Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy warns of Russia 'energy attacks'

The US and G7 leaders promised Kyiv they would each provide it with military capability at the NATO summit in Lithuania in July

Russia had destroyed many of Ukraine's energy infrastructure during last winter (photo: Pavlo Palamarchuk/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance)
Russia had destroyed many of Ukraine's energy infrastructure during last winter (photo: Pavlo Palamarchuk/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance)


Kyiv to begin talks on security guarantees pledged by US during NATO summit

Ukraine will begin consultations with the United States this week on security guarantees to fight the war in Ukraine.

The US and G7 leaders promised Kyiv they would each provide it with military capability at the NATO summit in Lithuania in July.

That they hadn't officially invited Kyiv to join the security alliance had frustrated Kyiv. But Ukraine, now engulfed in the war, was still to meet NATO standards, officials said.

"We are starting talks with the United States (this) week," said Andriy Yermak, the head of head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office.

"Security guarantees for Ukraine will be concrete, long-term obligations ensuring Ukraine's capacity to defeat and restrain Russian aggression in the future. These will be clearly drafted formats and mechanisms of support," Yermak wrote on Telegram.

He said the guarantees "will be in effect until Ukraine secures NATO membership."

Pope calls on Moscow to return to grain deal

Pope Francis has called on Russia to reverse its decision to pull out of the Black Sea grain deal, which had allowed Ukraine to export its grain produce despite the war.

Addressing crowds in St Peter's Square during his weekly Angelus message, Francis urged them to continue to pray  "for martyred Ukraine, where war is destroying everything, even grain," calling this "a grave insult to God."

"I appeal to my brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation, so that the Black Sea initiative may be resumed and grain may be transported safely," he said.

Since Russia's withdrawal from the deal on July 17, global wheat prices have spiked, affecting many poor countries who relied on Ukrainian grains to feed their people.

Zelenskyy says Moscow will attack energy infrastructure after summer

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expects Moscow to resume its attacks on his country's energy infrastructure once the summer ends and the weather turns colder.

Speaking during a visit to the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk on Sunday, Zelenskyy vowed to do everything possible to protect the power grid.

Zelenskyy told senior government, security and regional officials it was obvious "in the winter the enemy will try to repeat the terror against the Ukrainian energy industry. We should be ready for this in any case."

He added that every Ukrainian town and city should be ready to handle energy emergencies.

Russia destroyed several energy infrastructure during last winter.

The Ukrainian president also stressed his country was getting stronger, after three Ukrainian drones were downed over Moscow.

"Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia -- to its symbolic centers and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process, the French AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Russian navy to receive 30 new ships this year: Putin

The Russian navy is to be enlarged this year by the delivery of 30 new ships, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday as he attended an annual warship parade in Saint Petersburg.

"Today, Russia is confidently implementing the large-scale tasks of our national maritime policy and is consistently building up the strength of our navy," said Putin. "This year alone, 30 ships of different classes are being added to the fleet."

Putin also praised navy personnel, saying they "give all their strength, show true heroism and fight valiantly, like our great ancestors."

However, he barely mentioned Russia's invasion of Ukraine — which the Kremlin calls a "special military operation" — where the navy is playing a key role, mainly by launching missiles at targets in the country from ships and submarines.

Forty-five ships, boats and submarines, along with some 3,000 servicemen, took part in the parade on water and land, according to the Kremlin.

Saint Petersburg was the venue for a Russia-Africa summit earlier this week, and several leaders and representatives of African countries, including Mali and Burkina Faso, also attended the parade.

Russia says Ukraine attack on Crimea involving 25 drones thwarted

Russia said that its forces had prevented an attempt by Ukraine to attack Crimea with 25 drones overnight. 

"Sixteen Ukrainian UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were destroyed by air defense fire," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

"Another nine Ukrainian drones were suppressed by means of electronic warfare and, without reaching the target, crashed into the Black Sea," the ministry added.

Earlier on Sunday, three Ukrainian drones were downed over Moscow, the Russian authorities said. 

Two office towers were damaged in the attack and an airport was closed briefly. 

Ukraine's energy minister expresses confidence that lights will be kept on in winter

 Ukraine's energy minister said on Saturday that he was confident the country could meet its generation needs during the winter. 

German Galushchenko was asked in a television interview whether Ukraine would be able to meet its mark of  providing 1.7 gigawatts of generation capacity once the cold months come around.

"We will manage to do it," he said. 

Galushchenko said he could not provide details now but that Ukraine was adding power in ways it had never done before.

 "I am very confident that the symbiosis of all actions will lead to the fact that we will be able to reliably ensure supplies during the heating season," he added. 

Saudi Arabia to reportedly host Ukraine peace talks

Saudi Arabia is planning to host talks next weekend over the path to achieving peace in Ukraine, media reports suggested.

Delegations from Ukraine, Western powers and some developing countries are expected to attend the talks. Russia will not take part.

The meeting will be held in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, where Riyadh has hosted other mediation efforts this year, such as the Sudan mediation talks.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, and later by the AFP and AP news agencies. 

Putin downplays skipping South Africa summit amid ICC warrant

Russian leader Vladimir Putin appeared to soft-pedal not attending an economic summit slated to be held in South Africa's Johannesburg in August in the midst of a row over an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court.

He said that he doesn't think his presence at the summit  is "more important than my presence here, in Russia."

Earlier this month, South African authorities said that the Russian president would not attend the conference of BRICS nations due to the warrant despite being invited initially. 

Putin told Russian media on Saturday that he's "in contact with all colleagues," referring to the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa, which along with Russia make up the economic bloc. 

He added that he would attend the summit via video link and that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will travel to Johannesburg.

Ukraine reports attack and damage on Crimea bridge

Ukraine has said that it successfully attacked a land bridge to Crimea and has made advances near Bakhmut in the country's battered east. 

The Chonhar Bridge, which links Crimea with Kherson, was damaged in the attack on Saturday morning,  the Ukrainian army's strategic communications department said.

The bridge is an important supply route for Moscow’s army and was previously attacked and damaged by Ukrainian troops in June. 

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a statement on Telegram that the Ukrainian army was making advances "gradually but surely" in the south towards the cities of Melitopol and Berdyansk.

She also referred to the heavy fighting on the front in the Donetsk region in Ukraine’s east.

"Today we advanced further on the southern flank around Bakhmut." 

Russia seized Bakhmut a few months ago and Ukraine is now looking to get back the occupied land in a counteroffensive.

Moscow does not reject talks with Ukraine, says Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow does not reject talks on Ukraine.

Speaking one day after a summit with African countries, Putin said that the African peace initiative could be a basis for peace, as well as another one earlier presented by Beijing.

He nevertheless added that it was difficult to implement a cease-fire when Kyiv was on the offensive.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rebuked the idea of a cease-fire, as it would allow Russia to keep control of nearly one fifth of Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Putin's latest statements are "whining" and "tall tales."  

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