As the war enters its 496th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Monday, July 3, 2023
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation on the front line was difficult over the past week but that the armed forces were “moving forward”.
- Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the failed Wagner Group mutiny on June 24 would have no effect on Moscow’s war in Ukraine. In his first public comments on the issue, Shoigu said Russian troops had stood firm. “These plans failed primarily because the personnel of the armed forces showed loyalty to their oath and military duty,” he said.
- Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 13 out of 17 Iranian-made kamikaze drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks in the southern, eastern and central regions of the country.
- In the northern city of Sumy, a Russian drone attack killed at least two people and injured 19, prompting Zelenskyy to call for a significant upgrade of anti-aircraft defences.
- Russian shelling in a village near Stanislav in southern Ukraine’s Kherson region injured three people, according to the regional prosecutor’s office. Two of the wounded were admitted to hospital.
- Prominent Ukrainian writer and war crimes researcher Victoria Amelina died from injuries sustained when a Russian missile hit a bustling restaurant in the eastern city of Kramatorsk last week.
- Russia’s FSB security service said it thwarted an assassination attempt on Sergey Aksyonov, the Russian-installed head of Crimea, according to the Interfax news agency.
- Russia’s top election official, Ella Panfilova, said that if the situation in Kremlin-occupied areas of Ukraine worsened, local elections scheduled for September 6 could be cancelled. Russia controls just under one-fifth of Ukraine, including Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
- Grigory Karasin, the head of the international committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said some 700,000 children from the conflict zones in Ukraine had “found refuge” in Russia. A United Nations commission said in March there was evidence of forced transfers and deportations of Ukrainian children.
- Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for the extension of the Black Sea grain deal allowing the safe export of grain and fertilisers from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports. The agreement is set to expire on July 18.
- Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s envoy to the UN in Geneva, said there were no grounds to maintain the “status quo” of the grain deal, according to Izvestia. Gatilov told the Russian news outlet that the implementation of Russia’s conditions for the extension of the agreement was “stalling”.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is occupied by Russian forces, was reconnected to its only available backup power line four months after it was lost.
- The United States ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, met jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, in the second such visit since he was detained in March on espionage charges. A State US Department spokesperson said Gershkovich was in “good health”.
- The International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression Against Ukraine (ICPA) opened in The Hague to investigate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. It has prosecutors from Ukraine, the European Union, the US and the International Criminal Court (ICC). “Out of the true darkness and suffering that we have seen across Ukraine, we have also seen light emerge in the building of new partnerships towards accountability,” ICC Prosecutor Karim A A Khan said.
- The head of Russia’s navy, Nikolai Yevmenov, met Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu in Beijing, according to a report from Russia’s state news agency TASS.
- Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NAZK) added Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever to its “International Sponsors of War” list, saying the company increased its profits in Russia by 24.9 percent last year. In response, Unilever said it continued to condemn the war and had ceased imports and exports of its goods into and out of Russia. At the same time, the statement said Unilever was supplying “everyday food and hygiene products made in Russia to people in the country”, adding that “exiting is not straightforward”.
- The family of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny filed a class-action lawsuit against the penal colony where he is being held over its refusal to let them visit him. “I am a convict, and they keep reminding me that I am ‘just like everyone else’,” Navalny wrote on his Twitter channel, which is run by his lawyers and friends. “And yet, I have had 0 (zero) visits over the past year. 0 (zero) long visits, 0 (zero) short visits, and 2 (two) phone calls 11 months ago,” he added.
- Zelenskyy called on the Georgian government to transfer jailed former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili to a clinic outside the country. Zelenskyy made the call after 55-year-old Saakashvili, who became a Ukrainian citizen in 2019, appeared on court video looking frail and emaciated. Saakashvili was arrested in 2021 after returning to Georgia and jailed on what he said were trumped-up charges of abuse of office and embezzlement.
- German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius pushed for negotiations to set up a maintenance hub in Poland for the repair of Leopard tanks damaged in Ukraine to be completed in the next 10 days.
- Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the country would like to keep the three German Patriot systems deployed near the Ukrainian border in January in position at least until the end of this year.