UKRAINE WRAP | British foreign secretary says Russians must be accountable for Ukraine war

04 July 2022 - 05:30 By TimesLIVE
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Fire burns at a shopping mall after it was struck by a missile on July 3 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine. The attack was one of many in the city early Sunday afternoon, which targeted residential neighbourhoods, destroyed homes and left at least six people dead and 15 injured.
Fire burns at a shopping mall after it was struck by a missile on July 3 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine. The attack was one of many in the city early Sunday afternoon, which targeted residential neighbourhoods, destroyed homes and left at least six people dead and 15 injured.
Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

July 4 2022 - 20:47

Germany suspends funds over Bosnian Serb secessionist moves - envoy

 The German government has suspended 120 million euros ($125 million) worth of infrastructure projects in Bosnia's Serb region over its leaders secessionist policies, international peace envoy Christian Schmidt said on Monday.

Schmidt said in an interview for regional N1 television that he could not rule out that Germany might follow the United States and Britain and impose sanctions against those seen as destabilising Bosnia.

"Nobody should feel safe in this regard," Schmidt said, without naming anyone.

Pro-Russian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has triggered the gravest political crisis in Bosnia since the end of its war in the 1990s after moving to roll back all constitutional reforms and return state powers to two regions created under a peace deal that ended the conflict.

But Dodik, who serves as the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, has stepped back after the United States and Britain imposed sanctions against him and his close associates, saying last month that the war in Ukraine and its knock-on effects have delayed his secessionist plans for now.

Dodik does not recognise Schmidt as the international High Representative, saying that his nomination was not approved in the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China had tried and failed to block his appointment.

There has been concern that Moscow may also vet the extension of the EU's peacekeeping force EUFOR's mandate in the Security Council in November.

"The message must be clear - the international presence will remain here," Schmidt said, adding that Germany was expected to soon approve deployment of its troops as part of EUFOR for the first time in a decade.

Germany announced the move last month as concerns mount about instability from the Ukraine war spilling over to the Western Balkans. Bosnia lies hundreds of miles from the fighting, but faces an increasingly assertive Bosnian Serb separatist movement that analysts say has at least tacit support from Moscow. 


July 4 2022 - 20:12

German energy-intensive firms may get up to 50 mln eur in aid - document

Germany's energy-intensive companies will be able to apply until the end of August for government aid of up to 50 million euros ($52.10 million) each to cope with soaring gas and power costs, an economy ministry document seen by Reuters on Monday showed.

The subsidies will be allocated according to the extent of the impact on the company of the surge in energy prices caused by a standoff between the West and Moscow after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the document said.

Germany's government in April announced it planned to offer aid worth more than 100 billion euros in a "protective shield" for companies whose main concern was short-term liquidity.

For energy intensive industries, it said it planned a temporary cost subsidy and early in June, the economy ministry said it had earmarked 4 bln euros for that sector.

Their energy bills from February to September will be examined to determine how much aid they will receive, according to the document seen on Monday. The economy ministry did not immediately reply to request for comment. ($1 = 0.9597 euros)


July 4 2022 - 19:27

UK adds six people, one business to Russia sanctions list

Britain has added the names of six individuals and one company to its list of people and businesses who are subject to an asset freeze following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The measures allow for "the freezing of funds and economic resources of certain persons, entities or bodies involved in destabilising Ukraine ... or obtaining a benefit from or supporting the Government of Russia," Britain's finance ministry said. 


July 4 2022 - 17:40

British foreign secretary says Russians must be accountable for Ukraine war

Russia needs to help pay for the damage it has inflicted on Ukraine during its "appalling war" while Kyiv also needed help to revive its battered economy, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Reuters on Monday.

"Russia needs to be held to account for this appalling war," Truss said on the sidelines of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano. "We are looking at options for the deployment of Russian assets."

Britain is looking at legislation to seize assets from people responsible for the war, Truss said.


July 4 2022 - 16:46

Moscow to name land outside British embassy after separatist republic

A strip of land outside the British Embassy in Moscow will be named after the self-proclaimed separatist Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) in eastern Ukraine following an online poll, the city administration said in a statement on its website.

Last month, an intersection near the US embassy was named "Donetsk People's Republic Square" after another Russian-backed breakaway state in Ukraine, also recognised only by Russia and Syria. City councillors had initially proposed the name "Defenders of Donbas Square", which the embassy jokingly welcomed as a tribute to Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russian aggression.

Russia recognised the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and LPR as independent shortly before sending its armed forces into Ukraine on February 24, saying it had to defend the Russian-speakers of eastern Ukraine from persecution by Kyiv. Ukraine denies the accusation of persecution.

Moscow on Sunday claimed the "liberation" of the entire LPR on the territory of Ukraine's Luhansk province, and is pressing on with its campaign to wrest the adjoining DPR — Ukraine's Donetsk province — out of Kyiv's control.


July 4 2022 - 15:53

Ukraine needs $750bn for recovery plan, prime minister says

Ukraine needs $750bn (R12.23-trillion) for a three-stage recovery plan in the wake of Russia's invasion, its prime minister said on Monday.

Denys Shmygal also told the Ukraine Recovery Conference hosted by Switzerland that there had been over $100bn (R1.63-trillion) of direct damage to Ukrainian infrastructure from Russia's invasion.

"Today, the direct infrastructure losses of Ukraine stand at over $100bn," he said. "Who will pay for the renewal plan, which is already being valued at $750bn?"

Shmygal added that the Ukrainian government believed that a key source of funding for the recovery plan should be assets confiscated from Russian oligarchs. He said Ukraine's recovery plan had three phases:

  • a first focused on fixing things that matter for people's daily lives like water supply, which is ongoing;
  • a "fast recovery" component that will be launched as soon as fighting ends, including temporary housing, hospital and school projects; and
  • one that aims to transform the country over the longer term.


July 4 2022 - 15:49

Uganda convenes special interest rate meeting as inflation jumps

Uganda has become Africa’s first central bank to call an unscheduled rate meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine further upended global supply chains and caused inflation to surge, prompting speculation that it may hike its key interest rate.

The Bank of Uganda said it will hold a special monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday, days after the release of a report showing core inflation exceeded the central bank’s 5% medium-term target for a second straight month. Annual core inflation, which strips out the more volatile food and energy component, accelerated to 5.5% in June, from 5.1% a month prior, and headline price growth quickened to 6.8% from 6.3% in May.

The MPC usually convenes every two months. At its most recent meeting on June 2, it increased the rate for the first time since October 2018 to counter accelerating inflation and support the weakening shilling. A bank spokeswoman wasn’t immediately available for comment.

“Assuming there is a rate decision tomorrow, then I would expect a 50 to 100 basis point increase,” said Benoni Okwenje, general manager of financial markets at the Kampala-based Centenary Bank. “This would be in response to the rising inflation. The deputy governor at a recent event made it very clear that BOU will continue to increase CBR as long as inflation is above their 5% target.”

The central bank joins nations such as India that have held unscheduled meetings since the war in Ukraine caused already high food and fuel prices to increase even further, and rising interest rates in the US and other developed nations led to a sell-off of emerging market currencies by investors seeking higher yields. Gasoline prices rose 46% in June from a year earlier and diesel 65%.


July 4 2022 - 15:45

Egypt seeks wheat in private talks, marking shift from tenders

Egypt’s state-run buyer is negotiating privately with traders to purchase wheat, making a rare shift from its usual tender process. The nation’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) is seeking direct offers for wheat on Monday, according to traders who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The country is seeking supply for September and October and offers should be valid until Tuesday, three of them said.

Egypt’s government has traditionally only bought wheat cargoes via tenders. Just last week, it scooped up 815,000 tons, marking its largest single purchase since at least 2012. However, Bloomberg reported in April that it planned to soon allow buying wheat via direct offers to the supply ministry, seeking to avert supply disruptions from the war in Ukraine.

GASC did not immediately answer calls seeking comment.


July 4 2022 - 14:51

EU to set up platform for Ukrainian reconstruction

The European Union will set up a reconstruction platform to coordinate the rebuilding of Ukraine after its war with Russia, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said on Monday.

The platform will be used to map investment needs, coordinate action and channel resources, von der Leyen told the Ukraine Recovery Conference in the Swiss city of Lugano.

"Since the beginning of the war, the European Union has mobilised around 6.2-billion euros in financial support," von der Leyen said. "And ... more will come. We will engage substantially in the mid- and long-term reconstruction."


July 4 2022 - 14:49

Briton appeals against death sentence in separatist-held east: Interfax

British citizen Aiden Aslin, sentenced to death by a court in the Russian-backed breakaway Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine, submitted an appeal on Monday, the Russian Interfax agency reported on Monday.

"A cassation appeal against the verdict was filed today," the lawyer representing him, Pavel Kosovan, told Interfax.

Aslin was sentenced to death last month together with fellow Briton Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun for "mercenary activities" because they had been captured while fighting as foreigners for Ukraine's army against Russian and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine.

TASS news agency reported on Friday the breakaway region's supreme court had received appeals from lawyers for Saadoun and Pinner but that Aslin had yet to submit an appeal.


July 4 2022 - 14:05

Ukraine renews invitation for Pope Francis to visit: foreign ministry

Ukraine renews its invitation for Pope Francis to visit Ukraine and urges the pontiff to continue praying for the Ukrainian people, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday.

"It is time to deepen connections with those who sincerely desire it. We renew the invitation to Pope Francis to visit our country and urge you to continue praying for the Ukrainian people," foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said when asked for comment about an interview Francis gave to Reuters.

The pope said in the interview he hoped he would be able to go to Moscow and Kyiv after a trip to Canada as part of efforts to end the war in Ukraine. 


July 4 2022 - 12:50

Ukraine flag raised again on Snake Island, military says

The Ukrainian flag has been raised again on Snake Island in the Black Sea, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said on Monday, after Russian troops withdrew from the strategic outpost last week. "The territory [Snake Island] has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine," Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine's southern military command, told a news conference.

Some analysts have said Russia's withdrawal from Snake Island off Ukraine's southwestern coast could loosen its blockade on Ukrainian ports. But a Kyiv-based foreign diplomat told Reuters it was still not enough to allow for safe transit of Ukrainian grain.

"There is a requirement for demining, and Russia still has capabilities (military vessels, costal defence systems and air superiority) that will allow them to interdict shipping lanes," the diplomat said.

To unblock its ports so it can ship grain, Ukraine would need allied support and for Turkey to play a key role, the diplomat added.

Russia said it had pulled out from Snake Island on Thursday as a "gesture of goodwill" to show it was not obstructing UN attempts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grain to be shipped from Ukraine. Ukraine said it had driven the Russian forces out after an artillery and missile assault.


July 4 2022 - 12:49

Putin congratulates Russian troops on 'liberating' Luhansk region

President Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Russian troops on "liberating" the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, a significant milestone for Moscow in its military campaign in Ukraine. In a televised meeting with defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin said the troops involved in the operation to capture the Luhansk region should rest but that other military units should continue fighting. — Reuters

July 4 2022 - 12:20

Turkey halts Russian ship, investigates Ukrainian claims: senior official

Turkey has halted a Russian-flagged cargo ship off its Black Sea coast and is investigating a Ukrainian claim that it was carrying stolen grain, a senior Turkish official said on Monday. Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday the Zhibek Zholy ship was detained by Turkish customs authorities. Ukraine previously asked Turkey to detain the vessel, according to an official and documents viewed by Reuters. — Reuters

July 4 2022 - 10:54

Russia to focus on Donetsk region after taking Luhansk: regional governor

Russia will shift the main focus of its war in Ukraine to trying to seize all of the Donetsk region after capturing neighbouring Luhansk, the Luhansk region's governor said on Monday. Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Reuters in an interview that he expected the city of Sloviansk and the town of Bakhmut in particular to come under heavy attack as Russia tries to take full control of what is known as the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Russia says it has established full control over the Luhansk region following a withdrawal by Ukrainian forces from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk, though Gaidai said fighting continued in two small villages.

"The loss of the Luhansk region is painful because it is the territory of Ukraine. For me personally, this is special. This is the homeland where I was born and I am also the head of the region," Gaidai said. "In terms of the military, it is bad to leave positions, but there is nothing critical. We need to win the war, not the battle for Lysychansk. It hurts a lot, but it's not losing the war."

He said the withdrawal from Lysychansk had been "centralised" and orderly, and was necessary to save the lives of Ukrainian soldiers who were in danger of being surrounded.

"They [Russian forces] will not transfer 100% of their troops to some front because they need to hold the line. If they leave their positions, then ours can carry out some kind of counter-offensive," Gaidai said. "Still, for them goal number 1 is the Donetsk region. Sloviansk and Bakhmut will come under attack. Bakhmut has already started being shelled very hard."

Since abandoning an assault on the capital Kyiv, Russia has concentrated its military operation on the industrial Donbas heartland that comprises Luhansk and Donetsk, where Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.


July 4 2022 - 09:22

US envoy to Beijing urges China to stop spreading Russian ‘lies’

The US ambassador to China called on the foreign ministry in Beijing to stop spreading Russia’s “lies”, in an unusually direct and public rebuke by the top American diplomat in the country. Ambassador Nicholas Burns made the “request” in response to a question at a government-backed forum Monday about what China could do to resolve the crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Burns reiterated President Joe Biden’s call for Beijing to avoid helping Moscow carry out the war, before pivoting to a simmering point of contention between the world’s two largest economies.

“I would hope that Chinese foreign ministry spokespersons would stop accusing Nato of starting this war. That’s Russian propaganda,” Burns told the World Peace Forum organised by Tsinghua University. “I hope foreign ministry spokespersons would also stop telling lies about American bioweapons labs, which do not exist in Ukraine. These all came from Russia. Unfortunately, this has been picked up by the Chinese.”

While China has said it doesn’t support the war and urged talks to end the fighting, top officials and state media have repeatedly blamed the US for provoking Russia by allowing Nato's expansion. Diplomats including foreign ministry spokespeople Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian have also used official platforms to amplify Russian-backed conspiracy theories that the US was producing biological weapons in Ukraine.

The US denies the claims and has previously accused China of spreading disinformation, and Burns’s call came at a gathering likely to get the foreign ministry’s attention. Tsinghua organises the forum with approval from the State Council and assistance from Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, a think tank. The Chinese foreign ministry didn’t immediate response to a request for comment on Burns’s remarks Monday.

Moments before Burns spoke, Andrey Denisov, Russia’s ambassador to China, praised Beijing for its “reasonable and balanced” approach and noted its continued relationship with Kyiv. “That’s why I hope China can signal to our Ukraine neighbors to be more realistic in their approach of the assessment of the situation,” Denisov said. 


July 4 2022 - 09:15

Ukraine to unveil massive rebuilding plan even as war bogs down

Ukraine plans to put forward a blueprint this week for rebuilding the country that could mobilise hundreds of billions of euros, even as the nation grapples with a Russian invasion that’s destroyed cities, shredded the economy and displaced millions.

The plan, around 2,000 pages, will be introduced at a July 4-5 conference in the Swiss city of Lugano, according to people familiar with the outline. It will map out a broad list of infrastructure and security projects, investments in climate and the digital economy as well as diversification of energy resources.

European Union officials have said the 27-member bloc, which last month formally admitted Ukraine as a candidate, will contribute the bulk of overall financial assistance, a volume that could surpass 500-billion euros (R8.5-trillion).

The Ukrainian government thrashed out the draft with donors, including the EU, who will provide feedback over the coming months, the people said on condition of anonymity because the discussions were not public.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, is exploring financing options that include grants and loans, though details are scarce and officials are reticent to put forward estimates while the war is raging. One possibility is joint borrowing on the markets similar to the vehicle for raising funds for the EU’s pandemic recovery fund. 


July 4 2022 - 06:00

Russia says its forces now have full control of east Ukraine region

Russia said on Sunday its forces and their allies had taken control of Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, after capturing the final Ukrainian holdout of Lysychansk, although Ukraine has yet to comment after reporting heavy fighting there.

After fierce Ukrainian resistance prevented Russian seizing the capital Kyiv after its Feb. 24 invasion, Moscow turned its focus to taking full control of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.


July 4 2022 - 05:45

Ukraine security guarantees will not be same as for Nato member - Scholz

Germany is discussing security guarantees for Ukraine with its allies in preparation for a time after the war, but these will not be the same as for a member of the transatlantic alliance, German Chancellor Scholz told the broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

"We are discussing with close friends the question of the security guarantees we can give. This is an ongoing process. It is clear that it will not be the same as if someone were a member of Nato," Scholz said.

July 4 2022 - 05:30

Australia will ban Russian gold imports, give Ukraine more armoured vehicles - PM

Australia will provide 34 additional armoured vehicles to Ukraine and prohibit Russian gold imports, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in Kyiv on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference in Ukraine's capital alongside President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Albanese said Australia would impose sanctions and travel bans on 16 more Russian ministers and oligarchs, bringing the total number of Russian individuals sanctioned by Australia to 843.


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