Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics against Russia, saying such remarks were “frankly irresponsible”. The president’s comments come after news organisations cited unidentified officials saying Ukrainian forces were responsible for blasts that destroyed a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, despite Kyiv declining to say whether it was behind the explosions.
The devastation at the Russian air base in Crimea suggests Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war. The base is well beyond the range of advanced rockets that western countries acknowledge sending to Ukraine so far, with some western military experts saying the scale of the damage and the apparent precision of the strike suggested a powerful new capability with potentially important implications.
The UN has urged a demilitarised zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over more shelling of the plant on Thursday. Ukraine’s nuclear energy company said it had been shelled five times by Russian forces on Thursday, resulting in staff being unable to change shifts. However, Russian news agency Tass reported that the local Russian-imposed authorities in occupied Zaporizhzhia said the plant had been fired upon by Ukrainian forces. Ukraine’s Energoatom agency said the plant was operating normally.
The United States supports calls for a demilitarised zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant after fighting involving Russian and Ukrainian forces in the vicinity of the plant, a State Department spokesperson said on Thursday. “Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous and irresponsible and we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine, and support Ukrainian calls for a demilitarised zone around the nuclear power plant,” the spokesperson said.
The British defence secretary has said Vladimir Putin is now unlikely to succeed in occupying Ukraine. Ben Wallace said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “faltered” and was “starting to fail”, as he pledged more financial and military support to the eastern European nation’s defence.
Russia has doubled the number of air strikes on Ukraine’s military positions and civilian infrastructure compared with the previous week, Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov said on Thursday. “The enemy’s planes and helicopters avoid flying into the range of our air defences, and therefore the accuracy of these strikes is low,” he told a news conference.
Ukraine aims to evacuate two thirds of residents from areas it controls in the eastern battleground region of Donetsk before winter, partly out of concern people won’t be able to stay warm amid war-damaged infrastructure, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday. The government plans to evacuate some 220,000 people out of around 350,000, including 52,000 children, Iryna Vereshchuk told a news conference.
Ukraine expects a ship to arrive on Friday to load grain for delivery to Ethiopia under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, Reuters reports.
Ukraine expects $3bn of US financial aid to arrive in August and a further $1.5bn in September, its finance minister, Serhiy Marchenko, said on Thursday. Marchenko said the payments were part of the $7.5bn financial aid package agreed by Ukraine and the US at the start of the summer and would be used to finance “critical spending” such as healthcare and pension costs.
Belarus has said that blasts heard overnight at one of its military bases 19 miles from Ukraine were caused by a “technical incident”. At least eight explosions were heard after midnight near Zyabrovka military airport, according to reports on Telegram messenger. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.
McDonald’s will start reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months, in a show of support after the American fast-food chain pulled out of Russia. The burger giant closed its Ukrainian restaurants after Russia’s invasion nearly six months ago but has continued to pay more than 10,000 McDonald’s employees in the country.