Russia-Ukraine war: Kremlin warns it is using only ‘small portion’ of potential; fears of Sievierodonetsk humanitarian disaster – live | Ukraine


Ukrainian official: Sievierodonetsk ‘on the verge of humanitarian disaster’

The situation in occupied Sievierodonetsk “is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster” and the city is being widely looted by Russian troops, according to Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk, Serhai Haidai.

He posted to Telegram this morning, claiming:

In Sievierodonetsk, 80% of housing was destroyed or damaged. Some people try to return for things, but more and more often … they find an empty apartment, even if it survived. Having entered the city, the Russians first deported part of the local population, took away the keys, and then began to rob everything. They drive up to high-rise buildings in trucks. If the furniture is good, they take it away. It is no longer just about household appliances.

The city is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster – there is no centralised water supply, gas supply, or electricity supply.

Since the end of February, the occupiers have been shelling critical infrastructure facilities, destroying them almost completely. They will not be able to repair anything. Because even in peacetime, such a volume of restoration can be done in six months to a year. If materials and skilled workers are available. Russians have neither that nor the other.

Big problem with sewage. Treatment plants are not working, as well as pumping stations. Sewage accumulates. Add to that the air temperature. And the stench from the dead – those who were buried in yards, and many remain in apartments and entrances. Sievierodonetsk is witnessing a humanitarian disaster.

It is thought that around as many as 15,000 civilians may still be in the city, which has been a key strategic point for the Russian occupation of the Luhansk region. The claims have not been independently verified.

Key events:

Internally displaced Kira from Toretsk stands inside a train heading to Dnipro, at the Pokrovsk train station, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.
Kira, from Toretsk, stands inside a train heading to Dnipro at the Pokrovsk train station in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP
Internally displaced people board a train heading to Dnipro, at the Pokrovsk train station, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.
Internally displaced people board a train heading to Dnipro at the Pokrovsk train station in Donetsk. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP

Summary of the day so far

It is almost 6.30pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • Russia is continuing its offensive into Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region after capturing almost the entire neighbouring Luhansk region, according to officials. Luhansk’s governor, Serhiy Haidai, said he did not agree with recent western assessments that Russia had paused its offensive and was resting to regroup.
  • The situation in occupied Sievierodonetsk “is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster” and the city is being widely looted by Russian troops, according to Haidai. He said the city was becoming unsanitary, and that some residents were returning to find their homes emptied. It is thought that around 15,000 civilians may still be in the city, which has been a key strategic point for the Russian occupation of the Luhansk region.
  • Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had destroyed two British-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missile systems in Ukraine’s Odesa region overnight. The missile systems are one of several weapons supplied to Ukraine by Nato countries since Russia’s invasion. The Russian ministry’s claim has not been independently verified.
  • Vladimir Putin has issued one of his most ominous warnings yet, claiming Moscow has barely started its campaign in Ukraine. Speaking at a meeting with parliamentary leaders on Thursday, the Russian president dared the west to try to defeat it on the battlefield. On Friday, the Kremlin reiterated the bullish stance and said Russia has used “only a small portion” of its potential in Ukraine.
  • Putin also warned that the continued use of sanctions against Russia could lead to “catastrophic consequences” on the global energy market. At a televised meeting with senior officials on Friday, he said sanctions on Russia “cause much more damage to those countries that impose them”.
  • Russia’s ambassador to Britain, Andrei Kelin, said Moscow will have to take “serious measures” if western weaponry in Ukraine “endangers our strategic situation”. In an interview with Reuters, Kelin said Russia will defeat Ukrainian forces in the whole of the Donbas region, and that Russian forces would be unlikely to withdraw from a vast swathe of land across Ukraine’s southern coast.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said the raising of the Ukrainian flag on Snake Island in the Black Sea is a sign his country will not be broken. In a national address on Thursday night, Zelenskiy said that the two-month operation to retake Snake Island was a warning to all Russian forces.
  • A court in Moscow has sentenced an opposition councillor to seven years in jail for criticising Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. The sentencing of Alexei Gorinov, a deputy at Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council, marks the first long-term prison sentence handed out under new laws that restrict criticism of the war.
  • Moscow’s chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, has confirmed that he has left Russia and stepped down from the role. To continue would endanger Moscow’s Jewish community, Goldschmidt said in a statement, adding: “I could not remain silent, viewing so much human suffering” in Ukraine.
  • The Russian foreign minister left the G20 meeting of leading economies early after telling his counterparts that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not responsible for a global hunger crisis. The gathering on Friday was Sergei Lavrov’s first direct confrontation with leaders from the west since Russia mounted its attack on Ukraine, and he accused the west of frenzied criticism of what he claimed were Moscow’s justified actions. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, described Lavrov’s behaviour as “not very respectful”.
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has accused Russia of playing “hunger games” with the world in an address to a G20 meeting in Bali. The Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian ports has “already shredded global chains of food supply and has a detrimental effect on global food security”, he said, adding that the international community had no right to allow Russia to blackmail the world with high energy prices, hunger and security threats.
  • China and Russia have maintained normal exchanges and promoted cooperation, showing the “strong resilience” and “strategic resolve” of their relations, Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, said. China will also support all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis, Wang told Sergei Lavrov in a meeting on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry.
  • Germany has ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden to Nato, three days after the 30 members signed off on the expansion. The documents need to be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 member states before Finland and Sweden can be protected by the Nato mutual defence clause which states that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

Hello everyone, it’s Léonie Chao-Fong with all the latest developments from the war in Ukraine. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.

A meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bali showed consensus behind the demand that Russia lift a blockade on Ukrainian grain exports, according to a western official present at the meeting.

According to Reuters, the official said:

We hope a result of this meeting is that Russia sees how widespread the consensus is on the need to make progress on [the] grain issue.

It remained to be seen if the meeting would produce real change, the official said.

Germany ratifies Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato

Germany has ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden to Nato, three days after the 30 members signed off on the expansion.

Reuters reports that the parliament in Berlin, as well as the Bundesrat group of the federal states, endorsed the accession protocols for both Nordic countries.

“This creates more security for all Nato members and for Europe,” the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said on Twitter.

The accession documents need to be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 member states before Finland and Sweden can be protected by the Nato mutual defence clause, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

Ratification could take up to a year but Helsinki and Stockholm can participate in Nato meetings and have greater access to intelligence in the meantime.

Putin warns Europe of ‘catastrophic consequences’ in energy market if sanctions persist

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said that the continued use of sanctions against Russia could lead to catastrophic price rises in energy markets, hitting households across Europe with much higher prices.

“Yes, we know that the Europeans are trying to replace Russian energy resources,” Putin said at a televised meeting with senior officials, according to Reuters reports.

“However, we expect the result of such actions to be an increase in gas prices on the stock market and an increase in the cost of energy resources for end consumers.

“All this once again shows that sanctions restrictions on Russia cause much more damage to those countries that impose them. Further use of sanctions may lead to even more severe, without exaggeration, even catastrophic consequences on the global energy market.”

Here are some of the latest images on the newswires from Ukraine.

A Russian rocket half sunk in the middle of a road in the countryside of Siversk, Donetsk, on 8 July 2022.
A Russian rocket half sunk in the middle of a road in the countryside of Siversk, Donetsk, on 8 July 2022. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
Ukrainian soldiers sit on top of an armoured vehicle on a road in the countryside of Siversk, Donetsk.
Ukrainian soldiers sit on top of an armoured vehicle on a road in the countryside of Siversk, Donetsk. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
A cyclist rides past a destroyed house that was hit during an airstrike in northern Sloviansk.
A cyclist rides past a destroyed house that was hit during an airstrike in northern Sloviansk. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
Life continues in Kyiv as Ukrainian serviceman Vladyslav, 26, and his bride Valentyna, 24, pose for photos after their wedding ceremony.
Life continues in Kyiv as Ukrainian serviceman Vladyslav, 26, and his bride Valentyna, 24, pose for photos after their wedding ceremony. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has said his administration would maintain its neutral stance on the war in Ukraine.

Asked how his visit to Washington next week could affect Mexico’s position on the conflict, López Obrador replied that the country would stay neutral and that he hoped there would be a ceasefire, Reuters reports.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was not present for much of the afternoon session of a G20 meeting in Bali and left the room after giving his remarks, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said.

Borrell described Lavrov’s behaviour as “not very respectful” after the Russian minister left the G20 meeting early after telling his counterparts that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not responsible for a global hunger crisis, and that sanctions designed to isolate Russia amounted to a declaration of war.

In a stern if brief lecture, Lavrov said:

If the west doesn’t want talks to take place but wishes for Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield – because both views have been expressed – then perhaps there is nothing to talk about with the west.

Russia has used ‘only a small portion’ of its potential in Ukraine, says Kremlin

The Kremlin has said Russia has used only a small portion of its potential in its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

On Thursday, Vladimir Putin issued one of his most ominous warnings yet, claiming Moscow has barely started its campaign in Ukraine, and daring the west to try to defeat it on the battlefield.

Putin accused Ukraine’s western allies of fuelling hostilities, saying that “the west wants to fight us until the last Ukrainian” and that they were welcome to try, but it would only bring tragedy for Ukraine.

The Russian leader said:

Today, we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say? Let them try.

We have heard many times that the west wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading towards this.

During his regular briefing today, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated that bullish stance, telling reporters:

Russia’s potential is so great that only a small portion of it is being used in the special operation.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a key adviser to Ukraine’s president, has responded to Vladimir Putin’s claims that Russia has barely started its campaign in Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting with parliamentary leaders on Thursday, the Russian president said prospects for any negotiation would grow dimmer the longer the conflict dragged on.

Putin warns Russia is just getting started in Ukraine – video

Putin said:

Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest. At the same time, we don’t reject peace talks. But those who reject them should know that the further it goes, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.

Podolyak, who is also a member of the Ukrainian delegation team, tweeted in response:

37,000 dead Russian soldiers. Total sanitary losses [injured] of 98-117 thousand people. 10 generals were eliminated. 1605 tanks, 405 planes/helicopters were turned into scrap.

Has Russia not started fighting yet? Is [the] Kremlin considering war only by Stalin’s mathematics – 20 million losses?

37000 dead Russian soldiers. Total sanitary losses of 98-117 thousand people. 10 generals were eliminated. 1605 tanks, 405 planes/helicopters were turned into scrap. Has Russia not started fighting yet? Is Kremlin considering war only by Stalin’s mathematics – 20 million losses?

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) July 8, 2022

It is not possible to independently verify Ukraine’s claims of Russian losses.

Patrick Wintour

Patrick Wintour

The Russian foreign minister left the G20 meeting of leading economies early after telling his counterparts that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not responsible for a global hunger crisis and sanctions designed to isolate Russia amounted to a declaration of war.

The gathering on Friday was Sergei Lavrov’s first direct confrontation with leaders from the west since Russia mounted its attack on Ukraine, and he accused the west of frenzied criticism of what he claimed were Moscow’s justified actions.

In a stern if brief lecture at the meeting in Bali hosted by Indonesia, this year’s chair of the G20, Lavrov said: “If the west doesn’t want talks to take place but wishes for Ukraine to defeat Russia on the battlefield – because both views have been expressed – then, perhaps, there is nothing to talk about with the west.”

Lavrov, sitting at the meeting between Saudi Arabia and Mexico, also accused the west of pressuring Ukraine to “use its weapons” in the fighting. He walked out at the point the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, was starting to speak.

Sergei Lavrov (centre) sat between Saudi Arabia and Mexico at the G20 meeting.
Sergei Lavrov (centre) sat between Saudi Arabia and Mexico at the G20 meeting. Photograph: Russian Foreign Ministry/Reuters

Afterwards he said he had come to Bali to get an impression “of how the west breathes”. It had been obvious that the west didn’t use the G20 for the purposes for which it was created, Lavrov said. Participants from developing countries did not support this approach, he claimed.

“Aggressors, invaders, occupants. We’ve heard quite a few such things today,” he said while describing the speeches made by his western counterparts. He said some of the speeches were made for theatrical effect, citing Boris Johnson as a prime example. “Well, he resigned, and so be it,” Lavrov said. “Everyone said Russia must be isolated. But so far his own party has isolated Boris Johnson.”

Moscow councillor jailed for seven years after criticising Ukraine war

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

A court in Moscow has sentenced an opposition councillor to seven years in jail for criticising Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, the first long-term prison sentence handed out under the new laws that restrict criticism of the war.

Alexei Gorinov, a deputy at Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and trained lawyer, was arrested in April on charges of spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian army.

Alexei Gorinov holds up a sign reading ‘Do you still need this war?’ as he is held inside a glass cell in court on Friday.
Alexei Gorinov holds up a sign reading ‘Do you still need this war?’ as he is held inside a glass cell in court on Friday. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

According to the authorities, Gorinov committed the offence when he and a fellow opposition deputy, Elena Kotenochkina, spoke out against the council’s proposal to hold a children’s drawing contest and a dancing festival despite the war in Ukraine, where Gorinov said “children were dying”.

“I believe all efforts of [Russian] civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Gorinov said during the work meeting, which was recorded on video and is available on YouTube.

“I believe all efforts of [Russian] civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Gorinov said during the work meeting which was recorded on video and is available on YouTube https://t.co/lefyQfdAah

— Pjotr Sauer (@PjotrSauer) July 8, 2022

The charges against Gorinov fall under a series of new laws that have been introduced since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Gorinov’s long sentence will be perceived as harsh even in the current political climate in Russia, where authorities have embarked on an unprecedented crackdown on civil society and opposition since the invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February.

Human rights groups will worry that Gorinov’s case will be the first in a string of rulings against anti-war figures who are awaiting trial.

At least 50 people face long-term prison sentences or steep fines for “knowingly spreading false information” about the military, while about 2,000 people have received smaller fines for criticising the war, according to a human rights group that tracks cases nationwide.





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