Ukraine has “likely won the battle of Kharkiv”, the country’s second largest city, the Institute for the Study of War has said in its latest assessment of the conflict. “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, and then expelled them from around the city, as they did to Russian forces attempting to seize Kyiv,” the US-based thinktank said.
Ukrainians have also repelled multiple attempts by the Russians to cross a strategically significant river in the Donbas, inflicting heavy losses in the process, according to local officials and British intelligence. British defense intelligence said Russia had lost “significant armored manoeuvre elements” from a battalion tactical group – a formation with about 800 personnel at full strength – from the failed effort to cross the Siversky Donets River, 12 miles (20km) west of Severodonetsk.
Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland from 1am on Saturday the supplier, RAO Nordic, said, amid rising tensions over Helsinki’s bid to join Nato.
That news came as US president Joe Biden expressed his support for the right of Finland and Sweden “to decide their own futureforeign policy, and security arrangements” in a call with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, and Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson.
Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that Turkey would not welcome either Sweden or Finland joining Nato. The comments appeared directed at the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey regards as a terrorist organisation. Sweden has a large Kurdish diaspora.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy says “very difficult negotiations are underway” on the evacuation of the seriously wounded and medics from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which Russian forces continue to bombard. “Of course, we are doing everything to evacuate everyone else, each of our defenders,” the president added.
A Russian soldier has appeared in court accused of murdering an unarmed man on a bicycle, at the start of the first war crime trial in Ukraine since the invasion began. Vadim Shysimarin, a commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, is charged with the premeditated murder of a 62-year-old man. The case is scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia will hold a referendum on joining Russia on 17 July, the region’s leader, Anatoly Bibilov, has announced. South Ossetia was at the center of the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 after which the Kremlin recognized the territory – along with another separatist region, Abkhazia – as an independent state and stationed military bases there.
Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said Kyiv hopes to arm a million people as the country prepares for a “new, long phase of war”. He warned that “extremely tough weeks are ahead” and that Ukraine needed “unity, cohesion, will and patience” during this difficult period.
The UK has issued sanctions against a dozen members of Vladimir Putin’s family and inner circle including his long-rumoured girlfriend. The Foreign Office argued that the Russian president officially owns only modest assets, and has sanctioned the people who help support his lavish lifestyle.
Britain and Norway have signed a new joint declaration on enhancing cooperation between the two countries. Boris Johnson met his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Støre, in London on Friday, where both leaders “underscored their full support for any sovereign choice made by Nordic partners to enhance their security”, a Downing Street statement said.
the US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, for the first time since before the invasion began, the Pentagon said. Austin “urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication”, the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, said.
The EU could agree on a phased embargo on Russian oil next week, Despite concerns about supply in Eastern Europe, according to diplomats and officials. A senior EU diplomat told Reuters an agreement could come as early as Monday when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels. A third diplomat said there was a chance of an agreement later in the week.
The lawyer for the US professional basketball player Brittney Griner said her pre-trial detention has been extended by one month. The two-time Olympic medalist was arrested in February at Moscow’s airport, allegedly in possession of vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. If she was found guilty, she could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.