Russian ‘strike force’ builds around Zelenskyy’s hometown; fears grow for ‘out of control’ nuclear power plant


Ukraine tells Lebanon to reverse decision to clear grain shipment for travel

A picture shows a view of the bow of the grain-laden Syrian-flagged ship Laodicea, docked in Lebanon’s northern port of Tripoli, on July 30, 2022.

Fathi Al-masri | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine called on Lebanon on Thursday to reverse a decision by a court in Tripoli to authorise the departure of a seized Syrian ship carrying what Kyiv says is stolen Ukrainian grain, Reuters reported Thursday.

In a statement, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said it was disappointed by the court’s decision to clear the Syrian-flagged Laodicea for departure and said that Kyiv’s position had not been taken into account.

— Reuters

Russian forces feeling the threat from Ukraine’s Western-supplied weapons, UK notes

A Ukrainian army unit shows the rockets on HIMARS vehicle in eastern Ukraine on July 1, 2022.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Ukraine’s offensive to retake occupied territory in the south of the country and its use of Western-supplied weapons is putting mounting pressure on Russia’s forces, according to the latest intelligence update from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence.

“Ukraine’s missile and artillery units continue to target Russian military strongholds, personnel clusters, logistical support bases and ammunition depots,” the ministry said on Twitter Thursday.

“This will highly likely impact Russian military logistical resupply and put pressure on Russian military combat support elements.”

A picture taken on July 21, 2022 shows a car moving past a crater on Kherson’s Antonovsky bridge across the Dnipro river caused by a Ukrainian rocket strike, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

The U.K. said Russia was feeling threatened by Western-supplied weapons systems that are allowing Ukraine’s forces to counterattack the Russian army more effectively, citing efforts by Russia to hide damage the Antonovsky Bridge, which leads to occupied Kherson and is vital for their military supplies to the city, that was hit by Ukrainian missiles last week.

“Russian forces have almost certainly positioned pyramidal radar reflectors in the water near the recently damaged Antonivskiy [Antonovsky] Bridge and by the recently damaged nearby rail bridge, both of which cross over the Dnipro River in Kherson, southern Ukraine,” the U.K. noted.

“The radar reflectors are likely being used to hide the bridge from synthetic aperture radar imagery and possible missile targeting equipment. This highlights the threat Russia feels from the increased range and precision of Western-supplied systems.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian ‘strike force’ building to target Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih

Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is looking increasingly vulnerable with Ukraine saying Russia is building a military “strike force” to target the industrial city in central-southern Ukraine.

Early Thursday, Ukraine’s southern military command saying the situation in its operational area — where fighting is intensifying around Kryvyi Rih as well as Zaporizhzhia to the east, and Mykolaiv and Kherson to the south — is “tense and complex.”

“The enemy continues to conduct hostilities on the occupied line of defense. In order to prevent the advance of our troops and restore the lost position, the composition of the group in the Kryvyi Rih direction is increasing due to the transfer of units of the 35th Army of the Eastern Military District,” the unit said, saying that Russian aircraft were becoming “more active” and attacking the area south of Kryvyi Rih.

Residential buildings and industrial plants across the city skyline in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukraine’s southern military command said in a previous update on Wednesday that it believed Russia was creating a military “strike group in the Kryvyi Rih region” and that “it’s also quite likely that the enemy is preparing a hostile counter-offensive with the subsequent plan of getting to the administrative boundary of Kherson region.”

Officials in Ukraine have repeatedly warned in recent days that Russia is redeploying a massive number of troops to the south of the country, where Ukraine has launched counteroffensives to try to regain lost territory, particularly the occupied city of Kherson.

Ukrainian artillerymen in the military assembly center check the weapons and special equipment to make them ready before they go to their duties at the frontline in Kherson, Ukraine on July 15, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In his nightly address on Sunday evening, Zelenskyy praised the bravery of residents in his hometown, as well as other cities under repeated attack as Russia looks to extend its territorial gains in east and southern Ukraine.

“I want to thank every resident of Mykolaiv for their indomitability, for protecting the city and the region. I also thank Nikopol, Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih and the entire Dnipropetrovsk region, the strong people of Zaporozhzhia and the region, all Ukrainians of the Kherson region, everyone who defends the approaches to Odessa and the region … Thank you for your courage.”

 “Strategically, Russia has no chance of winning this war,” he added.

Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy says he wants to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on July 4, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Zelenskyy is seeking an opportunity for direct talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help end Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, the South China Morning Post reported.

Alexey Furman | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to speak directly with Xi Jinping in hopes China’s president could use the country’s influence to end Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Zelenskyy said Ukraine has pursued talks with China since the beginning of the war. He told the newspaper that Russia would feel much more economically isolated without the Chinese market and could use that to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war.

China has repeatedly said it supports a “peaceful resolution” to the situation in Ukraine, but has so far refused to call Russia’s war an “invasion.”

— Natalie Tham

U.S. Senate approves Finland and Sweden’s membership to NATO

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde and Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto attend a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, after signing their countries’ accession protocols at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium July 5, 2022.

Yves Herman | Reuters

The U.S. Senate voted 95 to 1 to ratify Finland and Sweden’s entrance to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling expansion of the Western defensive bloc a “slam-dunk” for U.S. national security and a day of reckoning for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

Senators invited the ambassadors of the two Nordic nations to witness the debate and the vote, a crucial step in opening a new era for the now 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its 73-year-old pact of mutual defense among the United States and democratic allies in Europe.

President Joe Biden has sought quick entry for the two previously non-militarily aligned northern European nations. Their candidacies have won ratification from more than half of the NATO member nations in the roughly three months since the two applied, a purposely rapid pace meant to send a message to Russia over its six-month-old war against Ukraine’s West-looking government.

“It sends a warning shot to tyrants around the world who believe free democracies are just up for grabs,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in the Senate debate ahead of the vote.

“Russia’s unprovoked invasion has changed the way we think about world security,” she added.

— Associated Press

Ukraine nuclear plant is ‘out of control,’ UN nuclear chief says

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi attends a joint news conference after talks in Tokyo, Japan May 19, 2022.

Issei Kato | Reuters

The U.N. nuclear chief warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” and issued an urgent plea to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilize the situation and avoid a nuclear accident.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that the situation is getting more perilous every day at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, which Russian troops seized in early March, soon after their Feb. 24. invasion of Ukraine.

“Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant, he said. “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.”

Grossi cited many violations of the plant’s safety, adding that it is “in a place where active war is ongoing,” near Russian-controlled territory.

— Associated Press

Zelenskyy says ‘global security architecture’ is not working, cites tensions in the Balkans and Taiwan

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of G7 leaders via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 27, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the “global security architecture” is not working, and referenced tensions in the Balkans, Taiwan and in the Caucasus.

“If it worked, there wouldn’t be all these conflicts,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on the Telegram messaging app.

“And this is actually something that Ukraine has been paying attention to not only 161 days after the start of a full-scale war, but for years. Ever since Russia completely ignored international law, the interests of humanity as such,” he added.

— Amanda Macias



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