Kyiv says its forces have withdrawn from Lysychansk; blasts in Belgorod, Russia, kill three

Kyiv says its forces have withdrawn from Lysychansk; blasts in Belgorod, Russia, kill three
People look over the wreckage after a missile struck a shopping mall on 3 July 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine. The attack was one of many in the city early on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Ukraine pulled its troops from Lysychansk, confirming Russia’s claim to have taken control of the strategic city in the Luhansk region, while explosions in Belgorod, Russia, about 40km north of the Ukrainian border, killed three people and damaged dozens of buildings.

Extending the defence of Lysychansk would lead to “fatal consequences” in the face of Russia’s advantages in artillery, aviation, ammunition and personnel, the Ukrainian’s general staff said in an update. Russia earlier declared full control of the city, advancing its goal of taking over Ukraine’s entire Donbas region.

Explosions in Belgorod, Russia, about 40km north of the Ukrainian border, killed three people and damaged dozens of buildings overnight. Russia blamed Ukraine for the latest in a series of incidents in the border region. Ukraine is set to present a national rebuilding plan that could mobilise hundreds of billions of euros.

Key developments

On the ground

With Lysychansk in hand, Russia is switching its focus further west into Donetsk. Moscow’s forces shelled Kramatorsk with multiple rocket launch systems on Sunday for a second day, its mayor said. Nearby Slovyansk saw intense shelling, its mayor said. A spokeswoman for Donetsk said six people had been killed and 15 wounded there. Russian defence officials blamed a Ukrainian Tochka-U missile for explosions in Belgorod, north of the Ukrainian border. Russia is attempting to blunt a counteroffensive by Kyiv’s forces in the Mykolaiv area, Ukrainian officials said.

Germany’s Scholz says Putin capable of extending the war

Russian President Vladimir Putin “will be able to continue with the war [for a] really a long time”, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in comments broadcast on Sunday.

“The conflict will end when Putin understands that he will not be successful with [the] idea to conquer part of the territory of his neighbour,” Scholz said in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, recorded during last week’s Nato summit in Madrid.

The message to Putin by Ukraine’s supporters is that they’re able to back the country “as long as necessary,” he said. Leaders of the Group of Seven countries, which include Germany and the US, pledged on 27 June to stand by Ukraine “as long as it takes”.

Russia takes Lysychansk, key for control of Donbas

“After heavy fighting for Lysychansk, the Defence Forces of Ukraine were forced to withdraw from their occupied positions and lines,” Ukraine’s armed forces said in an update. “In order to save the lives of Ukrainian defenders, the decision to leave was made.”

The news came hours after Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Vladimir Putin on Sunday that Moscow’s troops had captured the last major city still held by Ukraine in Luhansk province, according to Russian state media. Ukraine initially denied the claim.

The capture puts Russia closer to its goal of controlling Ukraine’s Donbas region, comprising Luhansk and Donetsk. Ukrainian forces spent weeks defending Lysychansk and neighbouring Sievierodonetsk, on the opposite bank of the Siversky Donets river, from which they withdrew in late June.




Russian vessel denied entry to Turkish port – Tass

A Russian-flagged vessel carrying grain loaded from Berydansk, an Azov Sea port in Ukraine under Russian occupation, has been denied entry to Karasu in Turkey, Tass reported, citing a person it didn’t identify. The status of the vessel is unclear.  

Russia’s Ria Novosti news service cited a Turkish customs official saying the vessel had been detained temporarily. 

The Ukrainian chief prosecutor’s office had earlier asked Turkey to detain the Zhibek Zholy and confiscate its cargo, saying the 7,000 tonnes of grain loaded last week had been stolen by Russia. 

Australian PM offers new aid during Ukraine visit

Australia will provide Ukraine with an additional $100-million of military support, including drones and equipment for border guards, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in Kyiv. 

Albanese met President Volodymyr Zelensky after visiting three towns near the capital ravaged by Russia’s occupation in the spring, including Bucha. 

Zelensky said the pair discussed the “food crisis, provoked by Russia” along with the need for more sanctions on Moscow and economic support for Ukraine. 

Japan will keep buying Russian LNG, says Mitsui OSK Lines

Japan will continue importing liquified natural gas from Russia given the shortage of viable alternatives, Takeshi Hashimoto, chief executive of Mitsui OSK Lines, told the Financial Times.  

Hashimoto said Japan buys the Russian gas cheaply under long-term deals. There are limited prospects for now of restarting nuclear plants in Japan, he said. 

Putin isn’t ready for peace talks, says White House official

Russian President Vladimir Putin “has shown no indication that he’s interested in negotiated talks” to end the war with Ukraine, said John Kirby, a senior National Security Council spokesman at the White House. 

Ukraine’s president “gets to determine how victory is decided and when and on what terms,” Kirby said on Fox News. “And we’re going to continue to make sure that he can succeed on the battlefield so that he can succeed at the table.” 

Zelensky, he said, “will tell you that the time is not now for those discussions.”

Ukraine can’t get Nato-level guarantees – Scholz

Germany is in talks with allies about the security guarantees it can offer Ukraine once Russia’s war ends, said Chancellor Olaf Scholz — but not being a member of the Nato alliance means there are limits.  

“What is clear is that this will not be the same as if someone were a Nato member,” Scholz said in an interview with public broadcaster ARD on Sunday. “There it is clear that no matter what happens, we will defend the Baltics with our own troops.”  

“This is now being carefully prepared in the diplomatic sphere for the day that we hope to see soon, which is when the war is over,” Scholz said on security guarantees.

Israeli court lifts quota for Ukrainians

Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday that the government isn’t authorised to restrict the number of Ukrainians who can enter the country on short stays of up to three months. 

While citizens of Ukraine aren’t generally required to obtain a visa, the Interior Ministry, due to the war, had set a limit of 5,000 entries. The quota was in addition to Ukrainians of Jewish descent who are eligible for Israeli citizenship, and those with Israeli relatives, who could enter in unlimited numbers.

Czechs to deploy air force to protect Slovakia

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said his government will approve an air force deployment to help protect neighbouring Slovakia, a fellow Nato member. 

Slovakia, which borders Ukraine, requested the mission in June after it decided to stop using Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets and a delivery of 14 US-made F-16s was delayed.

Zelensky says rebuilding plan to create ‘new basis for our life’

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the rebuilding plan that Ukraine plans to unveil in Lugano, Switzerland, starting on Monday, will be “reconstruction in the broadest sense of the word”. 

“It is necessary not only to restore everything that the occupiers destroyed, but to create a new basis for our life, for Ukraine — safe, modern, convenient, barrier-free,” Zelensky said on Saturday in his nightly address to the nation. That would happen “by attracting international opportunities,” he said. 

The plan runs about 2,000 pages, according to people familiar with the outline. European Union officials have said the EU will contribute the bulk of financial assistance, which could surpass €500-billion.

UK’s Truss warns against ‘poorly designed peace agreement’

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said anything short of a “clear victory” for Ukraine would allow Russia to regroup and attack again. 

“We can’t allow ourselves a new Minsk agreement,” she told the French weekly Journal du Dimanche. “Ukraine needs a clear victory that gives it back its security. All of the allies agree on that goal.”  

EU officials discuss new sanctions authority – FT

Senior officials in Brussels are in talks on the creation of an EU-wide sanctions authority with enforcement powers similar to the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Financial Times reported. 

Another option would be to give increased power to the EU’s planned Anti-Money Laundering Authority, the newspaper said. The goal would be to address uneven enforcement of sanctions across the bloc’s 27 member states.




Europe alarmed by Putin media blitz on Africa food crisis

European governments have been alarmed by a Russian disinformation campaign that seeks to deflect criticism that President Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine risks leaving millions of people in Africa facing famine.

Moscow’s diplomats have persistently pushed the narrative that Western sanctions, rather than Russian blockades, have caused food shortages in Africa — and EU and UK officials say the message is gaining traction. 

Russian troops ‘casually walking’ in Lysychansk, says think-tank

Ukraine’s forces likely conducted a deliberate withdrawal from Lysychansk, resulting in the Russian seizure of the city on 2 July, said the Institute for the Study of War.

“Geolocated footage showed Russian forces casually walking around northern and southeastern neighbourhoods in Lysychansk in a way that suggests that there are few or no remaining Ukrainian forces” as of Saturday, the US-based think tank said.

“Russian forces will likely establish control over the remaining territory of Luhansk Oblast in coming days and will likely then prioritise drives on Ukrainian positions in Siversk.” 

Japan to consult local firms on Putin’s Sakhalin move

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he will consult local firms to better assess the impact of a decree by President Vladimir Putin that transferred rights to the Sakhalin-2 gas project to a new Russian company. 

Kishida reiterated that the move won’t immediately halt the supply of liquefied natural gas to Japan.

Kuleba, Borrell speak before G20 Bali meeting

Ukraine’s foreign minister said he spoke with EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell to coordinate positions before the Group of 20 foreign ministers meet in Bali on Thursday. They’re working on a seventh set of EU sanctions against Russia, Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba said. DM 


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Pet Bug says:

    August is the last chance for NATO to engage Russia, and push them out of Ukrainian territory. Seal the borders and hunker down for winter. Ukrainians need autumn to prepare for winter; any delay will mean hundreds of thousands are in life threatening environments.

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