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Ukraine war: Kyiv fights off Russian retaliation, Wagner in Belarus, frontlines 'changing'

A Ukrainian soldier prepares a Croatian RAK-SA-12 128mm multiple rocket launcher to fire towards the Russian positions. Monday, July 10, 2023.
A Ukrainian soldier prepares a Croatian RAK-SA-12 128mm multiple rocket launcher to fire towards the Russian positions. Monday, July 10, 2023. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Greta Ruffino with AFP/AP
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All the latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine fights off Russian retaliation after Crimean bridge attack

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The Russian Defence Ministry claims to have struck back against Ukraine overnight destroying sites in Odesa - which were allegedly used by Kyiv to prepare Monday's attack on the Kerch bridge in Crimea. 

However, Ukraine has stated that its forces shot down 25 Russian drones and six cruise missiles targeting the Black Sea port of Odesa. According to officials, debris and shock waves damaged port facilities and residential buildings, leaving one elderly man injured.

The attack comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin promised a "response" on Monday to the Crimean bridge attack. Speaking in a televised government meeting, Putin suggested the West could be "complicit" in the attack if it had supplied the drones and intelligence that were allegedly used.

The attack on the bridge was carried out by Ukrainian special services and naval forces using "naval drones", according to a source in the Ukrainian security services (SBU). It caused extensive damage to the road section of the structure, which is also used to transport military supplies to the Russian army fighting in Ukraine.

Moscow claims to shoot down drones in Crimea region

Russian air defence shot down 28 Ukrainian drones over Crimea on Monday night, according to the country's Defence Ministry. 

"Seventeen Ukrainian drones were destroyed by air defence," the ministry wrote on Telegram. "Eleven other drones were neutralised" and "having failed to reach their target, they crashed".

The ministry also claimed "there were no casualties or damage" - with the local governor installed in Crimea by Moscow, Sergei Aksionov backing this statement. 

Since the start of the offensive against Ukraine in February 2022, Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, has been a regular target of air and naval drone attacks. 

The Black Sea peninsula is a vital supply line for Russian forces fighting in southern Ukraine.  

Dynamically 'changing positions' on frontline

The Russian Defense Ministry claims it has made advances of 1.5 kilometres in "offensive operations" on a two kilometre front near Kupiansk, in northeastern Ukraine.

However, positions on both Ukrainian and Russian sides along the eastern frontline are "changing dynamically several times a day", according to a statement by Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar on Telegram.

Ukrainian officials stated on Monday that fighting in the region has escalated due to a Russian offensive in the northeastern Kupiansk sector. Officials also stated that Russian activity has intensified near the town of Lyman. 

Ukraine's military launched a counteroffensive several weeks ago to recapture the territory occupied by Russia. Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine's eastern grouping of troops, said the Russian military had amassed more than 100,000 troops and more than 900 tanks in the area.

According to a report published in the New York Times, Ukraine is rethinking its strategy after losing some 20% of its weapons early in its counteroffensive.

Kremlin accuses Kyiv of using grain corridor for 'military purposes'

The Kremlin has accused Kyiv of using the maritime corridor formerly used for exporting Ukrainian grain "for military purposes". 

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The announcement comes a few hours after Russia's withdrawal from an agreement that is crucial for world food supplies. The deal - brokered by the UN and Turkey - has allowed 36.2 million tons of food to be exported from Ukraine since August - with more than half going to developing countries - according to the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul.

"It's no longer a secret to anyone, it's an obvious fact that this zone is being used by the Kyiv regime for military purposes", Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. 

Wagner mercenaries training Belarus defence forces

Belarus' government has claimed Wagner fighters are training its defence forces, with more of the mercenaries reported to have entered the country as part of a deal brokered by Belarussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. 

The state-controlled TV channel, Voen TV, showed footage of the Wagner fighters wearing black masks while training Belarusian soldiers. 

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The video showed mercenaries instructing Belarusian soldiers how to shoot and provide medical assistance. Euronews cannot independently verify the footage.

According to Belarus's Ministry of Defence, the training was taking place near the town of Asipovichy, about 90km (56 miles) south of the capital, Minsk, where a camp offered to Wagner is located.

There are reports of over 100 vehicles carrying Russian flags and Wagner insignia heading towards the camp. 

President Lukashenko, who brokered a deal that ended last month's rebellion launched by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin against Moscow, has said that his country's military could benefit from the mercenaries' combat experience.

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UN condemns 'senseless unjustified war'

UN Under-Secretary-General Rosemary di Carlo has condemned the fighting in Ukraine, following Russia's withdrawal from a landmark grain deal. "Over 500 days since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, life in Ukraine remains a 'living hell'", she said.  

Ukraine and Russia signed two separate agreements in July 2022. One reopened three of Ukraine's Black Sea ports that had been blocked by Moscow since the start of its invasion. The other facilitated the movement of Russian food and fertiliser amid Western sanctions.

Russia's Deputy UN Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy stated that despite UN efforts, there had been “no progress” in persuading Western countries to comply with a parallel agreement on Russian exports. 

“The Russian Federation will stand ready to consider its resumption only when concrete results are achieved rather than promises and assurances from Western capitals,” he said.

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Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country wanted to keep exports flowing to international markets, and Russia is “blackmailing” the world.

“This blackmail affects the lives of millions of Ukrainians and tens of millions more around the world, primarily in Africa and Asia, who face the threat of rising food prices and hunger,” he said.

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