Russian missiles hit apartment block and Ukrainian security service building in Dnipro
Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has spelled out the “worst-case scenario” for the world as Vladimir Putin’s invasion enters its 18th month.
“If the aggressor wins now, it will be the worst-case scenario for all of humanity,” Ms Zelenska said in an exclusive interview with Independent TV from the heavily guarded presidential palace in Kyiv.
Speaking from the command centre in Kyiv, Ms Zelenska warned that Ukraine is in desperate need of “faster” support to enable it to fight Vladimir Putin’s troops.
“We keep hearing from our Western partners that they will be with us as long as it takes. ‘Long’ is not the word we should use. We should use the word ‘faster’,” she told Independent TV.
On the war front, even though Russian forces have not made any significant headway along the front lines, they are entrenched in heavily mined areas they control, making it difficult for Ukrainian troops to move east and south, Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday.
From the command centre in Kyiv, Olena Zelenska’s urgent plea to help her nation as war rages around her
As if on cue, the haunting wail of the air-raid siren sifts through the sunshine as we pull up to the checkpoint by the presidential complex in Kyiv.
Like swathes of Ukraine, the contours of this heavily guarded compound have been re-carved by President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Instead of a sweeping pedestrian boulevard leading to 10 Bankova – Ukraine’s 10 Downing Street – the complex is a disorientating labyrinth of blast walls, sandbags, and soldiers.
Inside this bunker, it is as quiet and dark as a sunken cathedral. The windows are boarded up and filters cover each light casting an eerie muted glow. Sandbags, like used tissues, are wedged between marble columns. A chandelier which is not switched on, crowns the sweeping stairwell which leads up to makeshift barricades punctured by embrasures.
It feels like the presidential compound and its inhabitants are poised and prepared. Including the First Lady – Olena Zelenska – whom we are here to meet.
Bel Trew sits down with the first lady in a wide-ranging interview discussing her work rebuilding Ukraine in the middle of war – and the pressures on her family:
Arpan Rai3 August 2023 06:56
Ukrainians being forced to assume Russian citizenship, report says
Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied territory are being forced to assume Russian citizenship or face harsh retaliation, including possible deportation or detention, US-backed researchers have alleged.
Yale University researchers said that as part of a plan by Moscow to assert authority over Ukrainians, residents of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions are being targeted by a systematic effort to strip them of Ukrainian identity.
A series of decrees signed by Vladimir Putin compel Ukrainians to get Russian passports, in violation of international humanitarian law, the report said.
Ukrainians in occupied territory who do not seek Russian citizenship “are subjected to threats, intimidation, restrictions on humanitarian aid and basic necessities, and possible detention or deportation – all designed to force them to become Russian citizens,” the report said.
“What is concerning here is that it represents, basically, a violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions,” executive director Nathaniel Raymond of the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health, told Reuters. “It is very widespread and very ongoing.”
Ukrainians in areas under Russian control have no choice but to accept a Russian passport if they want to survive, or they face potential detention and, as the team has documented, deportation into Russia if they fail to comply,” Mr Raymond said.
Reuters3 August 2023 09:06
Seven injured in repeat strike on church in Kherson, Ukraine says
A Russian strike on a church in central Kherson has injured three civilians and four emergency service workers, Ukraine’s state broadcaster reports, citing regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin.
Three people who were traveling on a bus past the church were injured and hospitalised, Mr Produkin said – with officials alleging that Russia struck once more as the emergency services sought to extinguish the fire, injuring four.
Andy Gregory3 August 2023 08:42
Russia striving to cause global food catastrophe, claims Zelensky
Russia is striving to cause a global food catastrophe, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed.
In his nightly address, Mr Zelensky said Russia had attacked ports in Odesa and other areas with 37 Iranian-made Shahed drones, some of which were shot down by air defences.
“It is very important for the world not to get used to this Russian terror,” he said. “Every hit is a common problem. Not only for Ukraine, but also for all those in the world whose stability Russia is trying to destroy by attacking our ports and infrastructure.
“Now, for the Russian state, this is a battle not only against our freedom, not only against our state. Moscow is fighting a battle for a global catastrophe: these lunatics need the world food market to collapse – they need price crises, supply disruptions.
“Someone in Moscow thinks they can make money on this … Someone in Moscow hopes they will be able to bargain for something … These are very, very dangerous hopes.”
Andy Gregory3 August 2023 08:21
Putin’s ‘energy ransom’ and deadly virus escaping lab ‘among serious threats facing UK’
Vladimir Putin’s potential to disrupt world energy supplies, a deadly pathogen escaping from a lab and extreme weather linked to the climate crisis are among the serious risks facing the UK, according to a new government list.
The Cabinet Office has published a register designed to help Britain prepare for “worst-case scenarios” of some of the serious threats posed to the country.
Alongside a future pandemic and “Putin’s energy ransom”, other key risks outlined in the national register include the potential for the malicious use of drones and cyber attacks on health and social care systems.
Our politics and Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has the full report:
Andy Gregory3 August 2023 07:57
Russian strikes hit port less than a mile from Nato territory
In strikes landing less than a mile from Nato territory, Russia attacked Ukraine’s main inland port across the River Danube from Romania on Wednesday – sending global food prices higher as it ramps up its use of force to prevent Kyiv from exporting grain.
The attacks destroyed buildings in the port of Izmail, south of Moldova, and halted ships in their tracks as they prepared to arrive there to load up with Ukrainian grain in defiance of a de-facto Black Sea blockade reimposed by Russia last month.
The port, which lies across the river from Nato-member Romania, is the main alternative route for exports. Ukraine said the Russian attacks damaged almost 40,000 tons of grain destined for countries in Africa as well as China and Israel.
Our daily edition editor Alastair Jamieson has the full story:
Andy Gregory3 August 2023 07:38
Anti-aircraft units ‘mobilised against drones’ in Kyiv
Anti-aircraft units were mobilised against attack drones during a three-hour air raid alert in and around Kyiv on Thursday, Ukraine’s military said – with several explosions reported but no strikes or casualties announced.
Kyiv military authorities lifted the alert just after 4am local time. One report by the military said airborne targets had been shot down, but no details were provided. Alerts were also lifted in most other areas of the country.
Andy Gregory3 August 2023 07:24
Weeds and shrub undergrowth slowing Ukraine’s progress in southern area, says UK MoD
Undergrowth regrowing across the battlefields of southern Ukraine is likely one factor contributing to the generally slow progress of combat in the area, the British Ministry of Defence has said.
“The predominately arable land in the combat zone has now been left fallow for 18 months, with the return of weeds and shrubs accelerating under the warm, damp summer conditions. The extra cover helps camouflage Russian defensive positions and makes defensive mine fields harder to clear,” the ministry said.
It added that while undergrowth can also provide cover for “small stealthy infantry assaults, the net effect has been to make it harder for either side to make advances”.
Arpan Rai3 August 2023 07:10
If Russia wins now it’s the worst-case scenario for humanity, warns Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska
Ukraine’s first lady has warned that Russia winning the war it started is “the worst-case scenario for all humanity”, in a heartfelt plea for the world not to lose interest in her country as its soldiers are fighting for “the democratic balance of the world”.
Speaking exclusively to Independent TV, Olena Zelenska said Ukraine is deeply concerned that the world is underestimating the wider threat from Moscow as the conflict grinds into its 18th month.
Read the full interview here:
Arpan Rai3 August 2023 05:40
Ukrainians forced to become Russian citizens, US-backed research finds
Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied territory are being forced to assume Russian citizenship or face harsh retaliation, including possible deportation or detention, US-backed research published yesterday said.
A series of decrees signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin compel Ukrainians to get Russian passports, in violation of international humanitarian law, the report said.
Yale University researchers said that as part of a plan by Moscow to assert authority over Ukrainians, residents of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions are being targeted by a systematic effort to strip them of Ukrainian identity.
The Kremlin has consistently denied allegations of war crimes in Ukraine by forces taking part in a “special military operation” it says was launched to “de-Nazify” its neighbour and protect Russia.
Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin said in May that Moscow has given passports to almost 1.5 million people living in the annexed parts of Ukraine‘s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions since last October.
Arpan Rai3 August 2023 05:21