Russia-Ukraine war: drone hits Russia’s Black Sea fleet HQ; Zelenskiy urges civilians to leave Donetsk – latest updates

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A drone flew into the Russian headquarters of its Black Sea fleet, injuring five people, the governor of Sevastopol said.

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Russia’s state-run Ria-Novosti news agency quoted Mikhail Razvozzhaev as also saying all festive events in honour of the Navy Day in the city had been cancelled for security reasons.

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Russian state media reporting that the HQ of Russia’s Black Sea fleet has been hit by a drone attack, wounding five. Today is Navy Day in Russia, major naval parades planned in St. Petersburg and other cities. https://t.co/JgNW99edwv

&mdash; Andrew Roth (@Andrew__Roth) July 31, 2022

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Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. Here’s a summary of the latest developments as it just passes 9am in Kyiv on this Sunday 31 July 2022.

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  • Ukrainian officials have denounced a call by Russia’s embassy in Britain for fighters from the Azov regiment to face a “humiliating” execution, Agence France-Presse reported. Twitter said the embassy had violated its rules on “hateful conduct” but put a warning on the tweet rather than ban the post about the Azov, a Ukrainian battalion that retains some far-right affiliations. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidency’s office, responded on Telegram on Saturday: “In the 21st century, only savages and terrorists can talk at the diplomatic level about the fact that people deserve to be executed by hanging. Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism. What more evidence is needed?”
  • \n

  • Renewed Russian strikes on Ukraine’s frontline have left one person dead in the south of the country and also hit a school in Kharkiv, officials said. The mayor of the southern city of Mykolaiv said one person was killed when rockets pounded two residential districts overnight, AFP reported. In Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, rockets from an S-300 surface-to-air system destroyed part of an educational facility, local authorities said.
  • \n

  • The Ukraine president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called for the evacuation of the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, which has seen fierce clashes between his country’s forces and the Russian military. The governor of Donetsk, where Moscow is focusing the brunt of its offensive, said six civilians were killed and 15 wounded by strikes on Friday. Zelenskiy said in his daily address: “There’s already a governmental decision about obligatory evacuation from Donetsk region. Please, follow evacuation.” Zelenskiy said thousands of people, including children, were still in the battleground areas of the Donetsk region.
  • \n

  • The Ukrainian military said it had killed scores of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps in fighting in the Kherson region, the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in the south and a key link in Moscow’s supply lines. Reuters reported the military’s southern command as saying rail traffic to Kherson over the Dnipro River had been cut, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and the east.
  • \n

  • Gazprom has suspended gas supplies to Latvia following tensions between Moscow and the west over the conflict in Ukraine and sweeping sanctions against Russia, AFP reports. The company drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday to about 20% of its capacity. European Union states have accused Russia of squeezing supplies in retaliation for western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
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  • Russia announced it was banning 32 New Zealand officials and journalists from entering its territory, in response to similar measures taken by Wellington against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, AFP reported. Among those subjected to sanctions are the mayor of Wellington, Andrew Foster; the mayor of Auckland, Philip Goff; the commander of New Zealand’s navy, Commodore Garin Golding; and the journalists Kate Green and Josie Pagani, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
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  • The United States ambassador to the United Nations said on Friday there should no longer be any doubt that Russia intended to dismantle Ukraine, Reuters reported. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN security council that the US was seeing growing signs of Russia laying the groundwork to attempt to annex all of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
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  • Russia is “running out of steam” in its war on Ukraine, the chief of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, Richard Moore, said in a brief comment on Twitter on Saturday. Moore made the remark above an earlier tweet by the Ministry of Defence that said the Kremlin was “growing desperate”.
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  • Russia and Ukraine have both launched criminal investigations into strikes that have reportedly killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were held at a pre-trial detention centre in the village of Olenivka, after both countries blamed the other side for the attack. The UN is prepared to send a group of experts to Olenivka to investigate the incident, if it gets consent from both parties.
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  • Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has accused Russia of a “petrifying war crime” over the killings and called on world leaders to “recognise Russia as a terrorist state”.
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  • Ukraine has said it is ready for grain exports to leave its ports again but is waiting for the go-ahead from the UN.
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Key events

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, has said the evacuation of people from the eastern Donetsk region needs to take place before winter begins since the region’s natural gas supplies have been destroyed.

She was quoted by domestic Ukrainian media outlets while, separately, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his government was ordering the mandatory evacuation in Donetsk, the scene of fierce fighting with Russia.

Reuters reported him saying in a television address that hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the larger Donbas region – which contains Donetsk as well as the neighbouring Luhansk region – needed to leave.

He said:

The more people leave [the] Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.

Residents who left would be given compensation, Zelenskiy said.

Many refuse to leave but it still needs to be done.

Five injured as drone hits Russia’s Black Sea fleet HQ

A drone flew into the Russian headquarters of its Black Sea fleet, injuring five people, the governor of Sevastopol said.

Russia’s state-run Ria-Novosti news agency quoted Mikhail Razvozzhaev as also saying all festive events in honour of the Navy Day in the city had been cancelled for security reasons.

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Russian state media reporting that the HQ of Russia’s Black Sea fleet has been hit by a drone attack, wounding five. Today is Navy Day in Russia, major naval parades planned in St. Petersburg and other cities. https://t.co/JgNW99edwv

&mdash; Andrew Roth (@Andrew__Roth) July 31, 2022

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Russian state media reporting that the HQ of Russia’s Black Sea fleet has been hit by a drone attack, wounding five. Today is Navy Day in Russia, major naval parades planned in St. Petersburg and other cities. https://t.co/JgNW99edwv

— Andrew Roth (@Andrew__Roth) July 31, 2022

Summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. Here’s a summary of the latest developments as it just passes 9am in Kyiv on this Sunday 31 July 2022.

  • Ukrainian officials have denounced a call by Russia’s embassy in Britain for fighters from the Azov regiment to face a “humiliating” execution, Agence France-Presse reported. Twitter said the embassy had violated its rules on “hateful conduct” but put a warning on the tweet rather than ban the post about the Azov, a Ukrainian battalion that retains some far-right affiliations. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidency’s office, responded on Telegram on Saturday: “In the 21st century, only savages and terrorists can talk at the diplomatic level about the fact that people deserve to be executed by hanging. Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism. What more evidence is needed?”
  • Renewed Russian strikes on Ukraine’s frontline have left one person dead in the south of the country and also hit a school in Kharkiv, officials said. The mayor of the southern city of Mykolaiv said one person was killed when rockets pounded two residential districts overnight, AFP reported. In Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, rockets from an S-300 surface-to-air system destroyed part of an educational facility, local authorities said.
  • The Ukraine president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called for the evacuation of the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, which has seen fierce clashes between his country’s forces and the Russian military. The governor of Donetsk, where Moscow is focusing the brunt of its offensive, said six civilians were killed and 15 wounded by strikes on Friday. Zelenskiy said in his daily address: “There’s already a governmental decision about obligatory evacuation from Donetsk region. Please, follow evacuation.” Zelenskiy said thousands of people, including children, were still in the battleground areas of the Donetsk region.
  • The Ukrainian military said it had killed scores of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps in fighting in the Kherson region, the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in the south and a key link in Moscow’s supply lines. Reuters reported the military’s southern command as saying rail traffic to Kherson over the Dnipro River had been cut, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and the east.
  • Gazprom has suspended gas supplies to Latvia following tensions between Moscow and the west over the conflict in Ukraine and sweeping sanctions against Russia, AFP reports. The company drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday to about 20% of its capacity. European Union states have accused Russia of squeezing supplies in retaliation for western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russia announced it was banning 32 New Zealand officials and journalists from entering its territory, in response to similar measures taken by Wellington against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, AFP reported. Among those subjected to sanctions are the mayor of Wellington, Andrew Foster; the mayor of Auckland, Philip Goff; the commander of New Zealand’s navy, Commodore Garin Golding; and the journalists Kate Green and Josie Pagani, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
  • The United States ambassador to the United Nations said on Friday there should no longer be any doubt that Russia intended to dismantle Ukraine, Reuters reported. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN security council that the US was seeing growing signs of Russia laying the groundwork to attempt to annex all of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
  • Russia is “running out of steam” in its war on Ukraine, the chief of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, Richard Moore, said in a brief comment on Twitter on Saturday. Moore made the remark above an earlier tweet by the Ministry of Defence that said the Kremlin was “growing desperate”.
  • Russia and Ukraine have both launched criminal investigations into strikes that have reportedly killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were held at a pre-trial detention centre in the village of Olenivka, after both countries blamed the other side for the attack. The UN is prepared to send a group of experts to Olenivka to investigate the incident, if it gets consent from both parties.
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has accused Russia of a “petrifying war crime” over the killings and called on world leaders to “recognise Russia as a terrorist state”.
  • Ukraine has said it is ready for grain exports to leave its ports again but is waiting for the go-ahead from the UN.

The Guardian