Russia-Ukraine war live news: Russian forces targeting Donetsk cities next, Luhansk governor warns | Ukraine


Images of Ukrainian servicemen bathing in a stream in Fedorivka in central Ukraine paint an picture of time spent between battling Russian forces on the frontline.

A Ukrainian serviceman poses for photo in Verkhnokamyanske frontline, Ukraine, 4 July.
A Ukrainian serviceman poses for photo in Verkhnokamyanske frontline, Ukraine, 4 July. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Ukrainian servicemen baths in a stream in the Fedorivka frontline, Ukraine.
Ukrainian servicemen baths in a stream in the Fedorivka frontline, Ukraine. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Ukrainian servicemen bathe in a stream in the Fedorivka frontline, Ukraine.
Ukrainian servicemen bathe in a stream in the Fedorivka frontline, Ukraine. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ukraine to fall back to more defendable front line: UK MoD

Following Russia’s capture of Lysychansk and control of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, Ukrainian forces will be able to fall back to a more readily defendable, straightened front line, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

The latest British intelligence report, released shortly before 7am BST, confirms that Russia’s “relatively rapid capture” of Lysychansk has allowed its forces to extend its control across virtually all of the territory of Luhansk and claim substantive progress against the policy objective it presented as the immediate purpose of the war, namely “liberating” the Donbas.

Unlike in previous phases of the war, Russia has probably achieved reasonably effective co-ordination between at least two groupings of forces, the central grouping likely commanded by General-Colonel Alexandr Lapin and the southern grouping probably under the recently appointed General Sergei Surovikin.

Ukrainian forces have likely largely withdrawn in good order, in line with existing plans.

The Ukrainian held areas of Sieverodonetsk-Lyschansk consisted of a bulge or salient which Russian could attack from three sides.”

The report notes that there is a “realistic possibility” that Ukrainian forces will now be able to fall back to a more readily defendable, straightened front line.

The battle for the Donbas has been characterised by slow rates of advance and Russia’s massed employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process.

The fighting in Donetsk Oblast will almost certainly continue in this manner.”

Gas consumption will contract slightly this year due to high prices and Russian cuts to Europe, with only slow growth over coming years as consumers switch to alternatives, the IEA has said.

The International Energy Agency chopped its forecast for global gas demand by more than half in its latest quarterly report on gas markets, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

It now expects growth of just 3.4% by 2025, an increase of 140bn cubic metres (bcm) from 2021 levels, which is less than the 175 bcm jump in demand registered in 2021 alone. In a statement, the IEA said:

The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on global gas prices and supply tensions, as well as its repercussions on the longer-term economic outlook, are reshaping the outlook for natural gas.

Today’s record prices and supply disruptions are damaging the reputation of natural gas as a reliable and affordable energy source, casting uncertainty on its prospects, particularly in developing countries where it had been expected to play a growing role in meeting rising energy demand and energy transition goals.”

Some military experts believe the hard fought victory in Luhansk has brought Russian forces little strategic gain, and the outcome of what has been dubbed the “battle of the Donbas” remains in the balance.

Neil Melvin of the RUSI think tank in London compared the battle to the huge fights for meagre territorial gains that characterised the first world war. Speaking to Reuters, he said:

I think it’s a tactical victory for Russia but at an enormous cost.

This has taken 60 days to make very slow progress.

I think the Russians may declare some kind of victory, but the key war battle is still yet to come.”

Melvin said the decisive battle for Ukraine was likely to take place not in the east, where Russia is mounting its main assault, but in the south, where Ukraine has begun a counter-offensive to recapture territory.

“This is where we see the Ukrainians are making progress around Kherson. There are counter-attacks beginning there and I think it’s most likely that we’ll see the momentum swing to Ukraine as it tries to then mount a large-scale counter-offensive to push the Russians back,” he said.

Assets from Russian oligarchs should fund recovery: PM

Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, told an international conference that rebuilding his war-ravaged country would cost around $750bn (£620bn).

Speaking at the opening of the Ukraine recovery conference in Switzerland, Shmyhal said the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs should be used to help Ukraine put itself back together.

A transcript of his speech later published online reads:

We believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs.

The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war, they caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it.”

Shmyhal estimated that Russia’s frozen assets amount to between 300 and 500 billion dollars.

Speaking via video message, Zelenskiy said the reconstruction was not the “local task of a single nation” but rather “a common task of the whole democratic world”.

The two-day conference, held under tight security in the southern Swiss city of Lugano, had been planned well before the invasion, and had originally been slated to discuss reforms in Ukraine before being repurposed to focus on reconstruction.

The conference said Ukraine’s recovery plan had three phases: a first focused on fixing things that matter for people’s daily lives, such as water supply, which is ongoing; a second “fast recovery” component that will be launched as soon as fighting ends, including temporary housing, hospital and school projects; and a third that aims to transform the country over the longer term.

Ukraine takes up new defensive lines in Donetsk

Ukrainian forces have taken up new defensive lines in Donetsk, where they still control major cities, and plan to launch counter offensives in the south of the country.

Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai, said the weeks-long battle for Lysychansk had drawn in Russian troops that could have been fighting on other fronts, and had given Ukraine’s forces time to build fortifications in the Donetsk region to make it “harder for the Russians there”.

He also reiterated calls for Ukraine’s western allies to provide more arms, saying the country’s armed forces would launch a counteroffensive when they had sufficient long-range weapons.

He added: “The [Russian] tactics will be the same. They will shoot at everything with their artillery, but it will be difficult for them to move forward.”

A house seen on fire during shelling in Verkhnokamyanske, Donetsk, Ukraine, 4 July.
A house seen on fire during shelling in Verkhnokamyanske, Donetsk, Ukraine, 4 July. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukraine was hoping to launch counter offensives in the south of the country in a video posted online.

This is the last victory for Russia on Ukrainian territory.

These were medium-sized cities. And this took from 4th April until 4th July – that’s 90 days. So many losses…”

Arestovych said besides the battle for Donetsk, Ukraine was hoping to launch counter offensives in the south of the country.

“Taking the cities in the east meant that 60% of Russian forces are now concentrated in the east and it is difficult for them to be redirected to the south,” he said.

“And there are no more forces that can be brought in from Russia. They paid a big price for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.”

Zelenskiy said on Monday that despite Ukraine’s withdrawal on Sunday from Lysychansk, its troops continued to fight.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day.

We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative.”

A house burns out on fire during shelling in Verkhnokamyanske frontline, Ukraine, 4 July.
A house burns out on fire during shelling in Verkhnokamyanske frontline, Ukraine, 4 July. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Russian forces targeting Donetsk cities next, Luhansk governor warns

Russian forces will target the eastern Donetsk cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut next, the governor of the neighbouring province of Luhansk has warned.

President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the heavily fought-over region of Luhansk on Monday after Ukraine’s military command confirmed that its troops had been forced to pull back from the city of Lysychansk.

Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai, says he now expects the cities to come under heavy attack as Russia attempts to take full control of Donbas. Haidai told Reuters:

The loss of the Luhansk region is painful because it is the territory of Ukraine.

For me personally, this is special. This is the homeland where I was born and I am also the head of the region.

[Russian forces] will not transfer 100% of their troops to some front because they need to hold the line. If they leave their positions then ours can carry out some kind of counteroffensive.

Still, for them goal number one is the Donetsk region. Sloviansk and Bakhmut will come under attack – Bakhmut has already started being shelled very hard.”

Russian forces are likely to target eastern Donetsk cities
Russian forces are likely to target eastern Donetsk cities

On Monday, Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, told Putin that “the operation” in Luhansk was complete. The Russian president said the military units “that took part in active hostilities and achieved success, victory” in Luhansk “should rest, increase their combat capabilities”.

The capture of the city of Lysychansk on Sunday completed the Russian conquest of Luhansk, one of two regions in Donbas, the industrialised eastern region of Ukraine that has become the site of the biggest battle in Europe in generations.

Bakhmut, Sloviansk and nearby Kramatorsk lie south-west of Lysychansk and are the main urban areas holding out against Russian forces in Donetsk.

The latest intelligence briefing from the UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russian forces would “almost certainly” switch to trying to capture Donetsk. The briefing said the conflict in Donbas had been “grinding and attritional” and this was unlikely to change in the coming weeks.

Summary and welcome

Hello it’s Samantha Lock back with you as we unpack all the latest news from Ukraine this morning.

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organisations and the private sector have gathered in Switzerland to draw up plans to rebuild war-ravaged Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia has said it is in control of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region after taking over Lysychansk, the last Ukrainian-controlled city in the region.

Here are all the latest lines as of 8am in Kyiv.

  • Russia has declared victory in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, a day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining stronghold in the province. On Monday, Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, told Putin that “the operation” in Luhansk was complete. The Russian president said the military units “that took part in active hostilities and achieved success, victory” in Luhansk “should rest, increase their combat capabilities”. Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, said he expected the Donetsk cities of Sloviansk and Bakhmut to come under heavy attack as Russia attempts to take full control of Donbas.
  • Ukraine has laid out a $750bn (£620bn) “recovery plan” for its postwar future during the Ukraine Recovery Conference hosted by Switzerland on Monday. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the common task of the entire democratic world was to map out a physical future for Ukraine in the event it survives as a western-facing nation after the Russian invasion.
  • Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, said a key source of funding for the recovery plan should be assets confiscated from Russian oligarchs. Ukraine’s recovery plan so far has three phases: a first focused on fixing things that matter for people’s daily lives, such as water supply, which is ongoing; a second “fast recovery” component that will be launched as soon as fighting ends, including temporary housing, hospital and school projects; and a third that aims to transform the country over the longer term.
  • Ukrainian forces are set to raise the country’s flag on Snake Island, a strategic and symbolic outpost in the Black Sea that Russian troops retreated from last week after months of heavy bombardment. Ukraine’s military earlier stated that the national flag had been returned to the island shortly before 11pm on Monday. However, Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, later confirmed in an interview with CNN: “The flag was delivered to the island by helicopter. It will wait for the arrival of the troops, then it will wave.”
  • A British citizen who has been sentenced to death by a Russian proxy court in eastern Ukraine has launched an appeal against the verdict. Aiden Aslin, 28, a British-Ukrainian former care worker from Nottinghamshire who was a Ukrainian marine, was captured by Russian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol in April.
  • The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, has said alternative routes to retrieve grain stuck in Ukraine would need to be looked at, including through Europe’s Danube River, if it cannot be moved via the Bosphorus strait in Turkey. “The Turks are absolutely indispensable to solving this. They’re doing their very best … We will increasingly have to look at alternative means of moving that grain from Ukraine if we cannot use the sea route, if you can’t use the Bosphorus,” he told parliament on Monday.
  • Turkey has halted a Russian-flagged cargo ship off its Black Sea coast and is investigating a Ukrainian claim that it was carrying stolen grain, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.
  • Ukraine is holding talks with Turkey and the United Nations to secure guarantees for grain exports from Ukrainian ports, Zelenskiy said. “Talks are in fact going on now with Turkey and the UN [and] our representatives who are responsible for the security of the grain that leaves our ports,” Ukraine’s president told a news conference alongside the Swedish prime minister, Magdalena Andersson.
  • Ukraine has renewed its invitation for Pope Francis to visit the country and urged the pontiff to continue praying for the Ukrainian people, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.
  • Western envoys in China have criticised Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, with the US ambassador saying China should not spread Russian “propaganda”, during an unusual public forum in a country that has declined to condemn Moscow’s attack.
  • Russian missiles hit a secondary school in the Kharkiv district at 4am on Monday, according to a report from Oleh Synyehubov, governor of the region.
  • The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has claimed that in the last 24 hours Ukrainian forces have shelled 15 of the 240 settlements they say they control. They claim that “five people were killed and another 20 civilians were injured”.
  • Britain is proposing a new law that will require social media companies to proactively tackle disinformation posted by foreign states such as Russia. The law would tackle fake accounts on platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Twitter that were set up on behalf of foreign states to influence elections or court proceedings, the government said in an announcement on Monday.





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