- Moscow kept up its push to take control of Lysychansk on Thursday, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province, with Russia’s separatist proxies claiming they have entered the city.
- Russia’s defence ministry announces its troops have withdrawn from Snake Island in the Black Sea as a “gesture of goodwill” aimed at demonstrating Moscow’s support for efforts to restart food exports from Ukraine’s ports.
- Ukrainian officials hail the announcement as a victory for their forces, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying it “significantly changes the situation in the Black Sea”.
- United States President Joe Biden says the US will soon announce a new $800m military aid package to Ukraine, bringing the total since he took office to nearly $7bn.
- Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and said his country will continue cooperation with Russia.
Here are the latest updates:
We will continue cooperation with Russia: Widodo
Indonesia will continue cooperation with Russia, Indonesia’s Widodo told reporters after meeting with Putin in Moscow on Thursday.
Speaking through translator, he also said it was important to move towards a peaceful resolution of conflict in Ukraine.
Russia ready to fulfil Indonesia’s demand for fertilisers: Putin
Russia is ready to fulfil Indonesia’s demand for fertilisers, President Vladimir Putin told reporters after meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Moscow on Thursday.
Putin also said that Russia intends to honour its obligations under contracts for supply of energy, food and fertilisers abroad.
Russia’s Snake Island withdrawal unlikely to ease grain crisis: Analyst
Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island is unlikely to help ease the crisis over Ukraine’s blockaded grain, a leading Kyiv-based military analyst has said.
“This will not unblock the export of grain. Russia retains shooting control over this area of the waters. One option is that the United Nations forms a humanitarian convoy, then maybe there would be a chance to get these ships out with grain from our ports for export,” said Oleg Zhdanov.
It was also unlikely that Ukraine would itself take up positions and deploy anti-ship weapons on the island to try to beef up its coastline defences because the island remained within the firing range of Russian forces, Zhdanov said.
Mathieu Boulègue, an analyst at Chatham House, said Russia’s pullback might be part of a plan to let the Kremlin strengthen its military forces elsewhere in the Black Sea. “We should not be fooled by it … It might be short-term relief but there will be long-term pain.”
Zelenskyy hails Russia’s Snake Island withdrawal
Zelenskyy has said Russia’s withdrawal from Snake Island “significantly changes the situation in the Black sea”.
It does not guarantee safety yet, it does not yet guarantee that the enemy will not return. But it already limits the actions of the occupiers significantly,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.
“Step by step, we will drive them out of our sea, our land, and our sky,” he added.
Moscow keeps up push to take Lysychansk
Moscow kept up its push to take control of the city of Lysychansk on Thursday, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province. Ukraine said the Russians were shelling Lysychansk and clashing with Ukrainian defenders around an oil refinery on its edges.
The Ukrainian military said Thursday evening that Russia had seen “partial success” that day around the plant, some 17 kilometres south-west of the city. They made no reference to claims that attacking forces had been able to cross the strategic Siversky Donets river and enter the city from the north.
A representative of Russia-backed separatists in Luhansk claimed that pro-Russian forces entered Lysychansk Thursday, after a perilous river crossing — which, if true, would be a significant development.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai denied that Lysychansk had been encircled. Nevertheless, Haidai noted that as of Thursday evening, evacuations from the city were impossible due to heavy shelling and mined access roads.
Top Russian economic expert faces embezzlement charges
A leading economic expert in Russia has been detained on embezzlement charges as part of a high-profile case that some observers saw as linked to purges targeting members of the country’s liberal elite.
Investigators accused Vladimir Mau, the rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, embezzling funds from the institution, a leading school for public servants. Mau denied the charges.
Since the early 1990s, Mau has served as a senior economic adviser to the Russian government. He received high state awards from President Vladimir Putin in 2012 and 2017.
Kremlin critics have described the arrests as part of a widening government crackdown on independent voices amid the military action in Ukraine.
Read all updates for June 30 here.