- Human Rights Watch says it has uncovered new evidence of Ukrainian forces’ indiscriminate use of banned antipersonnel landmines.
- Former US President Donald Trump says the Russian president has been “somewhat weakened” by an aborted mutiny and it is time for peace talks.
- European Union leaders reaffirm their long-term commitment to bolster Ukraine’s security at a summit in Brussels.
- Ukrainian prosecutors charge a Russian politician and two suspected Ukrainians with war crimes over the alleged deportation of orphans from Kherson.
Russian official accuses Kyiv of ‘terror’ act at nuclear plant
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, says Ukraine is preparing to commit a “terrorist” attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
On Telegram, Zakharova wrote, “Additional devices have been installed in Kyiv to measure radiation, city officials said. Recently, in a number of regions of Ukraine, exercises began in case of an accident at the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant).
“Kyiv authorities are preparing to commit another terrorist attack!”
Ukraine to get $1.5bn loan from the World Bank
The World Bank has approved a $1.5bn loan to Ukraine to support reconstruction and recovery, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.
On Telegram, Shmyhal said, along with guarantees from the Japanese government, the funds would be channelled to support social security and economic development.
“In particular, the loan will help support subsidies for internally displaced people and pension payments,” Shmyhal said.
On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund’s board completed its Ukrainian loan review, allowing Kyiv to immediately withdraw $890m for budget support.
The finance ministry said so far it received $3bn in budget support from Ukraine’s partners in June, with 40 percent of it provided as grants.
Russia demands explanation from Poland over arrest of hockey player
Russia has demanded an explanation from Poland over its arrest of Russian citizens, state news agency RIA reported, citing foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Poland said it arrested a Russian ice hockey player on suspicion of having spied for Moscow while playing for a Polish club.
“The detained man is a professional athlete from a first division hockey club,” said a Polish government statement, adding that the Russian national, living in Poland since 2021, was charged with espionage and remanded into custody for three months.
“On the territory of Poland, he carried out tasks for foreign intelligence, including identification of critical infrastructure in several regions,” the statement added.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin also accused Poland of having a “frenzied Russophobic position”.
Russian politician, two Ukrainians charged with war crimes: Kyiv
Ukrainian prosecutors have charged a Russian politician and two suspected Ukrainian collaborators with war crimes over the alleged deportation of dozens of orphans from Kherson.
The charges brought by Ukraine’s prosecutors follow a wider investigation carried out in cooperation with the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), which also issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his alleged involvement in the deportations of children.
Yuliia Usenko, head of Ukraine’s Department for the Protection of Children’s Interests, told the Reuters news agency, “It was not a one-day event. 48 children … in the Kherson Region Children’s Home were forcibly displaced, deported.”
“We don’t know how these children are, in what conditions they are kept, or what their fate is.”
President Zelenskyy meets with Greta Thunberg
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has met with the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and prominent European figures forming a working group to address ecological damage from the war.
The working group includes former Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Margot Wallström, European Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala and former Irish President Mary Robinson.
Zelenskyy said forming the group is “a very important signal of supporting Ukraine. It’s really important. We need your professional help.”
Thunberg said Russian forces “are deliberately targeting the environment and people’s livelihoods and homes and, therefore, also destroying lives”.
Russia’s Lavrov denies Moscow attacks civilian targets
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denies that Russia intentionally attacked civilian targets in Ukraine, saying it only targeted military infrastructure or other military targets.
Speaking at a news conference, Lavrov instead accused Ukraine of deploying troops and heavy weapons at places such as schools and apartment buildings.
He said such tactics were war crimes.
Ukraine and its Western allies have repeatedly accused Moscow of targeting civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, power stations and residential buildings.
The West wants to freeze the conflict to send arms: Russia’s Lavrov
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said he believed the West somehow wanted to freeze the conflict in Ukraine to buy time to pump more weapons into that country.
Speaking at a news conference, Lavrov accused Western countries of taking a “schizophrenic” approach to the conflict.
At first, he said, the West wanted to see Russia lose on the battlefield and for its leaders to go on trial and only then to press for peace in Ukraine.
Forces are advancing in all directions, says Ukrainian official
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister says forces are advancing in all directions in their counteroffensive against Russian troops.
“If we talk about the entire front line, both east and south, we have seized the strategic initiative and are advancing in all directions,” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar told Ukrainian television.
Maliar added that troops were moving “confidently” around Bakhmut.
“In the south, we are moving with varying success, sometimes there are days when it is more than a kilometre, sometimes less than a kilometre, sometimes up to two kilometres,” she said.
She noted that the effectiveness of the counteroffensive should be evaluated by “a lot of different military tasks”.
“Therefore, all these tasks are being carried out and only the military can assess this correctly and accurately, and according to their assessment, everything is going according to plan,” she said.
Russia will always emerge stronger: Russia’s Lavrov
In response to a question about the Wagner Group’s aborted mutiny last weekend, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said his country has always emerged stronger and more resilient from any difficulties.
“We do not have to explain anything or give assurances to anyone. We are acting transparently, the president and all the political forces in our country have spoken on the subject. If there are doubts in the West, that’s your problem,” said Lavrov.
“Russia has always emerged more resilient and stronger after any difficulties,” he added.
Lavrov also said the reaction of many Western officials, who had said that the facade of Russian power had cracked, showed that the same officials were at war with Moscow.
West’s attitude to grain deal is ‘outrageous’: Russia’s Lavrov
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov described the West’s attitude to the Black Sea grain deal as “outrageous” and denounced that grain was not being exported to poorer countries.
Moscow has threatened to end the deal on July 18 unless a series of demands are met, including removing obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports.
The deal was initially brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July to help tackle a global food crisis.
Sweden: Hungary’s Orban will not block NATO bid
Sweden’s prime minister says his Hungarian counterpart has assured him that Budapest will not delay Stockholm’s NATO accession.
“I spoke to [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban yesterday, and he confirmed very clearly that what he said to me last time still applies,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said.
“Hungary will not delay Sweden’s ratification process in any way,” he told reporters. Kristersson did not specify whether Orban’s comments implied a vote could take place before the NATO summit in Vilnius.
Sweden hopes to become a member by the NATO summit in July, but the Hungarian parliament will not vote on its membership next week.
Sweden applied last year to join the military alliance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey and Hungary have blocked ratification.
Ukrainian intelligence says Russia is reducing staff at nuclear plant
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency says Russia is reducing the number of personnel at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
The Main Directorate of Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence (GUR) said on Telegram that the first to leave the power plant were three employees of Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom, who had been “in charge of the Russians’ activities”.
It added that Ukrainian employees who have signed a contract with Rosatom had also been advised to depart by July 5 and preferably go to the Crimean Peninsula.
GUR said the number of military patrols was also gradually decreasing around the plant and in the nearby city of Enerhodar, and the remaining staff had been told to blame Ukraine “in case of any emergency situations”.
Ukraine to receive $1.5bn from World Bank
Ukraine will receive $1.5bn from the World Bank to support reconstruction and recovery, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
The funds will be provided with guarantees from the Japanese government and channelled to support social security and economic development, Shmyhal said on the Telegram messaging app.
HRW reports new evidence of Ukrainian use of banned landmines
Human Rights Watch has said it uncovered new evidence of indiscriminate use of banned antipersonnel landmines by Ukrainian forces against Russian troops who invaded Ukraine in 2022.
The group called on Ukraine’s government to follow through with a commitment made earlier this month not to employ such weapons, investigate their suspected use and hold accountable those responsible.
“The Ukrainian government’s pledge to investigate its military’s apparent use of banned [antipersonnel] mines is an important recognition of its duty to protect civilians,” Steve Goose, Human Rights Watch’s arms director, said in a statement.
HRW said it shared its findings with the Ukrainian government in a May letter, to which it received no response.
Aborted mutiny ‘somewhat weakened’ Putin: Trump
Former US President Donald Trump, a longtime admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Putin has been “somewhat weakened” by an aborted mutiny and that now is the time for Washington to try to broker a negotiated peace settlement between Russia and Ukraine.
“I want people to stop dying over this ridiculous war,” Trump told the Reuters news agency in a telephone interview.
Trump did not rule out that the Kyiv government might have to concede some territory to Russia in order to stop the war, which began with Russian forces invading Ukraine 16 months ago.
He said everything would be “subject to negotiation” if he were president, but that Ukrainians who have waged a vigorous fight to defend their land have “earned a lot of credit”.
Hungary’s Orban opposes EU plan to grant more money to Ukraine
Hungary rejects the European Commission’s plans to grant more money to Ukraine and is not willing to contribute additional money to finance the EU’s increased debt service costs, according to Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Orban, speaking on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels, said it was a “ridiculous” request from the Commission that Hungary should contribute more money when Budapest – along with Poland – has not received funds from the EU recovery fund amid a rule of law dispute.
The European Union plans to provide Ukraine with 50 billion euros ($54.30bn) in aid for 2024-27 after a review of the EU’s budget for the period.
EU leaders back security commitments for Ukraine
European Union leaders have declared they will make long-term commitments to bolster Ukraine’s security.
At a summit in Brussels, the leaders restated their condemnation of Russia’s war against Ukraine and said the EU and its member countries “stand ready” to contribute to commitments that would help Ukraine defend itself in the long term.
In a text summarising the conclusions of the summit, the leaders said they would swiftly consider the form these commitments would take.