Russia Ukraine news latest: Kremlin confirms Putin meeting with Wagner commanders including Prigozhin

Zelensky accompanies Azovstal commanders back to Ukraine

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Russian president Vladimir Putin met with Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his most commanders just five days after the aborted mutiny and they pledged loyalty to his regime, the Kremlin has said.

The three-hour meeting took place on 29 June, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday, in a likely attempt to portray a return to normalcy in the ties between two men who faced off in the biggest military mutiny Russia has seen in decades.

No comments have been issued by Mr Prigozhin himself on the meeting, which was first reported earlier yesterday.

During the meeting Mr Putin gave an assessment of Wagner’s actions on the battlefield in Ukraine, where the mercenaries have fought alongside regular Russian troops, and of the revolt itself.

Elsewhere, Joe Biden will meet Volodymyr Zelensky at the Nato summit in Lithuania tomorrow, US officials confirmed to The Independent.

The meeting comes as Mr Biden expressed doubts in recent days about Ukraine’s long-sought goal of joining the trans-Atlantic alliance. The two leaders last met in Japan in May for the G7 summit.

Key Points

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NATO allies will send clear and positive message to Ukraine -Stoltenberg

NATO allies will make clear at their summit in Vilnius how Ukraine can become a member of the alliance in the future, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

“I expect allies will send a clear, united and positive message on the path towards membership for Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said as he arrived for the start of a summit with leaders of NATO member countries.

Martha Mchardy11 July 2023 09:16


Russia says U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine signal lack of interest in diplomacy – RIA

By announcing plans to increase arms supplies to Ukraine, the United States makes clear that it is not interested in a diplomatic solution, the RIA news agency cited senior Russian diplomat Konstantin Gavrilov as saying on Tuesday.

Gavrilov also said in comments published on the day of a NATO summit in Lithuania that Europe would be the first to face “catastrophic consequences” if the war escalates.

Martha Mchardy11 July 2023 08:55


Ukraine claims to have shot down majority of Russian drones overnight

Russia launched 28 kamikaze drones on the southern port of Odesa and Kyiv in early hours on Tuesday, Ukraine‘s military said.

Ukraine‘s Air Force said that air defence systems shot down 26 of the Iranian-made “Shahed” drones that Russia launched.

Over Odesa, 22 were downed and two drones hit an administration building in the port, the local governor said.

A grain and another terminal near the Odesa port caught fire, which was quickly extinguished causing no “critical damage” or injuries, governor Oleh Kiper said on the Telegram messaging app.

All drones sent towards Kyiv were intercepted, but debris damaged a number of houses in the region, the military said.

“The enemy attacked Kyiv from the air for the second time this month,” Serhiy Popko, a head of Kyiv’s military administration, said in a post on the Telegram channel.

Witnesses in Ukraine‘s capital heard blasts resembling the sound of air defence systems intercepting targets during the air raid.

In the Kyiv region that surrounds the capital, 12 residential houses and one multi-storey building suffered minor damage by falling debris, the military head of the region, Ruslan Kravchenko, said on his Facebook page.

There were no injuries reported.

Martha Mchardy11 July 2023 08:53


Europe to face ‘catastrophic consequences’ if Ukraine war escalates, says Russian diplomat

Europe will be the first to face “catastrophic consequences” if the Ukraine war escalates, the RIA news agency cited Konstantin Gavrilov, a Vienna-based Russian diplomat and senior security negotiator, as saying on Tuesday.

Gavrilov, who blamed the United States for pushing towards such an escalation, spoke as NATO countries held a summit in Vilnius.

Martha Mchardy11 July 2023 08:35


Nato should remove Ukraine’s membership action plan requirement: Stoltenberg

Nato allies should agree to remove the requirement of a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine to become a member of the alliance in the future, secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

“Ukraine has come a long way since we made the decision in 2008 that the next step would be a Membership Action Plan. Ukraine is much closer to Nato, so I think the time has come to reflect that in Nato decisions,” he said before a summit of Nato leaders in Vilnius.

“All put together, including that we’ll make clear that Ukraine will become a member, we’ll remove the Membership Action Plan, (….) will send a very strong and positive message from Nato to Ukraine,” Mr Stoltenberg added.

Maanya Sachdeva11 July 2023 08:30


Nato policy increases risk of conflict with Russia, diplomat says

Nato’s policy towards Russia increases the risk of direct conflict between bloc members and Moscow, Russia‘ RIA news agency cited the Russian ambassador to Belgium, Alexander Tokovinin, as saying on Tuesday.

Tokovinin said the regional defence plans which Nato intends to adopt at the summit starting on Tuesday in Vilnius would make the bloc’s confrontation with Russia more tense and prolonged.

Maanya Sachdeva11 July 2023 08:00


Nato to send ‘positive signal’ about Ukraine’s bid to join alliance, says US

Nato will send Ukraine a “positive signal” about Kyiv’s bid to join the alliance when their leaders meet at a summit in Lithuania today, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

The top US official was speaking to reporters as negotiators from the 31-strong alliance were finalising a final communique to outline Kyiv’s pathway to membership.

In retaliation, Russian diplomats said that differences between the US and Moscow were now narrowing.

Arpan Rai11 July 2023 07:26


Unhappy Russian diplomats berate US, Nato: ‘Most unfortunate’ confrontation

Russian diplomats are accusing the US of pushing Nato towards a “most unfavourable” confrontation with Moscow with the decisions expected from the alliance’s summit in Lithuania starting today, claiming that Kyiv’s allies are “losing” in Ukraine.

“The situation continues to slide towards the most unfavourable outcome in the confrontation between the Russian Federation and the members of the alliance,” Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said late last night.

Accusing Washington of preparing to take anti-Russian decisions at the Nato summit, he said: ““Everything is being done to prepare the local public opinion for the approval of any anti-Russian decisions that will be made in Vilnius in the coming days.”

The Kremlin says Ukraine’s potential membership in the alliance would be a threat to Russia and that Moscow will react “clearly and firmly”.

The summit in the Lithuanian capital is set to be dominated by the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with leaders set to approve Nato’s first comprehensive plans since the end of the Cold War to defend against any attack from Moscow.

Diplomats also said differences were narrowing over Ukraine’s push for Nato membership.

Konstantin Gavrilov, a Vienna-based Russian diplomat and a senior Russian security negotiator, told the Russian RIA state news agency in an interview the West is “losing” in Ukraine.

Arpan Rai11 July 2023 06:48


Moscow threatening ending contracts with construction firms over volunteers for Ukraine war, says UK MoD

Moscow’s municipal authorities are highly likely threatening to withdraw contracts from construction firms if they fail to hit quotas for providing “volunteers” to serve in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence said.

One company has reportedly been set a target of 30 volunteers by the end of August 2023, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update today.

It added that this ultimatum will likely “primarily affect ethnic minorities from poorer regions of Russia such as Dagestan and central Asian states, who make up the majority of Moscow’s construction workers”.

“This measure is highly likely at least tacitly endorsed by Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin. It continues his track record of trying to minimise the impact of the conflict on better-off Muscovites, while still being seen to support the war effort,” the ministry said.

Arpan Rai11 July 2023 06:26


Why Ukraine’s plea for Nato membership is such a challenge for the West

For Ukraine’s Western allies, the question of whether the country should be granted its long-held wish for Nato membership is not so straightforward.

The advantages in terms of security guarantees from being a member of the alliance are obvious, and only more so given the scale of destruction wrought by Russia’s invasion.

While some Eastern European members have been pushing for a swift timetable to admit Ukraine, given their own misgivings about Russia’s action near their borders, a number of Western nations are more cautious, aware that a bond built on collective defence can only hold secure if all believe it is strong.

Yesterday, the Kremlin made it clear that “Ukraine’s membership in Nato will have very, very negative consequences”.

Offering Ukraine membership if the war ends doesn’t work, either.

It gives Moscow an incentive to keep the war going, allowing Vladimir Putin to keep pushing one of his narratives that the West is trying to claim Ukraine to weaken Russia.

Chris Stevenson explains here:

Arpan Rai11 July 2023 05:58

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