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12:45am: Russia wants to put anti-war activist in prison
Russian prosecutors on Thursday called for prison sentences for a prominent opposition activist and for a Moscow city council member who opposes the invasion of Ukraine, in a sign the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent continues to gather pace.
Prosecutors asked that Andrei Pivovarov, former head of the Open Russia organization, be given a five-year sentence for “directing an undesirable organization,” a criminal offense under a 2015 law, according to his lawyer, Sergei Badamshin.
Pivovarov rejected the charges and pointed out during the court hearing that the criminal case was opened two days after Open Russia shut down. The group disbanded in an attempt to shield members from prosecution after it was designated an “undesirable” organization.
11:38pm: Ukraine asks Canada not to hand over turbine to Russia – Reuters
Ukraine opposes Canada’s handing over a turbine to Russia’s Gazprom that Moscow says is critical for supplying natural gas to Germany and Kyiv believes such a move would flout sanctions on Russia, a Ukrainian energy ministry source said on Thursday.
A senior energy ministry source told Reuters that Kyiv opposed the move and that its energy minister had lobbied Canada in June not to hand over the turbine being serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy in Canada.
“The sanctions forbid the transfer of any equipment related to gas,” the energy ministry source said.
7:36pm: Putin says Russia has not started Ukraine campaign ‘in earnest’
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned Kyiv 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.
5:41pm: Russian, Chinese foreign ministers meet in Bali ahead of G20
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Bali Thursday to discuss Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine ahead of a G20 ministerial meeting overshadowed by the war. The pair were pictured holding a bilateral meeting on the Indonesian resort island as the world’s top economies gather to discuss the most pressing global issues on Friday, with the Ukraine war at the top of the agenda.
Despite criticism, Beijing has upheld friendly ties with Russia as Western nations have sought to isolate President Vladimir Putin’s government from the global financial and diplomatic order over the military assault on its neighbour.
Lavrov informed Wang “about the implementation of the main missions of the special military operation” in Ukraine and reiterated Moscow’s rhetoric that its aim is to “denazify” the country, a Russian foreign ministry statement said. “Both parties underlined the unacceptable nature of unilateral sanctions adopted by circumventing the UN.”
4:58pm: Zelensky expresses ‘sadness’ over Johnson’s resignation
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday telephoned Boris Johnson to express his “sadness” over the British leader’s resignation as Conservative leader and impending departure as prime minister, Kyiv said.
“We all welcome this news with sadness. Not only me, but also all of Ukrainian society which sympathises with you a lot,” the presidency quoted Zelensky as saying, reiterating how grateful Ukrainians were for the British prime minister’s support since the Russian invasion.
Johnson has been seen as one of Ukraine’s most vocal and fervent supporters in the West.
“We don’t doubt that Great Britain’s support will continue, but your personal leadership and your charisma made it special,” said Zelensky.
4:21pm: Russia occupies 22 percent of Ukraine farmland, NASA says
Russian forces now occupy about 22 percent of Ukraine’s farmland since the February 24 invasion, impacting one of the major suppliers to global grain and edible oils markets, NASA said Thursday.
Satellite data analysed by scientists at the US space agency shows that Russia’s occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine gives it control of land that produces 28 percent of the country’s winter crops, mainly wheat, canola, barley, and rye, and 18 percent of summer crops, mostly maize and sunflower.
The war’s disruption of harvesting and planting – including farmers fleeing the war, the lack of labor and fields pockmarked by shelling – could have a heavy impact on global food supplies, NASA scientists said.
3:23pm: EU will deny G20 as ‘propaganda forum’ for Russia
The EU will prevent Russia using a G20 meeting in Indonesia as a “propaganda forum” for its disinformation on the impacts of its war in Ukraine, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Energy and food crises exacerbated by Russia’s invasion “feature prominently on the agenda of the G20” meeting of foreign ministers, to be attended by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, his spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.
Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s appalling war of aggression against Ukraine excludes any business as usual, and will be clearly addressed,” she said.
3:17pm: Russian forces leave trail of destruction as they set sights on Sloviansk
Russian forces left a trail of destruction in their wake Thursday as they grinded deeper into Donbas with their sights set on the industrial hub of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine as their next target.
Russian forces killed at least seven civilians and injured others in the last 24 hours throughout the battle-scarred Donetsk region, the region’s head Pavlo Kyrylenko said Thursday, in Moscow’s latest wave of deadly attacks.
2:04pm: One killed as Russian missile hits centre of Ukraine’s Kramatorsk, governor says
At least one person was killed and six wounded in a Russian air strike on the heart of the de facto administrative capital of Donetsk Kramatorsk on Thursday, the top regional official said.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, Governor of the Donetsk region, said a missile had damaged six buildings including a hotel and an apartment bloc in the large industrial hub.
“A Russian missile hit the centre of Kramatorsk. It’s known for sure that one person was killed and six wounded, but these figures may change,” he said.
1:48pm: Zelensky adviser thanks Johnson for supporting Ukraine
An adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday thanked outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for always being at the forefront of supporting Ukraine.
Mykhailo Podolyak added in a video accompanying a Twitter post that Johnson, who said on Thursday he would quit as prime minister, was “a person who began to call a spade a spade from the beginning” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
12:01pm: Russia taking ‘operational pause’ in Ukraine, according to analysts
Foreign analysts say Russia may be temporarily easing its offensive in Ukraine as the Russian military attempts to reassemble its forces for a renewed assault.
On Wednesday, 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.
Shelling continued in Ukraine’s east, where at least nine civilians were killed and six wounded in 24 hours, Ukrainian officials said.
11:02am: Ukraine summons Turkish ambassador after Russian ship leaves port
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Thursday a Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain had been allowed to leave the Turkish port of Karasu, calling it an “unacceptable situation” and summoning Turkey’s ambassador.
“We regret that Russia’s ship Zhibek Zholy, which was full of stolen Ukrainian grain, was allowed to leave Karasu port despite criminal evidence presented to the Turkish authorities,” foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter.
“Türkiye’s Ambassador in Kyiv will be invited to Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify this unacceptable situation.”
9:57am: Russia says US ‘hype’ over WNBA player Griner does not help her cause
Amid growing concern that it is collecting international prisoners to use as political pawns, Russia said on Thursday that it was difficult to exchange prisoners with the United States and suggested Washington be silent about the fate of Brittney Griner, the US basketball player detained in Russia on drugs charges.
Referring to a letter that US President Joe Biden that NBC news reported he intends to send to Griner, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that “hype” around the case does not help, and that “this kind of correspondence does not help”.
In April, former U.S. marine Trevor Reed was released from a Russian prison, where he had been convicted of assaulting two police officers. He was freed in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been jailed on drug trafficking charges in the U.S.
Griner was arrested on Feb. 17 at Moscow’s Sheremteyevo airport, after cannabis-infused vaporiser cartridges were allegedly found in her lugggage. She faces ten years in prison on drugs charges.
7:08am: Russian-flagged cargo ship detained by Turkish authorities leaves port
The Russian-flagged cargo ship Zhibek Zholy, suspected of carrying stolen Ukrainian grain, left the Turkish port of Karasu late on Wednesday, Refinitiv ship tracking data showed.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey said Turkish authorities had detained the ship. Reuters previously reported that Ukraine had asked Turkey to arrest the ship.
On Wednesday, Russia’s foreign ministry dismissed as false reports of the ship’s detention by authorities.
Kyiv has accused Moscow of stealing grain from territories seized by Russian forces since their invasion began in late February.
The Kremlin has previously denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.
6:41am: Jacinda Ardern decries UN ‘failure’ over Ukraine war
The UN Security Council has failed in its response to Russia’s “morally bankrupt and illegal” invasion of Ukraine, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday.
The UN’s “failure” over Ukraine was caused by Russia’s position with a veto in the Security Council, she said in an address to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute think-tank during a trade visit to Australia.
“We must reform the United Nations so that we don’t have to rely on individual countries imposing their own autonomous sanctions.”
Russia must be held to account for its invasion, she said, calling for the International Criminal Court in The Hague to get the resources it needs to probe and prosecute war crimes.
New Zealand would intervene as a third party in Ukraine’s case against Russia at the court, she added.
But the prime minister warned against taking a “black and white” view of the world, casting the Ukraine invasion as a war between the West and Russia or democracy against autocracy, and pushing away important players such as China.
5:40am: Russian FM arrives in Bali for G20 meeting
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has flown into Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for a meeting of G20 foreign ministers, which is set to be overshadowed by tensions triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The G20 gathering runs until Friday in host country Indonesia, which this year has grappled with the balancing act of running a global summit buffeted by geopolitical pressures and a global food crisis blamed on the war.
There was tight security on Thursday in Bali’s Nusa Dua area, where the summit is being held, as foreign diplomats descended on the tropical island for the meeting.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)