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Putin’s forces pushed back around Bakhmut as Kyiv’s troops creep closer

<p>A Ukrainian artilleryman fires a 152 mm towed gun-howitzer D-20 at Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine</p>

A Ukrainian artilleryman fires a 152 mm towed gun-howitzer D-20 at Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine

(AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian troops are inching closer to the eastern city of Bakhmut, the scene for some of the fiercest fighting in the continuing invasion, officials in Kyiv said as their military is about to receive a consignment of 1,700 strike and reconnaissance drones to help with its counteroffensive.

Deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said fierce fighting raged near the villages of Klishchiivka, Kurdyumivka and Andriivka on the southern flank of Bakhmut, a small city reduced to ruins in a bloody, months-long battle that gave Russian forces control of the area for now.

Despite steady Western military aid, Ukrainian military officials have said Russia still has an advantage in artillery, tanks and manpower.

Mykhailo Fedorov, a deputy prime minister, said 1,700 drones were on their way to the front lines to help the offensive.

This comes as Ukraine’s security service claimed responsibility for the first time on Wednesday for a sabotage operation that badly damaged the Russian-made Kerch Bridge linking occupied Crimea with Russia last October.

Vasyl Malyuk, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), said his agency was behind the attack.

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African leaders arrive in Russia for summit with Putin, as Kremlin seeks allies in Ukraine war

Some African leaders arrived in Russia on Wednesday for a summit with President Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin seeks more allies amid the fighting in Ukraine.

Putin has billed the two-day summit that opens Thursday in St. Petersburg as a major event that would help bolster ties with a continent of 1.3 billion people that is increasingly assertive on the global stage.

On Wednesday, Putin is set to hold separate meetings with the leaders of Egypt and Ethiopia ahead of the summit.

Martha Mchardy27 July 2023 04:00

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Putin’s forces pushed back around Bakhmut in Ukrainian counteroffensive

Ukrainian troops are appear to be creeping closer to the eastern city of Bakhmut, the scene for some of the fiercest fighting of the war – and the military is about to receive a consignment of 1,700 strike and reconnaissance drones to help with its counteroffensive.

Hanna Maliar, the deputy defence minister, said Kyiv’s troops were successfully attacking in the east on the flanks of occupied Bakhmut and also reported advances towards the southern, occupied cities of Melitopol and Berdyansk which is on the Sea of Azov

Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, holds swathes of territory in the south and east.

Read the full report here:

Arpan Rai27 July 2023 03:44

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Latest pictures from Ukraine

People take cover inside a subway station during an air raid alert, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv

(REUTERS)

Ukrainian servicemen attend a training for platoon commanders of military units of the Eastern Administrative-Territorial Association of the National Guard, at a shooting range near Kharkiv

(EPA)

Platoon commanders of Ukraine’s National Guard take part in a military training in Kharkiv region

(AFP via Getty Images)

A man makes the Sign of the Cross as he pays respect in front of “The memory wall of fallen defenders of Ukraine in the Russian-Ukrainian war” in Kyiv

(AFP via Getty Images)

People lay at the Dnipro riverside promenade in Kyiv

(AFP via Getty Images)

Martha Mchardy27 July 2023 03:00

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Wagner gold smuggling critical to keeping Russia’s economy afloat, MPs say

Russia’s economy is being kept afloat by “critical” gold-smuggling operations by the Wagner mercenary group led by its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a parliamentary report has suggested.

The report by the foreign affairs committee said that Mr Prigozhin’s Wagner Group is smuggling “significant” quantities of the precious metal out of Sudan.

The private military company (PMC) has been simultaneously supporting Sudan’s RSF paramilitary group and its army forces since conflict erupted between the military factions in April, the committee said.

Oliver Pritchard-Jones reports:

Martha Mchardy27 July 2023 02:00

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Irish Government would not offer condolences to Russia after Putin’s death, says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he does not think the Irish Government would offer condolences to Russia in the event of Vladimir Putin’s death.

Mr Varadkar said he did not believe an Irish delegation would be present at the Russian president’s funeral.

The Irish Government adhered to a strict policy of neutrality throughout the Second World War.

However, then-taoiseach and minister for external affairs Eamon de Valera sparked outrage among the international community when he expressed condolences to Germany’s Irish minister Eduard Hempel following Adolf Hitler’s death by suicide in 1945.

(PA Wire)

The event caused significant reputational damage to Mr de Valera and the state, and is regarded as an important moment in the history of Irish neutrality.

While Ireland insists it continues to employ a policy of neutrality, senior government ministers say this relates to being militarily neutral rather than being politically neutral.

Last week, Mr Varadkar pledged to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes when he visited Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.

He also announced millions of euro in additional funding for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Mr Varadkar was banned from travelling to Russia last year after the Kremlin said it was placing 52 “key representatives” from Ireland on a sanctions list for expressing what it claimed was Russophobic sentiment.

Martha Mchardy27 July 2023 01:00

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Watch: Ukrainian minister shows rows of drones ‘to protect the lives of our soldiers’

Ukrainian minister shows rows of drones ‘to protect the lives of our soldiers’

Martha Mchardy27 July 2023 00:00

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Lawmakers say the UK should ban Russia’s Wagner as a terrorist group

Britain has “underplayed and underestimated” the threat posed by the Russian Wagner mercenary group and should ban it as a terrorist organization, a powerful committee of U.K. lawmakers said Wednesday.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the sanctions imposed by Britain on Wagner are “underwhelming” and U.K. authorities have done little to track the private army’s activities beyond Ukraine, where it has fought as part of Russia’s invading forces.

“There are serious national security threats to the U.K. and its allies of allowing the network to continue to thrive,” said the committee, whose members come from both governing and opposition parties. It said Britain should “urgently proscribe the Wagner Network as a terrorist organization,” something the Conservative government has so far been unwilling to do.

Martha Mchardy26 July 2023 23:00

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Watch: Inside RAF fighter jet cockpit over Estonia as Russian invasion of Ukraine continues

Watch: Inside RAF fighter jet cockpit over Estonia as Russian invasion of Ukraine continues

Martha Mchardy26 July 2023 22:00

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Biden orders US to share Russian war crimes evidence with ICC -official

U.S. president Joe Biden has ordered his administration to begin sharing evidence of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), a U.S official said on Wednesday.

The Pentagon had been resistant to the move and privately argued that any cooperation with the court could open the way for politicized prosecution of American troops deployed overseas.

The ICC, a permanent war crimes tribunal, in March issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for suspected deportation of children from Ukraine, which would be a war crime.

The news was first reported by the New York Times, which said the Biden administration had started notifying lawmakers on Tuesday.

The White House declined to discuss specifics of any cooperation with the ICC.

“Since the beginning of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, the president has been clear: there needs to be accountability for the perpetrators and enablers of war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine,” a National Security Council spokesperson said.

“On the ICC specifically, we are not going to discuss the specifics on any cooperation, which is consistent with the court’s practice of treating requests for cooperation in a confidential manner,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said the United States had previously sent teams of international investigators and prosecutors to help Ukraine’s Office of the prosecutor general in preparing war crimes cases.

Ukrainian and Western authorities say there is evidence of murders and executions, shelling of civilian infrastructure, forced deportations, child abductions, torture, sexual violence and illegal detention.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have accused the Pentagon of effectively undermining war crimes prosecution of Russia by blocking the sharing of U.S. military intelligence with the ICC.

Russia is not a member of the ICC and rejects its jurisdiction. It denies committing atrocities during its conflict with Ukraine.

The United States is also not a member of the ICC.

Russia has issued an arrest warrant for the ICC prosecutor who in March prepared a warrant for Putin on war crimes charges.

A successful war crimes prosecution requires a high standard of proof, in a situation where access to suspects and crime scenes is often restricted and there is overlapping jurisdiction between national and international courts.

Martha Mchardy26 July 2023 21:54

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What was Trevor Reed accused of?

Mr Reed was accused of grabbing the right arm of the driver in the police car, causing him to swerve dangerously into other lanes. He was also accused of “striking the officer in the back seat with his elbow as the officer tried to stop Trevor from grabbing the driver.”

In April 2021, Mr Reed was freed from nearly three years of imprisonment after he was swapped for a Russian drug trafficker in a prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow at the time.

Mr Reed was swapped in Turkey for Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been serving a 20-year prison sentence in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy case.

Mr Yaroshenko was detained in Liberia in 2010 by the US and accused of smuggling cocaine and knowing that some of the drugs were intended for distribution in the US. Mr Yaroshenko was detained by Liberian authorities and later turned over to the US. Despite never visiting the US, Mr Yaroshenko was flown there to stand trial in 2011 where he was convicted.

At the time, The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the arrest, calling it a “kidnapping of a Russian national from a third country.”

Martha Mchardy26 July 2023 21:30

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