- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his troops have “no alternative” but to “push back and destroy the offensive potential” of Russian forces, as the battle moves from Luhansk to nearby Donetsk.
- President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Russian troops on “liberating” the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk.
- Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai discloses Ukrainian forces that retreated from Lysychansk are now holding the line between Bakhmut and Sloviansk, preparing to fend off a further Russian advance.
- Ukraine is holding talks with Turkey and the United Nations to secure guarantees for grain exports from Ukrainian ports, Zelenskyy says.
- Reconstructing Ukraine is expected to cost $750bn, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has said, adding that seized Russian assets should be used to pay for the recovery.
Here are the latest updates:
Putin would not congratulate Biden on July 4 due to ‘unfriendly’ relations: Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin would not congratulate his US counterpart Joe Biden on Monday’s US Independence Day because of Washington’s “unfriendly” actions towards Moscow, the Kremlin has said.
“Congratulations this year can hardly be considered appropriate,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “The United States’ unfriendly policies are the reason.”
Zelenskyy gifted 1711 letter from Swedish King recognising early Ukraine peoples’ independence
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has given Zelenskyy a letter written in 1711 by King Charles XII – previously kept in her country’s national archives – in which the king instructs the Swedish ambassador in Constantinople to recognise the Zaporizhzhian Sich as an independent state.
The Zaporizhzhian Sich was as a semi-autonomous quasi-state of the Cossacks, a predominantly eastern Slavic group originating in the steppes of Ukraine, that existed between the 16th to 18th centuries. It centred around the region spanning the lower Dnieper river, where Ukraine’s current Zaporizhia region is located.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed the letter to journalists and read out a fragment he thought relevant, according to a statement from his office:
“… to implement as soon as possible the article about the will of Ukraine and all Cossacks that all Ukraine and the Zaporizhzhia Army under the current commander Pylyp Orlyk regain the ancient freedom, possession of their land and its former borders, so that from now on this people will become an independent state and never again be subject to the obedience or protection of the king.”
Ukraine is in talks with Turkey, UN on grain exports: Zelenskyy
Ukraine is holding talks with Turkey and the United Nations to secure guarantees for grain exports from Ukrainian ports, Zelenskyy has said.
“Talks are in fact going on now with Turkey and the UN [and] our representatives who are responsible for the security of the grain that leaves our ports,” Zelenskyy told a news conference alongside Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
“This is a very important thing that someone guarantees the security of ships for this or that country – apart from Russia, which we do not trust. We therefore need security for those ships which will come here to load foodstuffs.”
Zelenskyy said Ukraine was working “directly” with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the issue and that the organisation was “playing a leading role, not as a moderator”.
Ukraine has not lost the war: Luhansk governor
Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, has acknowledged his entire province was now effectively in Russian hands but told the Reuters news agency: “We need to win the war, not the battle for Lysychansk … It hurts a lot, but it’s not losing the war.”
Haidai said Ukrainian forces that retreated from Lysychansk were now holding the line between Bakhmut and Sloviansk, preparing to fend off a further Russian advance.
Russia captured the city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, bringing an end to one of the biggest battles in Europe in generations and completing its conquest of Luhansk province, one of two regions it has demanded Ukraine cede to separatists in the Donbas region.
Ukraine could have withdrawn from Luhansk weeks ago but chose to keep fighting to exhaust the invasion force. It hopes the ferocious battle will leave the Russians too depleted to hold gains elsewhere.
‘We need to break them’, Zelenskyy says after Putin congratulates his forces
Ukraine’s armed forces were undeterred in their efforts to “break” Moscow’s will to pursue a nearly five-month war, Zelenskyy has said, as Russia’s Vladimir Putin has hailed his military’s victory in the gruelling battle of Luhansk.
“There have been no significant changes on the battlefield in the past 24 hours,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video message.
“The Armed Forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day. We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative.”
Earlier on Monday, Putin congratulated Russian forces on “victories in the Luhansk direction”, after his troops captured the town of Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last stronghold in the region. Participants in that combat should “absolutely rest and recover their military preparedness” while units in other areas keep fighting, the Russian president said in a brief televised meeting with his defence minister.
Sweden’s PM meets with Zelenskyy in Kyiv
The Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has visited Kyiv on Monday to meet with Ukraine’s President, with the two parties signing a joint statement on defence and energy cooperation.
“This is the first such document in the history of bilateral relations. The joint statement sets out key issues for both our states. This applies, in particular, to defence cooperation, sectoral cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy, energy efficiency, and financial support for Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in a statement.
Zelenskyy also thanked Sweden for its humanitarian support for Ukraine.
“One hundred thousand Ukrainian citizens are in Sweden, and Sweden supports them. We will remember your sincere attention to the citizens of Ukraine in this difficult time of the Russian war,” he said.
Read all the updates from July 4 here.