects. Where there is no military (targets)," Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine to drive eurozone inflation to record high
The European Commission has said it expects the war in Ukraine to push inflation in the euro zone to a record high of 7.6% in 2022. The EU's executive arm also cuts its euro zone growth forecasts for 2022 from 2.7% to 2.6% and for 2023 from 2.3% to 1.4%.
Lithuania to keep Kaliningrad trade restrictions for now
Lithuania will maintain trade restrictions on the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad until it can establish new rules to let sanctioned Russian goods transit through its territory, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Thursday.
The Russian territory, wedged between Lithuania and Poland, had been cut off from Moscow after Lithuania began enforcing European Union sanctions on rail freight.
However, the EU executive said on Wednesday that Russian goods should be allowed to transit through EU territory to reach Kaliningrad amid rising tensions between Moscow and Vilnius.
Switzerland issues 'war crimes' warning to firms trading stolen Ukrainian resources
Swiss persecutors are currently conducting a criminal investigation into commodities firms allegedly trading in stolen raw materials from Ukraine.
"Commercializing looted raw materials could constitute a war crime," Swiss Attorney-General Stefan Blättler wrote in a column for the national newspaper Le Temps.
Although he said investigations were underway, he did not provide specific details.
The issue has come to light after allegations that invading Russian forces pillaged grain and coal reserves. The Kremlin has denied such claims.
Ukraine claims airstrike on Russian checkpoints near Kherson
Ukrainian forces have continued to strike Russian positions around the port city of Kherson, according to official reports.
Ukraine launched an attack on two military checkpoints in the Russian-held town of Nova Kakhovka on Thursday.
Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional administration, said the airstrike killed 13 "occupiers." The account has not yet been independently verified.
It follows a Tuesday attack on Nova Kakhovka in which Ukrainian forces claim to have killed 52 people, and the Russian-installed authorities area reported at least seven fatalities.
Russia risks losing momentum: UK intelligence
A British intelligence assessment claimed Russian forces "have achieved no significant territorial advances" in the Donbas over the past 72 hours and run the risk of losing momentum.
This is a change from when Russia captured the frontline city of Lysychansk a week ago.
"The ageing vehicles, weapons, and Soviet-era tactics used by Russian forces do not lend themselves to quickly regaining or building momentum unless used in overwhelming mass — which Russia is currently unable to bring to bear," the UK Defense Ministry said in its daily briefing.
German energy regulator: Heating bills to triple
"For those now receiving their heating bill, the payments are already doubling — and that is before taking into account the Ukraine war," Federal Network Agency chief Klaus Müller told Germany's RND news outlet.
Müller said higher procurement costs could be met with subsidies for gas companies or by passing the cost on to consumers while offering state assistance to those unable to pay the increased prices.
Germany is heavily reliant on imported Russian gas, supplies of which have dropped since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Müller said that private households would be protected during an energy crisis under German and European law.
"Even in the worst-case scenario, Germany will continue to get gas from Norway and from terminals in Belgium and Holland, and soon directly from terminals on the German coast," he stressed.
Lithuania says it will allow Russian goods to transit toward Kaliningrad
Lithuania's Foreign Ministry has confirmed that it will allow sanctioned Russian goods to transit through its territory to the Russian exclave Kaliningrad, following the release of new guidelines by the European Commission.
Kaliningrad, which is bordered by Poland and Lithuania, has had some freight transport from mainland Russia cut off since June 17 due to sanctions. Moscow said that this amounted to an illegal blockade.
Under the new guidelines released by the European Commission on Wednesday, Lithuania will only be allowed to block rail shipments of certain goods that have dual civilian and military use.
"This decision, which removes restrictions on a certain range of products transported by rail, is a demonstration of realism and common sense," Reuters cited a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying. "Although we still have questions about the contents of this document."
Kaliningrad regional Governor Anton Alikhanov said in a Telegram post that the new guidelines are "only the first step needed."
"We will continue to work towards the complete removal of restrictions," Alikhanov said.
Ukraine lobbies US for longer-range missiles
Kyiv is pushing for Washington to supply it with longer-range missiles, Ukrainian lawmaker Fedir Venyslavsky said.
Currently, the Ukrainian army has missiles with a range of 70 kilometers (43 miles) for the HIMARS rocket launchers recently supplied by Washington. Missiles for the HIMARS launchers can have ranges of up to 500 kilometers.
The Tochka-U missiles currently used by Ukraine for longer-range strikes have a range of up to 120 kilometers but are less precise than those used for HIMARS rocket launchers.
The Crimean Bridge, which connects Russia to annexed Crimea, is some 260 kilometers from the frontline. The bridge could fall into the range of a Ukrainian strike if Kyiv were supplied with longer-range missiles.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described Ukraine's rumored plans to target the Crimean Bridge as "terror." He added that the bridge was sufficiently protected against potential strikes.
The US has long declined to provide Kyiv with longer-range missiles due to fears that Ukraine could use them to launch strikes on Russian territory and further escalate the conflict.
Ukraine proposes 'navigation algorithm' for grain exports
Head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Andriy Yermak, said Kyiv had proposed the formation of a "basic navigation algorithm" that would allow grain exports through the Black Sea. Yermak made the comments following a meeting between Ukrainian, Russian and Turkish military delegations and UN officials in Istanbul.
"Black Sea security is a priority in the issue of resuming of Ukrainian agricultural export. That is why Ukraine has proposed to form a basic navigation algorithm for the Black Sea."
According to Yermak, the proposal will "ensure" the continuation of Ukraine's grain exports and "guarantee food security for millions of people."
"Based on the results of today's meeting, the parties agreed to form a Joint Coordination Center under the UN auspices," Yermak said, adding that the center will be located in Istanbul. The task of the UN-managed body will be to "carry out general monitoring and coordination of safe navigation in the Black Sea."
What happened Wednesday in Russia's war against Ukraine
The United States called on Russia to immediately release Ukrainians it has forced out of their home country and allow outside observers.
Talks between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and UN officials on resuming Black Sea exports of Ukraine grain resulted in an agreement to form a coordination center to ensure the safety of routes, the Turkish defense minister said.
The European Union will continue not to recognize new Russian passports issued to Ukrainians, the bloc's top diplomat Josep Borrell said.
Russian energy giant Gazprom said it could not guarantee the good functioning of the Nord Stream pipeline.
A Moscow court ordered opposition politician Ilya Yashin remain in jail for two months pending an investigation into the spreading of "fake information" about Russia's army.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the military is "planning and preparing for full liberation" of Russian-occupied cities near the country's Black Sea coast.
ar, jsi, sdi/fb, sms, kb (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)