Residents flee as Ukraine's Sloviansk city is hit by heavy bombardment with Russian forces advancing westwards on day 134 of the military confrontation.

After failing to capture Kiev and other big cities in Ukraine's northeast early in the campaign, the Russian military has shifted its focus to Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland of Donbass.
After failing to capture Kiev and other big cities in Ukraine's northeast early in the campaign, the Russian military has shifted its focus to Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland of Donbass. (AFP)

Thursday, July 7, 2022 

Russian shelling kills three, wounds five in Ukraine's Kharkiv: Official

Three people have been killed and another five wounded after Russian forces fired rockets at a district in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the regional governor has said.

"Three civilians were killed and five were wounded as a result of shelling of the Nemyshlyan district," Oleh Synegubov, the governor, wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Russia, which attacked Ukraine on February 24, denies targeting civilians.

Putin warns Russia has not started Ukraine campaign 'in earnest'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Kiev and its Western allies that Moscow has not even started its military campaign in Ukraine "in earnest".

"Everyone should know that we have not started in earnest yet," he told senior lawmakers. "At the same time we are not refusing to hold peace negotiations but those who are refusing should know that it will be harder to come to an agreement with us" at a later stage, he said.

In an ultra-hawkish speech, Putin also dared the West to try to defeat it on the battlefield. "Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say, let them try," he said.

Russian prosecutor seeks 7 years in jail for councillor over Ukraine criticism

A Russian prosecutor has requested a seven-year prison term for a Moscow city councillor accused of criticising Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.

Alexei Gorinov, a 60-year-old lawyer by training, was arrested in late April for spreading "knowingly false information" about the Russian army and is now on trial.

Gorinov is the first elected member of the opposition to face jail for criticising Moscow' military campaign in Ukraine. The charges come under new legislation that allows prison time for discrediting the Russian military and is part of Moscow's increasing efforts to snuff out the last vestiges of dissent.

Ukraine says Britain's support to continue after Johnson's resignation

Ukraine expects Britain's support to continue despite the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office has said, thanking Johnson for defending Ukraine's interests after Russia's attacks.

"We all heard this news (of Johnson's resignation) with sadness. Not only me, but also the entire Ukrainian society, which is very sympathetic to you," Zelenskyy's office said in a statement after the two leaders spoke by phone.

"We have no doubt that Great Britain's support will be preserved, but your personal leadership and charisma made it special."

Russian ambassador: Johnson's fall is reward for 'belligerent' policy on Ukraine

Russia's ambassador to Britain has said Boris Johnson's fall is a just reward for a "belligerent" anti-Russian policy of support for Ukraine while ignoring the economic needs of the British people.

"He concentrated too much on the geopolitical situation, on Ukraine," Andrei Kelin, Russian ambassador to Britain, told Reuters in an interview in London.

"He left behind very much the country, people, state of the economy, and this is what has brought this outcome," Kelin said. "Of course, we would prefer someone who is not so antagonistic or belligerent."

Russia taking 'operational pause' in Ukraine, analysts say

Foreign analysts have said Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in Ukraine as the Russian military attempts to reassemble its forces for a renewed assault.

Russian forces made no claimed or assessed territorial gains in Ukraine “for the first time in 133 days of war,” according to the Institute for the Study of War. The think tank based in Washington institute suggested that Moscow may be taking an “operational pause” that does not entail "the complete cessation of active hostilities."

“Russian forces will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to set conditions for more significant offensive operations and rebuild the combat power needed to attempt those more ambitious undertakings,” the institute said.

Russian defence ministry says warplane hit Ukrainian troops on Snake Island

Russia's defence ministry has said that a Russian warplane has struck Ukraine's Snake Island in the Black Sea overnight, shortly after Ukrainian troops claimed to have raised their flag over the island.

At the Russian defence ministry's daily briefing, spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said that part of the Ukrainian detachment on the island was "destroyed".

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian President's chief of staff, posted a video on Telegram of three soldiers raising a large Ukrainian flag on the island, from which Russian forces withdrew on June 30 after coming under heavy bombardment from Ukrainian artillery. The tiny island is strategically important because of its proximity to the sea lanes to Ukraine's port of Odessa.

Russia to take Sakhalin 1 project under its control - lawmaker

Pavel Zavalny, the head of the energy committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, has said that the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in the country's far east, will be put under Moscow's jurisdiction, just like neighbouring Sakhalin-2.

Four companies - Rosneft, ExxonMoobil, Japan's SODECO and India's ONGC Videsh - are partners in the Sakhalin-1 group of fields. ExxonMobil had decided to pullout from the project in March after Moscow launched what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

"We were forced to make a decision to move Sakhalin 2 from the (production sharing agreement) regime to Russia's jurisdiction amid sanctions... Obviously, the same will happen to Sakhalin 1," Zavalny told an online briefing.

Finland passes laws to strengthen security on Russian border

Finland's parliament has voted in favour of legislation that will allow barriers on the country's border with Russia and enable the closure of the 1,300-kilometre frontier from asylum seekers in case of exceptional circumstances.

The bill on preparedness, while contested in terms of European Union asylum rules, was passed by a supermajority that allows parliament to fast-track laws, amid fears Russia could retaliate over Finland's plans to join the NATO military alliance.

It will also allow the government to decide to build fences or other barriers near Finnish borders and direct all asylum applications to one or several border crossings, such as an airport. 

Russia says US 'hype' not helping WNBA player Griner

Moscow has said that US "hype" over women's basketball star Brittney Griner, held in Russia on drug smuggling charges, will not help her case after President Joe Biden has spoken out against her detention.

Griner -- held in Russia since February and facing up to a decade behind bars on charges of smuggling cannabis vape cartridges into the country -- is due to appear in court later on Thursday.

"The hype and working on the public, with all the love for this genre among modern politicians, currently only disturbs (the court process)," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Russian news agencies. "It does not just distract from the case but creates interference in the core sense of the word. Silence is needed here."

Ukraine 'repels' some Russian advances in Donbass

Russia has redoubled its push for Ukraine's eastern Donbass region, with the Ukrainian military claiming to have repelled some advances and both sides reporting casualties.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said troops stopped enemy units from advancing towards Sloviansk, a city in Donetsk, one of two provinces in the Donbass whose capture is among Moscow’s main goals.

It also claimed to have repelled Russian attacks on a town and village north of Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, just kilometres from the Russian border.

The Ukrainian presidential office said most civilian casualties were in Donetsk province, where Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said two people died in the city of Avdiivka; the cities of Sloviansk, Krasnohorivka and Kurakhove each reported one civilian killed.

For live updates from Wednesday (July 6), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies