Putin-Macron call leak breaches ‘diplomatic etiquette’: Lavrov

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the publication of a call between Russian and French leaders is a breach of “diplomatic etiquette”.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says air alerts rang out across almost all of Ukraine on Tuesday night, as he calls again for a modern, effective air-defence system.
  • He says there were attacks in the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ukraine, the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, the border region of Sumy, and the Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv.
  • Russian troops are engaged in heavy fighting, making their way into Ukraine’s Donetsk region, the governor of Luhansk has said.

Here are the latest updates:

Russia’s parliament passes sweeping wartime economic controls

Russia’s parliament has rushed through two bills imposing strict controls on the economy, requiring businesses to supply goods to the armed forces and obliging employees at some firms to work overtime.

Once signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, the bills will allow the government to introduce “special economic measures” during what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“In the context of operations carried out by the armed forces of the Russian Federation outside of Russia, including on the territory of Ukraine, there is a need to repair weapons, military equipment and provide the armed forces with material and technical means,” says an explanatory note to one of the bills.


EU focuses on energy supply under Czech presidency

The EU has set out a harder focus on energy amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, as the Czech Republic presented its priorities upon taking over the bloc’s presidency.

“We need to prepare for further disruptions of gas supply, even a complete cut-off from Russia,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

Her commission is set to unveil an emergency plan on energy supply security on July 20 that would help redirect gas flows within the EU to “where it is most needed”.


Russia says it destroyed two US rocket systems in Ukraine

Russia’s armed forces have destroyed two advanced US-made HIMARS rocket systems and their ammo depots in eastern Ukraine, according to the Russian defence ministry.

The ministry said Russia had destroyed two launchers for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that the US and its allies have been supplying to Kyiv.

It also said Russian forces destroyed two ammunition depots storing rockets for the HIMARS near the frontline in a village south of Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region – the main focus for Russian troops following the capture of Luhansk over the weekend.


UK’s Johnson refuses to quit amid tough times, Ukraine war

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said his government will not fold after the resignation of two of his most senior ministers and a string of more junior officials in protest at his leadership.

Johnson told lawmakers that the economy was facing tough times and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine represented the worst war in Europe in 80 years.

“That is exactly the moment that you’d expect a government to continue with its work, not to walk away, and to get on with its job,” Johnson said in Britain’s parliament.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the start of a cabinet meeting, in Downing Street, London, Tuesday, July 5, 2022. (Justin Tallis/Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Johnson speaks at the start of a cabinet meeting [Justin Tallis/pool via AP]

Ukraine says gas storage is at roughly half government target

Ukraine has 11 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas in underground storage versus a government target of 19 bcm, according to the head of its gas transmission system operator.

“This winter will probably be the most difficult in our history,” Sergiy Makogon, chief executive of the transmission system operator, told a news briefing. “At the moment in underground storage sites there is around 11 bcm of the 19 (bcm) the cabinet wants.”

Makogon said before Russia’s invasion Ukraine used around 30 bcm a year of gas but that he expected consumption would shrink to around 21-22 bcm a year.


Ukraine expects harvest of at least 50 million tonnes of grain: official

Ukraine expects a grain harvest of at least 50 million tonnes this year, which is “not bad given all the difficulties,” according to the country’s first deputy agriculture minister.

Ukraine, a major global grain grower and exporter, harvested a record 86 million tonnes of grain in 2021.

Taras Vysotskiy added in televised comments that most of Ukraine’s 2022 wheat harvest would be of milling quality and that the country, which has been invaded by Russia, would have to export at least 30 million tonnes of the 2022 grain harvest in the 2022/23 season.


Russia says Turkey hasn’t detained grain ship

Russia’s foreign ministry has said reports the Russian-flagged cargo ship Zhibek Zholy is detained in the Turkish port of Karasu on suspicion of carrying stolen Ukrainian grain are false.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said Zhibek Zholy, which Ukrainian authorities have said is carrying grain from the occupied port of Berdyansk, was “undergoing standard procedures”.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday that Turkish authorities had detained the Zhibek Zholy. Reuters previously reported that Ukraine had asked Turkey to arrest the ship.


Lavrov: Putin-Macron call leak breached ‘diplomatic etiquette’

Russia’s Lavrov has said that the publication of a call between President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a breach of “diplomatic etiquette”.

“Diplomatic etiquette does not provide for unilateral leaks of (such) recordings,” Lavrov said on a trip to Vietnam. Lavrov added that Russia had nothing to be ashamed of from the content of the conversation between the two leaders.

The details of the confidential call days before Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine were revealed by the broadcaster France 2 in a documentary on the French president’s handling of the conflict.

Putin Macron Meeting
The details of a confidential call between the two leaders have been revealed [File: AFP]

Britain adds two Russians to its sanctions list

Britain has added two Russian individuals to its sanctions list, subjecting them to an asset freeze and travel ban.

The sanctions list was updated to add Denis Gafner and Valeriya Kalabayeva – both of whom Britain said were involved in spreading disinformation and promoting Russian actions in Ukraine.


Kremlin slams Japan’s ‘unfriendly’ position towards Russia

Japan has taken an “unfriendly” position toward Russia which does not help to develop ties in either trade and economy or the energy sector, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Asked about comments by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on capping the price of Russian oil at about half its current level, Peskov said Tokyo was taking a “very unfriendly” position towards Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends an annual end-of-year news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, Russia
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov [File: Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

Greece says gas link with Bulgaria completed

A long-delayed gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria aimed at helping Sofia cut its reliance on Russian gas has been completed and can start commercial operations this month, according to Greece’s energy minister.

The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), which has hit several administrative hurdles in recent years, is important for the energy security of Bulgaria, which has been cut off Russian gas for refusing to pay in roubles following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 220 million euros ($226m) pipeline will carry gas from the northern Greek city of Komotini to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria and be linked to another pipeline carrying Azeri gas.


Austria starts to eject Gazprom from gas storage facility

Austria is following through on a “use it or lose it” threat to eject Russia’s Gazprom from its large Haidach gas storage facility for systematically failing to fill its portion of the capacity there, according to the government.

“If customers do not store [gas] then the capacity must be handed over to others. It is critical infrastructure. We need it now in such a crisis. That is exactly what is happening now in the case of Gazprom and its storage at Haidach,” Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler told a news conference, adding that gas regulator e-Control had started the process of ejecting Gazprom.


Russian gas flows to Europe via Nord Stream lift after brief dip

Flows of Russian gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have returned to levels seen in recent weeks, after a dip a day earlier, while eastbound flows via the Yamal remain at zero, according to operator data.

Physical flows to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline across the Baltic Sea stood at 29,268,783 kilowatt-hours per hour (kWh/h) on Wednesday morning, back in line with volumes above 29,000,000kWh/h seen for much of the past three weeks, operator company information showed.

Flows briefly dropped on Tuesday to below 26,000,000kWh/h, although this was in line with lower nominations, or customer demand.


Russia’s Lavrov calls for efforts to protect international law

Russia’s Lavrov has called on all parties in the world to make efforts to protect international law as “the world is evolving in a complicated manner”.

He was speaking through a translator at a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son in Hanoi. Lavrov is due to attend a meeting of G20 foreign ministers later this week in Indonesia.

Sergey Lavrov
Lavrov says ‘the world is evolving in a complicated manner’ [File: Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via Reuters]

Five civilians killed, 21 injured in Donetsk: Governor

Russian forces killed five civilians and injured another 21 in the Donetsk region on Tuesday, the governor has said.

Two people were killed in the town of Avdiivka, one in the city of Sloviansk, one in the town of Krasnohorivka and one in the town of Kurakhove, Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

It is not clear whether the death in Sloviansk was in addition to the two people Kyrylenko had earlier said were killed in Tuesday’s attack on a market and residential area in the city, or the official toll has changed.

A man pushes a bicycle across a street in front of the market after shelling, in Sloviansk.
A man pushes a bicycle across a street in front of the market after shelling, in Sloviansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, July 5, 2022 [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

Ukraine holding back Russian troops from advancing into Donetsk: Governor

Ukraine’s army is holding back Russian forces on the border of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the Luhansk governor has said, with significant losses among Moscow’s troops.

“Every day, the Russians receive an order to advance further, but they do not always carry it out, because the losses in personnel are very significant,” Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram.

Haidai claimed Russian soldiers that had been taken prisoner as well as those who spoke to people in the now Russian-occupied city of Lysychansk “admit this”.

He also said Ukrainian forces had destroyed several warehouses holding Russian ammunition in the occupied territories.


Battle for Sloviansk the next key contest in Donbas struggle: UK

Russian troops, from the eastern and western groups of forces, are likely about 16km (10 miles) north of the city of Sloviansk, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

The city of Sloviansk has been bracing for an incoming battle as Russian forces advance into the Donetsk region after capturing Luhansk.

“With the town also under threat from the central and southern groups of forces, there is a realistic possibility that the battle for Sloviansk will be the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

It also said most of Russia’s remaining available units from the eastern and western groups of forces have been committed to the northern Izyum axis.


Russia’s Lavrov calls for efforts to protect international laws

Russia’s foreign minister has called on all parties in the world to make efforts to protect international laws as “the world is evolving in a complicated manner”.

Lavrov was speaking through a translator at a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son in Hanoi. His comments come as Western countries have accused Russia of breaching international law through its invasion of Ukraine.

“Vietnam is a key partner [of Russia] in ASEAN … and the two countries’ relations are based on history and their common fight for justice,” Lavrov said at the meeting, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Vietnam and Russia have close ties dating back to the Soviet era and Hanoi has not so far condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”. Lavrov’s visit to Hanoi comes as the two nations mark the 10th anniversary of their “comprehensive strategic partnership”.


Swiss leader cautions on using frozen Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine

The president of Switzerland has cautioned Western allies about the legal complexities of using frozen Russian assets to help pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction, saying “the right of property is a fundamental right – is a human right”.

Ignazio Cassis made his comments to reporters at the end of the Ukraine Recovery Conference, after Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal voiced hopes to lock down and use an estimated $300-$500bn in Russian-owned assets that have been frozen in many Western banks to help pay for rebuilding Ukraine.

The Swiss leader said fundamental rights can at times be violated – as was done in some cases during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – “but we have to create the legal base” for such moves first. “You have to ensure the citizen is protected against the power of the state,” Cassis said.

Switzerland has frozen 6.3 billion Swiss francs ($6.5bn) in Russian assets.


US seeks focus on ‘urgent’ needs of Ukraine at Swiss meeting

A top US diplomat has urged Ukraine’s allies to help the war-battered country meet its “immediate and urgent” needs – not only longer-term rebuilding – as scores of countries wrapped up a two-day conference aimed at helping Ukraine recover from Russia’s war, when it ends one day.

Scott Miller, the US ambassador to Switzerland, added a dose of urgency to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, at which the Ukrainian prime minister a day earlier presented a $750bn plan to help his country both recover now – where possible – as well as in the immediate aftermath of the war and over the long term.

Many attendees pointed out that efforts were likely to take many years, and rebuilding would need to take place in several phases. Some called for support for Ukraine along the lines of the US Marshall Plan for Europe after World War II – hinting at a colossal long-term project.

“While we recognise the importance of preparing for Ukraine’s future, all of us must also deliver on our commitments to provide Ukraine its immediate and urgent needs,” said Miller, one of many government envoys who decried Russia’s war and detailed their support for Ukraine.


Many in Lysychansk still in basements after battle: Resident

Lysychansk, once a city of 100,000 people in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, was eerily quiet on Tuesday with scorched buildings, overturned vehicles and rubble, a testament to the ferocity of the battle it has endured.

Tatiana Glushenko, a 45-year-old Lysychansk resident, told the Reuters news agency there were people still in basements and bomb shelters, including children and the elderly.

Glushenko said she and her family had decided to stay in the city on worries about safety in other parts of Ukraine.

“All of Ukraine is being shelled: western Ukraine, central Ukraine, Dnipro, Kyiv, everywhere. So we decided not to risk our lives and stay here, at home at least,” she told Reuters.

Two women in blue dresses outside a glass factory bomb shelter in the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine.
Residents come out of a glass factory bomb shelter in the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine, July 5, 2022 [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Blinken to seek G20 pressure on Russia to open sea lanes, warn China on Ukraine: Diplomats

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will call on G20 nations this week to put pressure on Russia to support United Nations efforts to reopen sea lanes blocked by the Ukraine conflict, and repeat warnings to China not to support Moscow’s war effort, diplomats have said.

Blinken heads to Asia on Wednesday for a meeting of the Group of 20 foreign ministers in Bali, Indonesia, on Friday. His trip will include his first meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi since October, but no meeting is expected with Russian top diplomat Lavrov.

Ramin Toloui, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, told reporters Blinken would raise energy security and a UN initiative to try to get Ukrainian and Russian foodstuffs and fertiliser back to global markets.

Meanwhile, top US diplomat for East Asia Daniel Kritenbrink said he expected a “candid” exchange on Ukraine in Blinken’s talks with China’s Wang, which are expected on Saturday. “This will be another opportunity … to convey our expectations about what we would expect China to do and not to do in the context of Ukraine,” he said.

Read more here.


West wants to turn Ukraine into neo-Nazi state: Lavrov

The West is seeking to turn Ukraine “into an openly Russophobic, neo-Nazi state, a military foothold” that would threaten Russia’s security, Moscow’s foreign minister was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying.

Tass said Lavrov had informed Mongolian leaders “in detail” about what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“We are interested in making the facts about how the representatives of the Kyiv regime behaved and continue to behave in Ukraine available to the broad world community,” Lavrov said.

“Unfortunately the West is doing everything to block the work of the media, which provide objective information about what is happening,” he said, without offering any evidence.


Russia foreign minister visits Mongolia in drive for support

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has met with leaders in Mongolia during a trip to Asia to seek support amid his country’s diplomatic isolation by the West and punishing sanctions.

Lavrov met with Mongolian Foreign Minister Battsetseg Batmunkh and paid a courtesy call on President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Tuesday, Mongolian state media reported.

Mongolia is a landlocked nation sandwiched between Russia and China, and has sought to maintain friendly relations with both neighbours while also cultivating close ties with the US, whose relations with Moscow and Beijing have become increasingly fraught.

Mongolian and Russian state media gave no details of any specific discussions about the Ukraine conflict, while emphasising strong bilateral relations. The two sides have signed a series of trade agreements, and a pipeline carrying Russian natural gas to China is being built through Mongolian territory.

Mongolian Foreign Minister Batmunkh Battsetseg shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov prior to their talks in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Mongolian Foreign Minister Battsetseg Batmunkh shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov prior to their talks in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 5, 2022 [Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP]

Mitsui, Mitsubishi shares fall after Medvedev suggests loss of Russian oil, gas supply to Japan

Shares of Japanese trading firms Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp dropped more than 4 percent on Wednesday after former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made comments threatening the loss of oil and gas supply to Japan.

Commenting on a reported proposal by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the weekend to cap the price of Russian oil at about half its current level, Medvedev said on social media that Japan “would have neither oil nor gas from Russia, as well as no participation in the Sakhalin-2 LNG project” as a result.

Mitsui and Mitsubishi hold stakes of 12.5 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in the Sakhalin-2 project.


Air alarms blared across almost all of Ukraine Tuesday: Zelenskyy

An air alert rang out across almost all of Ukraine on Tuesday night, Zelenskyy has said, as he again called for a modern anti-missile system.

“Before that, there has been no air alert in the capital and in some regions for some time, and some people even felt particularly anxious because of such unusual silence. They were overthinking, dreading, looking for some kind of explanation – as if the occupiers were preparing for something…,” he said in his nighttime address.

“You should not look for logic in the actions of terrorists. The Russian army does not take any breaks. It has one task – to take people’s lives, to intimidate people – so that even a few days without an air alarm already feel like part of the terror. And this evening, Kyiv and again almost the whole of Ukraine heard the air alarm,” he added.

Zelenskyy said there were raids in the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ukraine, the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, the border region of Sumy, and the Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv and its region. “Some of the missiles were shot down by our air defence forces. And we have not reduced and will not reduce our diplomatic activity for a single day to obtain modern anti-missile systems for Ukraine in sufficient quantity.”


Russians moving into Ukraine’s Donetsk: Governor

Russian troops are engaged in heavy fighting and making their way into Ukraine’s Donetsk region after taking control of the last two towns in neighbouring Luhansk, the regional governor of Luhansk has said.

Serhiy Haidai said the Russian troops had sustained heavy losses in the long process of capturing the twin towns of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, but were channelling their efforts into moving southward.

“Heavy fighting is going on at the edge of Luhansk region … All the forces of the Russian army and reserves have been redirected there … They are sustaining heavy losses,” Haidai told Ukrainian television.

“A large quantity of equipment is being sent towards Donetsk region. Of course, after Luhansk region, Donetsk is at the top of their list.”


Ukraine is a ‘terrorist’ state: Russia parliament speaker

The speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament has told members in a plenary session that Ukraine had become a “terrorist state”, according to remarks posted on the State Duma’s website.

Vyacheslav Volodin was quoted as saying that Zelenskyy was the head of a “criminal regime”.

Russian officials have since the beginning of Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine sought to paint their neighbour as being controlled by anti-Russian fascists and “neo-Nazis”, but have not pushed the idea that it is a terrorist state.

Ukraine and the West say the claim is baseless propaganda, used to justify a land grab.


Two killed, seven injured in Sloviansk Tuesday: Officials

At least two people were killed and seven injured after Russian forces struck a market and a residential area in Sloviansk on Tuesday, local officials have said.

A Reuters news agency reporter on the scene saw yellow smoke billowing from an auto supplies shop, and flames engulfing rows of market stalls as firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.

It was not immediately clear what munitions had been used in the attack on the front-line city in the Donetsk region, or how many people had been at the market when it was hit.

“Russians again deliberately target areas where civilians congregate,” Donetsk Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Facebook post that detailed the toll of Tuesday’s attacks. “This is sheer terrorism.”

Read more here.

Yurii Sherbakov, 53, stands in front of a destroyed house where he was injured during shelling, in Sloviansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine.
Yurii Sherbakov, 53, stands in front of a destroyed house where he was injured during shelling, in Sloviansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, July 5, 2022 [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

Read all the updates for July 5 here.

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