As the war enters it 490th day, these are the main developments.
This is the situation as it stands on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.
- Two Russian missiles struck the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, killing at least four people and injuring 42 who were eating in a pizza restaurant, police said.
- At least two people were killed in Russian attacks elsewhere in the Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions, according to Ukrainian officials.
- The United Kingdom’s defence ministry said Ukrainian airborne forces made small advances in the east from the village of Krasnohorivka, near Donetsk city. If confirmed, it would be one of the first occasions in which Ukrainian forces had recaptured an area of territory occupied by Russia since 2014, the report said.
- The Ukrainian government reprimanded Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko over the operation of air raid shelters in the capital and dismissed the heads of two districts under the Kyiv military administration as well as two acting heads of districts. The moves follow a central government audit of bomb shelters after the deaths of three people locked out on the street during a Russian air raid.
- Russia began tactical fighter jet exercises over the Baltic Sea, the country’s defence ministry said, a day after Moscow said its jets had scrambled to intercept UK military planes over the Black Sea.
- A United Nations mission in Ukraine expressed grave concern about the summary executions of more than 70 Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces. The UN agency also documented 864 cases of arbitrary detention by Russian troops, many of which amounted to enforced disappearances, it said.
- China’s envoy to the European Union suggested Beijing could back Ukraine’s effort to reclaim its 1991 territorial integrity, which includes Crimea – the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014. When asked by Al Jazeera and two other media outlets about supporting Kyiv’s goals, which include reclaiming other Ukrainian regions now occupied by Russia, Fu Cong said: “I don’t see why not.”
- Pope Francis’s peace envoy to Ukraine began a visit to Russia – the first by a senior Vatican official since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi will spend two days in Moscow to “promote a solution to the current tragic situation and find ways to achieve a just peace”.
- German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock urged South Africa to help end the war in Ukraine. “Russia’s war of aggression has not only brought terrible suffering to the people of Ukraine, it has also slashed a wound that reaches far beyond Europe, worsening the food and energy crises in many parts of the world and many parts of Africa,” she said.
- The UK’s foreign minister, James Cleverly, said the UK would continue to push for Sweden’s speedy accession to NATO. Its membership bid has been held up by Turkey and Hungary.
- The US announced a new $500m military aid package for Ukraine to bolster the ongoing counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the package would include “additional Bradley and Stryker armoured vehicles, ammunition for HIMARS, Patriots and Stingers”.
Wagner mutiny fallout
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered a deal to end the Wagner Group of mercenaries’ weekend revolt, said Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had arrived in Belarus. In a speech in the capital Minsk, Lukashenko said the mutiny had been “painful” for him to watch.
- Russia announced it had dropped a criminal case against Wagner and said the group would transfer its heavy weapons to the regular armed forces.
- Putin said Wagner was entirely financed by the Russian state, which spent 86 billion roubles ($1bn) on the group from May 2022 to May this year.
- The United States announced new sanctions on the Wagner Group, targeting companies based in the Central African Republic, United Arab Emirates and Russia that it said were “engaged in illicit gold dealings to fund” the mercenary organisation.
- Belarus’s neighbours, including Lithuania and Poland, expressed concern about the risks for the region of Wagner’s presence in Belarus. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was too early to determine the effects of the move but that the alliance was ready to defend itself against any threat.
- Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny said there was “no greater threat” to Russia than Putin’s government. “It wasn’t the West or the opposition that shot down Russian helicopters over Russia,” he posted on Twitter, referring to the aircraft hit during the Wagner revolt.