Russia-Ukraine live news: Sloviansk prepares for ‘huge battle’ | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledges to retake lost territory, including the city of Lysychansk, after Russia claimed full control of the eastern Luhansk region.
  • At least six people have been killed and 20 wounded in Sloviansk after the eastern city was hit by Russian shelling from multiple rocket launchers, officials say.
  • Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has visited Kyiv and said Canberra would send Ukraine 14 more armored personnel carriers and 20 Bushmaster vehicles.
  • Delegations from Ukraine, donor countries and civil society groups are gathering in Lugano, Switzerland for the Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) where discussions will focus on how to rebuild the war-torn country.

Here are the latest updates:

Luhansk governor says Russia will shift focus to Donetsk region

Russia will shift the main focus of its war in Ukraine to trying to seize all of the Donetsk region after capturing neighboring Luhansk, the Luhansk region’s governor has said.

Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Reuters in an interview that he expected the city of Sloviansk and the town of Bakhmut in particular to come under attack as Russia tries to take full control of what is known as the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Gazprom says exports of gas to Europe via Ukraine unchanged

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen at 42.1 million cubic meters (mcm), unchanged from Sunday.

An application to supply gas via the Sokhranovka entry point had again been rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.

EU lending arm aims to raise 100 billion euros to help rebuild Ukraine

The Reuters news agency says the European Investment Bank is proposing a funding structure previously used during the COVID-19 pandemic to help rebuild Ukraine with up to 100 billion euros ($104.3bn) of investment.

Citing an official document, Reuters said the EU-Ukraine Gateway Trust Fund (EU GTF) would seek to have an initial 20 billion euros ($20.8bn) in contributions from the European Union countries and the EU budget in the form of grants, loans and guarantees.

The guarantees in particular would have a multiplier effect, leading to infrastructure projects totaling some 100 billion euros, the document said, about half of Ukraine’s more immediate needs.

Zelenskyy pledges to retake Lysychansk

Ukraine’s president has acknowledged that his forces have withdrawn from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk, but pledged late to regain control of the lost territory with the help of long-range Western weapons.

“If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

“That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons.”

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Sloviansk in Donetsk prepares for battle

As the front line moves closer to the eastern city of Sloviansk, residents and soldiers are preparing for an imminent Russian invasion, The Associated Press news agency reports.

“Everyone knows that there will be a huge battle in Sloviansk,” a soldier who could not be named for security reasons told the AP.

Another soldier, a 23-year-old accountant who joined up when the invasion began, said Ukrainian forces simply do not have the weapons to fight off the superior arsenal of the approaching Russian army. “We know what’s coming,” he said with a sad smile.

Pro-Russian separatists captured and held the city for three months in 2014. The brief occupation terrorized Sloviansk, where dozens of officials and journalists were taken hostage, and several killings took place. Attacks on the city are intensifying. The mayor told AP that shelling now occurs at least four or five times a day, and the use of cluster munitions increased in the last week.

Yekaterina Len, 61, cries outside her ruined house following a shelling in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Yekaterina Len, 61, cries outside her ruined house following shelling in Sloviansk, Ukraine, May 20, 2014 [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

UK supports seizing frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine: Report

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says the United Kingdom wants to follow the example of Canada and seize the assets of Russians in the country and redistribute them to victims of Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to the Guardian newspaper.

“I am supportive of the concept,” Truss told legislators last week. “We are looking at it very closely. The Canadians have in fact just passed legislation This is an issue that we are working on jointly with the Home Office and the Treasury, but I certainly agree with the concept. We just need to get the specifics of it right.”

Zelenskyy praises Israel’s decision to scrap refugee quota

Ukraine’s president has praised Israel’s High Court after it rejected a government cap on the number of Ukrainian refugees allowed to enter the country.

Under existing regulations, Ukrainians do not need a visa for a visit of up to three months in Israel. The interior minister said in March that Israel would grant visas to a further 5,000 refugees who do not automatically qualify for immigration under the Law of Return, which allows anyone who has a Jewish parent or grandparent to receive Israeli citizenship.

The High Court on Sunday ruled in favor of a petition against the 5,000 quota, the Times of Israel reported.

Zelenskyy said he “commends” the court’s decision “which obliges the government of Israel to abolish any additional restrictions on the entry of citizens of Ukraine”.

“The rule of law and respect for human rights is exactly what distinguishes a true, developed democracy!” he wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine will be helped but not as if a NATO member: Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says his government is discussing security guarantees for Ukraine in preparation for a time after the war, but said these will not be the same as for a member of the transatlantic NATO alliance.

“We are discussing with close allies the question of the security guarantees we can give. This is an ongoing process. It is clear that it will not be the same as if someone were a member of NATO,” Scholz told the broadcaster ARD.

UK to host 2023 Ukraine recovery conference

The United Kingdom says it will host a conference next year focused on helping Ukraine recover from the damage caused by Russia’s invasion as nations gather in Switzerland for this year’s event.

“We have led on support for Ukraine during the war and will continue to lead in supporting the Ukrainian Government’s Reconstruction and Development Plan,” Foreign Secretary Truss said in a statement.

Belarus leader stands with Russia in Ukraine campaign

The president of Belarus – Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s closest ally – has said his ex-Soviet state stands fully behind Russia in its military drive in Ukraine.

Addressing a ceremony marking the anniversary of the World War II liberation of Minsk by Soviet troops on Sunday, Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, said he had thrown his weight behind Putin’s campaign against Ukraine “from the very first day” in late February.

“Today, we are being criticized for being the only country in the world to support Russia in its fight against Nazism. We support and will continue to support Russia,” a video on the state BelTA news agency showed Lukashenko telling the gathering on Sunday. “And those who criticise us, do they not know that we have such a close union with the Russian Federation … That we have practically a unified army. But you knew all this. We will remain together with fraternal Russia.”

Zelenskyy has said the Belarusian leader’s statement amounted to a “signal”, with his actions to be watched carefully. Some Ukrainian officials suggest Belarus could soon become directly involved in the conflict.

Turkish customs detain Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain

Turkish customs authorities have detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain that Ukraine says is stolen, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey has said.

“We have full cooperation. The ship is currently standing at the entrance to the port, it has been detained by the customs authorities of Turkey,” Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said on Ukrainian national television on Sunday.

Bodnar said the ship’s fate would be decided by a meeting of investigators on Monday.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces have seized since its invasion began in late February. The Kremlin has denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.

With brooms, nail guns, and shovels, Kharkiv residents clean up after attack: Report

Armed with brooms, nail guns and shovels, residents in Kharkiv gathered to clean up after multiple Russian rockets hit at 4am (01:00 GMT), the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, Oleh Synyehubov, said on Sunday.

One of the rockets hit the yard between a school and some private houses. Residents were seen shovelling earth back into a large crater created by the attack, while others were sweeping broken window glass from the floors inside the school and surrounding houses. On Sunday morning, locals were busy fixing roofs and sweeping soot off the facade of the district’s school.

“It (missile blast) happened very early in the morning and in 15 minutes everyone was here.” Vita Kuzub, a school principal, told the Reuters news agency.

The raids that began on Tuesday, June 21, were the worst for weeks in an area where normal life had been returning since Ukraine pushed Moscow’s forces back in May.

A residential area destroyed by a Russian bombing in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A residential area destroyed by a Russian bombing in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 15, 2022 [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

Russia shelled Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv: Zelenskyy

The Russian army shelled the eastern cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk on Sunday, as well as the city of Kharkiv, with multiple launch rocket systems as well as Soviet Smerch rockets, Zelenskyy has said, adding that Russia has enough weapons to destroy every city in Ukraine .

“In Sloviansk alone, six people are on the list of dead, and about 20 are wounded. A girl died, her name was Yeva. She would have turned 10 in August this year,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.

“Russia has enough Smerch, Uragan and Grad systems to destroy city after city in Ukraine. They have now accumulated their largest firepower in Donbas,” he added.

Fighting remains on Lysychansk outskirts: Zelenskyy

Kyiv’s forces are still battling Russian soldiers on the outskirts of the city Lysychansk “in a very difficult and dangerous situation,” Zelenskyy has said after Ukraine withdrew its forces from Lysychansk and the Russian defense ministry claimed its army had captured the Luhansk region.

“We cannot give you the final judgement. Lysychansk is still being fought for,” Zelenskyy told a news conference in Kyiv given alongside Australia’s visiting prime minister. He noted that territory can move quickly from one side to the other.

Russian forces maintain an advantage in the area, he acknowledged, calling it a Ukrainian military “weak spot”.

The capture of Lysychansk would give the Russians more territory from which to intensify attacks on the neighboring Donetsk region. In recent weeks, Russian forces were thought to hold about half of Donetsk, but it is not clear where things stand now.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Sunday, July 3, here.

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