Ukrainian officials have denounced a call by Russia’s embassy in Britain for fighters from the Azov regiment to face a “humiliating” execution, Agence France-Presse has reported. Twitter said the embassy had violated its rules on “hateful conduct” but put a warning on the tweet rather than ban the post about the Azov, a Ukrainian battalion that retains some far-right affiliations. Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the Ukrainian presidency, responded on Telegram on Saturday: “Russia is a terrorist state. In the 21st century, only savages and terrorists can talk at the diplomatic level about the fact that people deserve to be executed by hanging. Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism. What more evidence is needed?”
Renewed Russian strikes on Ukraine’s frontline have left one person dead in the south of the country and also hit a school in Kharkiv, officials said. The mayor of the southern city of Mykolaiv said one person was killed when rockets pounded two residential districts overnight, AFP reported. In Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, rockets from an S-300 surface-to-air system destroyed part of an educational facility, local authorities said.
Russia announced it was banning 32 New Zealand officials and journalists from entering its territory, in response to similar measures taken by Wellington against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, AFP reported. Among those subjected to sanctions are the mayor of Wellington, Andrew Foster; the mayor of Auckland, Philip Goff; the commander of New Zealand’s navy, Commodore Garin Golding; and the journalists Kate Green and Josie Pagani, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Ukrainian military said it had killed scores of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps in fighting in the Kherson region, the focus of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in the south and a key link in Moscow’s supply lines. Reuters reported the military’s southern command as saying rail traffic to Kherson over the Dnipro River had been cut, potentially further isolating Russian forces west of the river from supplies in occupied Crimea and the east.
Gazprom has suspended gas supplies to Latvia following tensions between Moscow and the west over the conflict in Ukraine and sweeping sanctions against Russia, AFP reports. The company drastically cut gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday to about 20% of its capacity. European Union states have accused Russia of squeezing supplies in retaliation for western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The United States ambassador to the United Nations said on Friday there should no longer be any doubt that Russia intended to dismantle Ukraine, Reuters reported. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN security council that the US was seeing growing signs of Russia laying the groundwork to attempt to annex all of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Russia is “running out of steam” in its war on Ukraine, the chief of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, Richard Moore, said in a brief comment on Twitter on Saturday. Moore made the remark above an earlier tweet by the Ministry of Defense that said the Kremlin was “growing desperate”.
Russia and Ukraine have both launched criminal investigations into strikes that have reportedly killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were held at a pre-trial detention center in the village of Olenivka, after both countries blamed the other side for the attack. The UN is prepared to send a group of experts to Olenivka to investigate the incident, if it gets consent from both parties.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has accused Russia of a “petrifying war crime” over the killings and called on world leaders to “recognize Russia as a terrorist state”.
Ukraine has said it is ready for grain exports to leave its ports again but is waiting for the go-ahead from the UN.