Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 341 of the invasion
Russian shelling of residential areas in Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson left at least three people dead and ten injured, local authorities said. The Kherson regional military administration said on its Telegram channel that Russian forces targeted a hospital, school, bus station, post office, bank and residential buildings in a strike on Sunday.
A missile hit an apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, killing one person and injuring three others, according to the regional governor. Oleh Synehubov said the missile struck the city centre on Sunday, and that an elderly woman’s body was pulled from the rubble. He said 15 residents of the building were evacuated immediately after the explosion, and will be provided with temporary accomodation.
Ukraine’s military and Russia’s Wagner private military group are both claiming to have control in the area of Blahodatne, eastern Donetsk region. “Units of Ukraine’s defence forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of … Blahodatne … in the Donetsk region,” Ukraine’s military reported, adding its forces also repelled attacks in 13 other settlements in the Donetsk region. Wagner, designated by the US as transnational criminal organisation, said on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday that its units had taken control of Blahodatne.
The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, has said that pro-Russian forces are continuing to make advances in Vuhledar. Russian forces have been pounding Bakhmut in the Donbas for several months, but in recent days the invaders have opened up a new effort to gain ground around the village of Vuhledar, 30 miles south-west of Donetsk city.
New US ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, was heckled by a crowd of people chanting anti-US slogans as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow to present her diplomatic credentials. Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told Tracy he expected her to follow the principle of not interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reported. The US embassy said: “Ambassador Tracy is focused on maintaining dialogue between our capitals at a time of unprecedented tension, protecting the interests of U.S. citizens detained in Russia, and supporting ties between the American and Russian peoples.”
Ukraine’s state-run energy operator Ukrenergo has said there is a “significant” deficit in the country’s energy system due to damage caused by Russian missile attacks. Ukraine’s energy system had “survived” 13 rocket attacks and 15 drone strikes from Russian forces, which had “caused significant damage to high-voltage facilities and power plants”, it said.
President Tayyip Erdoğan signalled that Turkey may agree to Finland joining Nato without Sweden, amid growing tensions with Stockholm. “We may deliver Finland a different message [on their Nato application] and Sweden would be shocked when they see our message. But Finland should not make the same mistake Sweden did,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech aired on Sunday. Sweden and Finland applied last year to join Nato and need all member countries’ approval to join. Turkey and Hungary are holding out.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he met Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, in the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv, and also discussed the impact of Russian missile and drone strikes. The pair “reviewed the state of the region’s energy infrastructure, the means of its protection and the pace of recovery”, Zelenskiy posted to Telegram.
Zelenskiy has stepped up his campaign to keep Russian athletes out of the 2024 Paris Games. Ukraine’s president said he had sent a letter to Emmanuel Macron, and that allowing Russia to compete would be tantamount to showing that “terror is somehow acceptable”.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba added to the pressure on Monday, saying “Russia won 71 medals in Tokyo Olympics. 45 of them were won by athletes who are also members of the Central Sports Club of the Russian Army. The army that commits atrocities, kills, rapes, and loots. This is whom the ignorant IOC wants to put under white flag allowing to compete.”
The Kremlin said on Monday that former British prime minister Boris Johnson was lying when he said Russian president Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that what Johnson said was not true, or “more precisely, a lie”. Johnson, who has repeatedly been accused of dishonesty during his political career, was speaking to the BBC for a documentary, and said the Russian leader had threatened him with a missile strike that would “only take a minute”.
Peskov also said the west’s supplying of further weapons to Ukraine will only lead to “significant escalation” of the conflict. Nato countries were “more and more becoming directly involved in the conflict”, he said, describing the situation as “a dead-end”.
Authorities in Slovenia have apprehended two alleged Russian spies who used an agency dealing in real estate and antiques as a front for their activities, local media reported on Monday.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said it cannot be ruled out that Poland and the Baltic states may break off diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation entirely. Describing them as states where “a frenzied Russophobic campaign has been unfolding for a long time”, he said “we are not in favour of breaking diplomatic relations. Even in the most difficult situation, it is necessary to maintain channels for dialogue, resolving issues of our fellow citizens and compatriots.”
Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, has told the Politico website that he wants the country to join the European Union within two years.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region in Russia, has said that shelling of Bezliudovka from Ukraine had injured two people.
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has urged South Korea to increase military support to Ukraine, suggesting it reconsider its policy of not exporting weapons to countries in conflict.
Ukraine’s military will spend nearly $550m (£444m / €505m) on drones (UAVs) in 2023, and 16 supply deals have already been signed with Ukrainian manufacturers, defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Monday.
Vladimir Putin was open to contacts with Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, though no phone call was scheduled, a Kremlin spokesperson told the state Ria Novosti news agency. Scholz told the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel: “I will also speak to Putin again – because it is necessary to speak.”
Kyiv and its western allies are engaged in “fast-track” talks on the possibility of equipping Ukraine with long-range missiles and military aircraft, a top aide to Ukraine’s president said. Mykhailo Podolyak said Ukraine’s supporters in the west “understand how the war is developing” and the need to supply planes capable of providing cover for armoured vehicles the US and Germany have pledged.
US military officials are reportedly urging the Pentagon to supply F-16 jets to Ukraine so it is better able to defend itself from Russian missiles and drones.
Scholz reiterated on Sunday that Germany will not send fighter jets. “I can only advise against entering into a constant bidding war when it comes to weapons systems,” Scholz said in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper. “If, as soon as a decision [on tanks] has been made, the next debate starts in Germany, that doesn’t come across as serious and undermines citizens’ confidence in government decisions.”