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Ukraine troops can retake territory lost to Russia, UK says – live

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‘Third World War has already started’, Ukraine defence minister claims

Boris Johnson has told Volodymyr Zelensky that he believes Ukrainian forces can retake territory recently captured by Russian forces, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Russia has made gains in eastern Ukraine and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) concluded Vladimir Putin’s army made “substantive progress” with the rapid capture of Lysychansk on Sunday, giving Moscow full control over Luhansk Oblast.

In a call with Mr Zelensky today, Mr Johnson also updated the president on the latest British military equipment, including 10 self-propelled artillery systems and loitering munitions, which would be arriving in the coming days and weeks.

The MoD predicts Mr Putin‘s forces will continue “levelling towns and cities” in Donetsk Oblast, which neighbours Luhansk in the Donbas region targeted by Russia.

In an intelligence update, the MoD said the battle for the Donbas was characterised by “slow rates of advance” and involved Russia’s mass “employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process”.

It added that the fighting in Donetsk will “almost certainly continue in this manner”.

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Good morning! Hello, Arpan Rai here, I’m taking over our rolling Ukraine coverage now.

Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

Arpan Rai6 July 2022 04:17

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That will be all for The Independent’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine until tomorrow morning. Thanks for following, we will be back in a few hours.

Liam James5 July 2022 23:14

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Russian strikes hit Mykolaiv

Russian rocket strikes hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said.

The southern city on the main highway between Kherson and Odesa has been a target for Russian forces throughout the war. A report in The Economist said Ukrainian troops were preparing for a counter-offensive launched from Mykolaiv to take back Kherson from Russia.

After the strikes this morning, Mr Senkevych said on Telegram: “Residential buildings were again damaged by shelling.

“More than 200 windows were blown out by the blast wave and debris in seven high-rise buildings, entrance doors were damaged in entrances, and people had to cut locks in some apartments in order to get out.”

Mykolaiv mayor said this photo shows damage from today’s strikess

(State Emergency Service of Ukraine)

Liam James5 July 2022 21:20

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Finland and Sweden one step closer to Nato membership after accession protocol signed

The Nato membership bids of Sweden and Finland have been sent for approval after the 30 member countries of the alliance signed accession protocols for the two Nordic countries (Holly Bancroft writes).

The protocol means that Finland and Sweden can now join in on Nato meetings and have greater access to intelligence. However they will not be protected by Nato’s defence clause, that an attack on one ally is an attack on all, until ratification.

“This is truly an historic moment,” Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said alongside the foreign ministers of the two countries. “With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger.”

The inclusion of Finland and Sweden is the most significant expansion of the defensive alliance since the 1990s.

Liam James5 July 2022 20:20

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UK adds two more Russians to sanctions list

Britain added two more Russians to its sanctions list today, subjecting them to an asset freeze and travel ban.

The sanctions list was updated to add Denis Gafner and Valeriya Kalabayeva – both of whom Britain said were involved in spreading disinformation and promoting Russian actions in Ukraine.

More than 1,000 Russian and Russian-linked individuals have been sanctioned by the UK since Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine on 24 February.

Liam James5 July 2022 19:40

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Slovyansk under fire as Russian troops press forward

The city of Slovyansk has come under heavy fire days after Russia took hold of territory nearby, the local mayor said.

Russia on Sunday declared victory over Lysychansk, a city some 30 miles west of Slovyansk that was the last Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk region.

On Tuesday, Slovyansk mayor Vadim Lyakh said “massive shelling” pummeled his city and urged residents to evacuate or take cover in shelters. The city had a population of about 107,000 before Russia invaded Ukraine more than four months ago.

At least one person was killed and another seven wounded in shelling, Mr Lyakh said. He said the city’s central market and several districts came under attack, adding that authorities were assessing the extent of the damage.

The barrage targeting Slovyansk indicated that Russian forces were positioned to advance farther into Ukraine’s Donbas region, a mostly Russian-speaking industrial area where Moscow’s forces are concentrated.

Security forces halt motorists as smoke rises from the central market of Slovyansk after a strike on Tuesday

(AFP/Getty)

Firefighters tackle a fire at the Slovyansk central market after shelling on Tuesday

(Reuters)

Liam James5 July 2022 19:10

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Dozens of countries call for Russia and Belarus sports ban

Dozens of international allies have called for Russia and Belarus to be suspended from international sport federations due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sports organisations should also consider suspending the broadcasting of competitions in Russia and Belarus, a joint statement by sports ministers from 35 countries said.

Signatories included the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea. China, India and states in Latin America and Africa were notably not listed as signatories.

The joint statement said that in cases where athletes from Russia and Belarus are permitted to compete, it should be made clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states. The use of official Russian and Belarusian flags, emblems and anthems should be prohibited.

In March, the US and its partners had said Russia and Belarus should not be permitted to host, bid for or be awarded any international sporting events.

Since the invasion of Ukraine in Februart, a number of sporting bodies have banned athletes representing Russia and Belarus, Moscow’s close ally. Fifa and Uefa suspended Russian teams and clubs from international football days after the invasion, while Belarus is not allowed to play home matches within its borders.

The below tweet shows the statement as released by the US State Department:

Liam James5 July 2022 18:40

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Irish prime minister to visit Ukraine tomorrow

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin is due to travel to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv tomorrow for a number of engagements in the city.

The trip is on invitation from Volodymyr Zelensky and will be the first Irish state visit to Ukraine.

Simon Coveney, Irish foreign affairs minister, visited Kyiv in April and met with his counterparts, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Ireland has taken in more than 36,000 Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion in February and has given millions of euros in humanitarian support and assistance to Ukraine, as well as health equipment and medical donations worth over €4.5m.

Mr Martin has also been a vocal advocate for Ukraine’s fast-tracked membership of the EU.

Liam James5 July 2022 18:11

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Russian Duma backs lengthy jail terms for foreign cooperation

Russia’s parliament has backed a bill providing for jail terms of up to eight years on those found to cooperate in secret with international organisations, part of a package of new “crimes against state security”.

The Kremlin had already branded political opponents of Vladimir Putin “extremists” and shut them down and jailed their leaders. Many dissidents have fled into exile during the crackdown, which has intensified over the past two years. Russia’s most prominent human rights group was shut down this year for failing to properly register as a foreign agent.

Since sending troops into Ukraine in February, Moscow has further restricted dissent, including imposing jail terms of up to 15 years for reporting that diverges from official accounts of its “special military operation”. Virtually all independent media have since been shut.

The new package amendments to the criminal code, which passed its second of three readings in the State Duma lower house today, would impose a sentence of up to eight years for “confidential cooperation” with foreign organisations, or sharing information that could be used against Russia.

It introduces a maximum four-year term for “repeated public demonstration of symbols of Nazism and extremist organisations”.

Russians who take part in military action “contrary to the interests of the Russian Federation” could be jailed for up to 20 years.

Liam James5 July 2022 17:49

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Britain mulls bigger military after Russian invasion of Ukraine

The UK defence secretary said he was considering increasing the number of Britain’s armed forces personnel in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Appearing before a parliamentary Defence Committee, Ben Wallace faced questions on the defence budget after Boris Johnson said it was likely to be raised to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of this decade.

Britain has consistently met Nato’s target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence, though the figure has dropped in the past decade and troop numbers have sharply declined in that period.

Mr Wallace last year announced that Britain’s army would be cut to 72,500 personnel by 2025, reversing a target of more than 80,000 set in 2015, and compared with more than 100,000 in 2010.

Before the committee today the defence secretary said: “I have made it perfectly clear that we took, before Russia invaded Ukraine, we took a decision that there would be a dip, sort of a sunset and sunrise, in capabilities.

He said “the threat has changed” so the capabilities the government needs to fund have changed.

“If the decision was to be made to increase the size of the army … do not be surprised if it is not in the cavalry or the infantry. It is quite interesting how attached people are to platforms,” he told the committee.

He said the lesson of Ukraine was that more investment was needed in the areas of electronic warfare and air defence, which he described as “deeply inadequate”.

Liam James5 July 2022 17:31

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