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Ukraine unveils $750 billion recovery plan as Russia sets sights on Donetsk

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 7/4/2022 Bryan Pietsch, Victoria Bisset, Annabelle Timsit, Sammy Westfall, James Bikales
A photo published on July 2 by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov shows Russian and Chechen flags outside a destroyed Lysychansk building. © AP/AP A photo published on July 2 by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov shows Russian and Chechen flags outside a destroyed Lysychansk building.

Ukraine on Monday urged the international community to support a $750 billion plan to rebuild the country, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calling his nation’s reconstruction “the greatest contribution to the maintenance of global peace.”

The plan was unveiled at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, where European leaders met to discuss efforts to help Kyiv. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told conference participants that reconstruction should be funded with assets seized from Russian officials and oligarchs.

But even as Ukraine looked to its postwar future, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory Monday in the eastern region of Luhansk, where Moscow captured a key stronghold from Kyiv over the weekend. Russian forces were setting their sights on neighboring Donetsk, a regional official said Monday.

Here’s what else to know

  • Britain unveiled a major aid package — including an additional $525 million in World Bank loan guarantees — at the conference.
  • Pope Francis suggested in an interview Monday that he may visit Ukraine and Russia to advocate for an end to the war.
  • Russia shelled several cities in the Donetsk region. In Slovyansk, six people were killed and 20 wounded, officials said Sunday.
  • Turkish authorities have detained a Russian-flagged cargo ship loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain, Ukraine’s ambassador in Ankara said.

7:14 PM: Ukrainian flag raised over Snake Island, Ukraine’s military says

A satellite photo from June 30 shows Snake Island in the Black Sea. © Planet Labs PBC/AFP/Getty Images A satellite photo from June 30 shows Snake Island in the Black Sea.

Ukraine has raised its flag again on Snake Island in the Black Sea, a week after Russian forces withdrew from the tiny contested island, Ukraine’s military said.

“The military operation has been concluded, and … the territory [Snake Island] has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine,” said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern military command.

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine posted a photo of a raised yellow-and-blue flag along with Humeniuk’s comments.

The small island about 25 miles off Ukraine’s southeastern coast became well-known in the war after an exchange in February between Ukrainian guards on the island and an approaching Russian warship. Asked by the Russians to surrender, the Ukrainian guards delivered a defiant message, expletive included.

Last week, Russian forces said they withdrew from the strategic island in a “gesture of goodwill.”

By: Sammy Westfall

6:09 PM: Ukraine needs $750 billion for sweeping recovery plan, prime minister says

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis talks to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, on July 4. (Michael Buholzer/Pool via Reuters) © Pool/Reuters Swiss President Ignazio Cassis talks to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, on July 4. (Michael Buholzer/Pool via Reuters)

Ukraine needs $750 billion to see through a sweeping three-stage rebuilding and recovery plan, the country’s prime minister said Monday at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland.

“Today, we’re all united in our defense. Tomorrow in our reconstruction,” said Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The value of direct infrastructure losses in the country is now over $100 billion, he said, asking, “Who will pay for the renewal plan, which is already being valued at $750 billion?”

Bloomberg reported that the plan is around 2,000 pages, mapping out infrastructure and security projects, climate investments and energy diversification, among other proposals. The European Commission is looking into financing options that include loans and grants, the outlet reported.

Shmyhal said that his government believes that seized assets from Moscow and Russian oligarchs should provide a main source of funding for recovery, Reuters reported.

Recovery, he said, would take place in three stages: Urgent needs such as water supply, a quick postwar recovery including temporary housing, and long-term reconstruction that would transform the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called his nation’s reconstruction the “greatest contribution to the maintenance of global peace.” Rebuilding Ukraine, he said, is “not a local project, is not a project of one nation, but a common task of the entire democratic world.”

By: Sammy Westfall

5:17 PM: ‘Vladimir ... tell me what your intentions are’: Film reveals Macron’s response to war

A French television documentary aired last week reveals the dialogue of a February call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin as Macron tried to avert the war in Ukraine.

“Vladimir … tell me what your intentions are,” Macron presses Putin on a call on Feb. 20, captured by cameras filming for the documentary “A President, Europe and War,” according to the Associated Press.

On the call, Putin tells Macron that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “is lying to you,” falsely claiming that Zelensky came to power in a “bloody coup” in which “people were burned alive,” the AP reported, quoting from the documentary. Putin closes the call by telling Macron he is at the gym to play ice hockey.

Macron’s pleas during the conversation for Putin to “calm things down” go unheeded, and the documentary by journalist Guy Lagache — which was intended to follow Macron during France’s six-month rotation leading the European Union — ends up providing a glimpse into the response to the invasion at the highest levels of the French government.

On the first day of the war, the documentary reveals, Zelensky calls Macron in desperation, telling him, “Now they are in Kyiv, we are fighting in Kyiv, Emmanuel,” according to the AP.

The French government is normally guarded with media access, the AP said, but the documentary filmmakers were allowed to film the president at work in his bunker under the palace, on a plane, and on trips to Kyiv and Moscow.

By: James Bikales

3:56 PM: U.K. slaps new punishing sanctions on Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko takes part in a wreath ceremony at the Mound of Glory Memorial during celebration of the Belarusian Independence Day on July 3. (Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP) © Maxim Guchek/AP Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko takes part in a wreath ceremony at the Mound of Glory Memorial during celebration of the Belarusian Independence Day on July 3. (Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

On Tuesday, the British government will strengthen its punishment of Belarus for its role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, slapping new economic, trade and transport sanctions on the country.

The new legislation extends significant sanctions that Britain placed on Russia to neighboring Belarus, “as the Lukashenko regime continues to actively facilitate Putin’s illegal invasion,” a government announcement said.

The new legislation will block the trade of around $72.7 million (£60 million) in goods with Belarus. The sanctions block the export from Britain to Belarus of oil refining goods, advanced technology parts and luxury goods, including British art and designer handbags. The new package also blocks the import to the United Kingdom of Belarusian iron and steel.

More Belarusian companies will also be barred from issuing debt and securities in London, the government said.

“The Belarus regime has actively facilitated Putin’s invasion, letting Russia use its territory to pincer Ukraine — launching troops and missiles from their border and flying Russian jets through their airspace,” the statement said, adding that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has “openly supported the Kremlin’s narrative, claiming that Kyiv was ‘provoking Russia’ in order to justify Putin’s bloody invasion.”

The new sanctions will be added to existing measures including a 35 percent tariff increase on a variety of Belarusian products, as well as direct sanctions against Lukashenko and other government officials.

By: Sammy Westfall

2:27 PM: Russia vows to retaliate after Bulgaria expels dozens of diplomats

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Monday that Moscow would retaliate against Bulgaria’s mass expulsion of 70 diplomatic staff members last week, according to the Reuters news agency.

Two planes carrying the diplomats left the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, on Sunday after outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov declared them “persona non grata” and gave them until the end of the week to leave the country, the Associated Press reported. It was Bulgaria’s largest-ever expulsion of Russian diplomats and cuts the number of staff members at the embassy by more than half, according to the AP.

Lavrov’s comments, made at a news conference in Moscow with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Carlos Faría, follow a threat Friday from the Russian ambassador to Bulgaria, Eleonora Mitrofanova, that she would seek to close the embassy in Sofia, which she said would lead to the closure of Bulgaria’s embassy in Moscow.

The European Union, of which Bulgaria is a member, backed the decision to expel the 70 diplomats, calling Moscow’s response an “unjustified threat” in a statement Friday.

“The European Union stands in full support and solidarity with Bulgaria in these circumstances and will follow this matter closely,” it said. “Such a disproportionate step by Russia would only serve to further isolate it internationally.”

Bulgaria is also a member of NATO, but is historically a close ally of Russia. Tensions with Moscow have risen since Petkov took a strong stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and backed Western sanctions. In March, Bulgaria kicked out 10 Russian diplomats and refused to pay its natural gas bills in rubles, leading Russia to cut off supplies.

Which countries have expelled Russian diplomats over Ukraine?

Petkov, who lost a no-confidence vote in June, has accused Moscow of undermining his government.

By: James Bikales

1:04 PM: Sweden, Finland hold NATO accession talks in Brussels

The Swedish and NATO flags at alliance headquarters in Brussels. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images) © Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images The Swedish and NATO flags at alliance headquarters in Brussels. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

Representatives for Finland and Sweden are meeting Monday at NATO headquarters in Brussels with officials from the military alliance to discuss the path for the two Nordic nations to become part of the 30-member group.

During the talks, the representatives will confirm their “willingness and ability to meet the political, legal and military obligations and commitments” of NATO membership, including proportional contributions to NATO’s budget and preparing their intelligence services to work with the alliance.

On Tuesday, NATO allies are set to sign the Accession Protocols — effectively amendments to NATO’s Washington Treaty, the legal basis of the alliance — for Finland and Sweden. Once the protocols are signed, Finland and Sweden are invited to become parties to the treaty.

That’s only an early step in the process: Governments of NATO members must then formally ratify the protocols, using procedures that vary by country. In the United States, for example, the Senate must pass the legislation by a two-thirds majority.

Before noon on Tuesday in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will hold a joint news conference with the foreign ministers of both applicant countries.

On Monday, NATO also hosted a change-of-command ceremony in Belgium, welcoming Gen. Christopher Cavoli of the U.S. Army as the new supreme allied commander Europe — a role that heads NATO’s Allied Command Operations, which plans and executes all NATO operations.

By: Sammy Westfall

10:03 AM: Zelensky tells allies, donors that funding for Ukraine’s reconstruction will enable peace

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a statement at the start of a two-day international conference on reconstruction of Ukraine, in Lugano, Switzerland on July 4. © Michael Buholzer/AFP/Getty Images Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a statement at the start of a two-day international conference on reconstruction of Ukraine, in Lugano, Switzerland on July 4.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told an audience of allied leaders and institutional donors on Monday that the decisions they take in the next days could be the decisive “first huge step towards the historic victory of the democratic world” over Russia.

Zelensky was speaking virtually at the opening session of the Ukraine Recovery Conference, which is taking place Monday and Tuesday in Lugano, Switzerland. Leaders from the European Union and its member states, global financial institutions and international organizations and Ukrainian officials are gathered there to discuss what Ukraine needs to recover from the war and how much it will cost.

They hope to agree on a sort of “Marshall Plan” — the American financial recovery plan for Europe after World War II — for 21st-century Ukraine, as Zelensky has previously labeled the idea.

In his opening remarks, Zelensky framed support for Ukraine’s reconstruction as a way for Europe to prove it can defend itself when its territory and its values are attacked.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine is not simply an attempt to seize our land and destroy our state institutions or break down our independence,” he said. “It is a far greater confrontation — the confrontation of outlooks. The anti-democratic and anti-European system which is built in Russia seeks to prove that it is allegedly mightier than all of us — Ukraine, Europe and the democratic world. It seeks to prove that Europe is supposedly weak and supposedly unable to defend its values.”

Zelensky said rebuilding Ukraine and giving its residents opportunities and reasons to stay was necessary to achieve peace and stability after the war. “Of course, this implies construction … great funding, colossal investment,” he added.

“It is this conference and its decisions that can become the first huge step towards the historic victory of the democratic world,” he added. “The reconstruction of Ukraine will be the greatest contribution to the maintenance of global peace.”

Britain was set to unveil a new package of financial support for Ukraine at the conference — including $1.7 billion in loans and grants through the World Bank, $12 million in direct financing for energy infrastructure repairs and nearly $50 million in guaranteed loans to Ukraine’s national energy transmission operator through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, according to the British government.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said the European Union would set up a platform to coordinate projects relating to Ukraine’s construction. Brussels “has mobilized around 6.2 billion euros ($6.48 billion) in financial support” since the start of the war, she said, adding that “more will come.”

By: Annabelle Timsit

9:40 AM: Putin declares victory in Luhansk

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 4. (Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik/ AFP via Getty Images) © Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 4. (Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik/ AFP via Getty Images)

President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian troops on “liberating” Luhansk Monday, a day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from the city of Lysychansk, their final stronghold in the eastern region.

In a televised meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin said Russian forces had “achieved success, victory” in Luhansk. He added that the troops who fought there should rest, while other units must continue to fight.

Earlier Monday, regional governor Serhiy Haidai told Reuters he expected Russia to concentrate its efforts against Slovyansk and Bakhmut in the neighboring Donetsk region following the fall of Lysychansk, the last major site of resistance in Luhansk.

Shortly before launching his invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Putin announced he would recognize Moscow-backed breakaway states in both Luhansk and Donetsk. He refocused military efforts on the Donbas region, which includes the two areas, after the Russian failure to capture Kyiv at the start of the war.

By: Victoria Bisset

9:19 AM: Fighting continues to the north of Slovyansk, Ukrainian army says


Video: Russia claims capture of Lysychansk, pivotal city in Eastern Ukraine (cbc.ca)

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Fighting is continuing to the north of the city of Slovyansk, Ukraine’s armed forces said Monday, as Moscow turns its focus toward the eastern Donetsk region.

In its daily update, the army said that Russian forces were carrying out “assault operations” as they attempted to seize control of the settlements of Bohorodychne, Mazanivka and Dolyna, which lie around 10 miles to the north of Slovyansk.

“The enemy is regrouping troops to resume the offensive,” the statement said.

To the south and west of Slovyansk, meanwhile, Russian forces are mainly focusing on “the gradual displacement” of Ukrainian fighters between Siversk and Bakhmut, according to the update.

Earlier, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai told Reuters news agency that he expected Russia to target both Slovyansk — where shelling on Sunday killed six people — and the town of Bakhmut, following the Ukrainian withdrawal from Lysychansk. The loss of Lysychansk means that Russia now effectively controls all of Luhansk, which together with Donetsk forms the key Donbas region.

By: Victoria Bisset

8:37 AM: U.S. wrestles with Russian, Iranian provocations in the Middle East

U.S. military officials enter a high-mobility artillery rocket system facility at the al-Tanf garrison in Syria on June 21. © Karoun Demirjian/The Washington Post U.S. military officials enter a high-mobility artillery rocket system facility at the al-Tanf garrison in Syria on June 21.

AL-TANF GARRISON, Syria — A burst of Russian and Iranian maneuvers against U.S. interests in the Middle East has forced the region’s new military commander toward an early reckoning over how to reestablish deterrence without sparking a wider conflict, a perennial problem that has taken on new urgency amid the global instability ignited by Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Army Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, who took charge of U.S. Central Command this spring, met in late June with dozens of the approximately 300 soldiers, Special Operations forces and foreign trainees stationed at this sprawling base in eastern Syria. The high-level visit occurred just days after Russian fighter jets attacked a combat post operated by Syrian opposition fighters inside the garrison. Russian military officials, citing a purported vehicle explosion they claimed had wounded Syrian government troops, notified the Americans of their intent 35 minutes prior, according to a U.S. military official.

The Biden administration is presiding over a unique moment, as familiar threats like those posed by Iran and its proxies have, in ways, been overshadowed by Russia’s aggressive posture toward Europe and China’s quest for regional dominance in the Pacific. As the U.S. government looks to reprioritize, key Middle Eastern allies — including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel — are growing impatient, acutely aware that Washington’s attention and war capital are being drawn elsewhere.

Read the full story

By: Karoun Demirjian

7:58 AM: Pope Francis suggests he may go to Kyiv, Moscow

Pope Francis delivers a prayer from a window overlooking St. Peter' Square on Sunday. © Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis delivers a prayer from a window overlooking St. Peter' Square on Sunday.

Pope Francis suggested in an interview released Monday that he may visit Ukraine and Russia to advocate for an end to the war — after tensions with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine kept the leader of the Catholic Church from a planned meeting in June.

The Pope told Reuters that a Vatican official had been in contact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible papal visit to Moscow.

“I would like to go [to Ukraine], and I wanted to go to Moscow first,” he told Reuters.

“And now it is possible, after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine,” he continued. “The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals.”

Francis sparked a diplomatic spat with Moscow when he said in an interview that he told Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox Church, not to be “Putin’s altar boy” in a March conversation. The Pope has repeatedly condemned the war in Ukraine and its consequences, particularly higher food prices for poorer countries. But he has at times lent credence to the Kremlin’s argument that NATO expansion precipitated the invasion and said “there are no metaphysical good guys and bad guys” in this conflict.

By: Annabelle Timsit

7:27 AM: Ukraine, allies meet in Switzerland to raise funds for recovery from war

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, left, and Swiss President Ignazio Cassis at the Ukraine Recovery Conference on Monday in Lugano, Switzerland. © Alessandro Della Valle/Keystone/AP Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, left, and Swiss President Ignazio Cassis at the Ukraine Recovery Conference on Monday in Lugano, Switzerland.

Ukrainian officials and their allies are meeting in Lugano, Switzerland, on Monday and Tuesday to raise funds for Ukraine’s recovery.

The Ukraine Recovery Conference has taken place every year since 2017 — aside from 2020 because of the pandemic — with the goal of funding political and economic reforms in Ukraine and assessing progress. In past years, it was known as the Ukraine Reform Conference.

This year, it has a new name, imbued with a new sense of urgency because of Russia’s invasion.

“Against the backdrop of the full-scale Russian war against Ukraine since 24 February, 2022, Ukraine and Switzerland have jointly decided to proceed with the organization of the conference, but to refocus the priorities on a topic that is more relevant to Ukraine in the current situation,” a statement from the organizers read.

At the conference, the United Kingdom is expected to unveil a major new financial aid package for Ukraine. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is slated to address the gathering and “announce plans to work with the Government of Ukraine and allies to host the Ukraine Recovery Conference in 2023,” according to a British government news release.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is expected to present a Recovery and Development Plan outlining its goals and funding needs for the post-war period. Bloomberg News reported that the nearly 2,000-page draft was developed with input from Ukraine’s donors, including the European Union, whose leaders are in Lugano this week.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an address Saturday that it is “the largest economic project of our time in Europe and extraordinary opportunities for every state, for every company that we will invite to work in Ukraine to prove themselves.”

Zelensky is expected to address the gathering by video link Monday as the meeting gets underway.

By: Annabelle Timsit

6:43 AM: Russia to target Slovyansk and Bakhmut next, Luhansk governor says

Damaged residential buildings in Lysychansk, Ukraine, on Sunday. © Luhansk region military administration/AP Damaged residential buildings in Lysychansk, Ukraine, on Sunday.

Russia is likely to shift its focus to the Donetsk region now that it controls virtually all of the neighboring Luhansk region, a Ukrainian official said Monday. Russian forces captured the city of Lysychansk in Luhansk on Sunday in a blow to Ukrainian hopes of hanging on to the territory.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai told Reuters that he expected Moscow to specifically target the city of Slovyansk and the town of Bakhmut as it seeks to take control of the larger Donbas area in the east of the country, which includes Luhansk and Donetsk. The mayor of Slovyansk said Sunday that the city had come under the “biggest shelling” of recent times, with President Volodymyr Zelensky later saying that six people were killed and 20 injured.

“We need to win the war, not the battle for Lysychansk,” Haidai said of the loss of the city, adding that Ukrainian troops would have risked being encircled by Russian forces had they remained. “It hurts a lot, but it’s not losing the war.”

In a separate interview with local television Monday, Haidai said fighting had continued in the nearby Bilohorivka area overnight, noting that Ukraine maintained control of “a small part” of the Luhansk region. “But every day, every hour, as long as we hold them and do not let them through, even here in Luhansk region, this is a positive for our troops,” he said.

However, the governor added that Ukrainian forces lacked enough long-range weapons to significantly alter the course of events locally, saying: “There are weapons, but not enough.”

Haidai also noted that most people had left the site of recent battles, with about 10,000 people remaining in Lysychansk and 7,000 others in the twin city of Severodonetsk, which fell to Russian forces in June.

By: Victoria Bisset and Annabelle Chapman

6:00 AM: Olympic committee head visits Kyiv, says not yet time to lift Russia ban

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, attend a joint news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 3. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, attend a joint news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 3. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in Kyiv on Sunday. He thanked Bach for his organization’s support of a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in global sports events due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Zelensky highlighted the devastating effects of the war on sports in Ukraine. He said the fighting has destroyed training centers and sports clubs, and that 89 athletes and coaches have been killed since the start of the war — making a case that sports and politics are closely connected.

“While Russia is trying to destroy the Ukrainian people and conquer other European countries, its representatives have no place in the world’s sports community,” Ukraine’s leader said.

At a joint news conference, Zelensky said he was grateful to Bach “for his unwavering position regarding the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes from official competitions under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee,” according to a summary released by Zelensky’s office.

For his part, Bach said “the time has not yet come to lift such a ban.”

The IOC is a global body with oversight over National Olympic Committees. It strives to be apolitical — its rule book, the Olympic charter, states that “sports organizations within the Olympic Movement shall apply political neutrality.” But four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, its executive board recommended that international federations and organizations “not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials” in competitions.

IOC, FIFA clamp down on Russian and Belarusian athletes and teams

On a visit to Kyiv, Bach announced the IOC would triple its financial support for Ukraine’s Olympic movement. He said he wished “to see a strong, successful, proud Ukrainian national Olympic team at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris and the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Milan and Cortina.”

Zelensky said a postwar Ukraine would one day apply to host the Winter Olympic Games. According to the Ukrainian readout, Bach “noted that the IOC is impressed by the intentions of [Ukraine] to host the Winter Olympic Games” and “assured that the door remains open for Ukraine in this matter, and it can conduct consultations with the relevant commissions.”

Cindy Boren contributed to this report.

By: Annabelle Timsit

5:15 AM: Updates from key battlefields: Lysychansk falls, Kharkiv shelling intensifies

Russian-held areas and troop movement © The Washington Post/The Washington Post Russian-held areas and troop movement

Lysychansk: Ukrainian forces announced that they had withdrawn from the city — their last major stronghold in Luhansk — on Sunday, conceding that they were overpowered by Russian troops. Russia said early Sunday that it had “full control” of the city and surrounding suburbs, which Ukrainian officials initially disputed before announcing the withdrawal. President Volodymyr Zelensky said fighting continues on the outskirts of Lysychansk, though he acknowledged that “the situation in Donbas is the most difficult.”

Slovyansk: Heavy Russian shelling hit the Donetsk region, which neighbors Luhansk, on Sunday. The city of Slovyansk was hardest hit, with six people killed and 20 injured, according to Zelensky. The mayor there said as many as 15 fires broke out in the town. Strikes also hit Kramatorsk, about 15 miles south.

Kharkiv: Three people were killed in rocket attacks early Sunday, regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram. One person was injured in the shelling, which damaged homes and a school, he said. Russian attacks on the city have intensified since early June, Zelensky noted in his nightly address Saturday.

Melitopol: Ukraine launched missiles on the Russian-controlled city early Sunday, striking an airfield that doubled as a Russian military base, Mayor Ivan Fedorov said. The base was “taken out of action,” he said, and the equipment there was damaged. Russia said that it shot down 15 missiles, but that “fragments fell at the airfield.” Both sides said no one was hurt in the strikes.

By: James Bikales

4:30 AM: Ukrainian agricultural exports set to be nearly 65% smaller than last year’s, U.K. says

A grain elevator behind a wheat field in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region last week. © Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images A grain elevator behind a wheat field in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region last week.

As the war in Ukraine continues to disrupt agricultural production and shipments, the country’s exports of grain, vegetable oils and other staples in 2022 “are unlikely to be more than 35% of the 2021 total,” according to figures from the U.K. government.

“Russia’s blockade of Odessa continues to severely constrain Ukraine’s grain exports,” the British Defense Ministry said Monday in its daily intelligence assessment. Russia has prevented ships carrying agricultural exports from leaving Ukraine through the Black Sea port. Kyiv and Moscow blame each other for the blockage, while the United Nations is negotiating a deal to avert a hunger crisis in countries that rely on imports from Ukraine to feed their populations.

Early in the war, Ukraine also limited some food exports to ensure its own population had enough.

Ukrainian officials have also accused Moscow of stealing stockpiles of grain stored in areas now occupied by Russian or pro-Russian forces, calling it “outright robbery.” Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey said Sunday that Turkish authorities had detained the Zhibek Zholy, a Russian-flagged cargo ship he said is loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain.

5 countries hit hard by the grain crisis in Ukraine

“Following its retreat from the Black Sea outpost of Snake Island, Russia misleadingly claimed that ‘the ball is now in Ukraine’s court’ in relation to improving grain exports,” the British Defense Ministry said, in reference to Russian forces’ withdrawal last week from a small island in the Black Sea from which they could patrol the southern Ukrainian coastline and block the passage of ships.

“In reality, it is Russia’s disruption of Ukraine’s agricultural sector which continues to exacerbate the global food crisis,” it added.

Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine’s Snake Island

As the price of fuel has jumped, harvesting has become more expensive — and as missiles rain down on eastern and southeastern Ukraine, where it grows most of its wheat and other staples, some agricultural production has become too dangerous. The war has made it more difficult for farmers to obtain the fertilizer and pesticides they need to grow their crops, and laborers are in short supply because many have joined the fight.

The situation is particularly worrying, the British Defense Ministry said, because many types of grain sowed in winter and spring are typically ready to harvest between July and August, with harvest season for sunflower seeds, corn, millet and buckwheat stretching into the fall.

Paulina Villegas contributed to this report.

By: Annabelle Timsit

3:57 AM: Analysis from Bryan Pietsch, Reporter

Russia claimed control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk this weekend. Here’s what that means for Moscow and Kyiv.

For Ukraine, the loss is yet another setback in its efforts to defend the eastern Donbas area against the Russian invasion. (It had also pulled out of the neighboring city of Severodonetsk recently.) Despite an influx of modern weapons from Western nations, the twin losses threaten to drag down Ukrainian troops’ steady morale — until recently one of Kyiv’s most powerful, though intangible, weapons in its fight against Russia.

Poor morale has also dogged Moscow’s forces throughout the invasion. But for Russia, nabbing Lysychansk — the last Ukrainian foothold in the Luhansk province, which along with the Donetsk region makes up Donbas — is another step toward its stated goal of capturing most of eastern Ukraine.

There are still sputtering battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces in and around Lysychansk. But the victory allows Russian forces to turn their attention to cities like Siversk, Bakhmut and Slovyansk in Donetsk, according to military analysts. The development comes after Moscow has faced a series of embarrassing losses, including its failure to capture the capital in the early days of the war.

3:45 AM: Australia unveils Ukraine aid package as new prime minister visits Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, listens to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, during a press conference, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty) © Nariman El-Mofty/AP Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, listens to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, during a press conference, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a new aid package to Ukraine during a visit to the capital, Kyiv, on Sunday.

The Australian leader visited the nearby towns of Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin, the scenes of heavy fighting and alleged crimes against civilians by Russian forces in the early days of the war.

Albanese, who took office in May, then met with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Russia’s brutal invasion is a gross violation of international law,” he said during his visit. “I saw firsthand the devastation and trauma it has inflicted on the people of Ukraine.”

The new measures announced by Australia include a further $68 million in military assistance, including 14 armored personnel carriers, and $6 million to support Ukraine’s Border Guard Service. The new package brings Australia’s total military assistance to Ukraine to around $265 million.

Australia also pledged to support Ukraine’s case against Russia at the International Court of Justice, announced targeted sanctions and travel bans on 16 additional Russian ministers and oligarchs and banned the import of Russian gold.

By: Victoria Bisset

3:04 AM: U.K. to announce major aid package for Ukrainian recovery

Britain will unveil a major aid package for the rebuilding of Ukraine at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland, on Monday, the U.K. Foreign Office announced.

The aid package includes an offer of an additional $525 million in World Bank loan guarantees, bringing total British fiscal support to about $1.5 billion, along with funding for energy infrastructure repairs, demining efforts and other programs meant to expedite Ukraine’s civic and economic recovery.

“Ukraine’s recovery from Russia’s war of aggression will be a symbol of the power of democracy over autocracy,” Liz Truss plans to say at the conference, according to a news release. “It will show Putin that his attempts to destroy Ukraine have only produced a stronger, more prosperous and more united nation.”

The Foreign Office said the aid package would support immediate humanitarian needs and long-term development and democratic reforms, such as anti-corruption and e-government initiatives. The U.K. also plans to host the next Ukraine Recovery Conference, in 2023.

“The U.K. is resolute in its support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and will remain at Ukraine’s side as it emerges as a strong, thriving and cutting-edge democracy,” Truss’s planned remarks say.

Truss also plans to announce that the U.K. will back the Ukrainian government’s Reconstruction and Development Plan, set to be presented during the two-day conference in Switzerland. The plan runs about 2,000 pages, according to Bloomberg News.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday that rebuilding the country will be a “large-scale international event” requiring “colossal investments.”

“This is the largest economic project of our time in Europe and extraordinary opportunities for every state, for every company that we will invite to work in Ukraine to prove themselves,” he said.

By: James Bikales

2:31 AM: ‘We will return,’ Zelensky vows after Lysychansk withdrawal

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Ukrainians would return to Lysychansk after his military announced earlier in the day that it had withdrawn from the city, the final major Ukrainian outpost in the Luhansk region.

“If the command of our army withdraws people from certain points of the front where the enemy has the greatest fire superiority, in particular this applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing: We will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons,” Zelensky said in his nightly address. “Ukraine does not give anything up.”

Lysychansk had been a focus of Russian attacks in recent weeks. The Ukrainian military’s general staff said Sunday that it had been forced to withdraw because Russian-backed troops held an overwhelming advantage in personnel and weaponry.

“The continuation of the defense of the city would lead to fatal consequences,” the general staff said. “To preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Telegram that forces backed by Russia had established “full control” over Lysychansk “and a number of nearby settlements.”

Zelensky disputed that earlier Sunday, saying that fighting continues on the outskirts of Lysychansk, though he acknowledged that “the situation in Donbas is the most difficult.”

In his nightly address, he said Russia’s advances in the eastern region of Donbas — which includes Luhansk and Donetsk — paled in comparison with Moscow’s bold promises of territorial gains in the early days of the war.

“We are gradually moving forward — in the Kharkiv region, in the Kherson region and at sea: Zmiinyi is a good example of this,” Zelensky said, referring to Snake Island, a Black Sea outpost his forces recently recaptured. “There will be a day when we will say the same about Donbas.”

By: James Bikales

2:30 AM: Germany ready to defend ‘every centimeter’ of NATO territory in Europe, Scholz says

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz touted the strength of the NATO alliance amid questions over whether he and Western nations believe Russian President Vladimir Putin will limit his ambitions to the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin has criticized the possibility of NATO expanding and characterized as a provocation Ukraine, Finland and Sweden’s interest in joining the alliance.

“This is a moment where we have to make absolutely clear that we are strong enough that no one should just think about attacking, for instance, NATO territory,” Scholz said during a Sunday appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And this is why I said to my parliament, that we are ready and willing to defend every centimeter of NATO territory in Europe.”

Ukraine is not part of the NATO alliance, but its interest in joining — and the growing closeness with member nations since the start of the Russian war — has heightened Putin’s tensions with the West.

Scholz said Germany has budgeted for extra military spending and will strengthen the ability of NATO to defend its allies.

He is among the few leaders of Ukraine’s allies in Western Europe who continue to speak with Putin. On Sunday, he likened the Russian leader’s mind-set to that of “imperialists of the 17th and 18th century” who think that if a nation has enough might, it can take the sovereign territory of its neighbors.

“When I talked to him, I said, 'You have to accept the European Union. And that a big alliance of democratic states is building a very strong federal group of states — a union, outside of you. And he was very much thinking about NATO. And I told him NATO is not aggressive. It’s just about defense,” Scholz said.

He added that Western nations “will help to give him the view that this is not working and that he will not be successful.”

By: Kim Bellware

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