Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ruled out any talks with Russia if captured troops who took part in the defense of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are put on trial.
“This will become the line after which any negotiations are impossible,” Zelenskiy said late Sunday in his daily address. Russia-backed separatists in areas of Ukraine occupied by Kremlin forces have suggested a trial of captured Ukrainian fighters may happen soon, though this hasn’t been confirmed by officials in Moscow.
Zelenskiy has warned that Russia “may try to do something particularly nasty, particularly cruel” as Ukraine prepares to celebrate Independence Day on Wednesday, which also marks six months since the invasion. Russia also blamed Ukraine for a car bombing that killed the daughter of prominent Russian nationalist Alexander Dugin, which Kyiv denied.
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On the ground
Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine have likely exhausted the limited momentum they gained at the end of July, according to the latest report from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. “The Russian military has shown a continual inability to translate small tactical gains into operational successes, a failing that will likely prevent Russia from making significant territorial advances in the coming months barring major changes on the battlefield,” the report said. Fighting continued in the eastern Donetsk region near Bakhmut and around Kramatorsk, while several Russian attacks on the Slovyansk axis and near Avdiyivka were unsuccessful, Ukraine’s general staff reported.
Russia Blames Ukraine for Bombing that Killed Nationalist: Tass (1:51 p.m.)
Russia’s Federal Security Service blamed Ukraine for a car bombing Saturday outside Moscow that killed Dugin’s daughter, Tass reported.
The FSB, as the agency is known, said the suspected bomber fled to Estonia after the attack in a Mini Cooper, having arrived in the Russian capital a month ago with her 12-year-old daughter. Ukraine has denied any role in the bombing.
Darya Dugina died in the blast that ripped through the car she was driving after an appearance with her father. Both had been vocal advocates of the ‘Russian World’ concept the Kremlin has used to justify its invasion of Ukraine and other moves against its neighbours.
Latvia Starts Removing Soviet Monument in Riga (1:32 p.m.)
Latvian authorities began to dismantle a towering Soviet-era World War II monument in Riga, the latest potential flashpoint between the Baltic region and Russia.
The move comes less than a week after neighbouring Estonia removed a Soviet monument that triggered what the government there called the biggest wave of cyber attacks in over a decade. The area around the 80-meter (262-foot) high monument in Latvia’s capital will be fenced off as equipment is moved in.
The monument complex consists of an obelisk and two outsize sculptures — one of Red Army soldiers and another female figure representing the “motherland” — commemorating the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
EU’s Borrell Rejects Calls to Ban Russians (1 p.m.)
The European Union’s foreign policy chief pushed back against a proposal by some member states bordering Russia to prevent the nation’s citizens from entering the bloc, as its foreign ministers prepare to discuss stopping tourist visas next week.
“To forbid the entrance to all the Russians is not a good idea,” Josep Borrell said at a conference in Spain. “We have to be more selective.” The EU is set to discuss banning travel visas for Russian tourists at a gathering of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Prague this month, with countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Finland urging a bloc-wide ban, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged caution.
Kyiv Mayor Unhappy With German Weapons Support (12 p.m.)
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said he’s “very disappointed” with the supplies of weapons Germany has sent or pledged to Ukraine to help it fight off Russia’s invasion.
“We’re getting weapons but not enough,” Klitschko was quoted as saying by Germany’s Bild newspaper. Germany has promised Ukraine weapons and equipment worth 700 million euros ($701 million) since late January, plus another 500 million euros in financial aid to buy arms, according to the latest analysis by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. That puts it fourth on the list of top providers of military aid behind the US, Britain and Poland.
New Zealand Announces More Sanctions (7:30 a.m.)
New Zealand will sanction more officials installed by Russia in separatist regimes in occupied areas of Ukraine, according to a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.
“The sanctions build on earlier measures targeting political and military figures in separatist administrations in breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk,” Mahuta said, adding that 48 officials and one entity are affected. Since passing its Russia Sanctions Act six months ago, New Zealand has targeted almost 900 individuals and entities, and has imposed punitive trade measures on the Kremlin.
German Minister Expects More Russian Gas Cuts (7 a.m.)
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck reiterated a call for energy savings, warning that Russia is likely to further reduce supplies of gas to Europe.
“We have a very critical winter right in front of us,” Habeck in interview with public broadcaster ZDF. “We must expect Putin to further reduce gas.”
Russian Diplomat Sees No Negotiated End to War (10:32 p.m.)
Russia doesn’t see a diplomatic solution to the war and expects a long battle, according to a senior Kremlin diplomat.
Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, told the Financial Times that there would be no direct talks between Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart and said that a “politicized” UN has been ineffective as a mediator.
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