'Hysterical' UK must appeal directly to separatists over Britons' death sentences, says Kremlin

Aiden Aslin (pictured in a cell) and Shaun Pinner were captured in Mariupol in April, after both had spent several years serving in the Ukrainian army - Reuters
Aiden Aslin (pictured in a cell) and Shaun Pinner were captured in Mariupol in April, after both had spent several years serving in the Ukrainian army - Reuters
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Russia has said that Britain is “often hysterical” and that it should appeal to the authorities of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic regarding the two British citizens sentenced to death on Thursday.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote in a statement on the ministry website that Britain's reaction to such cases was often hysterical.

Russia described the two Britons and one Moroccan, who had been captured serving with Ukrainian forces in east Ukraine, as "mercenaries".

The British Government said they were prisoners of war, entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention.

It came as Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said that the judgement against Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner was “an egregious breach of the Geneva Convention”.

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, travelled to Kyiv this week to speak with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky about the UK's "continued support".


07:00 PM

What happened today

Thanks for following today's live blog.

Here are the key developments from today:

  • Russia said that Britain is “often hysterical” and that it should appeal to the authorities of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) regarding the two British citizens sentenced to death on Thursday.

  • Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that the judgement was a breach of the Geneva convention, while Boris Johnson said he was "appalled" by the move.

  • Meanwhile, Ukraine's southern city of Mariupol is at risk of a major cholera outbreak as medical services are likely already near collapse, Britain's defence ministry said.

  • On Sunday, former McDonald's Corp restaurants will reopen under new branding and ownership in Russia more than three decades after the arrival of the hugely popular Western fast food chain.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed British leadership and its assistance for Kyiv against Russia's invasion during talks with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the Ukrainian capital.

  • At least two civilians were hospitalised following Russian shelling on the outskirts of Kharkiv, according to regional emergency services.


06:54 PM

Russian and Ukrainian pop stars join forces for charity tour

Russian punk band Pornofilmy and Ukrainian pop-rockers Nervy are performing together on a charity tour entitled "Stand with Ukraine".

They say profits from the concerts, the latest of which took place in the Polish city of Gdansk on Wednesday, will be donated to organizations helping war-affected Ukrainians and used for the purchase of medical equipment.

The tour, which also features Russian rapper Face, was initiated by Nervy frontman Zhenya Milkovskyi, who was born in Pokrovsk, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, and had been living in Moscow since 2014 after signing with a Russian label.

"As soon as the war started, we immediately felt the urge to do something useful. And I think this is the most helpful thing we can do now," Mr Milkovskyi told Reuters.

Mr Milkovskyi was forced to leave Russia after making a series of posts on his social media networks condemning Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"I am now banned from entering (Russia) for 50 years. I'm Russia's enemy - don't know what it's really called - simply, an unwelcome person," he said.


06:53 PM

Pictured: Former McDonald's in Russia prepares to open under new brand

Staff personnel of a former McDonald's location prepare a restaurant for reopening under a new brand in Podolsk, outside Moscow, Russia, 10 June 2022.  - MAXIM SHIPENKOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Staff personnel of a former McDonald's location prepare a restaurant for reopening under a new brand in Podolsk, outside Moscow, Russia, 10 June 2022. - MAXIM SHIPENKOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

06:16 PM

Ukraine conducts 11th prisoner exchange with Russia

A Ukrainian governor said on Friday that his country had conducted the 11th prisoner swap with Russia since the start of Moscow's invasion in February, exchanging four Russian captives for five Ukrainians.

Mykolaiv region governor Vitaliy Kim wrote on the Telegram app that one of the freed Ukrainians was local village head Oleh Pylypenko, who Kim said was "kidnapped" by Russian forces on March 10.


06:07 PM

France in no mood to make concessions to Russia

France is unwilling to make concessions to Russia and wants Ukraine to win the war against Moscow's invading forces with its territorial integrity restored, a French presidential official said on Friday, as Paris seeks to assuage concerns over its stance in the conflict.

President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised by Ukraine and eastern European allies after published interviews on Saturday quoting him as saying it was vital not to "humiliate" Russia so that when the fighting ends there could be a diplomatic solution.

"As the president has said, we want a Ukrainian victory. We want Ukraine's territorial integrity to be restored," the official told reporters when asked about Macron's humiliation comments.

Mr Macron has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly since the Feb. 24 invasion as part of efforts to achieve a ceasefire and begin a credible negotiation between Kyiv and Moscow, although he has had no tangible success to show for it.

"There is no spirit of concession towards Putin or Russia in what the president says, When he speaks to him directly, it is not compromise, but to say how we see things."


05:53 PM

More hurt as shelling continues near Kharkiv

At least two civilians have been hospitalised following Russian shelling on the outskirts of Ukraine's second largest city, according to regional emergency services.

Emergency teams are searching for more casualties in Derhachi, a town 12 kilometers northwest of Kharkiv, which has been targeted in a series of strikes in recent weeks.

Following the shelling, fires broke out in residential buildings, the Main Directorate of the State Emergency Service in the Kharkiv region said in a statement.

Kharkiv's mayor said the city, which was a key military objective in the early stages of Russia's invasion, continues to suffer regular strikes.

"The intensity of shelling . has become a little less, but bombs and rockets of higher power are being used in the city of Kharkiv. The destruction that we see today is very, very serious," Ihor Terekhov said in a televised briefing.

"The process of restoring everyday life in Kharkiv is underway. The subway is working, public transport is working. Many enterprises have begun to open, many Kharkiv residents have begun to return. The enemy sees all this, it makes him furious. It is clear that he wants to destabilise the situation," Mr Terekhov said.


05:37 PM

Pictured: Ukrainian serviceman on the front line in Donbas region

A Ukrainian serviceman speaks on a radio at a front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 10, 2022. - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian serviceman speaks on a radio at a front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 10, 2022. - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

04:54 PM

Cholera and other diseases could kill thousands in Mariupol

Cholera and other deadly diseases could kill thousands of people in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol as corpses lie uncollected and summer brings warmer weather, its mayor said on Friday.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko said wells had been contaminated by the corpses of people killed during weeks of Russian bombardment and siege, and that the collection of bodies by the city's Russian occupiers was proceeding slowly.

"There is an outbreak of dysentery and cholera. This is unfortunately the assessment of our doctors: that the war which took over 20,000 residents... unfortunately, with these infection outbreaks, will claim thousands more Mariupolites," he told national television.

Mr Boichenko, who is based outside Mariupol, said the city had been placed into quarantine.

Ukraine says about 100,000 people are now in Mariupol, a once vibrant city that had a population of about 430,000 before the war but is now an urban wasteland.

Mr Boichenko, who said last month that the Russian bombardment had turned Mariupol into a "medieval ghetto", said residents had been forced to drink water from wells because the city had no running water or functioning sewerage system.


04:38 PM

Pictured: Volunteers distribute aid in Kharkiv

Volunteers distribute humanitarian aid to people in the yard of St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church in Kharkiv on June 10, 2022. - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images
Volunteers distribute humanitarian aid to people in the yard of St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church in Kharkiv on June 10, 2022. - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

04:25 PM

Ukraine calls for more weapons as it holds off Russians in east

Ukrainian officials have pleaded for more help from the West, including quicker deliveries of weapons to hold off better armed Russian forces at a critical time in the battle in the east.

Heavy fighting was still being reported in Severodonetsk, the small eastern city that has become the focus of Russia's advance and one of the bloodiest flashpoints in a war that has increased financial and physical hardship around the world.

In a speech via videolink to a conference in Copenhagen, President Volodymyr Zelensky called for Ukraine to be accepted as a part of the West with binding guarantees for its protection.

"The European Union can take a historic step that will prove that words about the people of Ukraine belonging to the European family are not just words," he said, asking the European Union to accept Ukraine as a membership candidate.


04:01 PM

Listen to the latest episode of our Ukraine podcast


03:54 PM

France says ready to help operation allowing Odesa port access

France is ready to assist in an operation to allow safe access to Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa, an advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday.

"We are at the disposal of the parties to put in place an operation which would allow access in complete safety to the port of Odessa, in other words for boats to pass through despite the fact that the sea is mined," said the advisor, who asked not to be named.

The port has been subject to a de facto blockade by Russia, and grain is waiting to be exported amid mounting fears of global food shortages, especially in developing countries.


03:41 PM

'Ukraine today could be East Asia tomorrow'

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned a security summit Friday that "Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow", as concerns grow that China could invade democratic, self-ruled Taiwan.

US officials have said they believe China is closely monitoring how Russia's invasion of Ukraine progresses to assess their own plans when it comes to Taiwan.

Tensions have been soaring over the island, which Beijing views as its territory and has vowed to seize one day, by force if necessary.

Mr Kishida told the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore that while Japan is a peace-loving nation, the changing regional and global security landscape has prompted Tokyo to reassess its own defence position.

"In light of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, countries' perceptions on security have drastically changed around the world," he said in a keynote address to defence ministers, senior military officers and analysts attending the summit.


03:19 PM

Macron to visit Romania and Moldova

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Romania and Moldova next week to express France's solidarity with its European allies which are most exposed to the war in Ukraine, Mr Macron's Elysee office said on Friday.

Mr Macron will visit French troops in Romania on Tuesday, and then go to Moldova on Wednesday.

Asked whether Mr Macron would visit Ukraine, his office said any such visit would take place when considered to offer the most usefulness for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine had rebuked Mr Macron earlier this month for saying it was important not to "humiliate" Russia, a position Ukrainian foreign minister Dmitro Kuleba said "can only humiliate France".

Mr Macron has sought to maintain a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February.


03:17 PM

Zelensky gives Wallace 'Russian warship, go f--- yourself' stamps

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has reportedly given Defence Secretary Ben Wallace a framed set of 'Russian warship, go f--- yourself' stamps.

Mr Wallace travelled to Kyiv this week to speak with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky about the UK's "continued support".

x - Twitter, Liveuamap
x - Twitter, Liveuamap

02:49 PM

Who Putin wants back from Kyiv in prisoner swap

Viktor Medvedchuk, a staunch Kremlin ally, could be used as leverage to seal the release of two Britons sentenced to death, writes Joe Barnes.

Once considered Vladimir Putin’s main man in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk lived a lavish lifestyle as the country’s most prominent pro-Russian politician.

Nicknamed the “dark prince” of Ukrainian politics, the 67-year-old spent two decades cosying up to the Kremlin, even after Moscow illegally annexed the Crimea peninsula in 2014 and waged a deadly war in the eastern Donbas region.

Over the years, he acted as a go-between for Moscow and Ukraine’s separatist-controlled breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

When Vasyl Stus, a prominent Ukrainian poet and writer, was sent to a gulag in 1980 for what was described as “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”, Mr Medvedchuk was the Soviet state-appointed lawyer to defend him.

Viktor Medvedchuk’s ties with Vladimir Putin run so deep that the Russian president is the godfather to his daughter, Daria - Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
Viktor Medvedchuk’s ties with Vladimir Putin run so deep that the Russian president is the godfather to his daughter, Daria - Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Find out more here.


02:46 PM

Ukraine hails British leadership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed British leadership and its assistance for Kyiv against Russia's invasion during talks on Friday with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the Ukrainian capital.

"I am grateful in general to Great Britain, the government and the prime minister," Mr Zelensky, looking relaxed in a dark T-shirt, told Mr Wallace at the presidential headquarters.

"The war highlights who is our friend or friends – not just strategic friends, but real friends now. And I believe Great Britain is a friend."

"Arms, money and sanctions – these are three things in which Great Britain consistently demonstrates its leadership," he said.

Mr Wallace said Mr Zelensky was "doing amazing, amazing."


02:24 PM

Russia and China open cross-border bridge

Russia and China have opened a new cross-border bridge in the far east which they hope will further boost trade as Moscow reels from sweeping Western sanctions imposed over its actions in Ukraine.

The bridge linking the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk to the Chinese city of Heihe across the Amur river - known in China as Heilongjiang - is just over one kilometre long and cost 19 billion roubles ($342 million), the RIA news agency reported.

Amid a firework display, freight trucks from both ends crossed the two-lane bridge that was festooned with flags in the colours of both countries, video footage of the opening showed.

Russian authorities said the bridge would bring Moscow and Beijing closer together by boosting trade after they announced a "no limits" partnership in February, shortly before President Vladimir Putin sent his forces into Ukraine.

"In today's divided world, the Blagoveshchensk-Heihe bridge between Russia and China carries a special symbolic meaning," said Yuri Trutnev, the Kremlin representative in the Russian Far East.


02:21 PM

Germany pledges medical aid to Ukraine

Germany will help Ukraine provide medical help for war victims by helping build trauma centres for the wounded, donating prosthetic limbs and deploying German doctors to the country, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has said.

"Ukraine needs humanitarian aid just as urgently as it needs our military support," the minister said during a visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The aid would include Germany helping to supply prostheses, deploying 200 doctors in Ukraine, setting up training on treating burns and connecting some hospitals in Ukraine to a telemedicine service, the ministry said in a statement.

Germany's largest artificial limb maker, Ottobock, is already in talks with the health ministry to help produce and fit prostheses in mobile container workshops and train orthopaedic specialists directly in Ukraine, a company spokesperson said.

"Ottobock has partners in Ukraine and continues to supply products there, and the container workshops could make supplies possible wherever the network was destroyed by war," he said.


01:56 PM

Defence Secretary meets Zelensky in Kyiv

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has travelled to Kyiv to speak with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A statement from the Ministry of Defence said: 

"The working visit took place this week to allow the Defence Secretary to hear first-hand how the operational needs of Ukraine's Armed Forces are developing as the nature of the conflict continues to change.

"This will ensure that the UK's continued support is evolving to meet those requirements and is tailored to the situation on the ground.

"The Defence Secretary visited Minister Reznikov on the first of the two-day visit before speaking with President Zelensky about how the UK support will continue to meet Ukraine's needs as the conflict enters a different phase.

"The three agreed to work even more closely going forward in support of their shared goal of enabling Ukraine to liberate itself from illegal Russian occupation.

"They also discussed the range of equipment and training the UK is currently providing, and what further support we can offer to help Ukrainian forces to defend their country."


01:51 PM

Ukraine must not be left in EU bid 'grey zone', Zelensky says

Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed for his country not to be left in a "grey zone" with its EU membership bid, ahead of a summit set to decide on its candidacy.

"The first thing is to finally remove this grey zone," Mr Zelensky said, addressing the 2022 Copenhagen Democracy Summit by video-link.

"In the coming weeks, the European Union could take a historic step that will prove that the words on the membership of the Ukrainian people in the European family are not in vain," he added.

"Why, if the polls show that 71 percent of Europeans consider Ukraine as part of the European family, are there still political sceptics who hesitate to allow us to join the European Union?" he asked.

"The European system could lose if words are not accompanied by deeds," Mr Zelensky said.


01:22 PM

Pictured: Charred remains of a sports venue in Severodonetsk

 Charred remains of an ice sports venue are seen in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk Region, Ukraine, in this image released June 9, 2022.  - Serhiy Hadai/Handout via REUTERS
Charred remains of an ice sports venue are seen in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk Region, Ukraine, in this image released June 9, 2022. - Serhiy Hadai/Handout via REUTERS

01:21 PM

Sir Keir Starmer condemns death sentences

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has condemned the case of two Britons sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces, adding that he agrees with the Government's approach to securing their release.

Sir Keir told a press conference: "I utterly condemn the action that's been taken in relation to the two Britons involved and they should be treated as prisoners of war.

"The Government is right on this and I think it's very important that we say there's no party politics in this - we stand as one in condemning what is happening here and demanding in the strongest possible terms that they be treated as prisoners of war.

"It is utterly to be condemned."


12:43 PM

Judgement against jailed British men breaches Geneva convention, Liz Truss says

Foreign minister Liz Truss has said that the judgement against two British men sentenced to death by a court in one of Russia's proxies in eastern Ukraine was a breach of the Geneva convention.

"The judgement against them is an egregious breach of the Geneva convention,"  Ms Truss said in a tweet after she spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to discuss efforts to secure the release of prisoners of war held by Russian proxies.


12:30 PM

Clearstream halts Russian share conversions after new EU sanctions

European clearing giant Clearstream has halted all requests to convert Russian firms' 'depository receipts' into Moscow-listed shares following the European Union's latest sanctions.

Depositary receipts (DRs) are certificates representing shares in a company foreign to where they are traded, which allow investors to trade in overseas stocks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill in April though requiring all but 15 Russian firms to delist their depositary receipts to reduce potential foreign influence.

Investors had told Reuters on Thursday that they had been facing difficulties in converting their DRs into Moscow-listed shares after the EU targeted Russia's National Settlement Depository (NSD) in new sanctions last week.

Clearstream, which is part of Deutsche Boerse, confirmed it had put DR conversions "on hold" and was "in consultation with the competent authorities to get clarity on the impact of the new EU sanctions".


12:10 PM

Russian central bank cuts key rate as inflation eases

Russia's central bank has cut its key interest rate as the country's economy recovers faster than expected following sanctions imposed on Moscow over its military action in Ukraine.

The Bank of Russia cut the rate to 9.5 per cent from 11 per cent, saying in a statement that "inflation is slowing faster and the decline in economic activity is of a smaller magnitude" than expected in April.

It said, however, that the "external environment for the Russian economy remains challenging and significantly constrains economic activity".

The next rate review meeting will take place on July 22.

The central bank had already cut its key rate by three percentage points at an emergency meeting just two weeks ago.


12:04 PM

Boris Johnson 'appalled' by death sentences

Boris Johnson is "appalled" by the death sentences handed to Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and has ordered ministers to do "everything in their power" to secure their release.

A No 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister was appalled at the sentencing of these men. He has been following the case closely and has asked ministers to do everything in their power to try and reunite them with their families as soon as we can.

"We completely condemn the sham sentencing of these men to death. There's no justification at all for this breach of the protection they're entitled to."


11:56 AM

Foreign fighters' death sentence shows Russia's disregard for rights, Berlin says

The death sentences for foreign fighters in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine are shocking and show Russia's "complete disregard for the basic principles of humanitarian international law", a German government spokesperson has said.

Two Britons and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine were sentenced to death on Thursday by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), one of Russia's proxies in eastern Ukraine.


11:51 AM

Pictured: Kyiv City Ballet company dancers in Paris

Ukrainian dancers of the Kyiv City Ballet company take a break during a rehearsal at the Theatre de Chatelet, in Paris, Thursday, June 9, 2022. Since the beginning of the war, three months ago, the Kyiv City Ballet is hosted at the Theatre du Chatelet. - AP Photo/Thibault Camus
Ukrainian dancers of the Kyiv City Ballet company take a break during a rehearsal at the Theatre de Chatelet, in Paris, Thursday, June 9, 2022. Since the beginning of the war, three months ago, the Kyiv City Ballet is hosted at the Theatre du Chatelet. - AP Photo/Thibault Camus

11:49 AM

UN 'concerned' by foreign fighter death sentences in Donetsk

The United Nations has said it is concerned about the death sentences handed by pro-Moscow separatists to two British and one Moroccan soldier captured by Russian troops while fighting for Ukraine.

"The UN Human Rights Office is concerned about the so-called Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic sentencing three servicemen to death," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

"Since 2015, we have observed that the so-called judiciary in these self-proclaimed republics has not complied with essential fair trial guarantees, such as public hearings, independence, impartiality of the courts and the right not to be compelled to testify. Such trials against prisoners of war amount to a war crime."


11:41 AM

Finland to build fences on border with Russia

Shaken by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Finland is rushing to beef up security on its border with Russia in order to protect itself from hybrid threats, the interior ministry said Friday.

Fearing that Moscow could use migrants to exert political pressure, Helsinki plans legislative amendments that would facilitate the construction of sturdier fences on its 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) eastern border with Russia.

"The aim of the proposed law is to improve the operational capacity of the border guard in responding to the hybrid threats," Anne Ihanus, a senior adviser at the interior ministry, told AFP.

"The war in Ukraine has contributed to the urgency of the matter," Ihanus said.

Currently, the Nordic country's borders are secured primarily with light wooden fences, used to stop livestock from wandering to the wrong side.

Crossing the border from places other than through official border crossing points is already prohibited.


11:35 AM

Ukraine hits Russian targets in Kherson as fighting rages

Ukraine has said that it has launched new air strikes on Russian positions in the captured southern region of Kherson as President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted Kyiv's forces were "holding on" in the east of the country.

Ukraine's defence ministry said it had struck Russian military positions in Kherson, which is just north of the Crimean peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014, and among the first regions seized by Russia in February.

"Our aircraft carried out a series of strikes on enemy bases, places of accumulation of equipment and personnel, and field depots around five different settlements in the Kherson region," it said in a statement.

Moscow's authorities in occupied Kherson have floated holding a referendum on integrating with Russia, mirroring a controversial vote in Crimea in 2014, and have announced the Russian ruble would now be used in the region.


11:33 AM

Lavrov says Britons and Moroccan sentenced to death committed crimes in Donetsk

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that the two Britons and one Moroccan sentenced to death on Thursday in the Donetsk People's Republic had committed crimes on the territory of the self-proclaimed state trying to break away from Ukraine.

Lavrov said: "At the moment, the trials you mentioned are being held on the basis of the legislation of the Donetsk People's Republic, because the crimes in question were committed on the DPR's territory."

The DPR, where separatist forces began a military campaign to break away from Ukraine with Moscow's support in 2014, is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

Among United Nations member states, only Russia recognises the entire Ukrainian province of Donetsk, much of which remains under Ukrainian control, as the independent DPR.


11:30 AM

The latest pictures from Ukraine

A resident sits on a sofa inside a house damaged after a missile strike in Druzhkivka, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, June 5, 2022.  - AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
A resident sits on a sofa inside a house damaged after a missile strike in Druzhkivka, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, June 5, 2022. - AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
A Ukrainian serviceman keeps his position not far from the Ukrainian town of Chuguiv, in Kharkiv region on June 9, 2022. - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian serviceman keeps his position not far from the Ukrainian town of Chuguiv, in Kharkiv region on June 9, 2022. - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian serviceman checks a just received Next Generation Light Anti-Armour Weapon (NLAW) on the position not far from the Ukrainian town of Chuguiv, in Kharkiv region - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian serviceman checks a just received Next Generation Light Anti-Armour Weapon (NLAW) on the position not far from the Ukrainian town of Chuguiv, in Kharkiv region - SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

11:22 AM

Nato deputy chief Geoana 'confident' Sweden and Finland will join

Nato's deputy chief is confident that member candidates Sweden and Finland will join the defensive alliance despite objections from Turkey, he told the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday.

"We are confident that Sweden and Finland will join our ranks," Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said.


11:12 AM

Russia using trial of foreigners to 'put pressure on the world', Ukrainian official says

Russia wants to use three foreigners who were captured while fighting for Ukraine and sentenced to death as "hostages" to put pressure on the West over peace negotiations, a senior Ukrainian official has said.

Two Britons and a Moroccan received the death sentence on Thursday from a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), one of Russia's proxies in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.

Kyiv said Thursday's court ruling had no authority, that the fighters were members of the Ukrainian armed forces and that they were subject to Geneva Convention protections.

Vadym Denysenko, an Interior Ministry adviser, said on Friday Ukraine would coordinate its position on the sentences with Britain, the United States and the European Union.

"The trial of the foreigners raises the stakes in the Russian Federation's negotiation process. They are using them as hostages to put pressure on the world over the negotiation process," he told national television.


11:03 AM

​I’m reclaiming land for Russia like Peter the Great, says Vladimir Putin

The Russian president has compared himself to Peter the Great “reclaiming” territory for Russia.

At a meeting with young entrepreneurs and scientists, he sought to draw a flattering comparison between himself and the 17th-century monarch, who founded St Petersburg – Putin’s birthplace.

“Peter the Great waged the Northern War for 21 years. You might think ‘he was fighting with Sweden, seizing their lands…’ He wasn’t capturing them. He was reclaiming them,” Putin told the scientists.


10:26 AM

McDonald's to reopen under new branding in Russia

On Sunday, former McDonald's Corp restaurants will reopen under new branding and ownership in Russia more than three decades after the arrival of the hugely popular Western fast food chain.

The relaunch will begin on Russia Day, a patriotic holiday celebrating the country's independence, at the same flagship location in Moscow's Pushkin Square where McDonald's first opened in Russia in January 1990.

McDonald's last month said it was selling its restaurants in Russia to one of its local licensees. The deal marked one of the most high-profile business departures since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

McDonald's iconic 'Golden Arches' being removed in Russia - REUTERS / ANTON VAGANOV
McDonald's iconic 'Golden Arches' being removed in Russia - REUTERS / ANTON VAGANOV

McDonald's iconic 'Golden Arches' have been taken down at sites in Moscow and St Petersburg, where they will make way for a new logo comprising two fries and a hamburger patty against a green background.

The reopening will initially cover 15 locations in Moscow and the surrounding region.


09:30 AM

Pictured: Soldiers on the front line in Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier getting into position in the Donetsk region - REUTERS / GLEB GARANICH
A Ukrainian soldier getting into position in the Donetsk region - REUTERS / GLEB GARANICH
A Ukrainian soldier shoots a machine gun in Donetsk - REUTERS / GLEB GARANICH
A Ukrainian soldier shoots a machine gun in Donetsk - REUTERS / GLEB GARANICH

08:58 AM

We are 'holding on' in Severodonetsk, says Volodymyr Zelensky

The Ukrainian president said his forces were "holding on" in the flashpoint eastern city of Severodonetsk where intense street battles with Russian troops could determine the fate of the Donbas region.

Zelensky said in his evening address on Thursday that several "cities in Donbas, which the occupiers now consider key targets, are holding on".

He added that Ukrainian forces have made positive strides in the Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv regions outside Donbas, and are in the process of "liberating our land".

Smoke rising from Severodonetsk - AFP / ARIS MESSINIS
Smoke rising from Severodonetsk - AFP / ARIS MESSINIS

08:31 AM

Street fighting in the east and death sentences given to British fighters

Ukrainian forces are holding their positions in intense street fighting as shelling continues to bombard the eastern city of Severodonetsk.

And Russia is set to use the death sentence handed down to two British fighters to ramp up its push for a prisoner exchange with a close personal friend of Vladimir Putin.

Read our full update on the latest situation in Ukraine here.


07:44 AM

'All diplomatic channels' to be used to help Britons sentenced to death

The Government will use "all diplomatic channels" to raise the case of the two Britons sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces, minister Robin Walker has said.

He said: "We have been absolutely clear throughout that these people should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention, there is no basis on which they can be put on trial.

"This is an illegal court in a sham government that has held this trial and obviously we don't recognise it has any authority, but we will continue to use all diplomatic channels to make the case that these are prisoners of war who should be treated accordingly."


06:52 AM

MoD: Mariupol at risk of a major cholera outbreak

Ukraine's southern city of Mariupol is at risk of a major cholera outbreak as medical services are likely already near collapse, Britain's defence ministry said on Friday.

There is likely also a critical shortage of medicines in Kherson, the Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter update:

Russia is struggling to provide basic public services to the population in Russian-occupied territories, MoD said.

Last month, WHO's Ukraine Incident Manager, Dorit Nitzan, said Mariupol, which is now controlled by Russian forces after weeks of siege and heavy bombardment, was among occupied areas where there was a risk of cholera.


06:29 AM

British prisoner's friend believes he will be released

Brennan Phillips said of Russia's decision to sentence two British fighters to death: "Whatever effect they thought they would have in this provocation, I don't think that and I don't think it's going to be well-received. And they did this as a provocation."

Mr Phillips, from Tennessee, added that "many people expected" Russia to choose "the most provocative stance that they could take" – namely the death sentence.

"I do not believe that Sean or Aiden will be subject to the death sentence or anything like that," he said.

"I do believe that their captivity under the Russians will be extended for a little bit, but I do believe wholeheartedly and I'm very confident that they will be released safely back to their families."


06:16 AM

Death sentence will 'invigorate' other fighters

The friend of a British soldier captured by Russian forces while fighting for Ukraine has said his death sentence will "invigorate" those still resisting Russia's advances.

Aiden Aslin, 28, was convicted of taking action towards violent seizure of power at a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

Another Brit, 48-year-old Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, also were convicted.

Russian state media reported the three are set to face a firing squad.

Brennan Phillips, an American former soldier who met Mr Aslin in Syria and worked alongside him in Ukraine, said the judgement is a "provocation".

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Phillips said: "I think it will invigorate people more than anything.


06:01 AM

Zelensky says Moscow is 'causing hunger'

Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Russia to be expelled from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), blaming Moscow for "causing hunger" and spurring the global grain crisis by invading his country.

FAO warned that poor countries would suffer the most from the crisis in Ukraine because they were "paying more but receiving less food".

Africa has been hard hit by the shortage, and the African Union has urged Kyiv to demine waters around the Ukraine-controlled Odesa port to ease exports, warning of "serious famine" and destabilisation on the continent.

Moscow has also called for Ukraine to demine, but Kyiv has refused for fear of a Russian attack.


05:39 AM

Russians accused of destroying sports arena

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were "holding on" in the flashpoint eastern city of Severodonetsk, where intense street battles with Russian troops could determine the fate of the Donbas region.

Moscow has concentrated its firepower on the industrial city, which it now mostly controls, with the area's governor saying on Friday that Russian forces had destroyed a major sports arena.


05:00 AM

Putin tells companies they will regret leaving Russia

Vladimir Putin at a meeting with young entrepreneurs and start-up developers in Moscow - Mikhail Metzel
Vladimir Putin at a meeting with young entrepreneurs and start-up developers in Moscow - Mikhail Metzel

Vladimir Putin claims foreign companies that have left Russia will regret their decision.

"In today's conditions, when someone jumped off somewhere, left, chose to stop some activity here, they will regret it," the Russian president declared at a meeting with young entrepreneurs in Moscow.

"They will regret it, not because we threaten anyone. They will regret it because Russia is a country with great potential, really."

Putin also appeared to claim that the exodus of foreign firms from Russia was evidence of American domination over other Western states and economies.

"Many regret that they have to leave. This is all a manifestation of the internal state of these countries that cannot make sovereign decisions," he said.

He reiterated that Russia is "a sovereign country that should be looking to the future".


04:07 AM

Moscow not fussed by Zelensky's sanctions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a decree imposing personal sanctions on Russian leaders, including President Vladimir Putin and all sitting ministers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky takes a selfie outside his office in Kyiv - STR/UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky takes a selfie outside his office in Kyiv - STR/UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP

The sanctions – approved by Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council – target all members of Russia's government and security council, as well as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

They ban entry to Ukraine, revoke visas and permits, and block financial assets.

The decree came into force on Thursday, according to a copy published on the website of the Ukrainian presidency. Mr Zelensky also signed a directive sanctioning 236 Russian universities and their leaders.

Russia's education minister said in response that Moscow would not be deterred.

"Today's decision by the Kyiv regime speaks to its inadequacy and inability to control the situation. It's a gesture of desperation, which cannot prevent the integration of Donbas and the liberated territories into a single educational space with Russia," Sergey Kravtsov told the Interfax agency.


03:14 AM

Ukrainian army still a thorn in Russia's side

The Ukrainian army has said Kyiv's forces continue to frustrate Russian attempts to take the fiercely contested eastern city of Severodonetsk.

"The occupiers, with the help of motorised rifle units and artillery, conducted assault operations in the city of Severodonetsk. They were not successful; the fighting continues," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a regular operational update on Thursday evening.

It said Ukrainian forces had successfully repelled a Russian attack on the village of Toshkivka, on the northwestern outskirts of Severodonetsk.

The Ukrainian governor of the eastern Luhansk region, where Severodonetsk is located, said "fierce battles" continue to engulf the city.

In a Telegram post, Serhiy Haidai said Russian forces continued to shell the neighbouring city of Lysychansk using large-calibre weapons which "pierce even concrete".

"It is extremely dangerous for civilians to remain, even in shelters," Mr Haidai said.


02:46 AM

In pictures – trail of destruction continues

An injured man makes his way past a burning college after a strike in Lysychansk, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP
An injured man makes his way past a burning college after a strike in Lysychansk, in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP
A man carries a child as they make their way along the street in Borodyanka on the outskirts of Kyiv - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A man carries a child as they make their way along the street in Borodyanka on the outskirts of Kyiv - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A local resident reacts to what remains of a destroyed school after a strike in the city of Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP
A local resident reacts to what remains of a destroyed school after a strike in the city of Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine - ARIS MESSINIS/AFP

02:26 AM

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