Amid war, Russia, Ukraine warn of sabotage at nuclear plant

  • The Kremlin has said that the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is tense and highlighted that there is a “great threat of sabotage from Kyiv”.
  • Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims Russia is creating “dangerous provocations” on the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station.
  • Russia’s defence ministry has said its forces have struck three Ukrainian army groups near Bakhmut as fighting in the region intensifies.
  • The United Nations has said that it was “worried” about the survival of a grain exports deal for Ukraine, which could collapse within a fortnight, threatening food security for the world’s most vulnerable.

    Russia accuses EU of ‘deliberately proposing an infeasible arrangement’ to create sanctioned Russian bank subsidiary

    Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, has said that the European Union considering the possibility of allowing Rosselkhozbank (Russian Agricultural Bank) to create a subsidiary to service agricultural exports with access to SWIFT, is a “deliberate infeasible arrangement.”

    Earlier, the Financial Times and other media outlets reported that the EU is considering a proposal to allow a Russian bank under sanctions, to carve-out a subsidiary that would reconnect to the global financial network.

    “This story follows a high-profile media campaign launched by the Westerners, Ukrainians and the UN, amid the upcoming expiry of the Black Sea Initiative for the export of Ukrainian food on July 17,” Zakharova told reporters in Russia.

    “It is their way of creating a semblance of some breakthrough results in the normalisation of Russian agricultural exports, as stipulated in the Russia-UN Memorandum,” she added and said that “there has been no progress on the implementation of this agreement.”

    UN official may visit Russia before grain deal expires

    Rebeca Grynspan, secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, has said that she may visit Russia before the Black Sea grain deal expires.

    “We will consider going to Moscow in the days that are left, but that has not been confirmed yet,” she told reporters in Geneva.

    Grynspan also added that the UN is “making every effort” to ensure that the Black Sea grain deal and a memorandum of understanding to facilitate access of Russian fertiliser and other products to global markets are extended.

    Ukraine says ‘particularly fruitful’ few days in counteroffensive

    A Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces has been “particularly fruitful” in recent days, according to a senior security official.

    The comments by Oleksiy Danilov, who heads Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, were Kyiv’s latest positive assessment of the month-old counterattack, although Moscow has not acknowledged advances by Ukraine.

    Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar also reported gains around the ruined eastern city of Bakhmut amid fierce Russian resistance. Russian forces captured the city in May after 10 months of fighting.

    “At this stage of active hostilities, Ukraine’s Defense Forces are fulfilling the number one task – the maximum destruction of manpower, equipment, fuel depots, military vehicles, command posts, artillery and air defense forces of the Russian army,” Danilov wrote on Twitter.

    NATO must offer ‘real security guarantees to Ukraine’: Italian PM

    Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said that next week’s NATO summit should offer “real security guarantees to Ukraine”.

    Speaking at a press conference alongside her Polish counterpart in Warsaw, Meloni also told reporters that Poland and Italy are “in perfect agreement on this issue”.

    NATO leaders will meet at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania next week.

    Kremlin says it can’t confirm report that China’s Xi warned Putin against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine

    The Kremlin says it could not confirm a Financial Times report that Chinese President Xi Jinping had personally warned Putin against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

    The newspaper said Xi delivered the message when he visited Moscow in March.

    “No, I can’t confirm it,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the report.

    He said the two countries had issued statements at the time on the content of their talks and “everything else is fiction.”

    Kremlin says parts of grain deal which concern Russia ‘are still not fulfilled’

    Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov has told reporters that Russia will announce its decision on extending the Black Sea grain deal with Ukraine, in a “timely manner”.

    But he told reporters that parts of the deal which concern Russia “are still not fulfilled” and said that “there is still time for the West to fullfill those parts”.

    The UN and Turkey-brokered deal to allow Ukrainian ships to transport grains from Black Sea ports to the rest of the world without blockade threats from Russia, is due to expire on July 17.

    The Kremlin is yet to confirm whether the deal will be extended.

    ‘Great threat of sabotage from Kyiv’: Kremlin on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

    Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov has said that the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is tense and highlighted that there is a “great threat of sabotage from Kyiv”.

    “The consequences of possible Ukrainian sabotage could be catastrophic,” Peskov told reporters.

    Officials in Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of trying to create “dangerous provocations” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

    Ukraine sees rise in infectious diseases in Russian-occupied Kherson after dam breach

    The general staff of Ukraine’s military has noted an increase in infectious diseases in the Russian occupied region of Kherson since the dam breach in the region last month.

    “In the temporarily occupied Skadovsk and Genichesk regions of Kherson, an increase in the number of infectious diseases with acute intestinal infections has been noted. The outbreak could potentially be cholera,” the general staff said in a report.

    The general staff added: “The occupation representatives and their families are secretly receiving cholera vaccinations.”

    Russia plans to send Chechen fighters and convicts to the front line: Bloomberg

    Russia is planning to send more Chechen fighters and convicts to fight in Ukraine and fill the gap left by Wagner mercenaries who have been pulled out from the front line, according to a Bloomberg report, citing European intelligence officials.

    With the Kremlin trying to avoid full military mobilisation post-Wagner’s exit, the European officials said that Russia is likely to send more Chechens and convicts to the front line in the coming weeks.

    It is unclear how many Chechen fighters will be sent but in May, the group’s regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov, said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that 7,000 troops were already in Ukraine and another 2,400 were being trained for two new defence ministry regiments.

    UK says Wagner mutiny ‘has worsened existing fault lines within Russia’s national security community’

    UK’s defence ministry has said that senior Russian security officers like General Sergei Surovikin, commander-in-chief of Russian Aerospace Forces and deputy commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, who was known as “General Armageddon”, have not been seen in public since the Wagner Group mutiny, highlighting “fault lines” in the country’s security community.

    “The suspicion that has potentially fallen on senior serving officers highlights how Prigozhin’s abortive insurrection has worsened existing fault lines within Russia’s national security community,” the ministry said in a tweet.

    China’s position on Russian nuclear threat ‘is important’: Zelenskyy aide

    President Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak has said China’s position in the face of a potential nuclear threat from Russia is “important”.

    Yermak posted a screenshot of an article from the Financial Times about Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s reported warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin against a nuclear attack in Ukraine.

    “[This is] an important position of [China] regarding the nuclear threat from the insane Russian terrorist,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

    Zelenskyy warns Macron about Russian ‘provocations’ at nuclear plant

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has told his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, about Russian “dangerous provocations” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the southeast.

    Zelenskyy said in a tweet he and Macron had “agreed [to] keep the situation under maximum control together with the IAEA”.

    Meanwhile, an adviser to the head of Rosenergoatom, which operates Russia’s nuclear power network, said Ukraine planned to drop ammunition laced with nuclear waste transported from another of the country’s five nuclear stations on the plant.

    “Under cover of darkness overnight on 5th July, the Ukrainian military will try to attack the Zaporizhzhia station using long-range precision equipment and kamikaze attack drones,” Russian news agencies quoted Renat Karchaa as telling Russian television.

    He offered no evidence to support his allegation.

    Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 497


    • Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has accused Ukraine of launching a drone attack on Moscow forcing the Vnukovo airport to be closed temporarily.
    • Russian authorities said five drones had been shot down, and later escalated its rhetoric saying such attacks would “not be possible” without help from the United States and NATO. No casualties were reported in the attacks.
    • Russia’s defence ministry spokesperson Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said Russian troops repelled 10 Ukrainian attacks in the direction of Donetsk in the previous 24 hours, according to state news agency TASS.


    • Jens Stoltenberg will remain as NATO secretary general for an additional year, after his contract was extended. Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, will remain in office until October 1, 2024.
    • Pope Francis’s peace envoy for Ukraine, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, said he was working on a “mechanism” that could ensure the return of Ukrainian children taken to Russia since February 2022.

      Putin says Russian economy doing better than expected

      President Vladimir Putin has said the Russian economy was performing better than expected after Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin reported to him that gross domestic product growth and inflation have been surprisingly positive.

      GDP growth may exceed 2 percent this year and consumer price inflation may not rise above 5 percent in annual terms, Mishustin told Putin at a meeting at the Kremlin. The International Monetary Fund expects the Russian economy to grow 0.7 percent this year.

      “Our results, at least for the time being, let’s say, cautiously, are better than previously expected, better than predicted,” Putin said, according to a transcript on the Kremlin’s website.

      Russia’s economy contracted 2.1 percent in 2022 and was under particular pressure in spring of last year when Kyiv’s allies imposed sweeping sanctions against Moscow over its military campaign in Ukraine.

      Russia’s Kursk, Belgorod regions attacked by Ukrainian forces: Governors

      Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions came under fire from Ukrainian forces across the border in the early hours of Wednesday, the regions’ governors said, adding that no casualties were reported.

      “The town of Valuyki is under fire from Ukraine’s armed forces,” Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on the Telegram messaging app at 07:36am local time (04:36 GMT).

      Gladkov did not specify whether it was rocket fire, artillery shelling or some other form of attack.

      Ukraine says destroyed Russian ‘formation’ in Donetsk

      Ukraine’s military said it had destroyed a Russian “formation” in Russian-controlled Makiivka in the front-line Donetsk region, where Moscow-installed officials and media said one civilian was killed and dozens wounded in attacks by Kyiv.

      “As a result of the effective fire impact of the units of the defence forces, another formation of Russian terrorists in the temporarily occupied Makiivka ceased to exist,” Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement.

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