Bakhmut remains 'epicentre' of combat, Ukraine's armed forces say
Fighting is continuing in Bakhmut, Ukraine’s armed forces have said in their morning update after Russia claimed to have completed the “liberation” of the eastern city over the weekend. Confusion has reigned as Ukrainian officials rejected the claims.
“[In Bakhmut] the enemy continues to lead offensive actions. Fighting for the city of Bakhmut continues,” the armed forces said, adding that over the past day Russian forces had “unsuccessfully tried to recover lost positions south of the [nearby] settlement of Ivanivske”. Russia had also carried out air strikes on Bakhmut.
It has been impossible to verify the conflicting statements over the devastated city, which has assumed symbolic importance as a measure of which side has the resilience to prevail in the war overall.
Here’s our full report on the back-and-forth by Peter Beaumont and Julian Borger:
Citing Kharkiv’s regional governor Oleh Synyehubov, Suspilne is reporting that two women have been hospitalised after shelling on Kupiansk. It reports “private houses and civil infrastructure were damaged in the city.”
Power restored at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – reports
Suspilne, Ukraine's state broadcaster, reports that the external power supply to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) has been restored, after an earlier outage forced the plant to rely on emergency diesel generators. It posted to Telegram:
Energy workers have restored the power transmission line that feeds the ZNPP. The station is switching to power from the Ukrainian energy system, Ukrenergo reported.
Reuters reports Denmark’s foreign minister Lars LøkkeRasmussen has said his nation would like to host a summit in July about how to find peace between Ukraine and Russia, citing the Ritzau news agency.
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region has claimed on Telegram that an explosive device dropped from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in Novaya Tavolzhanka. Vyacheslav Gladkov posted:
In Novaya Tavolzhanka, an explosive device was dropped from a drone next to a private residential building. There were no casualties or damage. The UAV itself fell 100 metres from residential buildings. Explosives and operational services are working on the spot.
Ukrainian troops are still advancing on the flanks of the devastated city of Bakhmut, although the “intensity” of their movement has decreased and Russia is bringing in more forces, Ukrainian deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said on Monday.
Reuters reports she said, in televised comments, that Ukraine had a small foothold inside the city itself, again denying Russia’s assertion that it has established full control over Bakhmut.
The Russian-imposed leader of the occupied Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin, has said that Russian forces have begun demining operations in Bakhmut. Tass quotes him appearing on the Rossiya-24 TV channel and saying:
There is a preliminary demining of the city. It is important for us to carry out a complete, thorough demining. This is a very painstaking and difficult work, given the scale of the hostilities that took place there.
In another report, Tass quotes a source from the local Russian-imposed officials saying that “a few dozen more residents” remained in Bakhmut, but that “perhaps, the figure will change as the basements of houses are examined”. The source said that the “evacuation” of civilians continues.
Russian sources refer to Bakhmut by its Soviet-era name Artemovsk.
Jennifer Rankin reports from Brussels for the Guardian:
The EU’s top diplomat will propose further sanctions against Russia, following a promise by G7 leaders to intensify western restrictions on Vladimir Putin’s ability to wage war on Ukraine.
Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, said he hoped to soon present “concrete proposals to implement the decision of the G7 on new kinds of sanctions against Russia”. Meeting in Hiroshima over the weekend, leaders of the west’s seven largest economies, plus the heads of the European Commission and Council, pledged to “starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine”.
Significantly, they also promised to reduce reliance on civil nuclear goods from Russia and to restrict the trade in diamonds mined, processed or produced in Russia.
Nuclear power and diamonds have increasingly been seen as no-go areas for EU sanctions, because of objections from Hungary and Belgium respectively. Hungary, which has signed a contract with Rosatom to build nuclear reactors, has repeatedly threatened to veto any nuclear sanctions, while Belgium, home to one of the world’s largest diamond trading hubs, has used more subtle diplomacy to get the precious stones off EU sanctions lists. The Belgian government argues that an international agreement to stop Russian stones being traded elsewhere in the world is necessary, rather than unilateral EU action.
Borrell did not mention any specific sector in his comments. The promise to implement the G7 text comes as EU27 member states continue to spar over the current sanctions proposals, largely aimed at clamping down on companies and countries that help Moscow dodge western measures.
Earlier we reported remarks published on the Russian embassy in Washington’s Telegram channel by ambassador Anatoly Antonov, in which he appeared to draw a separate line between attacks on Crimea and attacks on the four regions of Ukraine which the Russian Federation claimed to annex last year. He said:
I would like to warn representatives of the administration against thoughtless judgments on Crimea, especially in terms of “blessing” the Kyiv regime for air attacks on the peninsula. Let me remind you that strikes on this territory are considered by us as an attack on any other region of the Russian Federation. It is important that the United States is fully aware of the Russian response.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the office of president of Ukraine, appears to have retorted to that this morning in a tweet, saying:
Crimea is an indisputable and inseparable part of Ukraine. It was, it is and it will be. The liberation of Crimea using any military force and means is the only rational way to stop “Russian aggressions” and bring the world back to international law. It is Ukraine’s direct obligation and necessity today …
The governor of Russia’s Bryansk region has claimed this morning that Ukraine has shelled a village. In a message on Telegram, Alexander Bogomaz said:
The armed forces of Ukraine fired mortars at the village of Khoromnoe in the Klimovsky district. There were no casualties. As a result of the shelling, one household and an outbuilding caught fire. Operational and emergency services are on site.
Bryansk region is to the north of Ukraine, and shares its borders with Ukraine and Belarus. The claims have not been independently verified.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) “cannot continue”. In a tweet, he wrote:
Ukraine’s ZNPP this morning lost all external electricity for seventh time during conflict, forcing it to rely on emergency diesel generators for power; nuclear safety situation at the plant extremely vulnerable. We must agree to protect plant now; this situation cannot continue.
The Kyiv Post is carrying a video clip which it claims shows damage to one of the fire stations in Dnipro which appears to have been targeted in an overnight attack.
Oliver Carroll, foreign correspondent at the Economist, has tweeted one of the images released from the scene, observing “Russia may have targeted emergency services in missile attacks on Dnipro last night. Local authorities reporting massive damage in one of the stations - more than 20 vehicles destroyed.”
Other images released by officials in Ukraine show several views of the damage.
Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure since it began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The former commander of joint forces command Richard Barrons has been on Sky News in the UK, and he was asked what difference sending F-16 planes could make to Ukraine’s war effort. He told viewers:
It is a very complex fourth generation aircraft will give Ukraine a decisive advantage over the Russian air force and indeed, over Russian ground forces if they get to the right threshold of capability, and have the family of ammunition that make the aircraft so effective.
It would turn the battle in the skies in favour of Ukraine when Ukraine has enough of aircraft, enough competence with it and enough of the family of missiles that make it effective.
There’s not much wrong with [the Ukrainian air force], it is certainly full of spirit. But it’s aircraft are mostly Russian aircraft, and therefore well known to the Russians. So they’ve not been able to throw the Russian air force out of the skies, and they’ve relied very heavily on their ground air defences. F-16s will give them the ability to take Ukraine air power over Russian forces in Ukraine. That will be a gamechanger.
However, Barrons stressed it was not a short-term project.
We should recognise that F-16s will take about 18 months to become combat effective in Ukraine. So what this signals is an expectation on the part of the G7 and others and President Zelenskiy that whatever the outcome of the offensive they’re about to mount, this war will go on into next year.
Here is an update on the situation overnight in the Dnipropetrovsk region, where Ukraine says at least eight people were wounded and scores of buildings were damaged in a Russian air attack.
“The Russian invaders attacked military and infrastructure facilities of the eastern outpost of Ukraine – the city of Dnipro,” Ukraine’s air force said on the Telegram messaging service.
“The attack was carried out by 16 different types of missiles and 20 Shahed-136/131 strike drones,” the air force said, adding that air defences brought down 20 Russian drones and four cruise missiles.
At least one man was wounded in the attack on Dnipro city and seven people were injured on an attack on Synelnykivskyi district of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Reuters reports the governor, Serhiy Lysak, said on Telegram.