Dmitry Medvedev, a long-term ally of Vladimir Putin who is currently deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, has posted this morning to Telegram a message which gives some insight into the current state of senior level Russian thinking about the situation in Ukraine.
In the message, Medvedev questions a Ukrainian request that it receive energy imports this winter with an option to delay payment for two years. Medvedev says:
Just a question. Who said that in two years Ukraine will even exist on the world map?
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti is reporting this morning the claim that thousands of applications for Russian citizenship are being made in the occupied Kherson region of Ukraine. Kherson is to the north of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
RIA Novosti quotes Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-imposed military-civilian administration in the region saying:
There is a lot of excitement. More and more people want to obtain citizenship of the Russian Federation. Residents of the Kherson region today are en masse in queues to submit documents for obtaining Russian citizenship just because Russia can protect, Russia can feed and provide socially for a person in the country, in which a person is the highest social value of the state.
Stremousov claims in the report that more than ten thousand applications for Russian citizenship have already been submitted. The first passports were issued on 11 June.
Maksym Kozytskyi, governor of Lviv, has posted to Telegram to say that overnight there was one air raid warning in his region, which is in western Ukraine.
He claimed Ukrainian forces shot down a missile over the region, which injured six people including a one-year-old boy when the wreckage fell. He said 26 residential buildings were damaged.
The claims have not been independently verified.
Energoatom, which oversees the nuclear power facilities in Ukraine, has reported this morning that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is operating normally. It lies in an area currently occupied by Russian forces, and has been a source of some dispute between Ukraine and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which had wanted to visit and inspect it, a move Ukraine was trying to prevent.
Roman Starovoyt, the governor of Kursk, has posted to Telegram to say that this morning there was fire from Ukraine at the Krupets checkpoint in Rylsky district within Russia. The Kursk region borders Sumy region in the north-east of Ukraine. Starovoyt says there were no casualties, and that border guards returned fire. The claims have not been independently verified.
British intelligence appears to have confirmed Ukraine’s claims that several hundred Ukrainian civilians are sheltering in underground bunkers in Azot Chemical Plant in Sievierodonetsk.
Russian forces now control the majority of the Ukrainian city, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in its latest report.
US President Joe Biden said temporary silos will be built along the border with Ukraine, including in Poland, in a bid to help export more grain from the war-torn country.
Biden told a union convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday, as reported by Reuters:
I’m working closely with our European partners to get 20 million tons of grain locked in Ukraine out onto the market to help bring down food prices.
It can’t get out through the Black Sea because it’ll get blown out of the water …
So we’re going to build silos, temporary silos, on the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland.”
Biden said the United States is working on a plan to get grain out of Ukraine by rail, but noted that Ukrainian railway track gauges are different to those in Europe, so the grain has to be transferred to different trains at the border.
He said the grain could be transferred from those Ukrainian railway cars into the new silos, and then on to Europe freight cars to “get it out to the ocean and get it across the world.”
“But it’s taking time,” he added.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and blockade of its Black Sea ports, grain shipments have stalled and more than 20m tonnes are stuck in silos. Sea mines laid by Russia has also meant some 84 foreign ships are still stuck in Ukrainian ports – many of which have grain cargoes onboard.
Some 500 civilians believed to be trapped alongside soldiers inside Azot, a chemical factory in Sievierodonetsk, are preparing to flee the city through a possible humanitarian corridor this morning.
Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk region, said about 500 civilians, 40 of them children, were sheltering from heavy Russian attacks in the Azot chemical plant in the city.
Shelling on Azot was so strong that “people can no longer stand it in the shelters, their psychological state is on edge,” Haidai added.
Late on Tuesday, Russia appeared to offer the chance for civilians to evacuate through a humanitarian corridor.
Col Gen Mikhail Mizintsev appeared to promise that civilians would be let out if Ukrainian fighters “lay down arms” from 8am Moscow time (5am GMT), Interfax news agency reported.
Ukraine has not yet commented on the reported humanitarian corridor. It has previously accused Russia of violating ceasefire agreements.
Russia has told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant in the embattled eastern city of Sievierodonetsk to lay down their arms by early Wednesday.
Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are trapped alongside soldiers inside Azot, a chemical factory where its forces have resisted weeks of Russian bombardment and assaults that have reduced much of Sievierodonetsk to ruins.
Col Gen Mikhail Mizintsev, the officer who was in charge of the devastating siege of Mariupol, said fighters should “stop their senseless resistance and lay down arms” from 8am Moscow time (5am GMT).
The Russian army has shifted the bulk of its military efforts to capturing Sievierodonetsk in its attempt to take full control of Luhansk and Donetsk, collectively known as Donbas. Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk, told Ukrainian television on Tuesday that two more Russian battalion tactical groups had been moved into the area.
The fight for Sievierodonetsk is turning into one of the war’s bloodiest battles and is seen as a potential turning point in Russia’s advances in Donbas.
Hello it’s Samantha Lock back with you to deliver all the latest developments from Ukraine.
Russia has told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk to lay down their arms by Wednesday morning under the promise of a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians trapped in the embattled city.
Here are the major developments:
- Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the outcome of the battle for the Donbas region will determine the course of the war, adding that Ukraine’s forces are suffering “painful losses” in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. The battle for Luhansk’s Sievierodonetsk is now the biggest fight in Ukraine as its defenders try to repel a fierce Russian onslaught in the twin eastern cities.
- Russia has told Ukrainian forces holed up in Sievierodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant to lay down their arms by early Wednesday. Fighters should “stop their senseless resistance and lay down arms” from 8am Moscow time (5am GMT), Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s national defence management centre told the Interfax news agency.
- Russia said it would set up a humanitarian corridor on Wednesday for trapped civilians seeking to flee intense fighting in the devastated east Ukraine city of Sievierodonetsk. Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk region, said about 500 civilians, 40 of them children, were sheltering from heavy Russian attacks in the Azot chemical plant in the city.
- Zelenskiy repeated his call for the west to step up the provision of heavy weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said the country had received only 10% of what it asked for and there was no path to victory without the aid: “No matter how hard Ukraine tries, no matter how professional our army is, without the help of western partners we will not be able to win this war”. Zelenskiy added that Ukraine does not have enough anti-missile systems to shoot down Russian projectiles targeting its cities. “Our country does not have enough of them … there can be no justification in delays in providing them.”
- Nato must build out “even higher readiness” and strengthen its weapons capabilities along its eastern border, the military alliance’s chief said on Tuesday ahead of a summit in Madrid at the end of the month. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance needed a “more robust and combat-ready forward presence and an even higher readiness and more pre-positioned equipment and supplies.”
- Leaders of seven European Nato members pledged support for applications by Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. “My message on Swedish and Finnish membership is that I strongly welcome that. It’s an historic decision. It will strengthen them, it will strengthen us,” Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting at The Hague on Tuesday.
- US President Joe Biden said temporary silos will be built along the border with Ukraine, including in Poland, in a bid to help export more grain. Referring to the 20 million tons of grain locked in Ukraine, Biden told a union convention in Philadelphia: “It can’t get out through the Black Sea because it’ll get blown out of the water … So we’re going to build silos, temporary silos, on the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland.”
- Worried allies of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny say he has been moved to “a strict-regime” penal colony. Olga Mikhailova, lawyer for the 46-year-old fierce critic of the Ukraine war, said officials told her that he was transferred from a detention facility in Pokrov, east of Moscow, to an unidentified colony with a much harsher regime elsewhere.
- Russia banned British journalists, including correspondents from the Guardian, and defence industry figures from entering the country, calling it a response to western sanctions and pressure on its state-run media outlets abroad.
- Pope Francis said Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine was “perhaps somehow provoked” as he recalled a conversation in the run-up to the war in which he was warned that Nato was “barking at the gates of Russia”.
- Vladimir Putin probably still wants to capture much if not all of Ukraine but has had to narrow his tactical objectives in war, the US under-secretary of defence has said. “I still think he has designs on a significant portion of Ukraine, if not the whole country. That said, I do not think he can achieve those objectives,” Colin Kahl said while speaking at an event hosted by the centre for new American security.