- Moscow kept up its push to take control of Lysychansk on Thursday, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province, with Russia’s separatist proxies claiming they have entered the city.
- Russia’s defence ministry announces its troops have withdrawn from Snake Island in the Black Sea as a “gesture of goodwill” aimed at demonstrating Moscow’s support for efforts to restart food exports from Ukraine’s ports.
- Ukrainian officials hail the announcement as a victory for their forces, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying it “significantly changes the situation in the Black Sea”.
- A Russian missile struck a multi-story apartment building in the Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 10 people, a local official says.
- United States President Joe Biden says the US will soon announce a new $800m military aid package to Ukraine, bringing the total since he took office to nearly $7bn.
- Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and said his country will continue cooperation with Russia.
Here are the latest updates:
Funeral held for Ukrainian serviceman in the village of Babyntsi
A funeral service was held on Thursday in a small Ukrainian village for a 45-year-old soldier killed in the east of the country.
Village head Andriy Kuprash said Volodymyr Kochetov was one of four soldiers from Babyntsi, which is near Bucha, who have been killed in the war. Each loss takes a heavy toll on the small village, which has a population of around 2,700 people. Local authorities said Kochetov was killed on June 24 in the Donetsk region.
“Just today we received news about the death of a fourth soldier who was killed near Kharkiv, in Kharkiv region,” Kuprash said.
Locals took the knee along the streets of Babyntsi as soldiers carried Kuprash’s coffin, covered in the Ukrainian flag.
Russia will create a firm taking over obligations of Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project operator
Russia will create a firm which will take over all rights and obligations of the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company amid Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, a decree signed by President Putin said on Thursday.
Sakhalin Energy Investment Company is a consortium for developing the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in Russia’s Far east.
Its shareholders include Russian gas giant Gazprom (50 percent plus one share) and Shell (27.5 percent minus one share). Leading Japanese traders, Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp own stakes of 12.5 percent and 10 percent respectively in the firm.
Ukraine’s Lviv symbolically votes to ban formerly Moscow-affiliated church
The local council in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv has become the first to ban a branch of the Orthodox church that was until last month directly affiliated with Moscow.
According to Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi, the unanimous council vote to prohibit the activity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) – with longstanding ties to Moscow – was “political” and without legislative effect, as rules on religious organisations are made at the national level.
“This is a position that we have publicly voiced, and now state bodies must get to work on it,” Sadovyi was quoted as saying by the city administration’s site.
The UOC, which until May reported to Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, was the official representative of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine until 2019, when the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine was officially recognised by church leaders in Istanbul.
Zelenskyy says Ukraine is now exporting power to EU
Zelenskyy has said the launching of power transmissions to Romania was the start of a process that could help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.
Zelenskyy’s comments in his nightly video message on Thursday followed an announcement by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal that exports had started earlier in the day – with a volume of 100 megawatts – four months into Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The president said the start of exports was “another significant step in our movement toward the European Union”.
“Thanks to Ukrainian electricity, a significant part of the Russian gas used by European consumers can be replaced. This is therefore not just a question of export earnings for us but a question of security for all of Europe,” Zelenskyy said.
Russian missile strike kills 10 in Ukraine’s Odesa: Official
A Russian missile struck a nine-story apartment building in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 10 people, a local official said.
“The number of dead as a result of a strike on a multi-story apartment building has now risen to 10,” Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration said on his Telegram channel.
Earlier reports said six people had died in the night-time incident, including three children.
Bratchuk also said a second missile had hit a recreation centre and casualty numbers were being determined. He said Russians launched the rockets from aircraft from the direction of the Black Sea, Hromadske reports.
Finland’s, Sweden’s NATO plans show Putin his strategies are wrong: Macron
Plans by Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance send a clear signal to Russia that Putin’s strategies are wrong and self-defeating, French President Emmanuel Macron has said.
“He (Putin) achieved to have countries, which up to now have had a more careful and withdrawn approach toward the alliance, decide to join it,” Macron said at a NATO summit news conference in Madrid on Thursday.
Macron also said France would soon deliver six further CAESAR guns to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
“The fight for Ukraine, although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, is our fight. It’s a fight for our values, for our principles, principles of European democracy and democracy in the alliance,” Macron said.
France will deliver swiftly equipment Ukraine needs to defend itself, including 6 more Caesar howitzers and a significant number of armoured vehicles. France, the allies and European partners are and will be there.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 30, 2022
We will continue cooperation with Russia: Widodo
Indonesia will continue cooperation with Russia, Indonesia’s Widodo told reporters after meeting with Putin in Moscow on Thursday.
Speaking through translator, he also said it was important to move towards a peaceful resolution of conflict in Ukraine.
Russia ready to fulfil Indonesia’s demand for fertilisers: Putin
Russia is ready to fulfil Indonesia’s demand for fertilisers,Putin told reporters after meeting with Indonesia’s President Widodo in Moscow on Thursday.
Putin also said that Russia intends to honour its obligations under contracts for supply of energy, food and fertilisers abroad.
Widodo said, during a press conference with Putin earlier, that global food supply issues would not improve if Russian fertiliser and Ukrainian wheat is unavailable, and said he urged G7 leaders to ensure sanctions on Russia do not affect food and fertiliser supplies.
Russia’s Snake Island withdrawal unlikely to ease grain crisis: Analyst
Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island is unlikely to help ease the crisis over Ukraine’s blockaded grain, a leading Kyiv-based military analyst has said.
“This will not unblock the export of grain. Russia retains shooting control over this area of the waters. One option is that the United Nations forms a humanitarian convoy, then maybe there would be a chance to get these ships out with grain from our ports for export,” said Oleg Zhdanov.
It was also unlikely that Ukraine would itself take up positions and deploy anti-ship weapons on the island to try to beef up its coastline defences because the island remained within the firing range of Russian forces, Zhdanov said.
Mathieu Boulègue, an analyst at Chatham House, said Russia’s pullback might be part of a plan to let the Kremlin strengthen its military forces elsewhere in the Black Sea. “We should not be fooled by it … It might be short-term relief but there will be long-term pain.”
Zelenskyy hails Russia’s Snake Island withdrawal
Zelenskyy has said Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island “significantly changes the situation in the Black sea”.
It does not guarantee safety yet, it does not yet guarantee that the enemy will not return. But it already limits the actions of the occupiers significantly,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.
“Step by step, we will drive them out of our sea, our land, and our sky,” he added.
Moscow keeps up push to take Lysychansk
Moscow kept up its push to take control of the city of Lysychansk on Thursday, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province. Ukraine said the Russians were shelling Lysychansk and clashing with Ukrainian defenders around an oil refinery on its edges.
The Ukrainian military said Thursday evening that Russia had seen “partial success” that day around the plant, some 17 kilometres south-west of the city. They made no reference to claims that attacking forces had been able to cross the strategic Siversky Donets river and enter the city from the north.
A representative of Russia-backed separatists in Luhansk claimed that pro-Russian forces entered Lysychansk Thursday, after a perilous river crossing — which, if true, would be a significant development.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai denied that Lysychansk had been encircled. Nevertheless, Haidai noted that as of Thursday evening, evacuations from the city were impossible due to heavy shelling and mined access roads.
Top Russian economic expert faces embezzlement charges
A leading economic expert in Russia has been detained on embezzlement charges as part of a high-profile case that some observers saw as linked to purges targeting members of the country’s liberal elite.
Investigators accused Vladimir Mau, the rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, embezzling funds from the institution, a leading school for public servants. Mau denied the charges.
Since the early 1990s, Mau has served as a senior economic adviser to the Russian government. He received high state awards from President Vladimir Putin in 2012 and 2017.
Kremlin critics have described the arrests as part of a widening government crackdown on independent voices amid the military action in Ukraine.
Read all updates for June 30 here.