Russia has suspended an arrangement that allowed US and Russian inspectors to visit each other’s nuclear weapons sites under the 2010 New Start treaty, in a fresh blow to arms control. Mutual inspections had been suspended as a health precaution since the start of the Covid pandemic, but a foreign ministry statement on Monday added another reason Russia is unwilling to restart them. It argued that US sanctions imposed because of the invasion of Ukraine stopped Russian inspectors travelling to the US.
Ukraine has reported intense Russian shelling across the frontlines on Tuesday as both sides traded blame for the weekend strike on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex that triggered international concern about a potential atomic disaster. Heavy fighting was reported in frontline towns near the eastern city of Donetsk, where Ukrainian officials said Russian troops were launching waves of attacks.
In an interview the self-appointed leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, said the advance of pro-Russian forces in the Donbas is developing in a northern direction, with fighting going on on the outskirts of Bakhmut and Soledar. He said that the DPR was in negotiations with Pyongyang to bring builders from North Korea in to help rebuild the occupied territory. Pushilin also stated that there would be an “open tribunal over the war criminals of Ukraine”, with the first to be held in Mariupol, which would feature the testimony of the “Azovites”, in reference to Ukraine’s Azov battalion.
Russia’s assault towards the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine has been its most successful axis in the Donbas region in the past month, the UK Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence update. Despite this, it had only gained 10km in that time, while elsewhere in Donbas it had gained only 3km over 30 days – “almost certainly significantly less than planned”.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-imposed military-civilian administration in the occupied Kherson region of Ukraine has said “Kherson region is ready to repel the attempts of the offensive by Ukrainian militants, if such a criminal order is given. Reliable protection of the borders of the region is provided by the Russian ministry of defence.”
Two further grain-carrying ships have sailed from Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port on Tuesday, as part of the deal to unblock Ukrainian sea exports. The Ocean Lion, which departed for South Korea, is carrying 64,720 tonnes of corn, it said, while the Rahmi Yağcı is carrying 5,300 tonnes of sunflower meal to Istanbul. Four ships that left Ukraine earlier are anchored near Istanbul and will be inspected on Tuesday, the Turkish defence ministry said.
Belarus, where Russian troops were positioned to hold joint exercises before they invaded Ukraine from the north in February, has announced it is to hold live fire military training exercises both in Belarus and in Russia during August.
Russia launched an Iranian satellite into orbit on Tuesday on morning, but Tehran has sought to deflect suspicions that Moscow could use Khayyam to improve its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine.
The US believes Russia has suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded, since its latest invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February. Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy official said: “The Russians are taking a tremendous number of casualties on the other side of the equation. I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians are probably taking 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months.”
Ukraine has arrested two people working for Russian intelligence services who planned to kill the Ukrainian defence minister and the head of the country’s military intelligence agency, Ukraine’s domestic Security Service said on Monday. The Security Service of Ukraine foiled the plot by the Russian GRU military intelligence agency to use a sabotage group to carry out three murders including that of a prominent Ukrainian activist, the agency said.
The United States will provide an additional $4.5bn (£3.7bn) to Ukraine’s government, bringing its total budgetary support since Russia’s February invasion to $8.5bn (£7bn), the US Agency for International Development has announced. The funding, coordinated with the US Treasury Department through the World Bank, will go to Ukraine’s government in tranches, beginning with a $3bn (£2.5bn) disbursement in August, USAid, the Agency for International Development, said.
It is highly likely Russia is deploying anti-personnel mines to protect and deter freedom of movement along its defensive lines in Donetsk and Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.
The ministry called the PFM-1 and PFM-1S mines – also known as “butterfly mines” – “deeply controversial and indiscriminate weapons” with the potential to inflict widespread casualties among both the military and the local civilian population.
The first grain carrying ship to depart Ukrainian ports after the UN-brokered deal is looking for another port to unload its cargo after the initial Lebanese buyer refused delivery due to its five-month delay, Reuters reported.
The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom has called for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to be made a military-free zone, warning of the risk of a Chornobyl-style nuclear disaster after shelling of the site caused a reactor to shut down on Saturday. Russia and Ukraine continue to trade accusations over is responsible for the shelling, with the UN calling for international inspectors to be given access. According to reports from the head of the Russian-installed administration of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region, the nuclear power station is currently operating normally.
The Russian-installed head of the occupied part of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region signed a decree on Monday providing for a referendum on joining Russia, in the latest sign that Moscow is moving ahead with its plans to annex seized Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has ruled out any peace talks with Russia if the country proceeds with referendums in the occupied areas.
The Kremlin said on Monday there was no basis for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents at the moment. Negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv have been stalled for months, with each side blaming the other for a lack of progress, Reuters reports.