Ukraine war latest: Russia condemned over 'nuclear menace' as weapons moved closer to western Europe (2023)

Key points
  • Tactical nuclear weapons already on their way to Belarus, claims Lukashenko
  • Ukraine shares new footage of drone 'striking' Russian warship
  • US imposes sanctions on Wagner head amid weapons plot accusations
  • Zelenskyy gives surprise talk to US students
  • Prigozhin 'positioning himself as credible alternative' to Putin
  • Wagner Group fighters begin withdrawal from Bakhmut
  • Your questions answered: Can the UK defend itself after sending weapons to Ukraine?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Samuel Osborne


Russia will launch pre-emptive strike if West gives Ukraine nukes, former president says

Russia will have to launch a pre-emptive strike if the West gives Ukraine nuclear weapons, former president Dmitry Medvedev is reported to have said.

Russian news agencies quoted the Security Council deputy chair saying: "There are irreversible laws of war. If it comes to nuclearweapons, there will have to be a pre-emptive strike."

Earlier, we reported on Mr Medvedev, a key ally of Vladimir Putin, saying the war in Ukraine could last for decades (see 5.40 post).


Ukraine shoots down 10 missiles and over 20 drones overnight

Ukraine shot down 10 missiles and over 20 drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks on the capital Kyiv, the city of Dnipro and eastern regions, Ukrainian officials have said.

Moscow has stepped up its missile and drone attacks on Ukraine this month, mostly targeting logistics and infrastructure facilities ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The Ukrainian air force said it had shot down 10 missilesfired from the Caspian Sea, 23 Iranian-made Shahed drones andtwo reconnaissance drones.

It said a total of 17 missiles and 31 drones had beenlaunched during the attacks, which started at around 10:00pm (7pm GMT) last night and continued until 5:00am this morning.

Several drones and several missiles hit targets in theKharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, officials said.There was no immediate word of any deaths.

"It was a very difficult night. It was loud - the enemylaunched a mass attack on the region with missiles and drones,"Serhiy Lysak, the Dnipropetrovsk regional governor, said on Telegram. "Dnipro has suffered."

Mr Lysak said several houses, cars, and private companies,including a transport company and a gas station, had beendamaged.

Officials in Kyiv said the roof of a shopping centre, aprivate house and several cars had been damaged.

The governor ofthe Kharkiv region also reported damage to several houses and industrial facilities.


'Paramilitarisation' of Russia has dramatically accelerated since invasion, MoD says

The "paramilitarisation" of Russia has dramatically increased since Moscow invaded Ukraine and has become an important element in the Crimean peninsula, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

In its latest update it said the leader of the Russian-occupied Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, has set up several local units which often claim affiliation with the Cossack tradition, with most given some semi-official status as reserve units.

The MoD said:


Russia warns of end of Black Sea grain deal if its demands are not met

Russia has signalled that if demands to improve its grain and fertiliser exports are not met then it will not extend a deal allowing the safe wartime export of the products from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports beyond 17 July.

Moscow made the same threat and demands in March, then agreed last week to renew for 60 days the Black Sea export pact - initially brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July with Russia and Ukraine to try and ease a global food crisis.

Since March Russia appears to have prioritised two specific demands: restarting a pipeline to transport Russian ammonia to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Pivdennyi for export to global markets; and reconnecting Russia's agricultural bank, known as Rossel4khozbank, to the SWIFT international payment network.

"If Rosselkhozbank is not connected to SWIFT and there is no
progress on the implementation of other 'systemic' problems that are blocking our agricultural exports, then the 'Black Sea
initiative' will also have to look for alternatives," Russia's
Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

It suggested land exports through Europe as an alternative, saying that avenue was more costly for Ukraine.


Japan condemns Russia over 'nuclear menace' after weapons moved closer to western Europe

Japan has said it will place additional sanctions on Russia after the Group of Seven (G7) summit in the country last week agreed to step up measures to punish Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the government's top spokesperson has said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno also condemned Russia's move to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus - and closer to western Europe - saying it would further intensify tensions.

"As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings duringwartime, Japan never accepts Russia's nuclear menace, let aloneits use," Mr Matsuno said.

In a co-ordinated action with the G7, Japan will freeze the assetsof 78 groups and 17 individuals including army officers inRussia and ban exports to 80 Russian entities such asmilitary-affiliated research labs, according to a foreignministry statement.

Tokyo will also ban providing construction and engineeringservices to Russia, although the details of the measure will beannounced at a later date, a trade ministry statement said.


Kyiv reports increased danger of Russian missile strikes

Military authorities in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv have reported an increased danger of Russian missile strikes in the early hours of this morning.

They said anti-aircraft defences were working across the region.

Russia has launched hundreds of rocket attacks at targets across Ukraine since last October, seeking to destroy critical infrastructure and other targets.

In recent weeks Ukraine said it knocked out most of the missiles.

"Increased missile danger! Air defences are working in theregion," the Kyiv regional military administration said in amessage on Telegram.

No details of possible damage were available.


War could last for decades, Putin ally warns

The war in Ukraine could last for decades, a key ally of Vladimir Putin has said, Russia's RIA news agency reported.

Former president Dmitry Medvedev said it could turn into a conflict characterised by long periods of fighting interspersed by truces.

Mr Medvedev, deputy head of Mr Putin's powerful security council, made the characteristically hardline comments during a visit to Vietnam - last month he described Ukrainian authorities as an infection.

"This conflict will last a very long time, most likelydecades," RIA quoted Mr Medvedev saying.

"As long as there is such a power in place, there will be,say, three years of truce, two years of conflict, and everythingwill be repeated," he continued, reiterating Moscow's claim thatUkraine is a Nazi state.

In January, Mr Medvedev said if Russia were defeated it couldtrigger a nuclear war.


Good morning - here's the latest

Welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Before we bring you all the latest updates, here's a reminder of the key events from yesterday:

  • Ukraine's defence ministry shared new footage of a sea drone 'striking' a Russian warship;
  • President Zelenskyy gave a surprise talk to US students. He also revealed Ukraine had secured 106 Ukrainians in a prisoner swap with Russia;
  • Our military expert said Wager chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was likely "positioning himself as a credible alternative" to Mr Putin;
  • US intelligence said they believed Ukraine was behind a drone attack on the Kremlin;
  • An anti-Putin paramilitary group vowed there will be more incursions following on from Belgorod.


US to announce new military aid package for Ukraine - reports

The US is set to announce a $300million (£243million) worth of military aid for Ukraine, according to Reuters.

The package, which is expected to contain surface-to-surface rocket launchers and other general ammunition, could be announced on Friday, reports the news agency, quoting two official sources.

The US has pledged more than $35billion (£28.5billion) worth of security assistance to Ukraine since Russia's February 2022 invasion.

It comes after Finland earlier announced plans for a 109 million Euros (£94.6million) military aid package.


Footage claims to show sea drone hitting Russian warship

Footage has been posted online, which appears to show a Russian warship being struck by a sea drone.

It comes after Russia claims it had foiled an attack on one of its ships - the Ivan Khurs - in the Black Sea on Wednesday.

Russia's defence ministry shared footage which it claimed showed gunners destroying an unmanned sea drone approaching the ship.

It described the attack as "unsuccessful".

Now footage - which Sky News has been unable to verify - appears to show a drone hitting the boat.

It has been shared on the official Twitter account of Ukraine's defence ministry, which tweeted: "When the Russian reconnaissance ship "Ivan Khurs" met a Ukrainian drone.

"Indeed, a perfect match!"

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