Live: Kyiv says it has proof Russia was behind Kakhovka dam blast

  • Ukraine’s security service says it intercepts a call proving a Russian sabotage group was responsible for the Kakhovka dam blast, and it posts an audio clip of the alleged call on Telegram.
  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces has started, a US think tank monitoring the war says.
  • Three people are injured in the Russian city of Voronezh when a drone hits a residential building, according to the regional governor.
  • Ukraine’s military says it shoots down four cruise missiles and 10 drones during a Russian air attack overnight.

    At least five people killed in dam flooding, says Kyiv

    As Ukraine continues to evacuate people in areas affected by the dam breach, officials say at least five people had been killed due to the flooding.

    Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram that four people had died, 13 people were missing in the Kherson region, and one person had died in the Mykolayiv region.

    Zelenskyy also said the authorities are trying to save as many people as they can.

    “The evacuation continues. Wherever we can get people out of the flood zone, we are doing it,” he said.

    ‘No doubt’ that both sides are intensifying attacks: Journalist

    Journalist Yulia Shapovalova, reporting from Moscow, said there is “no doubt” that both sides are intensifying their offensives.

    “At our end, we hear that Ukraine’s armed forces have been striking in several parts of the front over the course of five days, and the Russian side says it is not possible for Ukraine to achieve any success but it is still too early to talk about the end of the offensive,” Shapovalova said.

    “Russian military bloggers have called the Ukrainian attacks a failure. They’ve reported that the Ukrainian forces have unsuccessfully tried to attack the Russian positions in the Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut directions,” she added.

    Russia summons Japanese ambassador over military supplies to Kyiv

    Russia’s foreign ministry has summoned the Japanese ambassador over Tokyo’s decision to supply military equipment to Ukraine.

    Earlier in the day, Zelenskyy said he had spoken to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida about the Kakhovka dam and the situation on the front lines.

    “We discussed further involvement of Japan’s security support, particularly in the area of humanitarian demining, and steps to implement the Ukrainian Peace Formula and prepare for the Global Peace Summit. I am grateful for the readiness to hold a conference on the recovery of Ukraine early next year,” he added.

    Greta Thunberg accuses Russia of ecocide after dam collapse

    Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg accuses Russia of causing the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine, calling it an act of “ecocide”.

    On Twitter, Thunberg wrote on Thursday: “This ecocide as a continuation of Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine is yet another atrocity which leaves the world lost for words. Our eyes are once again on Russia who must be held accountable for their crimes.”

    On Friday, Thunberg told the Reuters news agency that the aftermath of the dam breach was “absolutely horrifying and awful”.“Russia needs to be held accountable for their action and for their crimes. The eyes of the world are on them now,” she said.

    Ukraine will not be providing commentary on offensive: AJ correspondent

    Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Kyiv, says it’s hard to corroborate reports that Ukraine has begun its counteroffensive.

    “You’ll notice how thin on detail those comments by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are. He talks about heavy battles. He talks about results. He doesn’t provide any details. In fact, he goes on in those comments to specifically say he won’t provide any details, and that is very much the company line in Ukraine,” Hull said.

    “Ukrainian officials will not confirm whether their summer offensive has begun. They will not confirm whether these are the preparatory stages to it. They simply say they will not be providing a running commentary.”

    Hull highlighted that the one city that Zelenskyy mentioned is Bakhmut and the Ukrainian deputy defence minister also said earlier in the day that Ukraine is “conducting active combat operations in several areas of the Bakhmut direction”.

    Ukraine’s GDP contracts by 10.5 percent in Q1

    Ukraine’s gross domestic product has shrunk by 10.5 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period a year ago, the economy ministry says.

    The fall was less than it had initially expected, suggesting the economy was adapting to Russia’s invasion more quickly than expected.

    The ministry said it had initially expected GDP to contract by 14.1 percent.

    ‘The situation is tense in all areas of the front’: Ukraine

    Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar says the situation on the front lines is tense and heavy fighting is concentrated in the Donetsk region in the east.

    “The situation is tense in all areas of the front. The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiiv and Marin directions. Heavy fighting continues,” Maliar said on Telegram.

    “In the Bakhmut direction, the enemy is withdrawing reserves and trying to hold the occupied positions. Makes attempts to attack but fails. Now our defenders are conducting active combat operations in several areas of the Bakhmut direction,” she added.

    Kremlin accuses Ukraine of ‘barbaric shelling’ in Kherson

    The Kremlin accuses Ukrainian forces of repeated shelling attacks that have killed citizens affected by flooding caused by a burst dam.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the attacks “more than barbaric”.

    Peskov said Russian rescue workers were doing their best to help people in flooded areas but were being constantly shelled by Ukrainian forces.

    “All the work is taking place under the shelling of the Ukrainian armed forces. This shelling does not stop. This is more than barbaric shelling,” Peskov told reporters.

    “As a result of this shelling there are dead among the flood victims. There was even a pregnant woman.”

    On Thursday, Ukraine accused Russian forces of shelling civilians and Ukrainian rescue workers in the flooded territory it controls.

    Ammonia pipeline blast will effect grain deal: Russia

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin says a blast at an ammonia pipeline will be considered during consultations on the Black Sea grain export deal, the RIA news agency reports.

    Russia has accused Kyiv’s forces of blowing up part of the pipeline in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Monday. Kharkiv’s governor said Russia shelled the pipeline on Tuesday.

    Russia has repeatedly threatened to quit the grain deal, which allows Ukraine to export farm products from its Black Sea ports. The Kremlin says it will quit the agreement unless obstacles are removed, including restoring the pipeline between the Russian city of Togliatti and the Ukrainian port of Odesa.

    Earlier in the day, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was separately quoted as saying there are no grounds to extend the deal but Moscow was continuing consultations with the United Nations.

    Unless renewed, the deal will expire on July 17.

    Three people wounded in drone strike in Russian city of Voronezh: Governor

    Three people have been wounded by shards of broken glass caused by a drone strike on a residential building in the southern Russian city of Voronezh, regional Governor Alexander Gusev says.

    Gusev said the three people had received medical attention on the spot and declined hospital treatment.

    The Kremlin said Russia’s intelligence services were investigating the attack, which it blamed on Ukraine.

    Ukraine says intercepted phone call proves Russia was behind dam blast

    Ukraine’s security service says it has intercepted a telephone call proving a Russian sabotage group blew up the Kakhovka dam.

    The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) posted a short audio clip on its Telegram channel of the alleged conversation, which featured two men discussing the dam.

    “They [the Ukrainians] didn’t strike it. That was our sabotage group,” said one of the men, who the SBU described as a Russian soldier. “They wanted to, like, scare [people] with that dam.”

    “It didn’t go according to plan, and [they did] more than what they planned for.”

    The SBU did not offer any further details of the conversation.

    Sweden to allow NATO to station troops in the country

    The Swedish prime minister and defence minister say NATO troops will be allowed to be based in the country despite not having been approved to join the military alliance.

    “The government has decided that the Swedish Armed Forces may undertake preparations with NATO and NATO countries to enable future joint operations,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Defence Minister Pal Jonson said in an opinion piece in the  Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

    “The preparations may consist of temporary basing of foreign equipment and personnel on Swedish territory. The decision sends a clear signal to Russia and strengthens Sweden’s defence,” they said.

    Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    But while Finland joined the bloc in April, Sweden’s membership is being held up by Turkey and Hungary. All member states must agree before a country joins the military alliance.

    Russia reports heavy fighting in Zaporizhia region of Ukraine

    Russia has reported heavy fighting in the Zaporizhia region of southern Ukraine after saying it repelled repeated attempts by the Ukrainian army this week to smash through the front line and drive a wedge through Russian forces.

    Russia’s top military brass briefed President Vladimir Putin on Thursday that Russia had successfully repelled the attacks, which Moscow says are part of an attempted major counteroffensive by Ukraine since Sunday.

    A spokesman for Russia’s Vostok group of forces said 13 Ukrainian tanks were destroyed in battles in the Zaporizhia region and eight in the Donetsk region. It reported artillery, drone and infantry battles.