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Ukraine war: Free to read

Ukraine from May 22 to June 26: China issues statement backing Russian 'stability'

U.S. reportedly knew in mid-June that Wagner was planning uprising

The Russian flag flies in front of the Great Hall of the People during a visit to Beijing by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in May.   © Reuters

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

Political turmoil has rocked Russia. Warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, took control of a southern Russian military outpost and then began an advance toward Moscow, only to reach an agreement to back down hours later.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has begun its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia's invasion forces. Kyiv is conducting attacks in Ukraine's south and east to reclaim occupied territory.

Read our in-depth coverage. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

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Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Monday, June 26 (Tokyo time)

5:24 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have spoken by phone about Ukraine's "ongoing counter-offensive" and "recent events in Russia," the White House says -- an allusion to the aborted Wagner mutiny.

Biden "reaffirmed unwavering U.S. support, including through continued security, economic, and humanitarian aid," the readout says.

The Ukrainian side reports more details, with Zelenskyy tweeting about a "positive and inspiring conversation." In a news release, his office says the leaders "discussed further expansion of defense cooperation, in particular, increasing Ukraine's firepower on the battlefield with an emphasis on long-range weapons." The tweet and the release say he thanked Biden for providing Patriot air defense systems and supporting the coalition to provide Ukraine with fighter jets.

Wagner fighters started heading back to their bases from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don late Saturday local time under the deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Reuters reports.

Saturday's events in Russia "exposed the weakness" of President Vladimir Putin's regime, Zelenskyy says in the news release. The Ukrainian leader also had calls with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Polish President Andrzej Duda the day he spoke with Biden. Trudeau and Biden also talked by phone the same day.

2:22 a.m. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Im Chon Il has met with Russia's ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, and unconditionally taken the Russian government's side over the Wagner mutiny.

Speaking with Matsegora on Sunday, Im expressed a "firm belief that the recent armed rebellion in Russia would be successfully put down in conformity with the aspiration and will of the Russian people, saying the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] will strongly support any option and decision by the Russian leadership," the official Korean Central News Agency reports.

Sunday, June 25

10:50 p.m. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs appears to back the Russian government in the wake of the recent turmoil involving the Wagner mercenary group.

"This is Russia's internal affair," the ministry quotes an unidentified spokesperson as saying, recycling a term it often uses in other contexts. "As Russia's friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity."

10:07 p.m. Turmoil sparked by the aborted mutiny by Wagner mercenary forces led by Yevgeny Prigozhin could take weeks or even months to play out to Ukraine's advantage in its counteroffensive, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.

In a series of Sunday television interviews, Blinken says that tensions that led to Prigozhin's aborted mutiny had been rising for months and that the turmoil could affect Moscow's capabilities in Ukraine.

"To the extent that the Russians are distracted and divided, it may make their prosecution of the aggression against Ukraine more difficult," he says on ABC's "This Week."

8:22 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday told state television he was in constant contact with the defense ministry and that the country remained confident in realizing its plans related to the "special military operation" in Ukraine.

5:25 p.m. All transport restrictions in Russia's Rostov region have been lifted, including those on highways, Russian news agencies reported on Sunday, citing local officials. "Bus and railway stations are working in normal mode. Tickets are on sale, all destinations are on schedule," Sergey Tyurin, deputy minister of regional policy and mass communications for the Rostov region was quoted as saying.

12:45 p.m. U.S. spies learned in mid-June that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was plotting an uprising against Russia and urgently informed the White House and other government agencies, The Washington Post reports, citing several U.S. officials.

Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves the headquarters of the Southern Military District amid the group's pullout from the city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia on June 24.   © Reuters

There was "high concern" about what might transpire -- whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would remain in power and what any instability might mean for control of Russia's nuclear arsenal, one official says.

8:00 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to discuss the situation in Russia. Blinken reiterates that support by the U.S. for Ukraine will not change.

7:55 a.m. Blinken speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. Blinken says the U.S. will stay in close coordination with allies and partners as the situation develops.

7:50 a.m. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks with defense ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Poland, and the U.K. to discuss the situation in Russia. Austin reiterates that support by the U.S. for Ukraine will not change.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder says the U.S. will stay in close coordination with allies and partners as the situation continues to develop.

6:30 a.m. The criminal case opened against Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin will be dropped, says Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The Wagner troops who took part in Prigozhin's "march for justice" toward Moscow will not face any charges, Peskov adds, in recognition of their previous service to Russia.

5:00 a.m. Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin will move to Belarus under a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to end an armed mutiny that Prigozhin had led against Russia's military leadership, the Kremlin says.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov adds Lukashenko had offered to mediate, with Russian President Vladimir Putin's agreement, because he had known Prigozhin personally for around 20 years.

2:35 a.m. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin says he had ordered his fighters, who had been advancing on Moscow, to turn around and return to their bases in order to avoid bloodshed, reports Reuters.

Prigozhin said his fighters had advanced to within 200 km of Moscow in the last 24 hours.

2:24 a.m. The office of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says that he had brokered a deal with mutinous Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin who had agreed to de-escalate the situation, reports Reuters.

1:45 a.m. A convoy of Wagner fighters approaching the outskirts of Moscow by road contains about 5,000 men led by senior Wagner commander Dmitry Utkin, a source close to the leadership in the Russian-held part of Ukraine's Donetsk province tells Reuters.

The source says Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had fewer than 25,000 men at his disposal in total, and that around 5,000 of them were in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, home to the country's Southern Military District.

The source says Wagner's plan for Moscow is to take up positions in a densely built-up area.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner military group, says in a June 24 video that he and his troops have reached Rostov-on-Don in Russia. (Prigozhin Press Service via AP)

12:28 a.m. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin asks people to refrain from trips around the city as far as possible given a counter-terrorism operation had been declared, saying the situation was "difficult," reports Reuters.

Sobyanin also says in a statement that Monday would be a non-working day -- with some exceptions -- in order "to minimize risks."

12:04 a.m. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone with Vladimir Putin and urged him to act with common sense, the Turkish presidency says, after Russian mercenary fighters began an armed mutiny overnight, according to Reuters.

The Kremlin says in a separate statement that Erdogan had backed the Russian government's handling of the mutiny during the conversation with Putin.

Saturday, June 24

11:30 p.m. Russian mercenary fighters barrel towards Moscow, with Reuters reporting its journalists seeing troop carriers and a flatbed truck carrying a tank careening past the city of Voronezh more than half way to Moscow, where a helicopter fires on them.

However, there are no reports of the rebels meeting any substantial resistance on the highway.

Meanwhile, Russian media shows pictures of small groups of police manning machine gun positions on Moscow's southern outskirts. Authorities in the Lipetsk region south of the capital are telling residents to stay home.

Fighters of the Wagner private mercenary group are deployed near the headquarters of the Southern Military District in the city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on June 24.   © Reuters

11:00 p.m. Moscow offers Wagner fighters amnesty if they lay down their weapons but they need to act fast, the official Russian news agency Tass reports, citing a lawmaker. "Wagner fighters can still lay down their arms and avoid punishment given their achievements during the special military operation [in Ukraine], but they should do it fast," Pavel Krasheninniko is quoted as saying.

9:49 p.m. The Security Council of Belarus releases a statement saying the nation remains an ally of Russia and that internal disputes are "a gift to the collective West."

8:58 p.m. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin says his troops had not needed to fire a single shot when they took control of the headquarters of Russia's Southern Military District in Rostov.

In a new audio message released by his press service, he says his men had been fired on by artillery and helicopters en route to Rostov.

He says he thinks he has the support of the Russian people for what he calls his "march of justice."

7:35 p.m. A Wagner mercenary column of vehicles drove past the Russian city of Voronezh on Saturday afternoon, a Reuters witness says. One of the vehicles was a flatbed truck carrying a tank.

7:15 p.m. Mutinous Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says that he and his men will not turn themselves in on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. "The president makes a deep mistake when he talks about treason. We are patriots of our motherland, we fought and are fighting for it," Prigozhin says in an audio message. "Nobody is going to turn themselves in and confess at the order of the president, the FSB [security service] or anyone else. Because we don't want the country to continue to live any longer in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy."

7:10 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, "Russia's weakness is obvious" and that the longer Moscow keeps its troops and mercenaries in Ukraine, the more chaos it will invite back home.

"Russia's weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness," Zelenskyy says in a posting on the Telegram messaging app. "And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain and problems it will have for itself later."

6:40 p.m. Germany's Foreign Ministry advises travelers to avoid the city of Rostov and the surrounding area, as well as Moscow city center, until further notice due to events taking place in Russia.

That follows various reactions in other European countries. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni earlier said that the rebellion by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin shows Russia's invasion of Ukraine is backfiring against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Britain's Defence Ministry said that the Russian state was facing its greatest security challenge of recent times. "Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia's security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how this crisis plays out," Britain's defense ministry said in a regular intelligence update.

6:35 p.m. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev calls on Russians to rally around President Vladimir Putin amid a mutiny by the Wagner Group mercenary army, following similar calls by others including Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

6:10 p.m. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin appears to have met with Russia's Deputy Minister of Defense Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, at the headquarters of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, in this screen grab from a video released on Saturday and provided by Reuters.

Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin meets with Russia's Deputy Minister of Defense Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, at the headquarters of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, in this screen grab from a video released on June 24.   © Reuters

6:05 p.m. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says his forces are ready to help put down a mutiny by Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and to use harsh methods if necessary. In a statement, Kadyrov called Prigozhin's behavior "a knife in the back" and told Russian soldiers not to give in to any "provocations."

5:35 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has briefed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on the situation in Russia, according to a message posted on the Belarusian presidency's official Telegram channel. Putin has vowed to crush what he calls an armed mutiny by the Wagner Group.

5:25 p.m. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called on Russians to rally around Russian President Vladimir Putin, after what Putin called an "armed mutiny" by the Wagner mercenary group.

4:47 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says in an emergency televised address that an "armed mutiny" by the Wagner Group mercenary force was treason, and that "decisive action" will be taken to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don, a southern city where Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says his forces have taken control of all military installations.

3:39 p.m. Rebellious Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says he has taken control of the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don as part of an attempt to oust the military leadership amid what the authorities say was an armed mutiny. Prigozhin demands that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff, whom he has pledged to oust over what he says is their disastrous leadership of the war against Ukraine, come to see him in Rostov, a city near the Ukrainian border.

He had earlier said that he had 25,000 fighters moving toward Moscow to "restore justice" and had alleged, without providing evidence, that the military had killed a huge number of fighters from his Wagner private militia in an air strike, something the defense ministry denied. "Those who destroyed our lads, who destroyed the lives of many tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, will be punished. I ask that no one offer resistance," he said in one of many frenzied audio messages.

3:06 p.m. Russia's anti-terrorist committee says that it is imposing a counter-terrorist regime in Moscow and the surrounding region amid an apparent mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group, the RIA state news agency reports.

12:45 p.m. The governor of the Lipetsk region of central Russia said on Saturday that the M-4 motorway connecting Moscow with southern regions was closed to traffic at the border with the Voronezh region, some 400 kilometers south of Moscow. Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared to have sent an armed convoy of his Wagner fighters on a 1,200 km drive towards Moscow, having said that he intended to oust the military leadership.

11:51 a.m. Fragments from downed Russian missiles caused a fire injuring seven in Kyiv, while other Ukrainian cities, including Kharkiv, were also hit, officials say, as air alerts sounded nationwide. Serhiy Popko, head of the capital's military administration, says falling fragments started a fire on the 16th, 17th and 18th floors of a 24-story tower block. He says seven people were injured and about 40 cars were damaged in an adjacent car park. Popko says anti-aircraft units had identified and downed more than 20 missiles.

At least three Russian missiles targeted Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city, with one hitting a gas line and triggering a fire, says Mayor Ihor Terekhov. He says emergency services were at the scene but gave no details on casualties. The mayor of Dnipro in central Ukraine says eight private homes have been destroyed in an attack on the city.

10:11 a.m. The governor of southern Russia's Rostov region adjoining Ukraine told residents early on Saturday to remain calm and stay indoors, as the leader of the Wagner private militia led what Russia calls a mutiny against the Moscow defense establishment. "Law enforcement agencies are doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of residents of the area. I ask everyone to stay calm and not to leave home unless necessary," Vassily Golubev said in a message on his Telegram channel.

8:18 a.m. Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday his Wagner fighters had crossed the border into Russia from Ukraine and were prepared to go "all the way" against Moscow's military, hours after the Kremlin accused him of armed mutiny. Read more.

1:16 a.m. The European Union formally approves its 11th sanctions package, aiming to stop third parties from aiding the Russian war effort. The new measures add entities registered in Hong Kong and elsewhere to the Russian and Iranian entities already on the list. Read more.

Friday, June 23

2:30 p.m. Russia's Security Council accuses the West of trying to drive a wedge between Russia and Kazakhstan by interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations, Russia's Tass reports. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the council, visited Kazakhstan on Friday to meet counterparts. "The United States and their allies are trying to support nationalist sentiment, spreading lies, manipulating public opinion, including through the internet and social networks," Tass quotes Patrushev's deputy, Alexander Shevtsov, as saying in Almaty.

9:30 a.m. Anti-aircraft fire downed a drone over the southern Russian city of Kursk near the Ukrainian border, Reuters report, citing Roman Starovoit, the regional governor, who in his post on Telegram said anti-aircraft systems had been in action twice, but made no mention of damage or casualties.

Thursday, June 22

2:00 p.m. Ukrainian forces have carried out a missile strike on a bridge connecting Ukraine's Kherson region and Crimea, Russia-appointed officials in both regions said on Friday. Vladimir Saldo, the Russia-appointed Kherson governor, said the bridge was likely to have been attacked by Storm Shadow missiles that damaged the road, but traffic has been diverted to a different route. No casualties have been reported.

7:00 a.m. Ukraine's allies pledge several billion dollars in non-military aid on Wednesday to rebuild the country's war-ravaged infrastructure, fight corruption and help pave the country's road to membership in the European Union. Stressing the vast scale of the task, diplomats and political leaders at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London urged private-sector companies to invest and revive the economy. Delegates from more than 60 countries attended the conference, which was both a fundraising forum and a message to Russia that Ukraine's Western supporters are in it for the long haul. The World Bank has estimated the cost of the invaded nation's reconstruction at more than $400 billion.

2:04 a.m. The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine plans to resume pumping water from what remains of the massive reservoir behind a nearby dam that burst two weeks ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency says.

The plant has other water sources to cool reactors and spent fuel, which the U.N. nuclear watchdog says would last for months, but water from the reservoir should buy more time before those stocks have to be replenished, the agency said.

Wednesday, June 21

11:57 p.m. European Union ambassadors have agreed on an 11th package of sanctions against Russia.

The new package "includes measures aimed at countering sanctions circumvention and individual listings," the Swedish government tweets in its capacity as president of the Council of the EU.

The biggest novelty is enabling restrictions on the sale of sensitive dual-use goods and technology to third countries that might then sell them to Russia, Reuters reports, citing unidentified diplomats.

9:51 p.m. Russia's new generation of Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles -- capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads -- will be deployed for combat duty soon, President Vladimir Putin says in a speech to new graduates of military academies.

The Sarmat is designed to carry out nuclear strikes on distant targets in the U.S. or Europe. But its deployment has proceeded slower than planned, as Russia had said in April 2022 that it would be in place by autumn of that year.

9:06 p.m. Progress in Ukraine's counteroffensive against Russian forces is "slower than desired," but Kyiv will not be pressured into speeding it up as its troops advance through minefields, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.

"Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It's not," Britain's BBC quotes him as saying in an interview. "What's at stake is people's lives."

Ukraine says its long-awaited counteroffensive has reclaimed eight villages so far. But its forces have yet to push to the main defensive lines that Russia has had months to prepare. The BBC quotes Zelenskyy as saying 200,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory has been mined by Russian forces.

8:56 p.m. Japan will host a conference to encourage corporate investment into Ukraine in late 2023 or early 2024, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi says at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London.

Private-sector actors will be able to "strongly support the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine," he says, while Tokyo plans to support Kyiv mainly through projects focused on mine clearance, basic infrastructure, agriculture and strengthening democracy.

A general view of the Sakhalin-2 liquefaction gas plant in Prigorodnoye, Russia.   © Reuters

1:13 p.m. Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. has no plans to withdraw from the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Russia, Toru Matsui, Mitsui's senior executive managing officer, said at an annual general meeting. "We have decided last year to keep our stake in the Sakhalin-2 after consulting with the Japanese government, as the project supplies about 9% of Japan's LNG imports," he said. Matsui added that Mitsui would make an appropriate change if and when the situation changed because of the Japanese company's policy of complying with any government sanctions.

8:00 a.m. The Russian lower house of parliament passes a bill that would rename an end of World War II memorial day to include the phrase "militaristic Japan," in response to Tokyo imposing economic sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine. The bill will be enacted if approved by the upper house and then signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia in 2020 designated Sept. 3, the day after Japan's surrender in 1945, as the Day of Military Glory. The envisioned law would rename it the Day of Victory over Militaristic Japan and the end of World War II, according to Tass news agency.

4:00 a.m. Three Ukrainian prisoners of war have returned to their homeland from Hungary, an official says, after Kyiv accused Russia and Hungary of keeping POWs out of contact.

"The Embassy of Ukraine in Budapest managed to bring back three Ukrainian prisoners of war from Hungary," Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko writes in a Facebook post.

Environmental damage from Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been "colossal," Ukrainian Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets says.   © Reuters

1:07 a.m. Ukrainian Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets says that the destruction of the Kakhovka hydro-electric dam has caused 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of damage, without elaborating on what this figure covers.

Total environmental damage since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 exceeds 52 billion euros, Strilets says, citing Ukrainian estimates based on a mythology developed with international partners.

"We cannot forgive the occupiers for a single patch of our destroyed land," Strilets says in a video address to EU counterparts.

Ukraine blames Russia for the dam's collapse, which caused massive floods that have killed more than 50 people. Strilets also warns that explosive mines unearthed by the floods could end up on the shores of other European countries.

Tuesday, June 20

12:50 p.m. Russia launches a widespread overnight air attack on Ukraine targeting the capital and other cities, as most of the country spent the night with air raid sirens blaring for several hours. According to Reuters, the military administration of Lviv, a city of about 700,000 people and 70 kilometers from the border with NATO country Poland, said Russia hit "critical infrastructure" in the city, sparking fire.

11:30 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden says the threat of Russian President Vladimir Putin using tactical nuclear weapons is "real," days after denouncing Russia's deployment of such weapons in Belarus. On Saturday, Biden called Putin's announcement that Russia had deployed its first tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus "absolutely irresponsible."

10:30 a.m. Ukraine says that Hungary has been ignoring requests for contact with prisoners of war that Kyiv said had been secretly transferred from Russia and called the move an act of self-interest on Prime Minister Viktor Orban's side. Hungary, which under Orban has forged strong political ties with Russia and has not cut them since Moscow invaded Ukraine, said on June 9 that it had received a group of 11 Ukrainian prisoners of war from Russia. "All attempts by Ukrainian diplomats over recent days to establish direct contact with Ukrainian citizens have failed," Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko says on his Facebook page.

9:55 a.m. The European Union is ready to propose a financial aid package of around 50 billion euros ($54.60 billion) to support Ukraine, Bloomberg News reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

7:30 a.m. Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar says the "biggest blow" in Kyiv's military campaign is yet to come, but admits the operation is difficult as Russia is doing all it can to stop the offensive. "The ongoing operation has several objectives, and the military is fulfilling these tasks," Maliar says on the Telegram messaging app. "They are moving as they should have been moving. And the biggest blow is yet to come."

Monday, June 19

2:40 p.m. Ukraine's forces have liberated eight settlements in the past two weeks of their offensive operations, including the village of Piatykhatky, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar says. "In the course of two weeks of offensive operations in the Berdiansk and Melitopol directions, eight settlements were liberated," Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app.

2:30 p.m. Japan has agreed with Ukraine to establish a liaison system that will support the Eastern European country in its efforts to reconstruct areas severely damaged during the ongoing Russian invasion. At a ceremony in Tokyo, Japan's reconstruction minister, Hiromichi Watanabe, and Oleksandr Kubrakov, deputy prime minister for the restoration of Ukraine, signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the reconstruction support initiative. At the request of Ukraine, Tokyo intends to provide Kyiv with advice and knowledge to be used in rebuilding devastated regions based on the experience gained from the massive 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit northeastern Japan.

9:40 a.m. Russia has made myriad strategic blunders and military miscues during its aggression against Ukraine, blighting its prospects for victory. But that does not mean it is losing the geopolitical war to expand its sphere of influence, particularly in the old Soviet bloc, including Georgia. Read more.

9:30 a.m. Moscow declined United Nations offers to help residents affected by the flooding from the breached Kakhovka Dam, the world body says. As the collapse of the Moscow-controlled dam on June 6 unleashed floodwaters across southern Ukraine and Russia-occupied parts of the Kherson region, the death toll has risen to 52, with Russian officials saying 35 people had died in Moscow-controlled areas and Ukraine's interior ministry saying 17 had died and 31 were missing. More than 11,000 have been evacuated on both sides.

8:25 a.m. Ukraine is seeking up to $40 billion to fund the first part of a "Green Marshall Plan" to rebuild its economy, a senior Ukrainian government official told Reuters ahead of a summit this week. Politicians and financiers will discuss the country's short-term funding issues and long-term reconstruction efforts at the two-day meeting, starting in London on Wednesday. The World Bank estimates Ukraine's reconstruction will cost $411 billion, three times the country's gross domestic product.

8:10 a.m. Semiconductors made by Japanese manufacturers are still entering Russia, according to an investigation by Nikkei. Nikkei obtained Russian customs data and examined import records from Feb. 24, 2022, to this past March 31 and found additional measures are needed to stop the indirect flow of goods sneaking past sanctions. Read more. Nikkei also reported in April that semiconductors from U.S. makers, which were banned by the U.S. government from being shipped to Russia, were entering Russia via trading companies in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

5:30 a.m. Russia has "so far declined our request to access the areas under its temporary military control" after the Kakhovka Dam burst on June 6, the United Nations says. "We urge the Russian authorities to act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law," Denise Brown, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said in a statement. Civilians have been cut off from supplies amid flooding caused by the bursting of the dam.

Sunday, June 18

5:25 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin cuts off African leaders seeking to mediate in the war in Ukraine, telling them why he believed many of their proposals were misguided and pouring cold water on a plan already largely dismissed by Kyiv.

The African leaders traveled to Russia and Ukraine seeking agreement on a series of "confidence building measures." Putin opened the talks with representatives of Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, Congo Republic, Comoros and South Africa in a palace near St. Petersburg by stressing Russia's commitment to the continent.

But after presentations from the Comoran, Senegalese and South African presidents, he stepped in to challenge the assumptions of the plan -- predicated on acceptance of internationally recognized borders -- before the round of statements could go any further.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Ruhakana Rugunda, a Ugandan special envoy, after a meeting with African leaders to discuss their proposal for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine in St. Petersburg.   © Reuters

1:55 a.m. Exports of Ukrainian grain under a U.N. deal are not helping to resolve Africa's problems with high global food prices as only 3% have gone to the poorest countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin tells a visiting delegation of African leaders.

Putin blames the food crisis on actions of Western countries, not on the war, which Russia calls a "special military operation."

1:20 a.m. African leaders tell Russian President Vladimir Putin it is time to negotiate an end to fighting, which they say was harming the entire world.

The delegation, which includes presidents from Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, and Comoros, as well as the prime minister of Egypt, is in St. Petersburg, Russia, seeking to mediate the conflict.

The delegation met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a day earlier in Kyiv.

Saturday, June 17

African leaders visit the site of a mass grave in the Ukrainian city of Bucha on June 16.   © Reuters

5:30 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says after meeting with African leaders in Kyiv that peace talks with Russia would be possible only after Moscow withdraws its forces from occupied Ukrainian territory.

He also tells reporters that he fails to understand what could be gained from the African leaders meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin the following day.

"This is their decision, how logical it is, I don't really understand," he says.

4:00 a.m. The first Russian tactical nuclear weapons have been delivered to Belarus, President Vladimir Putin says, saying deployment is expected to be completed this year.

Putin touts the delivery of battlefield nuclear weapons to Russia's ally in remarks at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. In March, the Russian leader revealed plans for the move -- the first transfer of Russian nuclear weapons outside of the country since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Belarus has also said the transfer is underway, without providing evidence.

In his remarks, Putin calls the move "an element of deterrence, so that everyone who thinks about inflicting a strategic defeat on us should not forget."

Friday, June 16

9:30 p.m. African leaders begin a trip to Ukraine and Russia to call for a cease-fire as high food and energy prices add to economic hardship in their countries.

The delegation, which includes the presidents of South Africa, Zambia, Senegal and Comoros, as well as the prime minister of Egypt, makes a stop in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

Bucha was the site of what Ukraine calls a civilian massacre following Russia's invasion in February 2022. Russia denies the killings.

The African leaders will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before traveling on to St. Petersburg, where they will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

Details of the African peace proposal have not been revealed, but South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said before the trip that the delegation "brings an African perspective and an appeal for a peace process."

4:50 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has spoken with Costa Rican counterpart Rodrigo Chaves as Kyiv and Moscow vie on outreach to Latin America.

Zelenskyy says he thanked Costa Rica for supporting international sanctions against Russia.

"We also discussed the possibility of organizing the Ukraine-Latin America Summit and coordinated our positions on the eve of upcoming international events," Zelenskyy writes in a Twitter post.

Meanwhile, a Russian official says Moscow is negotiating visa-free arrangements with six Latin American countries. Negotiations are underway with the Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Saint Lucia, Tass reports, citing Alexander Shchetinin, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin American department.

"Our goal, declared long ago, is to make Latin America a completely visa-free zone between Latin American citizens and Russian citizens," Shchetinin is quoted as saying.

Thursday, June 15

7:02 p.m. Russia has paid dividends from the Sakhalin 1 and 2 oil development projects in Chinese yuan, Nikkei has learned, a move necessitated by Western sanctions on Moscow that have kept financial institutions from accepting dollars related to Russian business.

Before the sanctions, Sakhalin project dividends had been transferred in dollars about twice a year through a bank account in Singapore. However, with the sanctions essentially barring Russia from the dollar settlement network, financial institutions are now reluctant to conduct Russia-related dollar transactions. Read more.

Ukrainian troops drive a U.S.-made M109 howitzer in June 2022: Norway and Denmark have agreed to donate an additional 9,000 rounds of artillery to Ukraine.   © Reuters

3:30 p.m. Norway and Denmark have agreed to donate an additional 9,000 rounds of artillery to Ukraine, the Norwegian Defense Ministry says in a statement. Norway will provide the shells, while Denmark will donate fuses and propellant charges, the Norwegian ministry said. Norway will also donate 7,000 rounds from its own stocks, which have already been sent to Ukraine. The artillery rounds can be used in several types of artillery, including the M109 that Norway has previously donated, the ministry said.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese: Albanese, on June 15, cited security concerns about the location of the new embassy for legislation cancelling Russia's lease on the property.    © AP

9:50 a.m. Australia says it will introduce legislation to parliament to cancel Russia's lease to build a new embassy in the national capital of Canberra, citing national security. The move follows the conclusion of a long-running litigation regarding the leased site after the federal court ruled last month that an eviction order by the National Capital Authority, a government body tasked with the planning of the national capital, was invalid. "The government has received very clear security advice as to the risk presented by a new Russian presence so close to parliament house," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters.

2:15 a.m. Japan should accept more displaced people, the head of the United Nations refugee agency says, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and other conflicts worldwide push the level of forced displacement to new heights.

In 2022, Japan granted refugee status to 202 people. Previous years have seen the country accept just dozens annually.

"We're not yet there at the standards that a country like Japan should have," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tells Nikkei. He compares its track record to the U.S., which plans to admit up to 125,000 refugees this fiscal year. Read more.

1:00 a.m. NATO defense ministers meeting this week will agree to establish a maritime center for the security of critical undersea infrastructure, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says at a news conference.

"The center will increase our situational awareness and enhance maritime presence for deterrence and defense," he says.

Wednesday, June 14

7:45 p.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ruled out giving the green light for Sweden's accession to NATO unless it puts a stop to anti-Turkey protests happening in the country.

Speaking ahead of a NATO summit being held next month in Lithuania, Erdogan complains that "terrorists were holding demonstrations on the streets of Sweden," while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has been trying to convince Turkey to accept Sweden's bid.

"Within this picture we cannot approach this positively," Erdogan says. Read more.

1:30 p.m. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko declared Tuesday that his country had already received some of Russia's tactical nuclear weapons and warned that he wouldn't hesitate to order their use if Belarus faced an act of aggression. The brash comments from Lukashenko contradicted earlier statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said Russian nuclear weapons would be deployed to Belarus next month and emphasized that they would remain under Moscow's exclusive control.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia: Lukashenko said his country would use nuclear weapons if attacked. (Sputnik via AP)

8:00 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for tougher sanctions to halt the flow of components used in Russian missiles, saying it was cheaper to stop their transfer than to improve anti-aircraft systems against their deployment. The missile used in a recent assault contained about 50 components produced in other countries and that the issue had been discussed on Tuesday with diplomats in Kyiv, Zelenskyy said. "Unfortunately, Russia still has the opportunity to receive critical components for the production of missiles, manufactured by companies from different countries, including partner countries," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

4:24 a.m. President Vladimir Putin says that Russia was considering withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal because the West had cheated Moscow by implementing none of the promises to get Russian agricultural goods to world markets, reports Reuters.

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office on June 13.   © Reuters

2:35 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden says NATO is "rock solid" as he meets with the alliance's outgoing Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

The meeting at the White House comes after the U.S. Department of Defense announces a new $325 million military aid package for Ukraine that includes munitions for air defense systems, ammunition and vehicles.

Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, will lead NATO until the end of September.

Biden also noted NATO's growing engagement with Indo-Pacific partners Japan and South Korea.

12:47 a.m. The destruction of a dam in Ukraine was a Russian act and "forbidden by international conventions," Kyiv's ambassador to Japan has told Nikkei. Asked whether he considers it a war crime, Sergiy Korsunsky says "of course," adding: "It's actually like you create artificial tsunami on the river."

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses the Ukrainians.

"It is clear who is to blame," Putin tells reporters. "The Ukrainian side was striving for this."

Tuesday, June 13

9:15 p.m. A week on from the Ukrainian dam breach, losses in the agricultural sector alone have been estimated at more than $10 billion, the government says.

2:34 p.m. Russia launched a "massive" missile attack overnight on the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, killing at least three people and wounding 25 as well as damaging civilian infrastructure, Ukrainian officials said. Rescue operations were underway in a burning five-story apartment building and in a destroyed warehouse, Serhiy Lysak, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region where Kryvyi Rih is located, said on the Telegram messaging app.

People react at the site of a heavily damaged residential building in the Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih on June 13.   © Reuters

6:39 a.m. Ukraine said on Monday that its troops had recaptured seven villages from Russian forces along an approximately 100-kilometer front in the southeast since starting its long-anticipated counteroffensive last week. The task of ending Russia's occupation of southern and eastern Ukraine is daunting, given Russia's numerical superiority in men, ammunition and air power, and the many months it has had to build deep defensive fortifications, especially in southern Ukraine.

Despite rain and fierce fighting, Ukrainian forces were making progress on the battlefield, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address on Monday night. "The battles are fierce, but we have movement and that is crucial," he said. "The enemy's losses are exactly what we need."

12:30 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin pays tribute to Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, who died Monday, calling the former prime minister a "dear person, a true friend" and a "world-class politician." One of Putin's last remaining allies in Europe, Berlusconi drew condemnation last year when he said that Putin had been "pushed" into invading Ukraine and wanted to put "decent people" in charge of Kyiv. While in office, the former Italian prime minister sought to deepen ties with Russia, and was one of few European leaders who stood with Moscow following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

"I have always sincerely admired [Berlusconi's] wisdom, his ability to make balanced, far-sighted decisions even in the most difficult situations," Putin says.

Monday, June 12

9:30 a.m. Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says the IAEA needs wider access around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to check "a significant discrepancy" in water level data behind the breached Kakhovka dam, which had held water used for cooling the plant's reactors. Measurements the agency received from the inlet of the plant show that the dam's water levels were stable for about a day over the weekend. "However, the height is reportedly continuing to fall elsewhere in the huge reservoir, causing a possible difference of about two meters," Grossi said in a statement. Grossi is to visit the plant this week.

9:00 a.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to "hold hands" with Russian President Vladimir Putin and bolster strategic cooperation on their shared goal of building a powerful country, Reuters reports, citing state media KCNA. Kim made the pledge in a message to Putin marking Russia's National Day, defending his decision to invade Ukraine and displaying full support and solidarity. "Justice is sure to win and the Russian people will continue to add glory to the history of victory," Kim said in the message published by KCNA.

8:00 a.m. Ukraine says its troops had made territorial advances on three villages in its southeast, the first liberated settlements it has reported since launching a counter-offensive. Kyiv's forces posted unverified videos showing soldiers hoisting the Ukrainian flag at a bombed-out building in the village of Blahodatne in the Donetsk region and posing with their unit's flag in the adjacent village of Neskuchne. "We're seeing the first results of the counter-offensive actions, localized results," Valeryi Shershen, spokesperson for Ukraine's Tavria military sector, said on television.

7:10 a.m. A U.S. musician and former paratrooper has been arrested in Moscow on drug dealing charges and his appearance in court, where he was locked in a metal cage, has been shown on Russian state television, Reuters reports. Russia's court system named the detained American as Michael Travis Leake, 51, who was formerly a songwriter and musician in the Russian "Lovi Noch" ("Catch the Night") rock band.

People sit on an inflatable boat after being evacuated from a flooded area following the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam, in the town of Hola Prystan in the Kherson region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, June 8.   © Reuters

4:30 a.m. Russian forces shelled three small boats taking elderly residents to safety from inundated areas of southern Ukraine, killing three people and wounding 10, Kherson region's Ukrainian-appointed governor, Oleksander Prokudin says, adding Russian forces were "deliberately trying to disrupt rescue efforts." The area has been stricken by catastrophic flooding along the Dnieper River after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, which Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of deliberately blowing up.

2:10 a.m. Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says the first cargo of discounted Russian crude oil arranged under a new deal struck between Islamabad and Moscow had arrived in Karachi. "Glad to announce that the first Russian discounted crude oil cargo has arrived in Karachi and will begin oil discharge tomorrow," Sharif tweeted.

Sunday, June 11

1:00 a.m. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says to tell Vladimir Putin that his generals are "in a positive mood" while confirming Kyiv has launched a counteroffensive to recapture tracts of land occupied by Russia in the south and east.

"Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine, but I will not say in detail what stage they are at," Zelenskyy tells reporters, listing Ukraine's top military brass by name. "They [the generals] are all in a positive mood. Pass that on to Putin."

Saturday, June 10

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv on June 10. (Handout photo from the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service)   © Reuters

11:30 p.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledges military aid for Ukraine during an unannounced trip to Kyiv, where he visited a memorial site to Ukrainian soldiers who have been killed fighting pro-Russian forces since 2014.

Trudeau makes the pledge after meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for talks. "We will be there with [you] as much as it takes, for as long as it takes," he says, sitting across from the Ukrainian leader in footage of the talks released by Kyiv authorities.

2:00 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims Ukraine has launched its counteroffensive but has "failed" to achieve its objectives so far.

"We can state absolutely clearly that a Ukrainian offensive has begun," Tass quotes Putin as saying. He says Ukraine's lack of success owes to "the courage" of Russian troops while admitting his country is "still short of advanced weapons," Tass reports.

The Ukrainian side has given no confirmation that its long-anticipated counteroffensive with Western-supplied weapons has begun.

Servicemen take part in rescuing residents from flooded areas of Kherson in Ukraine.   © Reuters

1:40 a.m. Flooding from a burst dam in southern Ukraine has engulfed a 600-sq.-kilometer area and damaged crops, homes and infrastructure, while jeopardizing Kyiv's ability to mount a counteroffensive to reclaim territory lost in the war with Russia.

According to Tokyo-based satellite data analysis company Space Shift, more than 400 sq. km was flooded as of Wednesday morning. The governor of Kherson, where the dam is located, says that roughly 600 sq. km in the state has been inundated.

The water level is not expected to recede for several days, complicating rescue operations. Assistance from international organizations has yet to reach Russian-controlled territory, which accounts for 70% of the flooded areas. Read more.

1:00 a.m. The U.S. has announced a new security aid package worth up to $2.1 billion that the Biden administration says will bolster Ukraine's ability to defend itself against air attacks.

The package includes additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems and HAWK air defense systems and missiles, the Department of Defense says. Also provided are Puma drones used for reconnaissance.

Friday, June 9

6:00 a.m. Water from the breached Nova Kakhovka dam's reservoir is still being pumped to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant for cooling purposes, even though the water has fallen to a level earlier thought to make it impossible, the International Atomic Energy Agency says.

"In these difficult and challenging circumstances, this is providing some more time before possibly switching to alternative water supplies including the large cooling pond next to the plant as well as its smaller sprinkler cooling ponds, the adjacent channels, and onsite wells, which can provide required cooling water ... for several months," IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi says in a news release. "Nevertheless, the general nuclear safety and security situation remains very precarious and potentially dangerous."

Grossi is slated to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant next week -- his third trip there since the war began.

Thursday, June 8

9:23 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the southern region of Kherson after the destruction of the huge Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, whose waters submerged homes, fields and roads and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Ukraine and Russia trade blame for the dam's destruction. The region's governor has said 600 square kilometers were under water.

Ukraine says the floods will leave hundreds of thousands of people without access to drinking water and swamp tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land. Ukrainian and Russian officials also warn of the mines planted during the war -- now unearthed and scattered by the flooding.

"In the past we knew where the hazards were. Now we don't know. All we know is that [the mines] are somewhere downstream," said Erik Tollefsen, head of the Weapon Contamination Unit at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Rescuers evacuate local residents from a flooded area after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 7.   © Reuters

3:30 p.m. Around 14,000 houses have been flooded since Ukraine's Kakhovka dam burst, with around 4,300 people evacuated, Russian state-owned news agency Tass cited the country's security services as saying on Thursday. The Kakhovka dam, which sits on the Dnieper River, on the front line between Ukrainian and Russian-controlled territory, burst on Tuesday.

Homes in Kherson stand submerged on June 7 after the Nova Kakhovka dam was breached.   © Reuters

6:30 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country needs immediate help from the Red Cross and other international organizations after Russia was alleged to have destroyed a dam, stranding residents of flooded communities.

It is impossible to know how many people in Russian-occupied parts of the Kherson region may die without drinking water, food and medical care after the dam breach, Zelenskyy says in a video message.

"Each person who dies there is a verdict on the existing international architecture and international organizations that have forgotten how to save lives," he said.

Russia has denied responsibility for the breach of the Russian-controlled Nova Kakhovka dam, blaming the damage and ensuing flood on Ukrainian saboteurs.

Zelenskyy also says he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron regarding the situation.

Wednesday, June 7

10:30 p.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Wednesday that a comprehensive investigation is needed into the destruction of a vast dam on the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the destruction of the dam, which has sent floodwaters across a war zone and forced thousands to flee. Erdogan told Putin that an international commission that includes the U.N. and Turkey could be formed to look into the issue, a statement from Erdogan's office said. Erdogan earlier talked to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the same issue.

3:30 p.m. A state of emergency has been imposed in Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine's Kherson region following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam and the flooding of a large area, Russia's Tass state news agency reports. The agency, citing emergency services, said about 2,700 houses were flooded after the destruction of the dam on Tuesday and almost 1,300 people had been evacuated. At least seven people were missing, Moscow-backed officials said. The destruction of the Moscow-controlled Nova Kakhvovka dam on the Dnieper River flooded a large part of the front line in the Kherson region. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the dam collapse.

The United Nations Security Council chamber at U.N. headquarters in New York: The U.S. says it is not certain who is to blame for the Ukraine dam breach.   © Reuters

7:00 a.m. The United Nations Security Council has met at the request of both Russia and Ukraine after a dam breach that the warring neighbors blame on each other.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, calls the damage at the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine "deliberate sabotage" by Kyiv. Ukrainian counterpart Sergiy Kyslytsya says the Russians blew it up.

Reuters quotes Robert Wood, the United States' alternate representative for special political affairs at the U.N., as telling reporters ahead of the meeting that Washington is not certain who was responsible for the dam breach and that "we hope to have more information in the coming days."

12:43 a.m. Finland has announced its decision to expel nine diplomats at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki for intelligence activities.

The embassy does not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Norway and Sweden have also expelled Russian diplomats in recent months over claims they were in fact intelligence officers.

Moscow has denied that its diplomats have engaged in improper activities, responding by expelling Norwegian and Swedish diplomats in return. Finland joined NATO in April, upsetting next-door neighbor Russia.

12:10 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam, saying the Russians "detonated a bomb of mass environmental destruction."

Waters pour from the breached Kakhovka dam in Ukraine's Kherson region on June 6. (Image obtained by Reuters)

He has told Eastern European leaders meeting in Bratislava to strengthen their defenses against "Russian terror."

The Kremlin, meanwhile, blames Ukrainian saboteurs for the dam breach.

Tuesday, June 6

10:10 p.m. Hundreds of people are evacuated from settlements along the southern stretch of Ukraine's Dnieper River after waters pour through the breached Nova Kakhovka dam, submerging streets and town squares.

The collapse of the barrier at the southern tip of the vast Kakhovka reservoir unleashed a torrent, adding to misery for thousands of people caught on the war's front lines. Looking downstream, Russia controls the left bank of the river and the dam itself, and Ukraine holds the right bank. Each side has blamed the other for causing the damage that triggered the latest crisis in the conflict.

8:35 p.m. Sweden hopes to reach an agreement with Turkey to join NATO by early July, Minister of Defense Pal Jonson says

"We hope we can become a full-fledged member of NATO by its Vilnius summit [on July 11 and 12]," Jonson tells Nikkei Asia in an exclusive interview during his visit to Japan.

During the press briefing ahead of the interview, Jonson reveals that a trilateral meeting between Sweden, Turkey -- which is a NATO member -- and Finland will be held sometime soon to accelerate negotiations for accession. Read more.

5:15 p.m. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Tuesday it was too early to give a meaningful assessment of the details behind the destruction of a dam in southern Ukraine, but that it had happened because of Russia's invasion. On a visit to Ukraine, Cleverly reaffirmed London's support for how Kyiv defends itself against the Russian invasion, and said Britain would continue to help provide Ukraine with the weaponry it needs. Speaking to Reuters in Hrebelky, east of Kyiv, Cleverly said he had heard reports of an explosion at the Kakhovka dam in a Russian-controlled part of southern Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia traded blame, saying it was an intentional attack by the other's forces.

4:26 p.m. The Shebekino district, in Russia's Belgorod region, is being shelled, local authorities tell residents. In messages sent via social media, residents were warned to take cover in cellars. The Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, has repeatedly come under attack in recent weeks.

Novaya Tavolzhanka, in Russia's Belgorod region: On June 6, authorities in the region's Shebekino district told residents to take cover in cellars. (Freedom Of Russia Legion/via Reuters)

4:15 p.m. Russia's state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, said that the breach of a dam in southern Ukraine did not pose a threat to the Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant for now. The situation, it said, was being monitored. "At the moment there are no threats to the safety of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Five units are in a "cold shutdown" state, and one in a "hot shutdown" state. The water level in the cooling pond has not changed and is 16.67 meters," Yury Chernichuk, director of the Russian-controlled power station, said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

1:12 p.m. A vast Soviet-era dam in the Russian-controlled part of southern Ukraine was damaged on Tuesday, unleashing a flood of water across the war zone, according to both Ukrainian and Russian forces, Reuters reports. Both sides blamed the other for destroying the dam. Unverified videos on social media showed a series of intense explosions around Nova Kakhovka Dam. Other videos showed water surging through the wreckage. The dam, 30 meters high and 3.2 kilometers long, was built in 1956 on the Dnieper River as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. It holds an 18-cubic-kilometer reservoir, which supplies water to the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, and to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is also under Russian control.

9:30 a.m. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the powerful head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, dismisses Moscow's statement that Russian troops had thwarted another major offensive by Ukraine in Donetsk, destroying military equipment and inflicting huge personnel losses, as "absurd science fiction." Russia's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that its forces had repelled an offensive and destroyed eight main battle Leopard tanks supplied to Ukraine by its Western allies plus 109 armored vehicles. It also said total Ukrainian losses amounted to 1,500 troops.

Prigozhin, who has frosty relations with Moscow, cast doubt on the ministry's statement. To kill that many people would require daily gains of 150 kilometers, Reuters reports, citing his remarks published on the Telegram channel of his press service. "I therefore believe that this is simply wild and absurd science fiction," he said.

Monday, June 5

2:45 p.m. The commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, says the country's forces are continuing "moving forward" near Bakhmut, adding that Ukrainian forces have been successful in destroying a Russian position near the city. Syrskyi made the comment on the Telegram messaging app, without mentioning whether the move is a part of the nation's planned counteroffensive against Russia's invasion.

Humvee vehicles move along a road near the border with Russia in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine on June 4.   © Reuters

11:25 a.m. Russia is suspected of buying back military supplies previously shipped to Myanmar and India, according to a Nikkei analysis of customs clearance data. The survey found records of Russian repurchases of parts for tanks and missiles that had been exported to Myanmar and India. Russia may be reimporting the components to improve older weapons destined for use in Ukraine, relying on help from countries with which it has long-standing military ties.

8:20 a.m. A drone attack set an energy facility on fire in Russia's Belgorod region in the early hours of Monday, Reuters reports, citing the region's governor. "In the Belgorod region, one of the energy facilities is on fire. The preliminary cause of the fire was an explosive device dropped from a drone," Vyacheslav Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging app.

7:45 a.m. Russian forces have thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive in the southern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, Russia's Defense Ministry says in a statement, adding that Ukraine had launched the offensive on Sunday using six mechanized and two tank battalions.

4:27 a.m. There is still time to bring Sweden into NATO by the alliance's July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says after meeting with reelected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.

Turkey, new NATO member Finland and Sweden will hold talks the week of June 12, Stoltenberg tells reporters. "I look forward to finalizing Sweden's accession as soon as possible," he says.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Istanbul on June 4. (Photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO via Reuters)

Saturday, June 3

4:15 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Saudi Arabia next week, a trip that comes after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud met with Russia's Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in South Africa.

Blinken will travel to the kingdom from Tuesday to Thursday "to meet with Saudi officials to discuss U.S.-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues and a range of bilateral issues including economic and security cooperation," the State Department says.

Blinken's trip is meant to show that "the United States is a strong player that is in the region to stay... that we won't leave a vacuum for other competitors to fill," says Daniel Benaim, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Peninsula affairs.

"We very much have a robust, ongoing conversation with Saudi Arabia about the issue of Russia and Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine," Benaim says, noting the Saudi foreign minister's recent visit to Kyiv.

"The conversation regarding Russia is ongoing," he adds

China, another U.S. competitor, is also reaching out to Riyadh. The New Development Bank, the Shanghai-based lender better known as "BRICS bank," is in talks with Saudi Arabia on admitting the country as its ninth member, the Financial Times reports.

12:40 a.m. The drones that attacked luxury apartments in Moscow on Tuesday were launched by armed anti-Kremlin forces in Russia, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.

Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to the head of the presidential office, denied that Ukraine was involved in the attacks. When asked if an armed insurgent group was behind the attacks, Podolyak tells Nikkei the assumption was "absolutely right."

"We are observing a growing number of examples of Russian aggressive resistance," says Podolyak. "Citizens of Russia who have alternative visions of the political process in Russia [are] becoming more and more aggressive in the good sense of the word. They show their activity." Read more.

South Africa's Naledi Pandor, center, speaks at the BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cape Town: Vladimir Putin is to arrive in South Africa in August for the BRICS summit. (Photo by BRICS / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Friday, June 2

8:20 a.m. Court action to compel the South African government to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin when he arrives in August for the BRICS summit is unlikely to lead to his arrest, Independent Online, a South African news website, reports citing experts. This comes as the country's Department of International Relations and Co-operation has yet to make a decision on what to do about the International Criminal Court warrant of arrest issued for Putin. Said one of the experts quoted in the report: "A court may make a pronouncement on the legal aspect but this is not a legal case. It is actually a political case and the law has limitations."

3:35 a.m. President Joe Biden predicts Sweden will join NATO "soon," speaking at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado days after he hinted at a possible deal to overcome Turkey's opposition to admitting the Nordic country to the alliance.

Biden, who spoke Monday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on his reelection, had told reporters that Erdogan repeated his wish to buy F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. The White House has denied that Biden is pursuing a deal with Turkey to lift its opposition in exchange for F-16s.

3:30 a.m. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presses for Ukraine to be part of NATO and urges the military alliance to provide security guarantees if membership was not possible for now. Joining a meeting of European leaders in Moldova, the Ukrainian leader seeks to bolster Western support ahead of his country's expected counteroffensive against Russia's invasion.

French President Emmanuel Macron says Ukraine needs to be given clear, strong security guarantees at the NATO summit in Lithuania next month. Macron says he is working closely on the issue with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

12:55 a.m. The U.S. Defense Department will buy SpaceX's Starlink for Ukraine, Reuters reports. "We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the resilient satellite and communication capabilities they need. Satellite communications constitute a vital layer in Ukraine's overall communications network and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type," the Pentagon says in a statement.

Starlink, the satellite communications service started by billionaire Elon Musk, has been used by Ukrainian troops for different efforts, including battlefield communications.

Thursday, June 1

9:41 p.m. The U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain export deal has been halted again, the Ukrainian infrastructure ministry says, blaming Russia for blocking registration of ships heading to Ukrainian ports. The ministry says 50 vessels are waiting for inspection in Turkish territorial waters, ready to pick up and deliver 2.4 million tonnes of Ukrainian food abroad.

Russia has registered only one incoming ship for inspection in the last two days of May, in a "gross violation" of the initiative, the ministry says. Russia did not immediately comment on the ministry's statement.

9:04 p.m. Taiwan has donated $5 million toward Lithuanian-led projects to rebuild a school and a kindergarten in Ukraine, a Lithuanian government investment agency says. Taiwan's contribution will be used to buy educational equipment.

"Taiwan sees Ukraine as our own image in a different continent. We both face authoritarian regimes which do not shy from using force to impose its world view," Roy Chun Lee, Taiwanese deputy minister of foreign affairs, says while introducing the donation in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. "If one day Taiwan is facing an increased level of military intimidation from China, we will be looking for your assistance as well, just as we are helping Ukraine."

Beijing downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania last year and told multinationals to sever ties with the European country or face being shut out of the Chinese market, after the opening of a representative office by Taiwan in Vilnius.

This building was damaged by a drone during a Russian overnight strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 1.   © AP

2:20 p.m. Russian forces began June with a fresh aerial bombardment of Kyiv, killing at least three people and wounding others, authorities say. Following a reported 17 drone and missile attacks on the Ukrainian capital in May, Russian forces hit the capital in the early morning with ground-launched missiles. The Kyiv City Administration reported one child was among the dead and 10 people were wounded. The casualty toll was the most from one attack on Kyiv in the past month. The attack also damaged apartment buildings, a medical clinic, a water pipeline and cars. Earlier, the city government had said two children were killed before revising the number to one.

7:40 a.m. Russia said Ukrainian artillery hit a Russian town for a third time this week and drones struck two oil refineries in an uptick in attacks on Russian territory as Ukraine prepares a Western-backed push to end Moscow's invasion. Inside Ukraine, Russian-installed officials said five people had been killed in Ukrainian army shelling of a Russian-occupied village in the east, where Russia has fought months of bloody and inconclusive battles to try to seize more territory. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine on the Russian reports, in a week when the two countries accused each other of spreading terror in their capitals with airstrikes.

Wednesday, May 31

8:00 a.m. A U.S. military aid package for Ukraine that is expected to be announced this week will total up to $300 million and will include additional munitions for drones, U.S. officials say. The drone ammunition comes after new attacks by unmanned aircraft targeted Moscow. There has been no suggestion that U.S.-made drones or munitions were used in the recent attacks on Moscow, and U.S. officials have repeatedly said that Ukraine has agreed not to use any American-provided weapons for attacks on Russian soil. The Kremlin blamed Kyiv for Tuesday's attack; Ukrainian officials had no direct comment.

A view shows a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30.   © Reuters

12:30 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses Ukraine of trying to intimidate his people with what Moscow says was an attempted drone strike on homes in the capital.

"This is a clear sign of terrorist activity," Putin says of the incident. The Defense Ministry says it shot down or jammed the drones with electronic warfare. There were no serious injuries, Russian authorities say.

Russia reserves the right to take the "most severe measures" in response to the attack, the Foreign Ministry says. Ukraine has denied responsibility.

Meanwhile, deadly Russian strikes with Iranian-made drones continued in Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities say.

Tuesday, May 30

3:40 p.m. Russia's Defense Ministry says Ukraine targeted Moscow with eight drones, but all the drones involved in the incident were downed.

"This morning, the Kyiv regime launched a terrorist drone attack on targets in the city of Moscow," the ministry said, adding, "Three of them were suppressed by electronic warfare, lost control and deviated from their intended targets. Another five drones were shot down by the Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system in the Moscow region."

11:30 a.m. Volodymyr Zelenskyy hopes South Korea will provide anti-aircraft systems and other defensive gear to Ukraine to help it fend off Russian attacks, according to a Reuters report citing an interview with a South Korean newspaper. Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for South Korea's pledge to send demining vehicles and humanitarian aid totaling some $230 million but said Ukraine wants anti-aircraft and early-warning systems. "I know there are many limitations regarding weapons support," the newspaper quoted Zelenskyy as saying, "but those principles should not be applied to defense systems and equipment for protecting our assets. An anti-aircraft system is not a weapon but purely defensive equipment. We have to have a sky shield to rebuild Ukraine, and I desperately hope that South Korea will support us in this area."

8:20 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says using U.S.-provided Patriot anti-missile systems have a 100% interception rate and will play a role as Ukraine's military pushes forward against Russia's invasion. "When Patriots in the hands of Ukrainians ensure a 100% interception rate of any Russian missile, terror will be defeated," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address, adding that with military successes "and with our Patriots, we have to continue responding to Russia and all its manifestations of evil."

A Patriot air defense system stands ready during Polish military training in Warsaw on Feb. 7. "When Patriots in the hands of Ukrainians ensure a 100% interception rate ... terror will be defeated," Zelenskiy says.   © Reuters

1:00 a.m. The Maldives is ahead of other Asian destinations in terms of attracting tourists in the wake of COVID-19, thanks in part to flocks of travelers from Russia who have been shunned by many countries following the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine.

Russian nationals made up the largest chunk of visitors to the island nation in the first quarter of this year with 65,060 arrivals, more than double the figure for the same time in 2019. The Maldives was not a hot spot for Russians until 2021, when the smallest nation in South Asia bucked the global trend to keep its airports open at the height of the delta wave of the coronavirus. Read more.

Monday, May 29

11:20 p.m. Kenya will sign a trade pact with Russia aimed at boosting cooperation among businesses, President William Ruto's office says, after hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Nairobi.

"Kenya-Russia trade volumes are low, but the potential between our economies to scale it up is significant," Ruto says in a tweet.

The presidential office did not say when the pact might be sealed or give details on what it might encompass. Russia sells mostly grain and fertilizers to Kenya.

Ruto also tweets that Kenya and Russia agree "on the need to push for reforms in the United Nations Security Council to make it more representative and more responsive to the needs of the current century."

10:00 p.m. India must not turn a blind eye to Russia's invasion of Ukraine if it wants to expand its influence in the international community and tackle similar issues closer to home, such as cracking down on Myanmar's military regime, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Tirana Hassan says.

"India [is] projecting itself as the world's largest democracy, at the same time, turning a blind eye to some of the most serious violations of human rights and international law that we have seen," Hassan tells Nikkei Asia in an interview. "It's very disappointing." Read more.

3:00 p.m. Ukraine's air force says that it shot down 29 out of 35 Russian drones and 37 out of 40 cruise missiles overnight. The Ukrainian military also says that a Russian drone attack overnight damaged some infrastructure in Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa, which is key for its grain exports, Reuters reports.

2:50 p.m. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says in an interview published on Russian state television on Sunday that if any other country wanted to join a Russia-Belarus union there could be "nuclear weapons for everyone." Russia moved ahead last week with a plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, in the Kremlin's first deployment of such warheads outside Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, spurring concerns in the West. Lukashenko said that it must be "strategically understood" that Minsk and Moscow have a unique chance to unite.

12:55 p.m. Foreign investors withdrew about $36 billion from Russia after selling their businesses in the country between March 2022 and March 2023, Reuters reports, citing Russia's state RIA news agency. According to the report, Russia's central bank last week played down the impact of foreign company exits, saying that around 200 sale deals had been completed in the March 2022-23 period, with just 20% involving large asset sales, those in excess of $100 million. Scores of the world's biggest companies have left or scaled back their operations in Russia in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

11:15 a.m. Ukraine's air defense force shot down more than 40 Russian targets moving toward Kyiv early on Monday, including drones and missiles, Kyiv's city military administration said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app, according to Reuters. The waves of airstrikes by Russia came on Sunday as the capital celebrates Kyiv Day, the anniversary of its official founding 1,541 years ago. "This is how Russia celebrates the day of our ancient Kyiv," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

A firefighter douses flames at a tobacco plant after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 28. (Pavlo Petrov/Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)

Sunday, May 28

11:56 p.m. Russia unleashed waves of airstrikes on Kyiv during the Saturday-Sunday overnight period local time as the Ukrainian capital prepared to celebrate the anniversary of its founding 1,541 years ago.

Ukraine's air force says 52 of a record 54 Iranian-made Shahed exploding drones were destroyed. More than 40 were shot down over Kyiv, the city announces, with Mayor Vitali Klitschko saying about 40 were destroyed near the capital and in its airspace.

This was the 14th air assault on Kyiv so far in May, according to the city -- and apparently the first this month to claim a human life there. Falling drone wreckage led to the death of a 41-year-old man, Klitschko says.

Saturday, May 27

10:45 p.m. Ukraine strikes oil pipeline installations deep inside Russia with a series of drone attacks including on a station serving the vast Druzhba oil pipeline that sends Western Siberian crude to Europe, according to Russian media.

Ukrainian drone attacks inside Russia have been growing in intensity in recent weeks, and The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence believes Ukraine was behind a drone attack on the Kremlin this month.

9:30 p.m. Russian forces intercept two long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles supplied to Ukraine by Britain, Russia's Defense Ministry says. The ministry adds it had intercepted shorter-range U.S.-built HIMARS-launched and HARM missiles, and shot down 12 drones in the last 24 hours. Russia did not specify where the interceptions had taken place.

7:30 p.m. Russia accuses Japan of "cynical, unscrupulous speculation" over Tokyo's comments regarding the nuclear threat Moscow poses and vowed to respond to Japan's latest round of sanctions. The Foreign Ministry says it is assessing the implementation of Japan's sanctions, announced Friday, and would not leave Tokyo's "illegitimate actions" unanswered.

The ministry also took issue with Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno's casting of Russia as engaging in "nuclear blackmail."

5:42 a.m. Moscow plans to fake an accident at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to thwart Ukraine's counteroffensive, the Ukrainian defense Ministry's intelligence directorate says on Telegram and Twitter.

Located in southern Ukraine, the facility is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Russians will attack the site and announce that radioactive substances have leaked out, blaming Ukraine and triggering an international investigation to force a cease-fire that would give Russia time to regroup, the directorate says, without providing evidence.

1:40 a.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the prospects for an end to the conflict in Ukraine with Li Hui, China's special envoy for Eurasian affairs, who recently met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, the Foreign Ministry says.

Lavrov "expressed gratitude to the Chinese side for a balanced position with regard to the Ukrainian crisis and highly appreciated Beijing's readiness to play a positive role in its settlement," the ministry says.

Friday, May 26

8:35 p.m. Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says that countries of the so-called Global South will not throw their weight behind Russia or Ukraine in the ongoing war, despite the Group of Seven's recent show of support for Kyiv.

The Global South including "Brazil, India and Indonesia, these people do not want war," he says. "They will not be supportive of the war between Russia and Ukraine," he added at Nikkei's Future of Asia forum. Read more.

6:30 p.m. Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, a senior ally of President Vladimir Putin, says the conflict in Ukraine could last for decades and that negotiations with Ukraine are impossible as long as Ukraine's Western-backed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in power. "This conflict will last for a very long time. For decades, probably. This is a new reality," Medvedev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. He said Russia could not trust any truce with the current rulers of Kyiv as the conflict would simply erupt again and so the very nature of the current government of Ukraine would have to be destroyed.

10:30 a.m. Japan says it will place additional sanctions on Russia after the Group of Seven summit that the country hosted last week. Tokyo agreed to step up measures to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said. In a coordinated action with other Group of Seven countries, Japan will freeze the assets of 78 groups and 17 individuals, including Russian army officers, and ban exports to 80 Russian entities such as military-affiliated research labs, according to a Friday Foreign Ministry statement. Matsuno, Tokyo's top government spokesperson, also condemned Russia's move on Thursday to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, saying it would further intensify situations around the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu shakes hands with Belarusian Defence Minister Victor Khrenin during a meeting in Minsk on May 25. (Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

4:00 a.m. An agreement on storing tactical nuclear weapons from Russia in Belarus is signed by defense ministers from both countries, setting the rules for their management.

Russia's Sergei Shoigu and Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin sign the documents in Minsk. The weapons, intended for battlefield use, will remain under Russian control, and Moscow reserves the right to decide on using them, Russian media report Shoigu as saying.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that transport of the weapons has begun, Interfax reports.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller says deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus is the latest example of Russia's "irresponsible behavior," but adds the U.S. has seen no reason to adjust its strategic nuclear posture.

Thursday, May 25

7:50 p.m. Under looming risks of military conflicts, Asia must unite and work collectively to promote peace, Thailand's deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine "represented the most consequential modification of long-held positions in politics and society since World War II," says Don Pramudwinai, speaking at Nikkei's annual Future of Asia conference. Initiatives after that war to maintain peace have not done so.

Don says countries have responded by increasing defense spending, as well as weaponizing currencies and trade. "The eye for an eye, tit for tat approach is turning everyone blind," he says. "The ongoing re-shoring and friend-shoring of the [supply] chains reflect the insecurity of major powers that put more emphasis on national security." Read more.

Wagner Group members wave the Russian and group flags atop a damaged building in Bakhmut, Ukraine, in this image taken from a video released on May 20. (Prigozhin Press Service via AP)   © AP

5:00 a.m. The head of the Russian private army Wagner Group has again broken with the Kremlin line on Ukraine, saying its goal of demilitarizing the country has backfired, acknowledging Russian troops have killed civilians and agreeing with Western estimates that he has lost more than 20,000 men in the battle for Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin said about half of those who died in the eastern Ukrainian city were Russian convicts recruited for the war. His figures stood in stark contrast to Moscow's widely disputed claim that just over 6,000 of its troops had been killed as of January. By comparison, official Soviet troop losses in the 1979-89 Afghanistan war were 15,000. Ukraine hasn't said how many of its soldiers have died since Russia's full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

1:50 a.m. Ukraine will not be able to join NATO as long as the war against Russia rages on, the alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says. "To become a member in the midst of a war is not on the agenda," he said at an event organized by the German Marshall Fund of The United States in Brussels. "The issue is what happens when the war ends."

12:50 a.m. Russia's Defense Ministry says the Russian warship Ivan Hurs was attacked unsuccessfully in the early morning by three Ukrainian uncrewed speedboats in the Black Sea. In a statement posted on Telegram, the ministry says the warship had been protecting the TurkStream and Blue Stream gas pipelines -- which carry gas from Russia to Turkey -- and "continues to fulfill its tasks." The statement appeared likely to raise tensions in the Black Sea, where Russia agreed only last week to extend a deal allowing Ukraine to export grain safely from its seaports.

Wednesday, May 24

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, left, and Chinese Premier Li Qiang attend a signing ceremony in Beijing on May 24.   © Reuters

3:00 p.m. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Wednesday that ties with China are at an "unprecedented" high, characterized by mutual respect of each other's interests and the desire to jointly respond to challenges. "As our Chinese friends say, unity makes it possible to move mountains," Mishustin told Chinese Premier Li Qiang during a meeting in Beijing. Mishustin was the highest-ranking Russian official to visit the Chinese capital since Moscow sent thousands of its troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

8:00 a.m. The Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi has halted operations because Russia is not letting ships enter, in effect cutting it out of a deal allowing grain exports, a Ukrainian official says. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed by Russia and Ukraine last July and extended last week for two months, is intended to guarantee the safe export of grains and foodstuffs from the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi. The United Nations, which together with Turkey brokered the deal, expressed concern on Monday that Pivdennyi had not received any ships since May 2. Russia has "found an effective way to significantly reduce grain exports by excluding the port of Pivdennyi," Ukrainian Deputy Renovation Minister Yuriy Vaskov said.

4:20 a.m. The White House has called for the immediate release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich after his detention in Russia was extended for three months.

Gershkovich was arrested in March on espionage charges. U.S. officials say the Russians have denied his requests for consular access.

Tuesday, May 23

10:40 p.m. Russia says it defeated fighters who crossed over from Ukraine after two days of combat in the Belgorod region. Russian forces struck the fighters with "airstrikes, artillery fire and active action by border units," the Defense Ministry says.

There was no immediate independent confirmation that the fighting had ended. Russia has blamed Ukraine for the attack, which Kyiv denied. The two groups that claimed responsibility call themselves Russian armed dissidents.

"One day we will return to stay," one of the two groups said in a social media post.

A view of an old military depot near the Russian-Ukrainian border.    © Reuters

9:40 p.m. Belarus has taken part in the illegal deportation of children from Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, political opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko allege.

A preliminary report from their group claims 2,150 Ukrainian children, including orphans aged 6 to 15, were taken to so-called recreation camps and sanitariums on Belarusian territory.

Ukraine has alleged that 20,000 children have been illegally transferred to Russia since the invasion began. Yulia Ioffe, an assistant professor at University College London and a specialist in children's rights law, says that Belarus, if the claim is substantiated, would "highly likely" be violating the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

7:00 p.m. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has led a delegation subject to U.S. sanctions on a two-day trip to China, highlighting the growing trade and investment ties between the two countries as the West seeks to curb their economic influence.

Mishustin spoke at a Russia-China business forum in Shanghai that was attended by officials from both countries, as well as top executives from more than 15 Russian companies, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

The prime minister has been on the U.S. Treasury Department's sanctions list of Russian people and entities since April 2022, which largely cuts them off from the international financial system and freezes any assets they hold in the U.S. Read more.

3:20 a.m. A benchmark for natural gas prices in Asia has dropped to levels last seen before Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine as China, one of the world's biggest consumers of the fuel, changes its buying patterns. Read more.

Monday, May 22

10:35 p.m. Russia says it is battling an incursion in its Belgorod region by saboteurs who burst through the frontier from Ukraine. Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the region adjacent to northeastern Ukraine, says Russian forces are working to repel the raid.

But Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denies involvement by Kyiv.

A group calling itself the Liberty of Russia Legion, which claims to consist of Russians cooperating with Ukraine's forces, says on Twitter it had "completely liberated" the border town of Kozinka and reached district center Graivoron.

It has released a video showing five heavily armed fighters: "We are Russians, like you. We are people like you," one said, facing the camera. "It is time to put an end to the dictatorship of the Kremlin."

7:00 p.m. Ukrainian national grid operator Ukrenergo says that external power has been restored to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after a brief outage following a reported fire at an electricity facility in the city of Zaporizhzhia. "Ukrenergo restored the power transmission line that supplies the Zaporizhzhia NPP. The station is switching to power supply from the Ukrainian power system," the company said in a statement.

6:55 p.m. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy swooped into the Group of Seven weekend in Hiroshima, one question was how he would engage with two invited leaders who remain on the fence between Russia and the West -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Zelenskyy and Modi sat down for what appeared to be a cordial discussion on the impact of Russia's invasion and potential paths forward. On the other hand, no meeting with Lula happened, and when asked if he was disappointed, Zelenskyy shot back that maybe the Brazilians are.

Afterward, Lula told his side of the story: Zelenskyy, he said, did not show up. Read more.

6:00 p.m. Ukrainian troops are still advancing on the flanks of the devastated city of Bakhmut, although the "intensity" of their movement has decreased and Russia is bringing in more forces, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar says. In televised comments, she said Ukraine had a small foothold inside the city itself, again denying Russia's assertion that it has established full control over Bakhmut. "We are still advancing, but the intensity is somewhat reduced. If we talk about the north, there is much less active action there. If we talk about the south, we are advancing and the defense of Bakhmut as a city has completely fulfilled its military objective," Maliar said.

Ukrainian troops are still advancing on the flanks of Bakhmut, though more slowly, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on May 22. (Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via Reuters) 

3:00 p.m. Ukraine's state-owned power generating company Energoatom says there is a power outage at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after a Russia-installed official said the plant was switched to standby and emergency power supply. "Yes, we have the seventh blackout since the start of the [Russian] occupation," Energoatom told Reuters. Yuriy Malashko, governor of the Zaporizhzhia region in Ukraine, says that there is a fire at one of the facilities in Zaporizhzhia city due to an overload in the power system.

9:20 a.m. Russia's Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov says in the embassy's Telegram channel that the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine would raise the question of NATO's involvement in the conflict. According to Reuters, Antonov also said in the remarks that any Ukrainian strike on Crimea would be considered a strike on Russia. "It is important that the United States be fully aware of the Russian response [to such strikes]," Antonov said.

For earlier updates, click here.

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