Russia Ukraine war latest: Kremlin criticises return of Mariupol commanders; Zelensky pays tribute to Snake island soldiers

Zelensky visits Snake Island to mark 500th day of Ukraine war

Volodymyr Zelensky has returned home after a visit to Turkey along with five commanders from Ukraine’s former garrison in Mariupol, something Russia has termed a “direct violation” of a prisoner exchange deal from last year.

The commanders had led last year’s defence of Mariupol, the biggest Ukrainian city captured by Russia. Thousands of Ukrainians have either died or left the city.

On Saturday, Mr Zelensky posted video of his trip back home on Saturday, that marked the 500th day of the invasion.

“We are returning home from Turkey and bringing our heroes home,” he said after meeting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Elsewhere, Ukraine’s forces have made “tactically significant gains” against Russian troops in Bakhmut, said a US think tank.

The Institute for the Study of War said Ukraine made progress against Vladimir Putin’s forces in “at least three other sectors of the front,” including north and south of Bakhmut.

This comes after Rishi Sunak made clear Britain “discourages” the use of cluster munitions after Joe Biden agreed to send the bombs to Ukraine.


Mariupol commanders coming back to Ukraine is ‘direct violation’ of prisoner exchange deal, Russia says

Russia has accused Ukraine and Turkey of violating agreements by releasing the commanders who had led last year’s defence of Mariupol, the biggest Ukrainian city captured by Russia.

“The return of the leaders of the Azovites from Turkey to Ukraine is nothing more than a direct violation of the terms of the existing agreements. Moreover, in this case, the terms were violated by both the Ukrainian side and the Turkish side,” said Kremlin spokesperson Mr Peskov.

“No one informed us about this. According to the agreements, these ringleaders were to remain on the territory of Turkey until the end of the conflict,” he said.

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 05:10


Wimbledon set for first Ukraine-Belarus clash of this year’s tournament

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 08:30


Ukraine worried about US’s alleged back-channel diplomacy with Russia

Ukraine is worried about alleged secret talks between former US officials and Kremlin-linked Russians concerning Ukraine’s Nato membership, NBC News reported on Saturday, citing an unnamed Ukrainian official.

“Given the timing of the appearance of these materials in the mass media on the eve of the Vilnius summit, the question arises whether Washington’s tough position regarding the invitation of Ukraine to NATO is somehow not connected with these backroom consultations,” the official said in a statement on behalf of the Ukrainian government.

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 08:05


Minister claims Russia’s war has caused $56bn ‘ecocide’

Ukraine’s State Environmental Inspectorate said Russia’s full-scale invasion has caused $55.9bn in environmental damage.

On Saturday, Ruslan Strilets, minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, said: “Russia will pay for every day of this war. For every tree it burns. For every piece of Ukrainian land desecrated. That is why we are uniting with the whole civilised world and working towards the recognition of ecocide in international law.”

According to Mr Strilets, a single day of war causes $111m in environmental damage.

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 07:05


Ukraine’s defence minister weighs in on Kyiv’s Nato stance

Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov has weighed in on the country’s Nato stance.

On Saturday, during a national television interview, Mr Reznikov said: “If Russia is the main threat to Nato, I have a simple question for my fellow defense ministers. If only one country in the world has modern, effective, successful experience with countering the Russian army, what other arguments do you need to invite Ukraine to the Alliance?”

“I am convinced – Ukraine is a de facto Nato country and will become a de jure Nato country,” the minister said.

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 06:15


In photos: Zelensky brings home Azovstal commanders from Turkey


(AFP via Getty Images)


(AFP via Getty Images)

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 05:45


Twitter Blue accounts allegedly spreading Ukraine War misinformation

Misleading posts about the Ukraine war seem to be going viral on Twitter.

In the last week, one post, featuring a screengrab of what appeared to be a headline from a news website along with an image of two rifles, was shared by many accounts with Twitter Blue subscriptions.

“French police are fired upon with American rifles that may have come from Ukraine,” read the headline.

The BBC traced the article back to pro-Kremlin channels on the Telegram messaging app. The image used in the post appears in a Russian military blog from 2012 about a shooting competition held on a firing range in Moscow.

The outlet claimed that it wasn’t able to find any evidence of weapons provided to Ukraine by the US have been used during the recent riots in France.

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 05:30


Zelensky brings home Azovstal commanders from Turkey

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has returned home from a visit to Turkey, with five commanders of Ukraine’s former garrison in Mariupol.

This is a move Russia said violated the terms of a prisoner exchange deal engineered last year.

The five commanders, established as heroes in Ukraine, led last year’s defence of the southern port of Mariupol, the biggest city Russia has captured in its invasion.

“We are returning home from Turkey and bringing our heroes home,” Mr Zelensky said in a video.

“Ukrainian soldiers Denys Prokopenko, Svyatoslav Palamar, Serhiy Volynsky, Oleh Khomenko, Denys Shleha. They will finally be with their relatives.”

Peony Hirwani9 July 2023 04:05


Tobias Ellwood urges the US to ‘reconsider’ cluster bombs

Joe Biden made the controversial decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine.

The move has divided the Conservative Party with Rishi Sunak refusing to offer support while Boris Johnson tweeted to say that Mr Biden was “right” to make his “brave” decision.

But Commons Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood urged the US to “reconsider” its decision.

The Tory MP tweeted: “This is the wrong call and will alienate international good will.

“Their use leaves deadly unexploded ordnance over the battlefield, killing & injuring civilians long after the war is over.”

Matt Drake9 July 2023 00:00


‘Thousands’ gather in Lviv to welcome home Zelensky and Azovstal defender

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy returned from a visit to Turkey on Saturday, bringing home five former commanders of Ukraine’s garrison in Mariupol.

They were greeted by a large crowd who cheered and clapped upon their arrival.

The men were captured by Russia in May 2022 after they defended the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Matt Drake8 July 2023 23:00

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