Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Russian parliament passes first vote on war economy measures

A police officer patrols in front of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of the parliament) and the building of the Hall of Columns on April 8, 2022. Russia’s parliament approved a bill that will allow the government to appoint new management of foreign companies that exited Russia due to “anti-Russian sentiment in Europe and the U.S.”, the Associated Press reported.

Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images

Russian lawmakers have given the first stamp of approval to two bills that would authorize the government to oblige businesses to supply the military with goods and their employees to work overtime to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told parliament the moves were driven by the need to support the military at a time when Russia’s economy was under “colossal sanctions pressure” from the West, more than four months into what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

“The load on the defence industry has increased significantly. In order to guarantee the supply of weapons and ammunition, it is necessary to optimize the work of the military-industrial complex and enterprises that are part of cooperation chains,” he said.

One of the bills — approved in a first reading by the State Duma, the lower house of parliament — said the state could impose “special economic measures” during military operations, requiring firms to supply goods and services to the military at the demand of the Russian government.

An explanatory note attached to the bill said the military needed new materials and weapons repairs to pursue its Ukraine campaign.

— Reuters

International community agrees principles to guide Ukraine’s recovery

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis (L), Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (C), and British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons (R), attend the closing press briefing of the two-day International conference on reconstruction of Ukraine in Lugano on July 5, 2022.

Michael Buholzer | AFP | Getty Images

An international conference to support Ukraine after the devastating Russian invasion has outlined a series of principles to steer Kyiv’s recovery and condemned Moscow’s actions.

Representatives from more than 40 countries and international organizations like the European Investment Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development signed up to the Lugano Declaration at the two-day conference in Switzerland.

Signatories including the U.S., Britain, France and Japan condemned Russia’s military aggression “in the strongest terms” and urged Moscow to withdraw its troops without delay.

The signatories welcomed commitments to provide political, financial and technical support and launched the Lugano Principles to guide the reconstruction effort, which Kyiv says could cost up to $750 billion.

The principles include partnership between Ukraine and its international supporters and a focus on domestic reforms.

Reuters

Russia levelled cities to seize Luhansk — and Donetsk will get the same treatment, UK says

A home is left in ruins after being struck by a missile on July 03, 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

The battle for the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine has been characterized by slow rates of advance and Russia’s “massed employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense has said.

“The fighting in Donetsk Oblast will almost certainly continue in this manner,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update on Twitter.

Russian forces have already captured one significant province in the Donbas — Luhansk — after Ukrainian forces retreated from the last Ukrainian-held city of Lysychansk over the weekend. Russian troops have now turned their attention to neighboring Donetsk, which is already coming under heavy shelling, showing little change in Russian strategy.

If Russia captures Donetsk, it will effectively control the Donbas, a heavily industrialized area of Ukraine in which two pro-Russian separatist “republics” are located.

“Russia’s relatively rapid capture of Lysychansk extends its control across virtually all of the territory of Luhansk Oblast, allowing it to claim substantive progress against the policy objective it presented as the immediate purpose of the war, namely ‘liberating’ the Donbas,” the U.K. noted.

“Ukrainian forces have likely largely withdrawn in good order, in line with existing plans … There is a realistic possibility that Ukrainian forces will now be able to fall back to a more readily defendable, straightened front line,” the ministry said.

Holly Ellyatt

‘We have no alternative’ but to fight, Zelenskyy says

“We have no alternative. It is about our independence, about our future, about the fate of the entire Ukrainian people,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (pictured here on June 16).

Ludovic Marin | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that his forces have no option but to fight to keep the country independent as he warned that the costs of rebuilding Ukraine would be “colossal.”

Speaking during his nightly video address yesterday evening, Zelenskyy reflected on Russia’s advance in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine now that they have seized Luhansk and have turned their attention to Donetsk. He said “the armed forces of Ukraine respond, push and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day.”

“We have no alternative. It is about our independence, about our future, about the fate of the entire Ukrainian people,” he said.

Ukrainian servicemen bathe in a stream on the Fedorivka front line in Ukraine on July 4, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Towns and cities retaken by Ukrainian forces would require “colossal funds” for reconstruction, Zelenskyy said, reiterating comments he had made via videolink to international leaders in Switzerland who were gathered for the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

“Ukrainian forces have liberated more than a thousand settlements from the occupiers … All of them suffered significant destruction. And this also implies the need for colossal funds for the restoration of infrastructure, for the return of medicine and social services, for the restoration of normal economic life,” he said.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Monday that the country will need a massive $750 billion for its recovery and that Russia’s invasion has so far resulted in more than $100 billion in damage to Ukrainian infrastructure.

— Holly Ellyatt

Sloviansk’s mayor urges civilians to flee as Russians approach

Destroyed shops at a local market in Sloviansk on July 4, 2022, the day after a Russian rocket attack.

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

The mayor of Sloviansk, a key target of Russian forces, who are looking to push southwest into the Donetsk region of the Donbas), has urged residents to evacuate the city.

“Sloviansk has already become a frontline, the nearest Russian positions are 7-10 km from the city,” Vadym Liakh said.

Donetsk’s police department posted images and videos on its Facebook page on Monday showing destruction from shelling in Sloviansk, with firefighters trying to put out fires in buildings and civilians rescuing belongings from severely damaged residential buildings.

A house burning during shelling in Ukraine, on July 4, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“There are victims, including children. 94 civilian objects – homes and infrastructure – were destroyed and damaged,” the Donetsk police said.

The police said Russian forces had shelled 11 settlements. “Russian forces hit the cities of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, the town of Gostre, Oleksievo-Druzhkivka, Severny, the villages of Malinivka, Lastochkine, Novopoltavka, and Tarasivka,” the police added.

Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine needs $750 billion for its recovery plan, prime minister says

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal gives a press conference at the end of a two-day International conference on reconstruction of Ukraine, in Lugano on July 5, 2022.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine will need a massive $750 billion for its recovery following Russia’s invasion, the county’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said while speaking to international leaders in Switzerland gathered for the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

Shmyhal also said that Russia’s invasion has so far resulted in more than $100 billion in damage to Ukrainian infrastructure.

Country leaders, private sector and NGO representatives attended the conference to discuss a sort of “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy, who spoke to the conference attendees via video call, warned that there was “really colossal” work needed to reconstruct the areas that have already been taken back from Russian troops. In addition to that, “we will have to free over 2,000 villages and towns in the east and south of Ukraine,” he said.

Sloviansk, in Donetsk, prepares for Russian onslaught

Ukrainian serviceman ride on top of a tank towards the battlefield on the Siversk frontline to the east of Sloviansk, Ukraine, July 4th, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk in Donetsk is readying for a major battle after Russian forces captured neighboring Luhansk province.

“Everyone knows that there will be a huge battle in Sloviansk,” one Ukrainian soldier told the Associated Press. Soldiers defending the city told the AP that they are severely outgunned by the Russians.

The city, home to roughly 100,000 people before the war, was captured by pro-Russian fighters in 2014 and held for three months before being retaken by Ukrainian forces. For many in the city, the war has been going on since then. Roughly three-quarters of Sloviansk’s population has fled since late February, and city officials are urging remaining civilians to evacuate.

— Natasha Turak

Russia will now shift focus to Donetsk, Luhansk governor says

Residents pump water from a public well on June 09, 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Russia has captured Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region and will now turn its focus to neighboring Donetsk, Luhansk’s regional governor Serhiy Haidai said.

The governor expects Russian forces to concentrate their attacks on Sloviansk, a city with a pre-war population of roughly 100,000 that was the first to be seized by Russian-backed forces in 2014. It was then retaken by Ukrainian troops.

Haidai also named the town of Bakhmut as a key target for Russia.

Luhansk and Donetsk, known collectively as the Donbas, has been the site of sporadic fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian troops for many years. Moscow has called capturing the Donbas an “unconditional priority.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that Ukraine will take back its land seized by Russia.

— Natasha Turak

Putin congratulates Russian troops for ‘liberating’ Luhansk region

Plumes of smoke rising to the sky during heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Lysychansk, Ukraine, on July 1, 2022. Russia claimed it had captured Lysychansk on Sunday, a development later confirmed by Ukraine.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian troops on “liberating” Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk province after several weeks of brutal fighting. A huge proportion of the area’s infrastructure, including residential buildings, has been destroyed.

Speaking on television with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin said that the troops who fought in Luhansk should rest but that other troops should keep fighting, according to a Reuters translation.

Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the majority of the area, although President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pledged to win back the lost territory. Russian forces are now expected to turn their focus to neighboring Donetsk, which together with Luhansk makes up the Donbas region, Moscow’s top territorial priority.

— Natasha Turak

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