Russia-Ukraine war latest: Nuclear power plant move 'may show Putin knows Russia vulnerable'; hockey player detained 'for spying'; child deportation charges (2023)

Key points
  • Zelenskyy orders military to strengthen in north - amid fears Russia may be playing 'game'
  • Kremlin might want to take 'formal control' of Wagner
  • Putin 'somewhat weakened' by aborted mutiny, says Trump
  • Russian forces starting to leave nuclear power plant, says Ukraine
  • Evidence of Ukraine using banned landmines emerges
  • Location of possible Wagner fighters' camp in Belarus revealed
  • Sean Bell:Why Russia's nuclear power plant move may show Putin knows Russia is vulnerable
  • What do we know about 'General Armageddon', who has not been seen since Wagner coup?
  • Your questions answered:Is there a chance Wagner fighters could stage a coup in Belarus?
  • Live reporting by Jess Sharp


Putin and Modi hold phone conversation as Indian-Russian relations continue to strengthen

Russian President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Modi held a phone conversation today, Russian media cites the Kremlin.

The pair discussed the current state of affairs in Ukraine and Mr Modi expressed his "support for the steps taken by the Russian leadership to ensure security in connection with the events of June 24," TASS news agency reports.

Relations between the two countries have continued to strengthen in recent years, with India heavily increasing purchases of Russian raw materials after the West imposed sanctions and turned its back on Moscow's oil and gas.

Cheaper Russian oil made up 40% of India's crude imports in May as its reliance on the more expensive oil from the Middle East continues to drop.


Funeral held for twin 14-year-old sisters killed in missile strike

A joint-funeral service has been held for two 14-year-old sisters killed in Tuesday's missile attack in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.

Anna and Yuliia Aksenchenko were among 12 people who died in the blast at a pizza restaurant.

The family held a mourning ceremony for them at their apartment several hundred metres away from the site before an open-casket funeral service.

The girls were dressed in wedding dresses for their burial - a custom in Ukraine for girls who were too young to marry pass away.


Tinder fans hold 'funeral' for dating app after it exits Russia

Tinder has officially left Russia today after announcing the move more than a month ago.

Match Group, which owns the dating platform, said at the time of the announcement that it was "committed to protecting human rights".

Its withdrawal from Russia has been relatively slow compared to some other players in the industry, with Bumble and Badoo, blocking app downloads in both Russia and Belarus since March last year.

Several other companies have also left the country as a punishment for invading Ukraine.

Tinder's exit hasn't gone down well with fans in Sochi, Russia, who gathered to hold the platform a funeral....

"Local creative geniuses dressed in all black and took carnation branches with them. They tell personal stories and invite to get to know each other in reality," said Sochi Online's Telegram post.


Snake Island: Ukraine celebrates year since 'symbol of resistance' recaptured

It has been one year since a now-famous island in the Black Sea was recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

Snake Island was thrown into the limelight in the first days of the conflict, with a Ukrainian soldier telling a Russian warship to "go f*** yourself" before the island was captured.

A year after retaking the island, Ukraine celebrates the event as a symbol of the country's resistance.

A video shared by the defence ministry shows the island's recapture, stating that "it was here that the Russian warship found out where it needed to go and what it needed to do.

Despite early reports suggesting that those who defended the island were all killed, it was later revealed that the soldiers had been captured.

After they were released, the soldier who radioed the Russian warship was awarded a bravery award.


Zelenskyy orders military to strengthen in north - while source suggests Russia may be playing 'game'

Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has ordered top military commanders to strengthenUkraine's northern military sector following the arrival of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in Belarus.

The president said government and military leaders had also heard a report from Ukrainian intelligence and security forces on the situation in Belarus,Ukraine's northern neighbour.

It comes after up to 5,000 of Prigozhin's Wagner fighters were said to be joining him in the country, where dictator and Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko offered the use of an abandoned military camp.

Satellite images have shown tents appearing south-east of Belarusian capital Minsk.

A Ukrainian government official told The Economist the troops "could be used on diversionary missions" - although a military-intelligence source told the outlet that another Russian invasion from the north was unlikely.

"There may be a game to get us to move forces to the north, but we play games too," he said.


Eleven explosions hit area near port city's airport

Multiple explosion have hit an area near an airport in the occupied port city of Berdyansk in Ukraine's southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, according to the local administration.

"Eleven explosions rang out in Berdyansk. There are fires and detonations near the airport," it said in a Telegram post.

"Ambulances went in that direction.We are waiting for official information from the general staff of the armed forces Ukraine."

Vladimir Rogov, a Russia-installed official in Zaporizhzhia, claimed the blasts were caused by Russian air defences repelling an "enemy attack".

He shared this video claiming to show the explosions...

He said Ukraine tried to strike the area with Storm Shadow missiles - a weapon that has been given to Kyiv by the UK.

"The sounded series of explosions is the result of the work of the Russian air defence, which successfully repelled an enemy attack on civilians even on the outskirts of the city," he said.

Ukraine and Russia have continually blamed each other for attacks in occupied regions throughout the war.


Your questions answered: Does Putin have cancer - and who would replace him?

Our senior correspondents and experts have been answering your questions on the war in Ukraine.

Today's question comes from Jimmy216...

Last year there was lots of speculation about Vladimir Putin having cancer. Is that still the case, and when he dies is he likely to be replaced by a nationalist hawk intent on upscaling the war, or a dove likely to withdraw troops and seek peace?

Our international affairs editor Dominic Waghorn has tackled this one:

There has been a lot said about Vladimir Putin's health for sure.

His imminent demise was predicted by sources in Kyiv and Western capitals early in this war. But he still seems well enough to stand and talk and walk around.

If he does have cancer, he is clearly getting pretty good treatment.

There has also been plenty of speculation that there are several presidential lookalikes being used, possibly to enhance the impression of better health.

There are videos of Mr Putin look shaky and gripping tables in meetings with officials and he seems at times to have a limp but he is a man of 70 years.

His enemies, hearing of his ill health, will like Basil Fawlty of a hotel guest in Fawlty Towers be hoping "it's nothing trivial", but so far there is no evidence of any terminal ailment afflicting the president.

If he were to die there is no reason to think he would be replaced by anyone more congenial. In fact, there are several candidates who could be even more belligerent towards Ukraine and the West.

Got a question? Or want to read other answers from our senior correspondents and experts? Click here...


Enough tents to house thousands of soldiers seen near Belarusian military base

By Jack Taylor, OSINT producer

In our post from 10:35, we published medium resolution satellite imagery that showed activity at a military base in Belarus since Wagner's aborted coup on Saturday.

The base is in the area that Russian media have claimed the mercenary group will be moving to.

New satellite images from Planet Labs PBC show that the change at the site was the assembly of at least 290 troop tents.

This is enough to house thousands of soldiers.


Ukraine brings first charges for deporting orphans against Russian politician and collaborators

A Russian politician and two suspected Ukrainian collaborators have been charged with war crimes by Kyiv over the alleged deportation of dozens of orphans.

They are the first suspects charged by Ukraine, which says more than 19,000 children have been illegally transferred to Russia or Russian-held territory.

The charges follow a wider investigation carried out in cooperation with the Hague-based International Criminal Court, according to the exclusive Reuters report.

The 48 orphans, aged between one and four, were allegedly taken from the southern city of Kherson in September and October and re-located to Moscow and Russian-occupied Crimea.

If proven, this is a violation of the laws and customs of war under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

"We don't know how these children are, in what conditions they are kept, or what their fate is," said Yuliia Usenko, head of the department for the protection of children's interests in Ukraine's Prosecutor General's office

They may have been illegally adopted by Russian citizens, or
taken to Russian institutions, she added.

Earlier today, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Moscow had been evacuating children from orphanages in war zones.

The Kremlin has continually dismissed allegations that Russia had violated children's rights in Ukraine.


Why Russia's nuclear power plant move may show Putin knows Russia is vulnerable

Analysis by military expert Sean Bell

Russian forces are starting to leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to Ukraine's Main Department of Intelligence for the Ministry of Defence.

This follows widespread reports that the Russians were mining several key areas inside the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

The Russians have held the nuclear plant since the very start of their illegal invasion of Ukraine.

There have long been concerns the Russians had prepared defensive positions within the site to offer protection for their military forces, in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention.

The reports of Moscow's forces leaving the plant have not been verified, and could simply be a sign that the Russians are preparing for battle and getting rid of any extraneous personnel.

However, if as a result of Prigozhin's abortive march on Moscow Putin is drawing down on his military reserves in Ukraine to enhance Russian domestic security, then it could also be a sign that Russia recognises that the land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas might be vulnerable, and thus reconfiguring forces accordingly.

The concern here is that Russia has a track record of leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, as they did with the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.

The Russians could be planning to destroy or damage large areas of vital infrastructure at the nuclear plant to create a major distraction for the oncoming Ukrainian forces.

Regardless, the sooner the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is returned to Ukrainian control and is no longer a pawn in this dangerous and unpredictable war, the better.


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