The Russian-controlled administration in the Ukrainian city of Kherson has said it plans to request annexation by Moscow, a move that would confirm the Kremlin’s permanent occupation of Ukrainian territory captured since February. Kyiv said Moscow plans to hold a fake referendum on independence or annexation. The Kremlin responded that it was up to residents living in region to decide whether they wanted to join Russia, but any decision must have a legal basis.
Russian and Ukrainian forces appear to be settling into a gruelling and deadly stalemate in Ukraine’s east. Despite claims from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, that Ukrainian counteroffensives around Kharkiv and elsewhere were pushing invading Russian forces back, Ukrainian successes appeared to be confined for now to the far north-eastern and south-western flanks of the 300-mile frontline.
Ukraine claimed it has recaptured Pytomnyk, a village north of Kharkiv, about halfway to the Russian border. “The occupying forces moved to the defense in order to slow down the pace of the offensive of our troops,” Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces said in its latest report. “The settlement of Pytomnyk … was liberated.”
Boris Johnson has promised to support Sweden and Finland against potential Russian threats in any way necessary. The UK prime minister traveled to both countries to sign mutual security agreements, with their governments mulling Nato membership in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, said joining would be to “maximize security” and not be in any way offensive.
Ukraine has said it will suspend the flow of gas through a transit point that it says delivers almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe through Ukraine. GTSOU, which operates Ukraine’s gas system, said it would stop shipments via the Sokhranivka route from Wednesday, declaring “force majeure”, a clause invoked when a business is hit by something beyond its control. Gas flows from Russia’s Gazprom to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter on Wednesday.
Zelenskiy warned Kyiv was running out of patience to hold talks with Russia, given the mounting evidence of atrocities committed by Russian forces in his country. He said the possibility to negotiate “disappears” with “each new Bucha, each new Mariupol”.
The war will end when Ukraine reclaims everything that Russia took from it, Zelenskiy maintained. “The war will end for the Ukrainian people only when we get back what’s ours,” he said in an online address with students of leading universities in France, representatives of academia and the media.
Three Russian prisoners of war accused of targeting or murdering civilians, and a soldier who allegedly killed a man before raping his wife, are set to be in the dock in the first war crimes trials of the Ukraine conflict, the Ukrainian prosecutor general has revealed. More than 10,700 crimes have been registered since the war began by the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, led by Iryna Venediktova, and a handful of cases have now been filed or are ready to be submitted.
Ukraine has proposed to Russia that badly injured defenders in the Azovstal steel plant in the southern port of Mariupol be swapped for Russian prisoners of war, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday. “There is no agreement yet. Negotiations are continuing,” she said in a post on Telegram.
Russia has demanded a formal apology from Poland and threatened possible future reprisals after its ambassador was doused with red paint at the Soviet military cemetery in Warsaw on Monday. The statement by Russia’s foreign ministry came after it summoned the Polish ambassador, Krzysztof Krajewski, to receive its protest.
A Chinese former ambassador to Ukraine, Gao Yusheng, has strongly criticized Russia’s invasion. In a speech which was reported on by the Chinese press before quickly being taken down, Gao said Putin’s frequent “violations” of former Soviet states’ territory were “the greatest threat to peace, security and stability in Eurasia”.
The wives of two of the last remaining Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol’s steelworks asked Pope Francis to help get soldiers to a third country. One told him: “You are our last hope, I hope you can save their lives. Please don’t let them die.”