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Ukraine war: Free to read

Ukraine from June 14 to July 8: Putin warns West that Ukraine is headed for 'tragedy'

Indonesia urges G-20 to help end war as Lavrov looks on; Biden to talk energy security with Gulf leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in remarks to Russian lawmakers on July 7, said the West was welcome to try to beat Russia militarily, but that this would harm Ukraine. (Kremlin via Reuters)

This blog file is now closed. For the latest developments, head over here.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 continues, with casualties mounting on both sides.

Ukrainian forces are putting up resistance in the east, where the focus of the war has shifted, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.

Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.

For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

Read our in-depth coverage:

-- Indomie diplomacy: How inflation drove Jokowi to Kyiv and Moscow

-- NATO finds old purpose in Russia, new one in China: 5 takeaways

-- Laos grabs for Russian lifeline as it fights fuel shortage

-- Russia move on Sakhalin-2 thrusts Japan into an energy dilemma

-- Russia's failure to cement Black Sea dominance has lessons for China

Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.

Here are the latest developments:

Friday, July 8 (Tokyo time)

12:52 p.m. Indonesia urges the G-20 to help end the war in Ukraine, as foreign ministers from the group gather for a meeting that has put some of the staunchest critics of Russia's invasion in the same room as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The buildup to the gathering on the Indonesian island of Bali has been dominated by the war and its impact on the global economy, with top officials from Western countries and Japan stressing it would not be "business as usual" at the forum. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at the opening of talks, "It is our responsibility to end the war sooner than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield."

7:00 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses the West of decades of aggression toward Moscow and warns that if it wants to attempt to beat Russia on the battlefield it is welcome to try, but this would bring tragedy for Ukraine. His remarks came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov prepared for a closed-door foreign ministers' meeting at a G-20 gathering in Indonesia on Friday. "We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading toward this," Putin said in televised remarks to parliamentary leaders.

4:00 a.m. Ukrainians feel saddened by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resignation, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.

"We are sincerely grateful for the decisive and uncompromising help since the first days of the war," Zelenskyy says in a Facebook post. "I thank you in particular for the leadership in defending the interests of Ukraine in the international arena."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet in Kyiv on April 9. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service handout via Reuters)

3:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will discuss energy security with Gulf leaders on his trip to the Middle East next week, White House spokesman John Kirby says.

His itinerary will include meetings with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Kirby says.

1:53 a.m. U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner pleads guilty to a drugs charge in a Russian court but denies she intentionally broke the law. Griner was speaking at her trial on the narcotics charge carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, days after she urged U.S. President Joe Biden to secure her release.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained in February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after authorities found what they said were vape cartridges containing hashish oil. She has been kept in custody since.

1:45 a.m. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov posts an update on the country's "dronation" campaign of collecting drones and cash donations to buy them for front-line troops.

"An Army of Drones will allow us to constantly monitor the 2,470 km long frontline and provide an effective response to enemy attacks," the donation website says.

Fedorov doubles as Ukraine's minister of digital transformation and is known for reaching out to Tesla chief and SpaceX founder Elon Musk with a request for Starlink satellite phones.

Thursday, July 7 (Tokyo time)

5:50 p.m. Pavel Zavalny, head of the energy committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, says that the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in the country's far east will be put under Moscow's jurisdiction, as has the neighboring Sakhalin-2. President Vladimir Putin last week signed a decree enabling the seizure of full control of the Sakhalin-2 gas and oil project, a move that could force out investors including Shell and Japanese entities. Four companies -- Rosneft, ExxonMoobil, Japan's SODECO and India's ONGC Videsh -- are partners in the Sakhalin-1 group of fields. ExxonMobil decided to pull out from the project in March.

3:30 p.m. A staggering 71 million more people around the world are experiencing poverty as a result of soaring food and energy prices that climbed in the weeks following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations Development Program says in a report. The UNDP estimates that 51.6 million more people fell into poverty in the first three months after the war, living off $1.90 a day or less. This pushed the total number globally at this threshold to 9% of the world's population. An additional 20 million people slipped to the poverty line of $3.20 a day. "The cost-of-living impact is almost without precedent in a generation ... and that is why it is so serious," UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said at the launch of the report.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, gives a speech in St. Petersburg on June 29. He said on Telegram on July 6 that "punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials ... potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity."   © Reuters

11:00 a.m. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says attempts by the West to punish a nuclear power such as Russia for the war in Ukraine risk endangering humanity. "The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity," Medvedev, now deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said on Telegram on Wednesday. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most serious crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

7:23 a.m. Spikes in the prices of food, fuel and fertilizer sparked by the war in Ukraine are threatening to push countries around the world into famine, bringing "global destabilization, starvation and mass migration on an unprecedented scale," a top U.N. official warns. David Beasley, head of the U.N. World Food Program, said its latest analysis shows that "a record 345 million acutely hungry people are marching to the brink of starvation" -- a 25% increase from 276 million at the start of 2022, before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The number stood at 135 million before the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

More than 424 million faced hunger in Asia in 2021, according to the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report.

Sri Lanka Air Force members stand guard at a fuel station in Colombo on July 6.   © Reuters

3:00 a.m. Sri Lanka's president has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help finance fuel imports for the crisis-stricken South Asian nation.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa tweets that he had a "very productive" phone call with Putin.

"I requested an offer of credit support to import fuel," Rajapaksa adds. He writes that he asked for Russian airline Aeroflot to resume operations in Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, July 6

11:07 p.m. More than 8.79 million people have left Ukraine since Russia's invasion Feb. 24, the U.N. refugee agency says.

10:45 p.m. Amid political ructions in London, U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss signs off on the NATO membership bids of Finland and Sweden.

A day earlier, Canada became the first NATO member to ratify the accession protocols, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

7:55 p.m. Ukraine expects a grain harvest of at least 50 million tons this year, which is "not bad given all the difficulties," the country's first deputy agriculture minister said. Ukraine, a major global grain grower and exporter, harvested a record 86 million tons of grain in 2021.

Russian skaters during the free dance at an international skating competition in Estonia on Jan.15: The U.S. and its allies say Russia should be booted from international sport federations.   © Reuters

1:36 p.m. After the U.S. and allies called for Russian and Belarusian national governing bodies of sports to be suspended from international sport federations, the Russian Embassy in the U.S. described the move as "Russophobic" and said "sports should stay out of politics."

The State Department issued the joint statement with allies, in which they also urged sports organizations to consider suspending the broadcasting of competitions into Russia and Belarus. Other signatories included Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

1:04 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on all parties in the world to make efforts to protect international laws as "the world is evolving in a complicated manner." He was speaking through a translator at a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son in Hanoi.

"Vietnam is a key partner (of Russia) in ASEAN...and the two countries' relations are based on history and their common fight for justice," Lavrov said at the meeting, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

His comments come as Russia has been accused by Western countries of breaching international law through its invasion of Ukraine. European Union leaders have urged Moscow to abide by an order by the International Court of Justice telling Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

5:20 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is not expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week when the two attend a Group of 20 foreign ministers gathering in Bali. The two have not met since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price tells a regular news briefing he expected members of the G-20 to speak out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "I'm not in a position to walk through the choreography, but I certainly would not expect any meeting between Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov," he says.

1:45 a.m. Representatives from the U.S., Japan and over 30 other countries urge international sports federations to suspend the national bodies for Russia and Belarus, according to a statement by the U.S. State Department. They also ask the sports federations to consider suspending broadcasts of events into Russia and Belarus.

When athletes or officials from those countries participate in sporting events, it "should be clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states."

This follows a statement from many of those roughly 30 countries in March that called for barring Russia and Belarus from hosting for bidding for international sporting events. The signatories include the U.K. and other European nations, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, athletes from Russia and Belarus have been banned from this year's Wimbledon tennis tournament and World Figure Skating Championships, while the global governing bodies of basketball and hockey have barred the national teams.

Tuesday, July 5

11:55 p.m. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he believes Ukraine "can retake territory recently captured by Putin's forces."

In a call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Johnson updates the Ukrainian leader on military aid, such as 10 self-propelled artillery systems and loitering munitions, "which would be arriving in the coming days and weeks," according to a Downing Street statement.

9:30 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweets on his latest talks with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Russia plans to build a railway link between its southern Rostov region and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, state news agency TASS reports.   © Reuters

5:37 p.m. Russia plans to build a railway link between its southern Rostov region and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, state news agency TASS reports, citing the Rostov region government. Russia established full control of Luhansk region on Sunday and is fighting to drive Ukrainian government forces out of Donetsk.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, pictured, attends a news conference with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Carlos Faria in Moscow on July 4.   © Reuters

12:10 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will fly to Hanoi on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Vietnam before heading to a G-20 meeting later this week in Indonesia, the Vietnamese government says.

The visit, at the invitation of Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, comes as the two nations mark the 10th anniversary of their "comprehensive strategic partnership." Russia is Vietnam's biggest arms supplier and its companies are involved in several major energy projects in the country. The two nations have close ties dating back to the Soviet era, and Vietnam has not so far condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

9:41 a.m. South Korea's June inflation accelerated to the fastest pace since the Asian financial crisis, fanning expectations the central bank could deliver a 50 basis point rate hike for the first time next week to cool prices and curb capital outflows. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 6.0% in June from a year before, government data shows, the fastest since November 1998 and exceeding the central bank's 2% target for the 15th consecutive month. The CPI also sped up from a 5.4% rise in the previous month and exceeded the 5.9% tipped in a Reuters poll.

6:30 a.m. Britain is proposing a new law that will require social media companies to proactively tackle disinformation posted by foreign states such as Russia, the government says. The law would tackle fake accounts on platforms such as Meta's Facebook and Twitter that were set up on behalf of foreign states to influence elections or court proceedings. The law is likely to be passed during this parliamentary session through an amendment to link the National Security Bill and Online Safety Bill, both of which are in the government's current program. Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said, "We cannot allow foreign states or their puppets to use the internet to conduct hostile online warfare unimpeded."

Burned-out buildings show the scars of war in Borodianka in Ukraine's Kyiv region.   © Reuters

2:00 a.m. With more than $100 billion in damage to infrastructure, Ukraine needs an estimated $750 billion to rebuild the war-torn country, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tells a conference in Switzerland. Assets seized from the Russian government and its billionaires should be the "key source" of this funding, Shmyhal says at the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

"The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war and caused this massive destruction and should be held accountable for it," the prime minister says.

The U.S. Justice Department says $300 billion in assets held by the Russian Central Bank have been frozen since the start of the war, along with more than $30 billion in oligarchs' assets. But how much, if any, of this amount will be seized by sanctions-imposing countries is unclear in the absence of further legal action.

Germany's Kiel Institute for the World Economy estimates that total military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine announced by European Union and Group of Seven members by early June was only 78 billion euros ($81.3 billion). This total reflects bilateral aid.

This apartment building in the city of Sievierodonetsk, in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine, was photographed on July 1.   © Reuters

Monday, July 4

10:56 p.m. Britain plans new economic, trade and transport sanctions on Belarus over the country's support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The package to be introduced Tuesday will include import and export bans on goods worth around $72 million, including on exports of oil refining goods, advanced technology components and luxury goods, as well as imports of Belarusian iron and steel. Britain also will ban more Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London.

8:00 p.m. The top American diplomat in China has accused Beijing of parroting "Russian propaganda" and "telling lies" about supposed American biological weapons labs in war-torn Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns made the remarks as his British and French counterparts piled on Russia's top envoy to China over the conflict during the World Peace Forum, hosted by Beijing's Tsinghua University.

Responding to a question about what China could do to help resolve the crisis, Burns calls on Beijing to drop its staunch support for Russia's claims about the cause of the deadly conflict.

"I would hope that the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson would stop accusing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of starting this war," Burns says. "That's Russian propaganda." Read more.

6:10 p.m. Russian forces in Ukraine will focus on trying to seize all of the Donetsk region, having forced Ukrainian troops to withdraw from the last major city under their control in the neighboring Luhansk region, the governor of Luhansk says. After abandoning an assault on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, during the early weeks of the war, Russia concentrated its military operation on the industrial Donbas heartland, which comprises the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.

1:30 p.m. The European Investment Bank, the lending arm of the European Union, is proposing a funding structure previously used during the COVID-19 pandemic to help rebuild Ukraine with up to 100 billion euros ($104.3 billion) of investment, according to a document seen by Reuters. The EU-Ukraine Gateway Trust Fund (E-U GTF) would seek to have an initial 20 billion euros in contributions from EU countries and the EU budget in the form of grants, loans and guarantees. The guarantees in particular would have a multiplier effect, leading to infrastructure projects of some 100 billion euros, the document says, about half of Ukraine's more immediate needs.

9:18 a.m. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday acknowledged Kyiv's forces had withdrawn from Lysychansk in the eastern Donbas region after a grinding Russian assault, but vowed to regain control over the area with the help of long-range Western weapons. Russia said its capture of the city less than a week after taking neighboring Sievierdonetsk gave it full control of the eastern Luhansk region -- a political win that meets a key Kremlin war goal. The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighboring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls large swaths of territory.

The Russian-flagged cargo ship Zhibek Zholy sits off the coast of the Black Sea port of Karasu, Turkey, on July 2   © Reuters

1:00 a.m. Turkish customs authorities have detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain which Ukraine says is stolen, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey says. Ukraine had previously asked Turkey to detain the Russian-flagged Zhibek Zholy cargo ship, according to an official and documents viewed by Reuters. Reuters reporters saw the ship, the Zhibek Zholy, anchored about 1 km from shore and outside of the Karasu port on Sunday, with no obvious signs of movement aboard or by other vessels nearby. "We have full co-operation. The ship is currently standing at the entrance to the port; it has been detained by the customs authorities of Turkey," Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said on Ukrainian national television.

Sunday, July 3

6:52 p.m. Russian and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine have taken full control of the city of Lysychansk, Ukraine's last major stronghold in the Luhansk region, Russian state news agency Tass quoted the Defense Ministry as saying on Sunday. According to Reuters, the ministry said earlier on Sunday that Russian forces had encircled Lysychansk and were now fighting inside the city.

Saturday, July 2

3:05 a.m. Russia's decision to wrest control of the Sakhalin-2 energy project has brought Japan closer to losing a valuable fuel supply right at a time when the country's electrical grid can least afford it.

The oil and natural gas development project in Russia's Far East, which includes Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. as investors, accounts for about 10% of Japan's liquefied natural gas imports.

Under Vladimir Putin's new order, a new company will be set up to operate Sakhalin-2's new operating entity. Foreign investors will need to notify Moscow within a month after the company is set up as to whether they want shares in it. If not, they will be forced to sell their stakes with the proceeds going to Russian accounts that cannot be withdrawn.

There are three responses Japan can take, all with drawbacks. Read more.

A Ukrainian wheat field in 2021. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has heightened fears of a global food crisis.   © Reuters

2:00 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have discussed promoting bilateral trade in farm goods, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals during a phone call, according to Modi's government.

"The leaders also discussed global issues, including the state of the international energy and food markets," the government says in a short statement.

The call comes amid international attention on whether Russia will allow passage of Ukrainian wheat to international markets. After his meeting with Putin on Thursday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the Russian leader had agreed to opening a sea route for Ukrainian wheat exports.

During his talk with Modi, Putin appeared to put the blame for rising food prices on others. The Russian president "drew attention to the systemic mistakes made by a number of countries, which led to the disruption of the entire architecture of free trade in food products and provoked a significant increase in their value," the Kremlin says in a news statement.

Modi has tread carefully on the topic of Russia's invasion of Ukraine to avoid a rupture in New Delhi's long-standing partnership with Moscow.

On the war, the Indian statement says: "In the context of the ongoing situation in Ukraine, Prime Minister [Modi] reiterated India's long-standing position in favor of dialogue and diplomacy."

Rescue personnel work at the scene of a missile strike at Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Odesa region, Ukraine, in this handout image released July 1.    © Reuters

Friday, July 1

10:45 p.m. As war rages in Ukraine, the United Nations' culture organization says the country's tradition of cooking borscht soup is under threat.

UNESCO has inscribed Ukraine's borscht culture on its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

UNESCO notes that the beetroot-based soup is common to the region but that Ukraine's traditions surrounding it were at risk from the war. "The displacement of people and bearers threatens the element, as people are unable not only to cook or grow local vegetables for borscht, but also to come together to practice the element, which undermines the social and cultural well-being of communities," an intergovernmental committee said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova waded into the borscht controversy earlier in the war. Zakharova accused the Ukrainian side of trying to make the soup belong to "only one people, one nationality" with its UNESCO bid.

4:09 p.m. Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two holiday camps near Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens, Ukrainian authorities say. One missile struck the building in the village of Serhiivka in the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi district at about 1 a.m., killing 16 people, Odesa region emergency official Ihor Budalenko told local television, adding that 41 people had been rescued. Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said missiles also hit two holiday camps nearby.

12:25 p.m. Shares in Japan's Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. fell about 5% on Friday after Russia moved to create a new firm to take charge of the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in the country's Far East. The new firm will take over all rights and obligations of Sakhalin Energy Investment, in which the two Japanese trading companies and Shell hold just under a 50% stake, according to a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. Mitsui has a 12.5% stake in the project and Mitsubishi 10%, while Shell holds 27.5%, minus one share. Russian gas giant Gazprom holds 50%, plus one share.

9:30 a.m. Russia will create a company that will take over all rights and obligations of Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. amid Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin says. The five-page decree indicates it is up to the government of sanctions-hit Russia to decide whether foreign shareholders are to remain in the consortium for developing the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in Russia's Far East.

9:47 a.m. The U.S. has not seen China evade sanctions or provide military equipment to Russia, a senior U.S. official says, adding that enforcement measures taken earlier in the week targeted certain Chinese companies, not the government. The Commerce Department added five companies in China to a trade blacklist on Tuesday for allegedly supporting Russia's military and defense industrial base as Moscow carries out its war in Ukraine. "China is not providing material support. This is normal course-of-business enforcement action against entities that have been backfilling for Russia," a senior Biden administration official told Reuters, referring to the Commerce blacklist.

3:40 a.m. Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow, after which he said Russia has agreed to open a sea route for Ukrainian wheat exports amid escalating concerns over the global food crisis.

"I really appreciate President Putin, who has said he'll provide security guarantees for food and fertilizer supplies from both Ukraine and Russia -- this is good news," Widodo told a joint news conference with Putin after their meeting at the Kremlin.

Putin says Russia is willing to ensure "friendly" countries have access to fertilizer.

"We are ready to fully satisfy the demand of agricultural producers from Indonesia and other friendly states for nitrogen, phosphate, potash fertilizers and raw materials for their production," Putin said, according to Russian news agency Tass. Read more.

An oil terminal in Saudi Arabia. U.S. President Joe Biden will visit the Middle Eastern nation in July.   © Reuters

2:00 a.m. Asked whether he would ask Saudi Arabia's king or crown prince to increase production of crude oil, U.S. President Joe Biden tells a news conference in Spain "no," saying his upcoming trip is not just about the Saudis.

"All the Gulf States are meeting," Biden says, according to a White House transcript. "I've indicated to them that I thought they should be increasing oil production, generically -- not to the Saudis particularly.

"I hope we see them, in their own interest, concluding that makes sense to do," the president says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on June 29 that Russia would respond in kind if NATO deployed troops and infrastructure in Finland and Sweden. (Pool photo via Reuters)

Thursday, June 30

11:00 p.m. Russian forces have withdrawn from the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island. Russia's Ministry of Defense calls the move a "gesture of goodwill" that will help restart Ukrainian grain shipments. But Ukraine says its forces drove the Russians away in retreat.

"So, in order for Moscow to show its goodwill, we have to beat it up regularly," Ukrainian presidential adviser and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak tweets.

8:00 p.m. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is in Moscow for a meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, offering to broker Ukraine peace talks and discuss the global food crisis.

The Indonesian leader is on a whirlwind trip that took him to this week's Group of Seven summit in Germany and a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Before departing for Moscow, he had just returned to Poland aboard an overnight train from Kyiv. Read more

5:20 p.m. The European Court of Human Rights says it has told Russia to ensure that the death penalty is not carried out against two Britons who were captured after fighting for Ukraine. Earlier this month, a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine sentenced British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner to death, accusing them of "mercenary activities."

5:10 p.m. Sweden will send more anti-tank weapons and machine guns to Ukraine, Sweden's Defense Ministry says. The arms package, which also includes equipment for mine clearing, is valued at around 500 million Swedish crowns ($49 million).

2:00 p.m. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned a NATO summit of the threat to universal values now that the world is mired in new conflicts and competitions, a reference to Russia's aggression in Ukraine and China's engagement with Russia, a South Korean official said. Yoon became the first South Korean leader to attend a NATO summit, joining as an observer at a meeting in Spain. "As a new structure of competitions and conflicts is taking shape, there is also a movement that denies the universal values that we have been protecting," Yoon said in a speech on Wednesday.

11:07 a.m. Russia presses on with its offensive in eastern Ukraine after NATO branded Moscow the biggest "direct threat" to Western security and agreed on plans to modernize Kyiv's beleaguered armed forces. Ukrainian authorities said they were trying to evacuate residents from the front-line eastern city of Lysychansk, the focus of Russia's attacks, where about 15,000 people remained under relentless shelling. "Fighting is going on all the time. The Russians are constantly on the offensive. There is no letup," regional Gov. Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television. "Absolutely everything is being shelled."

6:34 a.m. President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would respond in kind if NATO deployed troops and infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they join the U.S.-led military alliance. "With Sweden and Finland, we don't have the problems that we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go ahead," Putin told Russian state television after talks with regional leaders in the central Asian ex-Soviet state of Turkmenistan. "But they must understand there was no threat before, while now, if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats for the territories from which threats toward us are created."

A U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II receives fuel midair over Poland in February 2022. (U.S. Air Force via Reuters)

2:55 a.m. The U.S. will increase its military presence in Europe, President Joe Biden says following meetings that show "the determination of our alliance to defend every inch of NATO territory."

"Today I'm announcing the United States will enhance our force posture in Europe and respond to the changed security environment, as well as strengthening our collective security," Biden tells reporters at a news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Additional U.S. troops will be stationed in Romania, bolstering NATO's eastern defenses.

"And we're going to send two additional F-35 squadrons to the U.K., and station additional air defense and other capabilities in Germany and in Italy," the president adds.

2:30 a.m. Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has met Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, offering to play a role as a peace broker between the Ukrainian leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I offered to bring a message from President Zelenskyy to President Putin, whom I will visit very soon," Widodo tells a news conference with Zelenskyy, according to the Indonesian presidential office.

Widodo headed back to Poland shortly after the meeting, and was expected to depart Thursday for Moscow, where he is slated to meet Putin. Read more.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of G-7 leaders via video link in Kyiv on June 27. He asked the U.N. Security Council the next day to deprive the "terrorist state" Russia of its powers on the council. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)

Wednesday, June 29

8:10 p.m. Britain on Wednesday announces sanctions on oligarch Vladimir Potanin, described by London as Russia's second-richest man and who has been buying assets from firms exiting Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. Potanin, known as Russia's "Nickel King," was included in the latest wave of sanctions listings by Britain which included business figures, financial firms and other entities.

5:35 p.m. Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrived Wednesday morning in Kyiv, where he will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and urge him to "open room for a dialogue" and address the global food crisis. The office of the Indonesian president said Widodo will meet Zelenskyy at Mariinskyi Palace at midday.

12:20 p.m. Dozens of people were still missing after a Russian missile strike on a shopping mall killed at least 18 in central Ukraine two days ago. Ukraine said Russia had killed civilians deliberately when it pounded the mall in Kremenchuk. Moscow said the mall was empty and it had struck a nearby arms depot. A regional governor meanwhile said the situation was "very difficult" in Lysychansk in the east.

6:40 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of being a "terrorist state" at the United Nations on Tuesday, prompting Russia to charge that he was using a Security Council address as a "remote PR campaign" to solicit more Western weapons. Zelenskyy pushed the Security Council to expel Moscow from the United Nations and to create a tribunal to investigate actions of the Russian military in Ukraine. However, Russia has veto power on the council and can shield itself from any such action.

"Russia does not have the right to take part in discussing and voting in regard to the war in Ukraine, which is unprovoked and simply colonialist of the part of Russia," Zelenskyy told the council. "I urge you to deprive the delegation of the terrorist state of its powers."

All 15 Security Council members, including Russia, stood for a moment of silence after Zelenskyy asked them to "commemorate all the Ukrainians who have been killed in this war."

3:50 a.m. Turkey has agreed to support bids by Finland and Sweden to join NATO, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto says. Read more.

1:40 a.m. The Biden administration has banned the import of Russian gold into the U.S., part of a new round of penalties response to the invasion of Ukraine.

"As announced at the G7 Summit, the United States is joined in taking action against Russian gold, the country's biggest nonenergy export, by the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan," the Department of the Treasury says in a news release.

The Treasury Department sanctioned an additional 70 entities in a move it said will "strike at the heart of Russia's ability to develop and deploy weapons and technology used for Vladimir Putin's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine."

The 70 targets include state-owned defense and industrial group Rostec and affiliate Tupolev, the maker of Russian strategic bombers.

The U.S. Department of State, meanwhile, has imposed sanctions on an additional 49 entities and people. They include Halyna Danylchenko, who is accused of being a Russian-installed puppet in control of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol after the mayor was kidnapped, the State Department says is a news release.

1:05 a.m. The Group of Seven wealthy democracies agrees to look into capping the price of Russian oil and calls out China on human rights, including alleged forced labor in Xinjiang.

The leaders of those countries highlight these and other issues in a wide-ranging joint communique released as they concluded a three-day summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany. On the final day, they also announce additional support worth $4.5 billion to help developing countries cope with a deepening food crisis.

With the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine dominating the agenda, the G-7 promises long-term support for Kyiv. An overarching diplomatic aim was to enhance ties with democracies in the Global South, including Indonesia and India, and show a united front against authoritarianism. The two Asian countries -- important players in the Group of 20 as host and future host -- were invited to join discussions on global challenges. Read more.

Group of Seven leaders have agreed to study potential price caps on Russian oil and gas to limit Moscow's ability to fund its invasion of Ukraine, G-7 officials say.   © Reuters

Tuesday, June 28

4:36 p.m. Group of Seven leaders have agreed to study placing price caps on imports of Russian oil and gas to try to limit Moscow's ability to fund its invasion of Ukraine, G-7 officials say. The European Union will explore with international partners ways to curb energy prices, including the feasibility of introducing temporary import price caps, a section of the final G-7 communique seen by Reuters said. The officials said this meant both oil and gas.

11:11 a.m. Russian forces shelled central districts of the city of Kharkiv, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school, killing five people and wounding 22, the regional governor says. Five children were among the injured, Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Synehubov said.

6:30 a.m. Russia has defaulted on its international bonds for the first time in more than a century, the White House and Moody's credit agency say, as sweeping sanctions have effectively cut the country off from the global financial system, rendering its assets untouchable. Moody's credit agency later on Monday said that the missed coupon payment constituted a default. "Further defaults on coupon payments are likely," Moody's analysts wrote.

5:48 a.m. The leaders of the Group of Seven nations, gathered for their annual summit in Germany, condemned Russia's "abominable" missile attack on a shopping mall in the Ukraine town of Kremenchuk.

"Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians contribute to a war crime," they wrote in a joint statement tweeted by the German government spokesperson. "Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account."

2:00 a.m. At least 10 people are dead after a Russian missile strike on a shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, Reuters quotes regional governor Dmytro Lunin as saying.

G-7 leaders accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of a war crime following a missile strike on a shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on June 27. (Viacheslav Priadko via AP)

1:00 a.m. NATO plans to increase its forces on high alert to more than 300,000 from roughly 40,000 in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says in Brussels ahead of a summit of the alliance's leaders in Spain.

The buildup would bolster NATO defenses in eastern member states, Stoltenberg tells the Financial Times, amid concerns expressed in the Baltic states over the alliance's envisioned response to a Russian invasion.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of Group of Seven leaders via video link. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via Reuters)

12:30 a.m. South Korea will hold talks with Poland on exporting weapons to the Eastern European nation on the sidelines of this week's NATO summit as Seoul considers providing indirect military support to Ukraine by shoring up a neighbor.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is headed to the NATO gathering in Spain, where he is scheduled to meet with other world leaders, according to the Blue House.

Poland, which maintains the largest armed forces in Eastern Europe, ranks third worldwide in military aid committed to Kyiv, behind only the U.S. and the U.K., according to the Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Read more.

Monday, June 27

10:33 p.m. Russian hacker group Killnet claims responsibility for Monday's denial-of-service cyberattack on Lithuania, citing the decision by Vilnius to block the transit of some goods sanctioned by the European Union to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Reuters reports. A spokesperson for the group confirmed to Reuters that it was behind the attack, which affected state and private institutions.

9:30 p.m. Group of Seven leaders plan to expand sanctions against Russia, targeting Moscow's imports of components and technology crucial to producing military equipment, the White House says as President Joe Biden meets with his G-7 peers in Germany.

Washington also intends to raise tariffs on about 570 groups of Russian products worth $2.3 billion, as well as ban the import of new gold into the U.S. Leaders of the G-7 rich democracies also commit to impose sanctions on those responsible for human rights abuses, including war crimes and Russia's tactics to steal Ukrainian grain, the White House says.

Russian oil is sought by crisis-hit Sri Lanka, which has sent two ministers to Moscow to negotiate for fuel.   © Reuters

6:30 p.m. The Group of Seven rich democracies will commit on Tuesday to a new package of coordinated actions meant to raise pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and will finalize plans for a price cap on Russian oil, a senior U.S. official says. The announcement came amid news that Russia looked set to plunge into its first sovereign default in decades.

"The dual objectives of G-7 leaders have been to take direct aim at (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's revenues, particularly through energy, but also to minimize the spillovers and the impact on the G-7 economies and the rest of the world," the U.S. official says on the sidelines of the annual G-7 summit.

6:15 p.m. Ukrainian grain exports in the first 22 days of June fell by around 44% from a year earlier to 1.11 million tons, agriculture ministry data show. The volumes included 978,000 tons of corn, 104,000 tons of wheat and 24,000 tons of barley. Ukraine exported up to 6 million tons of grain a month before Russia launched an invasion on Feb. 24.

3:30 p.m. Sri Lanka is sending two ministers to Russia to negotiate for fuel, which the Indian Ocean island nation has almost run out of as its economy has collapsed. Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the two ministers are scheduled to leave for Russia on Monday to continue in-person talks that Sri Lanka has been having with Russian authorities to directly purchase fuel, and to discuss related issues. He urged people on Saturday not to line up for fuel, saying new shipments would be delayed due to "banking and logistics reasons."

1:38 p.m. Oil prices extend gains as investors stood on guard for any moves against Russian oil and gas exports that might come out of a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven meeting in Germany. Brent crude futures edged up 22 cents, or 0.2%, to $113.34 a barrel by 0342 GMT after rebounding 2.8% on Friday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $107.73 a barrel, up 11 cents, or 0.1%, following a 3.2% gain in the previous session.

Russian Central Bank headquarters in Moscow. The country's potential default on foreign debt could further alienate it from the global financial system following sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine.   © Reuters

8:30 a.m. Russia is poised to default on its foreign debt for the first time since 1918 following the Bolshevik Revolution, further alienating the country from the global financial system following sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine. The country faces a Sunday night deadline to meet a 30-day grace period on interest payments originally due May 27. But it could take time to confirm a default. Russia calls any default artificial because it has the money to pay its debts but says sanctions have frozen its foreign currency reserves held abroad.

6:40 a.m. A "stealthy network of commandos and spies" from the U.S. and allies is "rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training" for Ukraine, with much of the work being done outside the country at bases in Germany and elsewhere, The New York Times reports, citing American and European officials.

Some CIA personnel continue to secretly operate in Ukraine, mostly in Kyiv, "directing much of the vast amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces, according to current and former officials," the Times reports. "At the same time, a few dozen commandos from other NATO countries, including Britain, France, Canada and Lithuania, also have been working inside Ukraine."

5:09 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden tells allies "we have to stay together" against Russia on Sunday as G-7 leaders gathered for a summit dominated by the war in Ukraine and its impact on food and energy supplies, as well as the global economy. At the start of the meeting in the Bavarian Alps, four of the Group of Seven major industrial nations moved to ban imports of Russian gold to tighten sanctions on Moscow and cut off its means of financing the invasion of Ukraine. But it was not clear whether there was consensus on the plan, with European Council President Charles Michel saying the issue would need to be handled carefully and discussed further.

Sunday, June 26

Smoke rises after a missile strike in Kyiv on June 26.   © Reuters

6:01 p.m. The Group of Seven must impose more sanctions on Russia and send Ukraine more heavy arms, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweets Sunday as the G-7 summit in Germany continues.

The tweet includes a photo of an apparently injured child being moved by first responders. "This 7 y.o. Ukrainian kid was sleeping peacefully in Kyiv until a Russian cruise missile blasted her home," Kubela writes. "Many more around Ukraine are under strikes."

3:23 p.m. Less than 3% of Japanese companies operating in Russia have decided to withdraw following its invasion of Ukraine, the lowest proportion among the Group of Seven nations, a recent survey shows. A considerable number of Japanese companies were cautious about exiting from Russia, with many only suspending operations in the hope of resuming business in the future, the analysis of the survey said.

Only 4, or 2.4%, of the 168 Japanese companies operating in Russia had decided by June 19 to cease business in the country, according to analysis by Teikoku Databank based on the survey conducted by the Yale School of Management in the United States covering around 1,300 major companies worldwide. The figure was far lower than the around 48% of British companies that have announced their withdrawal from Russia, followed by about 33% of Canadian companies and around 29% of U.S. enterprises.

Russian servicemen demonstrate the Iskander missile system at a 2015 event outside Moscow.   © Reuters

2:45 a.m. Russia will provide Belarus with the Iskander missile system in the "next few months," President Vladimir Putin tells Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting.

The system can launch both cruise and short-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads, Putin says, according to a readout on the Russian presidential website.

Lukashenko claims concerns about "training flights of aircraft of the United States of America and NATO, which are trained to carry nuclear warheads."

The meeting in St. Petersburg comes as a Ukrainian defense official accuses Russia of trying to drag Belarus into the war.

1:52 a.m. The U.S. and other Group of Seven rich countries will agree on an import ban on new gold from Russia when they meet for a three-day summit in Germany that begins later today, a source tells Reuters.

The U.S. Treasury Department will issue a determination to prohibit the import of new gold into the U.S. on Tuesday, which will further isolate Russia from the global economy by preventing its participation in the gold market, the source says.

1:00 a.m. Sweden still has not resolved Turkey's concerns over support for "terrorism" and an arms embargo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in a phone call on the Scandinavian nation's bid to join NATO.

Erdogan, who has expressed opposition to Sweden and Finland becoming NATO members, says he wants to see binding commitments on these matters. Ankara accuses the two countries of supporting organizations affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group that is outlawed in Turkey.

The NATO chief also had a phone call with Erdogan.

Saturday, June 25

11:45 p.m. Russian forces are in full control of Sievierodonetsk, marking Kyiv's biggest setback on the battlefield in more than a month. The eastern city was under attack for weeks in some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

"The city is now under the full occupation of Russia. They are trying to establish their own order, as far as I know they have appointed some kind of commandant," Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk says on national television, according to Reuters, confirming Russian control of the ruined city once home to 100,000 people.

Pro-Russian separatists say Moscow's forces are now attacking the last major Ukrainian-held bastion in eastern Luhansk province, Sievierodonetsk's twin city Lysychansk on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets River.

4:15 a.m. At the Uniting for Global Food Security Conference in Berlin, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoes fellow Group of Seven top diplomats' statement on Russia's role in worsening food supply instability.

"The Russian military is laying waste to Ukrainian farms and grain silos, stealing Ukrainian grain and the equipment needed to harvest it, blocking access to and from Ukrainian ports by the sea," Blinken says.

Moscow has rejected such accusations and says it is ready to help. The Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka, now in the throes of an economic crisis, puts out the following message.

3:00 a.m. European Union leaders' decision to grant EU candidate member status to Ukraine and Moldova continues a policy of Russian "containment," Moscow says.

"Such an aggressive approach of the European Union obviously carries the potential for the emergence of new deeper lines of division and crises in Europe as a whole," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova says in a statement. "This policy of Brussels has nothing to do with the real needs of the inhabitants of Ukraine and the EU countries."

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov tells reporters that Moscow believes it is unlikely that the EU's "Russophobic" policy will disappear in the near or long term. "That's the path chosen by the Europeans," he says.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 16.   © Reuters

1:00 a.m. Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations have held a meeting "focused on Russia's culpability for aggravating the global food crisis as a result of the war."

"G-7 foreign ministers made clear that Russia's war against Ukraine is exacerbating food insecurity, including by blocking the Black Sea, bombing grain silos and ports, and damaging Ukraine's agricultural infrastructure," according to a chair's statement.

Ukrainian soldiers patrol an area in the city of Sievierodonetsk on June 20.   © Reuters

Friday, June 24

3:00 p.m. Ukrainian troops will "have to be withdrawn" from the mostly Russian-occupied battleground city of Sievierodonetsk, the regional governor says. Some of the heaviest fighting of the entire Russian invasion of Ukraine has taken place in Sievierodonetsk, where street-by-street battles have been going on for a month, with Russia slowly and painstakingly taking more ground. "Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense," Gov. Serhiy Gaidai said on television.

A launch truck fires a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at the Yakima Training Center in Washington state, U.S. (The Olympian via AP)

7:30 a.m. The United States will send another $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including additional medium-range rocket systems, to help reverse Russian progress in the war, officials say. The latest package includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which will double the number Ukraine has now. All four were pre-positioned in Europe and training on them has begun, said a Pentagon spokesman. The first four HIMARS that the U.S. sent have already gone to the battlefield in Ukraine.

4:50 a.m. Ukraine may be on the path to EU membership, but that does not mean the journey will be a short one. EU leaders say Ukraine must meet conditions on the rule of law, corruption and the judiciary in order to advance to the next stage of accession negotiations, the Financial Times reports. Croatia, the most recent country to join the EU, took nine years to go from candidate status to membership, the FT reports. Ukraine applied for EU membership in February.

3:45 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reacts to the European Council decision.

3:25 a.m. Ukraine has been granted European Union candidate status, European Council President Charles Michel says. Moldova's candidate status is also now official. "Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU," Michel says in a tweet.

12:45 a.m. BRICS leaders gingerly weigh in on Ukraine at a summit where Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin push back against Western pressure.

"We have discussed the situation in Ukraine and recall our national positions as expressed at the appropriate fora, namely the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] and UNGA [United Nations General Assembly]," the BRICS leaders say in a joint declaration marking their latest summit. They stop short of using the words "war" or "invasion" to describe Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

"We support talks between Russia and Ukraine," the leaders say, adding that they have also discussed concerns about the humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine.

The BRICS are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Thursday, June 23

10:20 p.m. Germany has moved to the second stage of its natural gas emergency plan in response to cuts in the supply from Russia.

"We are in a gas crisis," says Robert Habeck, the economy minister, accusing Moscow of using gas as a weapon against Germany.

10:10 p.m. Nike will make a full withdrawal from the Russian market, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the sportswear company.

Nike stores in Russia had been suspended in response to President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The decision to leave the Russian market is mostly symbolic, since Russia and Ukraine account for less than 1% of Nike's revenue, Reuters reports.

6:00 p.m. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Ankara is investigating claims that Ukrainian grain has been stolen by Russia and would not allow any such grain to be brought to Turkey. Kyiv's ambassador to Ankara said in early June that Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russia had stolen from Ukraine, adding he had sought Turkey's help to identify and capture individuals responsible for the alleged shipments.

"We take every claim seriously and are investigating them seriously. We notify especially the Ukrainian side of the result every time," Cavusoglu said.

British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun, center, face the death sentence for fighting for Ukraine.

4:15 p.m. Two Britons and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine and sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) are preparing to appeal, the TASS news agency cites one of their lawyers as saying. The court in the DPR, one of Russia's proxies in eastern Ukraine, found the three men -- Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun -- guilty of "mercenary activities and committing actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order of the DPR."

4:00 p.m. Oil prices continue to retreat as investors reassess the risks of recession and the impact of interest rate hikes in major economies on fuel demand. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell $1.4, or 1.3%, to $104.78 a barrel by 06:43 GMT. Brent crude futures fell $1.3, or 1.2%, to $110.40. Both benchmarks tumbled by as much as $3 a barrel in early morning Asian trade, after plunging around 3% in the previous session. They are at their lowest levels since mid-May.

The town of Dobropillia, in the Donetsk region, tries to clean up on June 14. Russia "want[s] to destroy the entire Donbas step-by-step," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.   © Reuters

11:24 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges its allies to accelerate the shipment of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield. "The occupier's goal here is unchanged," he said in a video address. "They want to destroy the entire Donbas step-by-step. What is quickly needed is parity on the battlefield in order to halt this diabolical armada and push it beyond Ukraine's borders."

9:32 a.m. A Ukrainian official overseeing the country's push to join the European Union says she is "100%" certain all 27 EU nations will approve Ukraine's EU candidacy during a summit this week. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed similar optimism, calling it a "crucial moment" for Ukraine. Ukraine's bid will be the top order of business for EU leaders meeting in Brussels. In an interview with The Associated Press, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna said the decision could come Thursday, when the leaders' summit starts.

4:00 a.m. The demotion of Le Yucheng, China's first vice foreign minister, has sent shock waves through national political circles.

On June 14, it was announced that Le had been appointed deputy head of the National Radio and Television Administration and "no longer serves as vice foreign minister." That meant the pro-Russian diplomat was no longer front-runner in the race to become foreign minister.

His fingerprints were all over the now-famous summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Feb. 4. But then came Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Read more in this week's China Up Close.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 4. (Sputnik via Reuters)

12:45 a.m. In a virtual speech at the opening of the BRICS Business Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping calls sanctions a "double-edged sword."

"To politicize the global economy and turn it into one's tool or weapon, and willfully impose sanctions by using one's primary position in the international financial and monetary systems will only end up hurting one's own interests as well as those of others, and inflict suffering on everyone," Xi says, without mentioning Russia or the Western nations sanctioning it, according to a transcript published by Xinhua.

Just last week, Xi denounced heavy-handed unilateral sanctions in a virtual speech to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

At the BRICS event, Xi describes the "Ukraine crisis" as "another wake-up call for all in the world," taking a veiled jab at NATO.

"It reminds us that blind faith in the so-called 'position of strength' and attempts to expand military alliances and seek one's own security at the expense of others will only land oneself in a security dilemma," the Chinese leader says.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his virtual opening address at the BRICS event, mentions neither Russia nor Ukraine, instead touting India's economic policies.

The BRICS are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

High gasoline prices have been one of the most glaring indicators of rising inflation for Americans.   © Reuters

Wednesday, June 22

10:30 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden has called on Congress to suspend the federal gasoline tax for three months, through September, to ease the pain at the pump for Americans.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. is hovering around $5. The federal gas tax accounts for 18 cents of what drivers pay per gallon.

Biden is under pressure as U.S. inflation runs high. A White House statement acknowledges that "a gas tax holiday alone will not, on its own, relieve the run up in costs that we've seen."

"But the president believes that at this unique moment when the war in Ukraine is imposing costs on American families, Congress should do what it can to provide working families breathing room."

In other energy news, a fire at an oil refinery in southern Russia's Rostov region Wednesday was caused by a drone attack, Russian state media report.

10:15 p.m. "Europe should be ready in case Russian gas is completely cut off," Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, tells the Financial Times in an interview.

Birol says Russia's recent decision to reduce gas supplies to European countries may be a step toward deeper reductions that Moscow can use as a bargaining chip as Western nations apply sanctions pressure.

Casualties have amounted to about 55% of the original strength of the forces of the Russian-backed, self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Britain says.    © Reuters

6:09 p.m. Seven Russian missiles hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Wednesday, regional governor Vitaliy Kim says. In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, he gave no details of any casualties or damage.

2:39 p.m. Casualties have amounted to about 55% of the original strength of the forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), one of Russia's proxies in eastern Ukraine, Britain says. Figures published by the DPR showed that by June 16, 2,128 military personnel had been killed in action, with 8,897 wounded since the beginning of 2022, the British Defense Ministry said in a daily Twitter update.

2:33 p.m. Indonesian President and G-20 Chairman Joko Widodo will visit his counterparts in Ukraine and Russia next week to press for a peaceful resolution to their conflict, his foreign minister says, the first such trip by an Asian leader. The Ukraine war has overshadowed meetings of the Group of 20 major economies this year, with Indonesia struggling to unify its members while resisting pressure from Western states threatening to boycott a November leaders' summit and pushing for Russia's exclusion.

7:29 a.m. Chevron Chief Executive Michael Wirth rebutted White House officials' criticism of the oil industry over energy costs, saying reducing fuel prices will require "a change in approach" by the government. The comments in a letter mark the latest in a series of acrimonious exchanges between the U.S. oil industry and President Joe Biden over who is to blame for high fuel prices that have helped drive inflation to 40-year highs.

The White House asked the CEOs of seven refiners and oil companies including Chevron to a meeting this week to discuss ways to increase production capacity and reduce energy prices. Wirth said he would attend. "Your administration has largely sought to criticize, and at times vilify, our industry," Wirth said in the letter to Biden. "These actions are not beneficial to meeting the challenges we face."

Germany faces certain recession if faltering Russian gas supplies stop completely, an industry body warns.   © Reuters

4:44 a.m. Germany faces certain recession if faltering Russian gas supplies stop completely, an industry body warns. The EU relied on Russia for as much as 40% of its gas needs before the war -- rising to 55% for Germany -- leaving a huge gap to fill in an already tight global gas market. Germany's BDI industry association cut its economic growth forecast for 2022 to 1.5% from the 3.5% expected before the war began on Feb. 24. It said a halt in Russian gas deliveries would make recession in Europe's largest economy inevitable.

12:54 a.m. The U.S. disagrees "vigorously" with Russia's position that the American citizens captured in Ukraine are not covered by the Geneva Conventions, a senior State Department official says, adding that Washington has conveyed its stance on the issue to Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, interviewed by U.S. television network NBC on Monday, said two Americans detained in Ukraine while fighting on the Ukrainian side of the war were mercenaries who endangered the lives of Russian service personnel and should face responsibility for their actions.

Tuesday, June 21

10:00 p.m. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is visiting Ukraine to discuss efforts to identify, arrest and prosecute those involved in war crimes and other atrocities committed during Russia's invasion, a Justice Department official says. Garland will meet with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

Dmitry Muratov's 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal is exhibited before it was sold by Heritage Auctions in New York on June 20.   © Reuters

9:30 a.m. The Russian co-winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, Dmitry Muratov, sold his prize medal for $103.5 million at an auction on Monday to raise money for children displaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The full purchase price of the medal will benefit UNICEF's humanitarian response for Ukraine's displaced children, said Heritage Auctions, which conducted the auction. Muratov, editor of the Novaya Gazeta, which is fiercely critical of the Kremlin, won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Maria Ressa of the Philippines.

6:29 a.m. The United States is in talks with Canada and other allies to further restrict Moscow's energy revenue by imposing a price cap on Russian oil, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday. "We are talking about price caps or a price exception that would enhance and strengthen recent and proposed energy restrictions by Europe, the United States, the U.K. and others, that would push down the price of Russian oil and depress Putin's revenues, while allowing more oil supply to reach the global market," Yellen told reporters in Toronto.

3:00 a.m. A food warehouse in the Black Sea port of Odesa was destroyed in a Russian missile attack but no civilians were killed, the Ukrainian military says. The Operational Command South says Russian forces fired 14 missiles at southern Ukraine during a three-hour barrage "in impotent anger at the successes of our troops."

Monday, June 20

4:08 p.m. Russia's blockade of the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain is a war crime, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says.

"We call on Russia to deblockade the (Ukrainian) ports ... It is inconceivable, one cannot imagine that millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are suffering hunger," he tells reporters. "This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer," he says on arriving at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Oil tankers are loaded at a Sinopec terminal at Yaogang oil depot in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China, in June 2019.   © Reuters

12:41 p.m. China's crude oil imports from Russia soared 55% from a year earlier to a record level in May, displacing Saudi Arabia as the top supplier, as refiners cashed in on discounted supplies amid sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Imports of Russian oil, including supplies pumped via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline and seaborne shipments from Russia's European and Far Eastern ports, totaled nearly 8.42 million tons, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs. Chinese companies, including state refining giant Sinopec and state-run Zhenhua Oil, have ramped up purchases of Russian oil, enticed by steep discounts. China is the world's biggest crude oil importer.

Smoke and flames rise from Sievierodonetsk's Azot chemical plant on June 19. Russia's Defense Ministry says its attack on the city in eastern Ukraine is "developing successfully."   © Reuters

9:03 a.m. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicts Russia will escalate its attacks this week as European Union leaders consider whether to back Kyiv's bid to join the bloc and Moscow presses its campaign to win control of the country's east.

"Obviously, this week we should expect from Russia an intensification of its hostile activities," Zelenskyy said in his Sunday nightly video address. "We are preparing. We are ready." Ukraine applied to join the EU four days after Russian troops poured across its border in February. The EU's executive, the European Commission, on Friday recommended that Ukraine receive candidate status.

Sunday, June 19

8:08 p.m. Russia says its offensive against Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine is proceeding successfully, after it took control of a district in the outskirts of the city. "The offensive in the Sievierodonetsk direction is developing successfully," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a video statement. He said the settlement of Metyolkine, on the eastern outskirts of the city, had been taken. Konashenkov said long-range Kalibr cruise missiles struck a command center in the Dnipropetrovsk region, killing Ukrainian generals and officers, including from the general staff.

1:42 p.m. Two top commanders of fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's southeastern port of Mariupol have been transferred to Russia for investigation, Russia's state news agency TASS reports. Uncertainty has surrounded the fate of hundreds of fighters captured by Russian forces in May after a monthslong siege of Mariupol. Moscow said at the time they were moved to breakaway Russian-backed entities in eastern Ukraine. Citing an unnamed Russian law enforcement source, TASS said late on Saturday that Svyatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of the Azov battalion, and Serhiy Volynsky, the commander of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, were moved to Russia.

Saturday, June 18

3:40 a.m. In his prerecorded message to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping urges nations to " reject attempts at decoupling, supply disruption, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure," in what appears to be a jab at Western nations' isolation campaign against Russia.

Xi calls for economic globalization and "true multilateralism."

"China stands ready to work with Russia and all other countries to explore development prospects," Xinhua reports the Chinese president as saying.

Other leaders speaking at the event include Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

3:10 a.m. Russian warships sailed south of Tokyo this week, while Chinese destroyers passed through a strait north of Japan, Japan's Ministry of Defense says. Read more.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 17.  (TASS Host Photo Agency Pool via AP)

1:50 a.m. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod accuses a Russian military ship of violating Denmark's territorial waters twice in one night.

In a Twitter post, the minister calls the incident "a deeply irresponsible, gross and completely unacceptable Russian provocation."

Kofod says the Russian ambassador has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Russian side's response was not immediately clear.

12:05 a.m. Western nations' attempt to destroy the Russian economy with sanctions has failed, Russian President Vladimir Putin says at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Maintaining the pretext that the war is not a Russian invasion but a "special military operation," he says the economy is gradually returning to normal.

Putin pins the blame for energy and food inflation on the West, claiming Russia is not blocking shipments of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

His speech was delayed by more than an hour after the forum, known as the "Russian Davos," was the target of a cyberattack.

Friday, June 17

11:55 p.m. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a surprise visit to Kyiv.

8:00 p.m. The European Commission has recommended that Ukraine be made an official candidate for membership in the European Union.

4:58 p.m. The evacuation of 568 civilians sheltering in bunkers under the Azot chemical plant in the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk is currently impossible due to shelling and heavy fighting, the governor of Ukraine's Luhansk region says. In a post on Telegram messenger, he said there were 38 children taking shelter in the bunkers at the chemical plant.

Smoke rises after a military strike on a compound of Sievierodonetsk's Azot Chemical Plant, amid a Russian attack on the city on June 10.   © Reuters

4:30 p.m. Ukrainian missiles hit a Russian naval tugboat transporting soldiers, weapons and ammunition to the Russian-occupied Zmiinyi (Snake) Island south of the Odesa region on Friday, the regional governor says. Odesa Gov. Maksym Marchenko identified the vessel as the Vasiliy Bekh. Ukraine's Naval Command said the tugboat had a TOR anti-air missile system on board but this had failed to stop the strike.

2:30 p.m. A Russian-owned superyacht seized by the U.S. arrived in Honolulu Harbor on Thursday flying an American flag. The U.S. last week won a legal battle in Fiji over the $325 million vessel and immediately sailed it to Hawaii. The FBI has linked the Amadea to the Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. The U.S. said Kerimov secretly bought the Cayman Island-flagged vessel last year through various shell companies.

11:00 a.m. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he will attend "an important" NATO meeting in Madrid at the end of the month as the U.S.-led alliance looks to further strengthen its ties in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine. Australia, one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the West's support for Ukraine, has been supplying aid and defense equipment and has banned exports of alumina and aluminum ores, including bauxite, to Russia. "I'm going to NATO as a priority ... to support the people of Ukraine standing up against this thuggish illegal behavior of Russia," Albanese said on Friday.

8:08 a.m. Law enforcement in the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands and Britain have dismantled a global network of internet-connected devices that had been hacked by Russian cybercriminals and used for malicious purposes, the U.S. Justice Department says. The network, known as the RSOCKS botnet, comprised millions of hacked computers and devices worldwide, including Internet of Things gadgets like routers and smart garage openers, the department said. RSOCKS users paid a fee of between $30 and $200 per day to route malicious internet activity through compromised devices to hide the true source of the traffic, it said.

5:00 a.m. Italian power company Enel agrees to sell its entire stake in Russian unit PJSC Enel Russia to local buyers for about 137 million euros ($145 million), according to a news release.

The buyers are energy group Lukoil and investment fund Gazprombank-Frezia.

"Following completion of the transaction, Enel will dispose of all its Russian power generation assets, which include approximately 5.6 GW of conventional capacity and around 300 MW of wind capacity at different stages of development," Enel says.

From left, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi attend a news conference in Kyiv on June 16.   © Reuters

1:00 a.m. The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania voice support for Ukraine's bid to join the European Union after a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

"All four of us support the immediate granting of EU candidate status for Ukraine," French President Emmanuel Macron says.

Zelenskyy says he has received invitations from European partners to attend some major upcoming events, including the NATO summit in Madrid.

12:15 a.m. The U.K.'s latest round of sanctions in response to the Ukraine war target a Russian official accused of involvement in forced deportations and adoptions.

Russian Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova "has been accused of enabling 2,000 vulnerable children being violently taken from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and orchestrating a new policy to facilitate their forced adoptions in Russia," the U.K. government says in a statement.

Also sanctioned is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who London says has given "prominent support" to Russian aggression against Ukraine. The new sanctions come a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talked about Ukraine's defense needs by phone with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Ukrainian people do not have the luxury of tiring of the war, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tells the House of Commons.

Thursday, June 16

5:37 p.m. The leaders of Germany, France and Italy arrived in Kyiv in an overnight train in a joint demonstration of support for Ukraine, where officials were pleading for more and faster deliveries of Western arms to hold off Russia's assault. "It's an important moment. It's a message of unity we're sending to the Ukrainians," French President Emmanuel Macron said after the train pulled into the station in Kyiv.

The visit by Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has taken weeks to organize, while all three have faced criticism from Kyiv over support viewed as tepid. Britain's Boris Johnson already visited more than two months ago. Still, the decision by the three most powerful EU leaders to travel together held strong symbolism at a pivotal moment -- a day before the EU's executive commission is expected to recommend pushing forward with Ukraine's bid to join the bloc.

11:00 a.m. Japan ran its biggest single-month trade deficit in more than eight years in May as high commodity prices and declines in the yen swelled imports, Ministry of Finance data shows. Imports soared 48.9% in the year to May, above a median market forecast for a 43.6% gain in a Reuters poll. That outpaced a 15.8% year-on-year rise in exports in the same month, resulting in a 2.385 trillion yen ($17.8 billion) trade deficit, the largest shortfall in a single month since January 2014.

Pipes of Nord Stream 1 in Germany on March 8. Further cuts by Russia's Gazprom mean the pipeline will run at just 40% capacity.   © Reuters

9:00 a.m. Russian Gazprom's move to cut supplies of gas to Germany is a warning signal that could cause problems for Europe's biggest economy in winter, the head of Germany's energy regulator told a newspaper. Gazprom on Wednesday announced a further cut in the amount of gas it can pump through Nord Stream 1, meaning the pipeline will run at just 40% capacity. "It would significantly worsen our situation," regulator chief Klaus Mueller told the Rheinische Post daily. "We could perhaps get through the summer as the heating season is over. But it is imperative that we fill the storage facilities to get through the winter."

4:00 a.m. Swedish furniture brand IKEA will reduce its workforce in Russia and Belarus, sell factories and close its purchase and logistics offices in Moscow and Minsk. The company paused operations in the two countries in early March, but has continued to pay salary for workers.

3:00 a.m. The Federal Reserve raises the benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points -- the largest hike since November 1994 -- in its latest move to curb the worst inflation the U.S. has faced in 40 years. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed's goal is a sustained inflation rate of 2%. "What's becoming more clear is that many factors that we don't control are going to play a very significant role in deciding whether that's possible or not. And here I'm thinking of course of commodity prices, the war in Ukraine, supply chain," Powell said at a news conference following the meeting.

2:50 a.m. Japanese budget airline ZIPAIR Tokyo says it will remove the "Z" logo from the tail of its planes. The design change was motivated in part by Russian forces' use of the letter "Z" on tanks, trucks and other equipment during their invasion of Ukraine.

Ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine are processed at Dover Air Force Base in the U.S. in January. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

2:15 a.m. The U.S. is providing another $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems needed to support Kyiv's defensive operations in the Donbas region, President Joe Biden says.

"I am also announcing an additional $225 million in humanitarian assistance to help people inside Ukraine, including by supplying safe drinking water, critical medical supplies and health care, food, shelter and cash for families to purchase essential items," Biden says, according to a White House statement.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says group members are expected to agree an assistance package for Ukraine that will help it transition to modern standard weaponry at a summit later this month.   © Reuters

Wednesday, June 15

11:55 p.m. Russia's state-owned Gazprom says it will cut flows of natural gas to Germany through the Nord Stream pipeline for the second time in two days, blaming delays to turbine repairs.

Germany's economy minister, Robert Habeck, says the timing of the maintenance cited for Tuesday's reduction appears to be a "political decision."

11:00 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says he will attend the NATO summit later this month, becoming the first Japanese leader to do so.

The June 29-30 gathering in Madrid will closely follow the Group of Seven summit in Germany, which Kishida will also attend.

Kishida says the Western alliance has relevance for Asia in light of the Ukraine conflict, stressing that "unilateral change to the status quo by force is not acceptable anywhere in the world." Read more.

10:45 p.m. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu details a United Nations plan to create a sea corridor from Ukraine for grain exports, saying safe routes could be formed without needing to clear the mines around Ukrainian ports.

His comments appear to mark a shift from an earlier proposal to de-mine Ukraine's ports, a move that Kyiv fears would leave it far more vulnerable to Russian attack from the Black Sea.

8:26 p.m. Chinese President Xi Jinping told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Wednesday that all parties should work toward resolving the crisis in Ukraine "in a responsible manner," Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

7:30 p.m. NATO members are expected to agree an assistance package for Ukraine that will help it move from Soviet-era weaponry to NATO standard gear at a summit later this month, the group's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says. "It is very much about enabling the Ukrainians to transition from Soviet-era, from old equipment to more modern NATO standard equipment," he told reporters ahead of a meeting of the alliance's defense ministers in Brussels.

11:50 a.m. The European Union's top aviation safety regulator said he is "very worried" about the safety of Western-made aircraft continuing to fly in Russia without access to spare parts and proper maintenance. The EU and the U.S. have moved to restrict Russia's access to spare parts following its invasion of Ukraine.

"This is very unsafe," Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference, adding regulators do not have good data on many of the planes flying in Russia or if any have experienced safety issues in recent months.

9:38 a.m. The U.S. will build temporary silos along the border with Ukraine in a bid to help export more grain and address a growing global food crisis, President Joe Biden said. Since the Russian invasion and blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, grain shipments have stalled and more than 20 million tons are stuck in silos. Ukraine says it faces a shortage of silos for a new crop. The war is stoking prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil and Russia a key fertilizer exporter.

Russia's Daria Kasatkina competes at the French Open in May.   © Reuters

3:11 a.m. Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to compete at the U.S. Open this year -- but only under a neutral flag, the United States Tennis Association says.

"Tennis has done much through [the] Tennis Plays for Peace [program] for humanitarian support of Ukraine," USTA President Mike McNulty says. "Unfortunately, the need for help only continues to grow. The USTA will be responding very soon with a broad set of initiatives that will include significant financial assistance and other programs to further support humanitarian relief and the people of Ukraine."

Players from Russia and Belarus are not allowed to compete at Wimbledon later this month, a move that prompted the men's ATP and women's WTA tours to strip the Grand Slam event of its ranking points.

Tuesday, June 14

9:34 p.m. Russia's invasion of Ukraine will create a global wheat shortage for at least three seasons by keeping much of the Ukrainian crop from markets, Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi tells Reuters. Ukraine, known as Europe's breadbasket, has had its maritime grain export routes blocked by Russia and faces problems such as mined wheat fields and a lack of grain storage space.

"Now we are talking about three wheat harvests at the same time: We cannot take out last year's crop, we cannot harvest and take out the current one, and we do not particularly want to sow the next one," Solskyi says.

6:00 p.m. Russia has struck an artillery weapons depot with Kalibr cruise missiles in Ukraine's Chernihiv region, the RIA news agency reports, citing the Russian defense ministry. Russian air defense forces shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet and an Mi-24 helicopter, TASS news agency reports, citing the ministry.

4:30 p.m. The Moscow Exchange says it will suspend trading of the Swiss franc against the ruble and the dollar from Tuesday after Switzerland adopted new EU sanctions against Russia. "The suspension of operations is due to difficulties conducting settlements in Swiss francs faced by market participants and the financial sector in connection with the restrictive measures imposed by Switzerland on June 10," the Moscow Exchange said in a statement. Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union, updated its sanctions package last Friday to match the EU's latest restrictions against businesses, banks and individuals from Russia and Belarus.

8:44 a.m. Russian forces cut off the last routes for evacuating citizens from the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, a Ukrainian official said, as the Kremlin pushed for victory in the Donbas region. The last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, said regional governor Sergei Gaidai, adding that some 70% of the city was under Russian control. Ukraine has issued increasingly urgent calls for more Western heavy weapons to help defend Sievierodonetsk, which Kyiv says could hold the key to the battle for the eastern Donbas region and the course of the war, now in its fourth month.

5:09 a.m. The main goal of Russia's military operation in Ukraine is to protect the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics, the Kremlin said after Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk region of Ukraine, asked for additional forces from Moscow. Pushilin said earlier on Monday, "All necessary forces, including the allied ones, including the forces of the Russian Federation, will be involved in order to counter the enemy." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russia's RIA state news agency as saying, "In general, the protection of the republics is the main goal of the special military operation."

For earlier updates, click here.

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