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One of Ukraine’s steadfast supporters, Poland, has declared that it will cease its weapon supplies to its neighboring country, Ukraine, citing a diplomatic dispute regarding Ukraine’s grain exports as the primary reason. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki emphasized that Poland’s current focus is on bolstering its own defense capabilities with more modern weaponry.

Poland had already provided Ukraine with significant military assistance, including 320 Soviet-era tanks and 14 MiG-29 fighter jets. However, their willingness to continue such support has dwindled, coinciding with escalating tensions between the two nations.

The recent diplomatic rift was triggered when Poland, along with Hungary and Slovakia, extended a ban on Ukrainian grain imports. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s comments at the United Nations, characterizing their actions as political theater, added fuel to the fire. Poland viewed these remarks as unjustified, given their longstanding support for Ukraine.

In his interview, Prime Minister Morawiecki underlined that while Poland remains committed to assisting Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression, it could not allow its own markets to be destabilized by Ukrainian grain imports. He pointed out that Poland was already replacing its depleted military hardware, which had been significantly reduced through transfers to Ukraine, with modern Western-produced equipment.

While arms exports to Ukraine will not cease entirely, only previously agreed deliveries of ammunition and armaments, including those from existing contracts with Ukraine, will be fulfilled. This decision reflects Poland’s commitment to its own security and stability, while the future of its assistance to Ukraine remains uncertain.

The ongoing grain dispute arises from Ukraine’s need to find alternative overland routes for grain exports due to Russia’s full-scale invasion, which nearly closed the main Black Sea shipping lanes. Consequently, large quantities of grain flowed into Central Europe, leading the European Union to temporarily ban grain imports into several countries. Despite the EU lifting the ban, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia have maintained it, leading to Ukraine’s WTO lawsuits against these nations. Poland has signaled its intention to uphold the ban, while also hinting at the possibility of expanding the list of banned products should Ukraine escalate the grain dispute. However, diplomatic channels remain open, with discussions ongoing to seek a mutually beneficial solution.

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US President Joe Biden has defended his controversial decision to supply cluster bombs to Ukraine, acknowledging it as a “very difficult decision” but emphasizing the urgent need for ammunition faced by the Ukrainian forces. While Ukraine’s leader praised the move as timely, criticism has arisen from human rights groups and certain Democrats. A Moscow envoy condemned the decision as cynical. Biden, ahead of a Nato summit, stated that he had consulted with allies regarding the decision.

Cluster bombs are internationally banned by over 120 countries due to their track record of causing civilian casualties. The decision to provide them to Ukraine has raised concerns due to the risk of unexploded bombs causing harm to civilians in the long term. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan acknowledged the risk and explained that the decision was postponed as long as possible. Sullivan asserted that the cluster bombs provided by the US are safer compared to those used by Russia in the conflict, with a lower rate of unexploded bombs.

The decision bypasses US law prohibiting the use, production, or transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate exceeding 1%. Earlier in the war, when allegations of Russia’s use of cluster and vacuum bombs surfaced, the US referred to it as a potential war crime. The UN human rights office called for an immediate halt to the use of such munitions in any location. The Russian ambassador to the US criticized Biden’s decision, highlighting the risk of civilians being harmed by failed submunitions for years to come.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed gratitude for the military aid package worth $800 million provided by the US. He stated that it would bring Ukraine closer to victory and democracy over dictatorship. However, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the US Cluster Munition Coalition condemned the decision, citing the grave threat cluster munitions pose to civilian lives even after the conflict ends.

The response from US lawmakers on Capitol Hill has been mixed, with some Democrats considering the decision alarming and a mistake, while others, including Republican leaders, view it as a means to enhance Ukraine’s capability to counter Russian forces more effectively.

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Vladimir Putin has announced that an initial batch of tactical nuclear weapons has been deployed in Belarus, emphasizing that they would only be utilized if Russia’s territory or sovereignty faced threats. The US government has stated that there are no indications suggesting Russia’s intention to employ nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Belarus, a crucial ally of Russia, served as a launchpad for Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February the previous year. Putin confirmed that the transfer of tactical nuclear warheads would be completed by the end of the summer, highlighting that it was a measure of “containment” to deter those considering a strategic defeat against Russia. These tactical nuclear weapons are designed for limited strikes and battlefield use, targeting specific areas without causing extensive radioactive fallout.

Putin is set to meet with African leaders in St. Petersburg following their visit to Kyiv as part of a peace initiative. However, while they were in the city, it came under Russian missile attack. President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa called for de-escalation and peaceful negotiations.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed the need to diplomatically isolate Russia and condemned its invasion. Putin reiterated his belief that Ukraine’s counter-offensive would not succeed and suggested that the country was running out of military equipment. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister reported advances in recapturing territory in the south of the country.

Putin also addressed economic matters, claiming that Western sanctions failed to isolate Russia and instead facilitated expansion in trade with “the markets of the future.” He praised new partnerships with Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries as reliable and responsible.

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has indicated that the country’s long-awaited counter-offensive against Russia has begun. He acknowledged the occurrence of counter-offensive and defensive actions but refrained from providing specific details about the stage or state of the operation. Recent escalation of fighting in Ukraine’s south and east, along with speculation about the anticipated push, has contributed to the uncertainty surrounding the situation.

Reports suggest that Ukrainian troops have made advancements in the east near Bakhmut and in the south near Zaporizhzhia. They have also conducted long-range strikes on Russian targets. However, assessing the actual developments on the front lines is challenging as both sides present contrasting narratives. While Ukraine claims progress, Russia asserts that it is repelling attacks.

In Russia’s Kaluga region, which borders the southern districts around Moscow, the governor, Vladislav Shapsha, reported a drone crash near the village of Strelkovk. The accuracy of this report has not been independently verified by the BBC.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in a video interview that Ukrainian forces have indeed initiated their offensive, but their attempts to advance have been unsuccessful and resulted in heavy casualties.

Following discussions with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv, President Zelensky described Putin’s remarks as “interesting.” He shrugged his shoulders, raised his eyebrows, and pretended not to know who Putin was, emphasizing the importance of conveying to Russia that their time is running out. Zelensky also mentioned that Ukraine’s military commanders are in a positive mood and urged Trudeau to relay this message to Putin. During Trudeau’s visit, Canada announced a new military aid package of 500 million Canadian dollars (£297m) for Ukraine.

A joint statement issued after the talks affirmed Canada’s support for Ukraine’s NATO membership aspirations, stating that it should be pursued as soon as conditions permit. The matter is expected to be discussed at the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

Fighting has intensified in the strategic southern Zaporizhzhia region, with Ukrainian forces aiming to push south and divide Russian forces, thus disrupting the occupied territory that links Russia to Crimea. However, Ukraine’s progress in the region may be impeded by significant flooding caused by the destruction of the Nova Khakovka dam. The flooding has affected approximately 230 square miles (596 sq km) on both sides of the Dnipro River.

President Zelensky reported that 3,000 individuals have been evacuated from the flooded Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. While water levels have receded by 27cm, over 30 settlements on the right bank of the river, within Ukrainian-held territory, remain flooded, with nearly 4,000 residential buildings still submerged.

NATO and Ukraine’s military have accused Russia of detonating the dam, while Russia has placed the blame on Ukraine. However, it is highly likely that Russian forces, who controlled the dam, deliberately destroyed it to impede Ukrainian forces from crossing the river as part of their ongoing counter-offensive, according to the BBC’s Paul Adams.

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According to Russian officials and military bloggers, Ukraine’s military has launched attacks on occupying Russian forces in the strategically important southern Zaporizhzhia region.

Ukrainian troops, supported by tanks, artillery, and drones, are reportedly attempting to advance south of the town of Orikhiv for the second consecutive night. The counter-offensive is believed to be focused on regaining access to the Sea of Azov, which would weaken Russia’s combat capability and eliminate a land bridge to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine has been planning this counter-offensive for months and has been training troops while seeking advanced military equipment from Western allies.

The government has not revealed many details about its plans, but Ukrainian forces are reportedly testing Russian positions along the front line to identify weaknesses.

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Russia has accused Ukraine of sabotaging a key ammonia pipeline and blamed them for a recent blast that damaged the Togliatti-Odesa pipeline. Moscow claims that the incident may have a negative impact on efforts to renew a grain export deal between the two countries. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denied these allegations and suggested that the explosion was likely caused by Russian shelling.

The pipeline, spanning 2,500 kilometers from Togliatti in Russia to three Black Sea ports in southern and western Ukraine, used to export 2.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually before operations were halted due to the Russian invasion in 2022. As part of the negotiations for the grain export deal last year, Ukraine and Russia agreed to ensure the safe passage of ammonia through the pipeline. The current agreement is set to expire on July 17.

The Kremlin expressed concerns about the pipeline blast, stating that it would negatively affect discussions on renewing the grain export deal. Russian officials mentioned uncertainty about the extent of the damage and the actions Ukraine would take. The Russian foreign ministry estimated that it would take one to three months to repair the damaged section, but the Industry and Trade minister stated that Moscow has no access to the affected area.

Ukraine strongly denied any involvement in the blast and instead accused Russia of conducting the attack. President Zelensky emphasized that the explosion occurred in a “grey zone” between territories controlled by Ukraine and Russia. He drew a distinction between this incident and the blast at the Khakovka dam, labeling the latter as terrorism orchestrated by Russia.

Reports have also emerged suggesting a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia. However, Ukrainian officials, including the secretary of the national security council, denied these claims and stated that any offensive action would be publicly known. US officials have indicated that while a Ukrainian counteroffensive may be in its initial stages, the main thrust of the operation has not yet begun.

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Following the breach of a dam in the Russian-occupied town of Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed concern over the dire situation caused by the flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people are without access to drinking water, and tens of thousands remain stranded due to the floodwaters.

Evacuations are currently underway in the surrounding areas, as Kherson braces for the peak of rising water levels today. James Waterhouse, our correspondent in Kherson, reports that numerous homes have been submerged up to their rooftops. Distressed individuals in Kherson have sought refuge on rooftops and in trees, awaiting rescue.

Fortunately, the floods in Nova Kakhovka are subsiding according to local authorities. However, there are concerns regarding the impact on the vital agriculture industry in southern Ukraine, as the declining levels of the Kakhovka reservoir could have devastating consequences for irrigation.

The environmental damage caused by pollution and flooding is also a major worry, with Ukraine labeling it as one of Europe’s worst environmental disasters in decades. Nevertheless, there is currently no immediate threat to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant upriver, as it relies on the reservoir for reactor cooling.

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A tragic incident occurred in Dnipro, Ukraine, where a two-year-old girl was killed and 22 people were injured in an alleged Russian air strike. The governor of the region, Serhiy Lysak, confirmed that among the injured were five children, three of whom were in serious condition. President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Russia for the attack, although the Kremlin had not yet commented on the events.

Explosions were also reported in the capital city of Kyiv, where air defense systems were deployed. The entire country had been under air raid alerts. Fires broke out in a northern district of Dnipro following the alleged strike, and 17 of the injured were taken to the hospital. Reports of explosions were received from various parts of the country, including Kyiv, Sumy, Berdyansk, Melitopol, and Kropyvnitsky.

In Russia, officials claimed that two more people were killed in fresh attacks in the border region of Belgorod and blamed Ukraine for the incidents. However, Ukraine maintained that the deaths were a result of Russia’s attempt to target anti-government fighters. There have been recent incidents in the region, including a cross-border incursion, which Russia claimed resulted in the deaths of 70 attackers. Kyiv denied direct involvement and stated that Russian paramilitaries were responsible.

Regarding a potential counter-offensive against occupying Russian soldiers, a close aide of President Zelensky, Dr. Ihor Zhovkva, stated that Ukraine was not yet ready due to a lack of weaponry and ammunition. This statement appeared contradictory to President Zelensky’s previous comment indicating Ukraine’s readiness to initiate the maneuver. The inconsistent comments from Ukrainian officials may have been an intentional tactic to confuse Moscow.

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A missile strike on a medical clinic in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro has resulted in the deaths of at least two people and left 23 others injured. Among the injured are two boys aged three and six. The regional governor, Serhiy Lysak, reported that 21 of the injured are in the hospital, with three in a serious condition. The strike is part of the escalating Russian attacks on Ukraine, which have increased in recent weeks ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shared a video on social media showing the damaged clinic, with firefighters and smoke visible in the footage. He condemned the attack, stating that it once again highlights the inhuman and dishonest nature of the Russian terrorists. The region experienced a “mass attack” involving missiles and drones, according to Governor Lysak. Dnipro, along with the eastern city of Kharkiv, was targeted, and an oil depot in the area was hit as well.

Ukrainian authorities claimed to have successfully intercepted and shot down 17 missiles and 31 drones launched from Russia overnight. The capital city, Kyiv, was also attacked, with intercepted drone fragments falling on the roof of a shopping center. Damage was caused to a house and several cars. In Russia, a blast occurred in the city of Krasnodar, east of Crimea, damaging a residential and office building. The governor of the region, Veniamin Kondratyev, attributed the blast to two Ukrainian drones, but no casualties were reported.

Another region affected by the attacks was Russia’s Belgorod region, which experienced over 130 strikes in the village of Kozinka. The governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, confirmed that one woman was injured. The Graivoron district, where an incursion from Ukrainian territory occurred earlier in the week, was particularly targeted in the attacks.

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Based on the information provided, the situation in Bakhmut, Ukraine, is uncertain and contradictory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that Bakhmut is not occupied by Russia, but he also acknowledged that the city has been destroyed and its infrastructure severely damaged. He expressed his sorrow over the situation and mentioned that Bakhmut remains in the hearts of the Ukrainian people.

On the other hand, the Russian paramilitary group Wagner claimed to have captured the city, with its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, appearing in a video alongside his fighters, asserting control over the entire city. Russian President Vladimir Putin also stated that Russia had won the battle for Bakhmut and that deserving troops would receive state awards.

However, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Operational Command reported that Ukraine still controlled several buildings in the south-west of Bakhmut and was preparing for a counterattack. He mentioned that Ukrainian forces were flanking Russian troops and creating conditions for a pushback.

The situation on the ground appears to be highly volatile, with conflicting reports from different sources. It is unclear whether Bakhmut is fully under Russian control or if Ukrainian forces still maintain a presence in parts of the city. The extent of the destruction and the number of casualties is also alarming, with reports of heavy losses on both sides.

Given the contradictory information and ongoing conflict, it is essential to rely on updated and verified sources for the most accurate and reliable information regarding the situation in Bakhmut.

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