Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy with Czech counterpart Pyotr Pavel in Prague, July 6, 2023
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1836 GMT:
US President Joe Biden and his senior officials have made a “unanimous decision” to send cluster munitions to Ukraine.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the Zelenskiy Government has provided assurances over the use of the munitions, and noted that Russia has dropped them extensively since the beginning of its invasion.
Undersecretary of Defense Colin Kahl added:
Ukraine has been requesting cluster munitions to defend itself against Russian agression.
The bottom line is this, we recognise that cluster munitions are a risk, but there is also a risk if the Russians take more territory.
Also included in the $800m package of military aid are Bradley and Stryker armored vehicles and ammunition for howitzers and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.
UPDATE 1742 GMT:
About 56% of foreign companies still operate in Russia, according to a report by the Kyiv School of Economics and NGO coaltion B4Ukraine.
The four top foreign companies in Russia, based on revenue in 2022, are US tobacco company Philip Morris; Japan Tobacco International, French retail company Leroy Merlin; and American beverage company Pepsi. Others in the top 10 are British American Tobacco; Veon; Auchan; Metro AG; Danone; and Hyundai.
UPDATE 1737 GMT:
The Norway-based Human Rights House Foundation is the latest human rights organization banned by Russian officials.
HRHF is a coalition of 80 independent human rights organizations pursuing freedom of assembly and expression in the western Balkans, the Caucasus, and eastern Europe, including Ukraine. Much of its funding comes from European Union-based private donors and governments.
Its projects include defending political prisoners in Belarus and managing an educational and events center in northern Ukraine.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s office labelled the activity “undesirable”, claiming that HRHF was trying to destabilize the domestic political situation in Russia, discredit Moscow’s foreign policy, and “shape public opinion about the need to change power in an unconstitutional way”.
UPDATE 1729 GMT:
UN Secretary General António Guterres has expressed his opposition to the use of cluster munitions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the US considering supplying them to Kyiv.
A spokesperson said, “The Secretary General supports the Convention on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions, which, as you know, was adopted 15 years ago, and he wants countries to comply with the provisions of this convention. So, naturally, he does not want cluster munitions to be used on the battlefield.”
Earlier (see 0947 GMT) German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for observance of the 2008 Convetion banning the use of the muntions. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg took a neutral position while emphasizing, “Russia used cluster munitions to invade another country. Ukraine is using cluster munitions to defend itself.”
UPDATE 1433 GMT:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has blocked any possibility of Sweden’s accession to NATO at the bloc’s summit in Lithuania next week.
Speaking at a military graduation ceremony in Istanbul, Erdoğan indicated that he would continue to seek leverage over Turkey’s Kurdish issue by pressing Sweden to crack down on Kurdish activists:
How can Turkey trust a country where terrorists are running wild? How can a nation that fails to distance itself from terrorism contribute to NATO? How can a nation that cannot fight terrorism fight the enemies of the alliance?
On Thursday, foreign ministers from Turkey, Sweden, and Finland and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met in Brussels in an attempt to resolve the issue.
Yesterday a Swedish court convicted a member of Turkey’s Kurdish PKK insurgency of terrorist financing, the first such case under new anti-terror laws. Also convicted of attempted extortion and threats, the defendant will serve 4 1/2 years in prison and will then be deported.
UPDATE 1420 GMT:
International Atomic Energy head Rafael Grossi has issued an update on the situation at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine.
Following our requests, our experts have gained some additional access at the site. So far, they have not seen any mines or explosives. But they still need more access, including to the rooftops of reactor units 3 and 4 and parts of the turbine halls. I remain hopeful that this access will be granted soon.
UPDATE 1319 GMT:
Russia has closed Finland’s consulate in St. Petersburg and expelled nine Finnish diplomats.
Thursday’s step was retaliation for Finland’s notification of nine Russian personnel last month to leave the country, citing their intelligence activities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also summoned the Finland Ambassador to Russia, Antti Helanterä, on Thursday, to express its “strong protest in connection with the confrontational anti-Russian policy pursued by the Finnish authorities”.
The Ministry declared that “the parameters of Finland’s accession to NATO create a threat” to Russia’s security, “encouraging the Kyiv regime to war and pumping it with Western weapons means clearly hostile actions against our country”.
UPDATE 1313 GMT:
The Russian Finance Ministry says oil and gas revenues have fallen by 47% over the past year.
The Ministry cited current sales of 3,382 billion rubles ($36.86 bn). It blamed a decrease in the prices for Ural oil and natural gas and a fall in natural gas exports.
UPDATE 1308 GMT:
The UN says it has confirmed the deaths of more than 9,000 Ukrainian civilians, including more than 500 children, during Russia’s invasion.
Investigators note the actual figure is likely to be far higher.
“Today we mark another sad milestone in a war that continues to cause terrible civilian casualties in Ukraine,” said Noel Calhoun, deputy chairperson of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
UPDATE 1257 GMT:
The Biden Administration says it did not support secret meetings in April between former top US national security officials and Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and other Russians close to the Kremlin (see Thursday’s entry).
The Americans included Richard Haass, a former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and the outgoing president of the Council on Foreign Relations; Charles Kupchan, a specialist on Europe; Russia expert Thomas Graham; and Mary Beth Long, a former US Assistant Defense Secretary with expertise on NATO.
The group reportedly wanted to keep channels of communication open with Russia and to establish where there might be room for future negotiation.
“The Biden administration did not sanction those discussions,” said a State Department spokesperson on Thursday. “And as we’ve said repeatedly, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
He added that the Administration will continue provision of weapons to Kyiv so Ukrainian officials “can negotiate from a position of strength when they think the time is right”.
White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, echoed, “I want to make it clear that these discussions were not encouraged or engendered by us and we were not supporting them in any active way. As the President has said, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
UPDATE 1113 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is in Slovakia for talks with President Zuzana Caputova.
Caputova said that Ukraine’s NATO membership is “when” not “if”, and that Slovakia also sees Kyiv as a prospective member of the European Union.
Zelenskiy later posted, “We have reached a level of cooperation that strengthens both our countries – in security and international affairs. Slovakia truly helps bring peace closer.”
UPDATE 0947 GMT:
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says Berlin opposes the supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine.
US officials said on Thursday that the Biden Administration will soon make a decision on the provision of the munitions, banned under a 2008 treaty signed by more than 130 countries — but not the US, Russia, or Ukraine.
Baerbock told reporters at a climate conference in Vienna: “For us, as a state party, the Oslo agreement [banning the munitions] applies.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters:
NATO does not have a position on [the munitions]….This will be for governments to decide, not for Nato to decide….
We are facing a brutal war, and we have to remember this brutality is reflected that every day we see casualties….Russia used cluster munitions to invade another country. Ukraine is using cluster munitions to defend itself.
UPDATE 0906 GMT:
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has written of his discussion with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday morning:
I confirmed to President Zelensky today that the Czech Republic will donate more attack helicopters to Ukraine and hundreds of thousands more pieces of large-calibre ammunition in the coming months.
We will also help Ukraine with pilot training, including training for F16 aircraft, and we will deliver flight simulators to Ukraine so that training can take place not only in the west but also in Ukraine.
UPDATE 0814 GMT:
The European Union’s Council and Parliament have agreed the urgent allocation of €500 million to increase the production of ground and artillery ammunition and missiles.
The munitions will be sent to Ukraine and EU member states. Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said:
With today’s record-breaking ASAP [Act in Support of Ammunition Production] agreement, the EU will strengthen and accelerate Europe’s own ammunition and missile production. This is further proof of the EU’s unwavering commitment to supporting Ukraine, strengthening the EU’s defense technological and industrial base, and ultimately ensuring the long-term security and protection of EU citizens.
The EU’s new rules will make it easier to provide funds to companies producing ammunition and missiles.
In April, the European Council approved the allocation of €1 billion for ammunition under the European Peace Fund, ensuring the supply to Ukraine of 1 million artillery shells over the next 12 months.
UPDATE 0734 GMT:
The Ukraine military said its counter-offensive on eastern Ukraine advanced by more than a kilometer in the past 24 hours.
Spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi said troops made further gains near the city of Bakhmut, which was seized by Russian forces and mercenaries in May after a year-long assault.
Cherevatyi said, “The [Ukraine] defense forces continue to hold the initiative there, putting pressure on the enemy, conducting assault operations, advancing along the northern and southern flanks.”
A spokesperson for the Ukraine General Staff said forces have had “partial success” near the village of Klishchiivka, southwest of Bakhmut.
UPDATE 0730 GMT:
Two civilians have been killed in the Dnipropetrovsk region in south-central Ukraine by debris from a downed Iran-made attack drone.
The Ukraine Air Force said air defenses intercepted 12 of 18 drones launched by Russia overnight.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) July 7, 2023
UPDATE 0715 GMT:
The toll has risen to 10 killed and 42 injured, including three children, from Russia’s missile strikes on Lviv in western Ukraine on Thursday morning.
A Russian Kalibr cruise missile destroyed the top two floors of a 4-story apartment block.
The body of one victim was found last night and one this morning. Sixteen people are still in hospital.
Rescue and search operations have now ended.
The death toll in Lviv has risen to ten. Search and rescue operations have been completed, lasting more than a day, the Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi reported.
In general, due to the Russian rocket attack on Lviv on 6 July, 42 people were injured, including 3 children. 16 of them… pic.twitter.com/jyTdmFNUtj
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 7, 2023
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Seeking further political and military support ahead of next week’s NATO summit, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is visiting three countries in two days.
Zelenskiy met the leaders of Bulgaria and the Czech Republic on Thursday, and he will see Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Friday.
A series of NATO members, as well as Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, have said they welcome Kyiv’s candidacy for accession. However, this should wait until after the success of the current Ukrainian counter-offensive to liberate territory seized by Russia since 2014.
Meeting Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel, Zelenskiy spoke of a discussion of “the military aid which Bulgaria gives to our country” with “the continuation of the cooperation which has already saved many lives”. He also referred to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, the NATO summit, security guarantees, and the implementation of the peace formula” which he is promoting for the end of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Zelenskiy confirmed at a joint press conference that the two countries agreed on more active cooperation in the defense sector, and that he has invited Bulgaria to take part in Ukraine’s reconstruction.
Later in the Czech Republic, he said that Ukraine needs more than a general statement from NATO that the door is “open” to accession:
We are talking about a clear signal, some concrete things in the direction of an invitation. We need this motivation. We need honesty in our relations.
Czech President Petr Pavel, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018, offered full support for Ukraine’s membership.
A Sit-Down in Ankara
The agenda for Zelenskiy’s talks on Friday with Turkey’s Erdoğan has not yet been announced.
However, the Turkish President has been a barrier to Sweden’s NATO accession since last year. Using the issue as political leverage over Turkey’s Kurdish question, he has demanded that Stockholm crack down on activists whom he claims are part of Turkey’s Kurdish insurgency PKK.
Erdoğan relented over Sweden’s neighbor Finland, which became NATO’s 31st member in April, and NATO officials hoped he would lift his blockade on Sweden after his re-election in May.
The President has maintained his rhetoric against Stockholm. However, NATO’s Secretary-General Stoltenberg and other Western officials said this week that they have seen some movement in negotiations, and that Sweden may still be able to join the alliance in Vilnius.
Even if Erdoğan changes his position, the obstruction of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a long-time ally of Vladimir Putin, is likely to postpone any Swedish accession.
Turkey also has a central role in the July 2022 deal, which it brokered with the UN, lifting Russia’s blockade on three of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Moscow is again threatening to collapse the agreement, which is due for renewal on July 18. The re-imposition of the blockade would halt Ukraine’s export of grain, foodstuffs, and other goods, adding once more to global food insecurity.
Kyiv’s Initiative in Asia
Ukraine has also made a significant move in Asia, submitting a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Japanese and New Zealand officials announced the formal accession request on Friday. A spokesperson for the New Zealand Foreign Ministry said Kyiv filed its candidacy on May 5.
CPTPP members will meet in Auckland in New Zealand on July 16.
Japan’s Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto said “must carefully assess whether Ukraine fully meets the high level of the agreement” over market access and rules.