Russia-Ukraine war live news: Putin promises African nations free grain

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has told African leaders that Moscow will replace Ukrainian grain exports and supply free grain to six African nations within months.
  • Russia has hit port infrastructure in Ukraine’s Odesa region in an overnight missile attack, killing a security guard and damaging a cargo terminal.
  • The United States will support the International Criminal Court’s investigation into alleged abuses by Russian forces in Ukraine.
  • The Russian army said it repelled a Ukrainian attack involving several hundred soldiers near Orikhiv in the south, one of the areas where Kyiv has been carrying out its counteroffensive.

    Russia-Africa summit: AU chair calls for ‘peaceful co-existence’

    African Union chair Azali Assoumani has called for “peaceful co-existence” between Russia and Ukraine in a speech at a Russia-Africa summit, saying it would save the lives of those who depend on food supplies from the warring countries.

    The president of the Comoros was speaking at a summit plenary session where he shared the stage with President Vladimir Putin.

    Russia’s FSB says it foiled a planned ‘terrorist attack’

    Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says it thwarted a planned “terrorist attack” against one of the country’s Black Sea Fleet warships and arrested a Russian sailor, the Russian RIA news agency reported.

    Ria quoted the FSB as saying the sailor had been detained in possession of two homemade bombs, and he was also suspected of passing state secrets to Ukraine.

    Russia-Africa summit: Putin says majority of Kyiv’s grain sent to EU

    Responding to Western criticism of Russia’s decision to quit the Black Sea grain deal last week, Putin reiterated that Moscow left because none of the promises had been met.

    During the Russia-Africa summit, Putin said over 70 percent of Ukrainian grain exported during the Black Sea grain deal had gone to high-income or above-average income countries, including in the European Union, and poor countries like Sudan had been “screwed over” receiving less than 3 percent of the shipments.

    He added that Western sanctions had prevented Russia from supplying free fertilisers to poor nations.

    “A paradoxical picture is emerging. On the one hand, Western countries are obstructing supplies of our grain and fertilisers [via sanctions], while on the other, they hypocritically blame us for the current crisis situation on the world food market,” he said.

    Russia-Africa summit: Moscow to organise BRICS Games

    Russia says it will organise a competition next year for members of the BRICS alliance – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

    Speaking at the Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said athletes from the countries would be invited to participate in the event in the Russian city of Kazan in June.

    “We are developing new types of competitions,” the Russian RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

    “I stress again: we are not creating an alternative to the Olympic Games and so on. We are a self-sufficient country.”

    Matytsin said the BRICS Games would feature 25 disciplines and will take place a month before the official games in Paris next year.

    In March, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a set of recommendations for international sports federations to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return as neutrals after they were banned in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

    Ukraine lauches major counteroffensive push

    According to Western and Ukrainian officials and analysts, Ukraine has launched a significant push to remove Russian forces from the southeast in its counteroffensive.

    The Associated Press quoted an unnamed Western official who said the surge in troops and firepower was centred on the region of Zaporizhzhia.

    In recent weeks, fighting has intensified at multiple points along the front line as Ukraine deploys Western-supplied advanced weapons and Western-trained troops.

    Though that movement could be a tactical feint, and both governments have used disinformation to gain battlefield advantages, such a manoeuvre would align with what some analysts had predicted.

    The Institute of Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, reported that Ukrainian forces launched “a significant mechanised counteroffensive operation in western Zaporizhzhia region” on Wednesday, adding that they “appear to have broken through certain pre-prepared Russian defensive positions”.

    Russia-Africa summit: Putin says Moscow will replace Ukrainian grain

    Putin told a summit with African leaders in St Petersburg that Russia is able to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa, and Moscow will be ready to start supplying grain for free to six African countries within three to four months.

    He named the six African countries as Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea.

    Putin said they would get 25,000-50,000 tonnes each.

    Ukrainian official thanks medical workers

    The head of Ukraine’s presidential office has thanked medical workers in Ukraine on their professional holiday.

    On Twitter, Andriy Yermak wrote, “You save people at the front and in our peaceful cities. Thanks to each of you for your work. Thank you for every life. Happy Medical Workers’ Day!”

    Russian court sentences two Ukrainians to 15 years each for espionage

    A Russian court has sentenced two Ukrainian intelligence agents to 15 years in prison on espionage charges, the state news agency TASS reported.

    “The court sentenced two Ukrainian intelligence agents to imprisonment for 15 years each with a sentence in a strict regime correctional colony,” said the Center for Public Relations (CSP) of Russia’s FSB.

    The pair were detained by the FSB in 2022 on suspicion of spying, including the involvement in the death of Russian servicemen and the destruction of military equipment during the war with Ukraine.

    The FSB did not specify the names of the two that were sentenced and did not mention which court passed the verdict.

    Putin tells AU president he sees bloc joining G20

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told the president of the African Union (AU) during a meeting shown on state television that Moscow is counting on the AU to gain full membership of the G20 in September.

    Putin will meet with several African leaders in St Petersberg on Thursday for a two-day summit.

    African leaders are expected to discuss the grain deal with Putin and the future of Wagner mercenaries in the continent.

    Can Africa and China help end the Russia-Ukraine war?

    In June, the presidents of South Africa, Senegal, Comoros and Zambia visited St Petersburg to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin with a 10-point peace plan aimed at convincing Ukraine and Russia to start negotiations.

    Meanwhile, about 6,000km (3,728 miles) to the southeast of St Petersburg, in Beijing, China too has talked up a 12-point peace plan that it says could help end the war.

    But as with the African leaders, China’s moves so far have neither edged Putin away from brutal attacks on Ukraine nor convinced Kyiv that it is time to settle for peace.

    With the West firmly backing Ukraine, the opportunity for countries and alliances from the Global South to emerge as potential peace brokers has flourished, potentially flipping the script on what has been a United States-led international order.

    But can Africa or China really help end the war? How much do they want to end the conflict? And are Russia and Ukraine even seriously interested in engaging with them to work towards a peace solution?

    Read here the short, and long, answers.

    Ukraine’s Zelenskyy visits Dnipro, discusses supplies and air defence

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the city of Dnipro in southeastern Ukraine and discussed supplies to the war front and air defences.

    “We started the working day in Dnipro,” Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel.

    Top military commanders, senior government officials and himself had discussed the situation on the battlefield, supplies of munitions to troops and how to strengthen air defences, Zelenskyy added.

    Russia’s FSB: Traces of explosives found on Russia-bound grain ship

    Russian news agency TASS reports that the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) found traces of explosives onboard a foreign vessel en route from Turkey to Russia for grain which had previously entered a Ukrainian port.

    It was the second such announcement this week. Earlier this week, the Russian security agency said it had found traces of explosives on another ship travelling from Turkey to the port of Rostov-on-Don in Russia to pick up grain.

    Moscow has previously accused grain ships travelling to Ukraine under the now-collapsed Black Sea grain deal of carrying Ukrainian military cargoes.

    Putin on a charm offensive as Africa-Russia summit kicks off

    Vladimir Putin in on a charm offensive. On Thursday, the Russian president rolled out the red carpet for African leaders as he seeks to shore up Moscow’s position in a continent that’s becoming increasingly important to his country’s geopolitical ambitions.

    Alongside the war in Ukraine, food security will be high on the agenda of the second Africa-Russia Summit in St Petersburg, especially after Russia’s decision last week to withdraw from an international grain deal left many in Africa unnerved.

    Yet, only 17 African heads of state or government have confirmed their presence, compared to 43 who attended the first Africa-Russia summit in 2019 – a move that Moscow blamed on “brazen interference” from the US.

    Read the full story here.

    UK defence ministry gives latest military update

    The British defence ministry gives its latest update on the military situation in Ukraine. Here are a few takeaways:

    • As Ukrainian forces continue major offensive operations in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, one of the single most influential Russian weapon systems in the sector is the Ka-52 HOKUM attack helicopter.
    • Russia has highly likely lost around forty Ka-52s since the invasion, but the type has also imposed a heavy cost on Ukraine.
    • In recent months, Russia has highly likely augmented the force in the south with at least a small number of brand-new, Ka-52M variants: A heavily modified aircraft, informed by lessons from Russia’s experience in Syria.

      Photos: Ukrainian surgeons on their own front line

      A surge of wounded soldiers has coincided with the major counteroffensive Ukraine launched last month to try to recapture its land from Russian forces.

      Surgeons at Mechnikov Hospital, one of the country’s biggest, are busier now than perhaps at any other time since Russia began its invasion 17 months ago.

      US moves to assist ICC in Russia investigation

      The US will support the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into alleged abuses by Russian forces in Ukraine, two senior US senators have confirmed, marking a major about-face in Washington’s stance towards the international tribunal.

      “After pressing the administration for months, we are pleased that the administration is finally supporting the ICC’s investigation,” Dick Durbin, the Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham, the Republican ranking member of the panel, said in a statement.

      “We will continue to work in the Senate to ensure those responsible for atrocities are held accountable, including by working to close the gap in US law for crimes against humanity.”

      Odesa region port hit in Russian attack

      Russia hit port infrastructure in Ukraine’s Odesa region in an overnight missile attack, killing a security guard and damaging a cargo terminal, the region’s governor has said.

      Odesa’s ports have been regular targets for Russian attacks since Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative last week.