Putin confirms ‘intensified’ Ukrainian counter-offensive

Medics help an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a frontline medical stabilization point in Zaporizhzhia

Medics help an injured Ukrainian serviceman in a field hospital on the Zaporizhzhia front – Kateryna Klochko/AP

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has intensified, Vladimir Putin said, amid reports Kyiv’s forces have broken through Russian defences in the southeast of the country.

Speaking to Russian media on the sidelines of a summit with African leaders in St Petersburg, Putin said “hostilities have intensified significantly”, primarily on the frontline running through the Zaporizhzhia region.

However, the Russian President said that Kyiv’s troops had not enjoyed success on any part of the front.

“All attempts at counter-offensive have been rebuffed, and the enemy sustained great losses and was repelled,” Putin said, claiming Russian forces had destroyed 26 tanks and 13 armoured vehicles on the battlefield.

His remarks came after Ukraine broke through Russian defences in the southeast of the country in a major-assault by Western-trained troops.

A Soviet-era T-72 tank and two US Bradley fighting vehicles operated by Kyiv’s 47th Mechanised Brigade were spotted beyond a Russian line of defence near Robotyne, a village in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to geolocated footage.

Ukrainian officials have been mostly silent about battlefield developments since they began early counteroffensive operations in June, though Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said troops are advancing toward the city of Melitopol in Zaporizhizhia region.

03:34 PM BST

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03:20 PM BST

UN chief warns ‘handful of donations’ can’t replace Black Sea deal

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday that a “handful of donations to some countries” won’t correct the dramatic impact of the end of a deal that had allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain for the past year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised free Russian grain “to replace Ukrainian grain.”

02:49 PM BST

North Korea’s Kim shows off banned missiles to Russian minister

Russia’s defence minister accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to a defence exhibition that featured the North’s banned ballistic missiles as the neighbours pledged to boost ties, North Korean state media reported on Thursday.

The Russian minister, Sergei Shoigu, and a Chinese delegation led by a Communist Party Politburo member arrived in North Korea this week for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, celebrated in North Korea as “Victory Day”.

The nuclear-capable missiles were banned under UN Security Council resolutions adopted with Russian and Chinese support. But this week they provided a striking backdrop for a show of solidarity by three countries united by their rivalry with the US and a revival of what some analysts see as their Cold War-era coalition.

Mr Shoigu’s visit was the first by a Russian defence minister to North Korea since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

02:01 PM BST

Pictured: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi pose for a picture

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi pose for a picture – UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/via REUTERS

01:59 PM BST

Zimbabwe says it is ‘food-secure’ after Putin offers free grain

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that his country was food-secure but was grateful for an offer of free grain from Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg.

“We are grateful,” Mr Mnangagwa told reporters. “We are not in any grain deficit at all. We are food-secure, he is just adding to what we are already have.”

Earlier this day, Putin told African leaders he would gift them tens of thousands of tons of grain within months despite Western sanctions, which he said made it harder for Moscow to export its grain and fertilisers.

Speaking at a summit in St Petersburg devoted to Russian-African ties, Putin said Russia was expecting a record grain harvest and was ready to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa on both a commercial and aid basis to honour what he said was Moscow’s critical role in global food security.

“We will be ready to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain each in the next 3-4 months,” Putin told the summit

01:32 PM BST

Russia arrests one of its own sailors over alleged plot to attack warship

Russia has arrested one of its own sailors over an alleged plot to carry out a “terrorist attack” against a warship in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the FSB security service said.

It said the alleged plot was directed against “a ship…armed with high-precision weapons”. The Black Sea Fleet is headquartered in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The suspect had been “recruited by a Ukrainian intelligence service” and was caught with two home-made bombs, the FSB said in a statement.

He was also suspected of passing state secrets to Ukraine.

01:30 PM BST

Ukraine ‘breaks through’ Russian defences with Western-trained troops

Ukraine has broken through Russian defences in the southeast of the country in a major-assault by Western-trained troops.

A Soviet-era T-72 tank and two US Bradley fighting vehicles operated by Kyiv’s 47th Mechanised Brigade were spotted beyond a Russian line of defence near Robotyne, a village in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to geolocated footage.

Russian military bloggers said Ukrainian forces had managed to breach through defensive lines in places south of Orikhiv, a town around 6 miles north of Roboytne.

Footage has previously shown damaged Ukrainian armour stranded in a dense Russian-laid minefield between the two settlements.

Vladimir Rogov, the Russian-appointed head of occupied Zaporizhzhia, said Kyiv’s forces had advanced with more than 100 armoured vehicles, including German-made Leopard tanks and American-made Bradley fighting vehicles.

In recent days, footage shared on social media appeared to show the 47th Brigade had been brought into the battle.

The brigade was one of nine equipped and trained by Nato countries ahead of Ukraine’s long-heralded counter-offensive.

It is a sign Kyiv has decided to commit thousands of well-trained troops, previously held back in anticipation for a breakthrough, to the assault.

12:29 PM BST

British defence minister insists Ukraine’s counter-offensive is not failing

Ukraine’s counter-offensive is progressing according to a plan worked out with Britain and the US over the winter, the UK’s armed forces minister has said.

James Heappey dismissed concerns that the operation is stalling after a leaked German military assessment questioned Ukraine’s progress and tactics.

Mr Heappey said Kyiv was being “appropriately cautious” in refusing to send large numbers of men and Western-supplied weapons into dense Russian minefields.

Read more here

12:10 PM BST

Watch: Ukraine counter-offensive advances near Bakhmut

12:04 PM BST

African Union chair calls for ‘peaceful co-existence’ between Ukraine and Russia

African Union chair Azali Assoumani appealed for “peaceful co-existence” between Russia and Ukraine in a speech at a Russia-Africa summit on Thursday, saying this would save the lives of those who depend on food supplies from the two countries.

Mr Assoumani, president of Comoros, was speaking at a summit plenary session where he shared the stage with President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Assoumani also said that the African Union “decisively” condemns a coup in Niger, and called for the release of President Mohamed Bazoum.

12:00 PM BST

Ukrainian parliament accepts resignation of culture minister

Ukraine’s parliament has voted to accept the resignation of Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, a lawmaker said.

Yaroslav Zheleznyak, a member of parliament, said on the Telegram messaging app that the chamber would not consider the appointment of a replacement for Tkachenko on Thursday and was unlikely to do so this week.

11:22 AM BST

Russia places third ICC official on its wanted list

Russia has placed a third official at the International Criminal Court on its wanted list after the ICC accused President Vladimir Putin of war crimes in Ukraine, the state news agency TASS reported.

Judge Tomoko Akane was listed as “wanted under an article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation” in the online database of Russia’s interior ministry, but with no mention of her alleged crime.

The ICC issued arrest warrants in March for Putin and his children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, accusing them of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine – a war crime.

Russia acknowledges having transferred thousands of children out of Ukraine, but says this has been done exclusively to protect orphans and children abandoned in the war zone.

Russia responded to the ICC warrant three days later by opening criminal cases against ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan and judges who ordered Putin’s arrest, including Akane and the Italian Rosario Salvatore Aitala.

11:02 AM BST

Putin: Russia can ‘replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa’

Russian President Vladimir Putin told a summit with African leaders in St Petersburg that Russia is able to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa, and that Moscow would be ready to start supplying grain for free to six African countries within three to four months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting during the second Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting during the second Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg – SERGEI BOBYLYOV/AFP

He named the countries as Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea and said they would get 25,000-50,000 tonnes each.

10:42 AM BST

Spectre of hyper inflation hangs over Putin as Russian economy crumbles

As prices surged in the West following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin was confident enough about the health of his own economy to gloat.

The Russian leader said last summer that those who blamed his actions for inflation didn’t “know how to read or write”. Twelve months on and Putin may not be in the mood to thumb his nose at the US and Europe.

While inflation is now falling almost everywhere in the West, it is rising in Russia.

Read more from Melissa Lawford here

10:23 AM BST

Watch: Ukraine advance on Zaporizhzhia frontline

09:59 AM BST

Breaking: Six reportedly killed in Siberian helicopter crash

Six people were killed and seven injured in a helicopter crash on Thursday in the Russian region of Altai, in Siberia, state news agency TASS quoted emergency services as saying.

More to follow

09:51 AM BST

One killed in Russian missile strike in Odesa

An overnight Russian missile strike on port infrastructure in southern Ukraine’s Odesa region on the Black Sea coast left at least one person dead, the regional governor has said.

Oleg Kiper said Russian forces “fired Kalibr missiles from a submarine in the Black Sea”.

“A civilian guard born in 1979 died as a result of the hit. Equipment of one of the cargo terminals was damaged, a small security building and two cars were destroyed,” Mr Kiper said.

Attacks on the Odesa region have increased since Russia earlier this month pulled out of a landmark deal which had allowed the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports.

09:38 AM BST

Pictured: Drones displayed before being sent to the frontline, to be used against Russian forces in Kyiv

1700 drones are displayed before being sent to the frontline, to be used against Russian forces in Kyiv

1700 drones are displayed before being sent to the frontline, to be used against Russian forces in Kyiv – Libkos/AP

09:13 AM BST

Kim Jong-un meets Russia’s defence minister as Putin woos Pyongyang

Russia’s defence minister has pledged to boost military ties with North Korea after meeting Kim Jong-un on a rare high-level visit to the reclusive nuclear-armed regime.

Sergei Shoigu, the general charged with overseeing the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, is joining a Chinese delegation in Pyongyang this week to mark 70 years since the signing of the armistice that brought a truce to 1950-53 Korean war – an occasion known as “Victory Day” in the North.

Walking past huge intercontinental ballistic missiles and previously unseen military drones, Kim gave Russia’s minister a tour of North Korea’s newest and most advanced weaponry onThursday, state media reported.

Nicola Smith, The Telegraph’s Asia Correspondent, has more

08:56 AM BST

Zelensky visits Dnipro

President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the city of Dnipro in southeastern Ukraine and discussed supplies to the war front and air defences.

“We started the working day in Dnipro,” President Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app.

He said he, top military commanders and senior government officials had discussed the situation on the battlefield, supplies of munitions to troops and how to strengthen air defences

08:45 AM BST

Ukrainians ‘blown up by mines as they enter enemy trenches’

Ukrainian forces are being lured into trenches filled with remote-controlled mines as they push forwards on their counter-offensive, according to reports.

A tank commander known as Maksym told the BBC: “When our soldiers get to the trenches they push a button and it blows up, killing our friends.”

He said he had seen the tactic being used over the past fortnight and referred to the remote-controlled mines as a “new weapon”.

08:39 AM BST

Pictures: Ukrainian soldiers bid ‘farewell’ to comrade in Kyiv cathedral

Comrades of late Ukrainian serviceman Mykyta Krasnovyd, call sign 'Optymist', attend his farewell ceremony in Kyiv

Comrades of late Ukrainian serviceman Mykyta Krasnovyd, call sign ‘Optymist’, attend his farewell ceremony in Kyiv – SERGEY DOLZHENKO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Comrades of late Ukrainian serviceman Mykyta Krasnovyd, call sign 'Optymist', attend his farewell ceremony in Kyiv

Comrades of late Ukrainian serviceman Mykyta Krasnovyd, call sign ‘Optymist’, attend his farewell ceremony in Kyiv – SERGEY DOLZHENKO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

08:35 AM BST

MoD: Russia ‘learning lessons from Syria’ as it bolsters helicopter fleet

08:31 AM BST

Russia: Evidence of explosives on second grain ship

Russian security services claim to have found traces of explosives on a second grain ship that docked at a Ukrainian port, according to news agencies.

The vessel was apparently travelling from Turkey to Rostov-on-Don in Russia.

Moscow has has previously accused civilian ships of using the now-collapsed Black Sea grain deal to smuggle in weapons. The agreement collapsed last week.

08:25 AM BST

Dozens of Ukrainian ports damaged in Russian attacks

Russian air strikes have damaged 26 Ukrainian port infrastructure facilities and five civilian vessels in the last nine days, Kyiv says.

It comes after Ukraine’s defence ministry warned Russian forces were training to destroy merchant ships on the Black Sea.

In an attack in the Odesa region last night, a security guard was killed and a grain terminal damaged, according to the region’s governor.

08:16 AM BST

British defence minister insists Ukraine’s counter-offensive is not failing

The UK’s armed forces minister has said Ukraine’s counter-offensive is progressing according to a plan worked out with Britain and the US over the winter, Nicola Smith and Joe Barnes write.

James Heappey dismissed concerns that the operation is stalling after a leaked German military assessment questioned Ukraine’s progress and tactics.

Mr Heappey said Kyiv was being “appropriately cautious” in refusing to send large numbers of men and Western-supplied weapons into dense Russian minefields.

The Ukrainian military, he said, was holding back enough firepower to make a breakthrough at the right time.

Read the full story here.

08:14 AM BST

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