Russia has urged more civilians in occupied Kherson to evacuate amid an exodus to escape an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. Russian authorities told residents to take “documents, money, valuables and clothes” due to “the tense situation on the front” and reported on Sunday that there had been “a sharp increase” in the number of civilians trying to leave. About 25,000 people have been evacuated since Tuesday, the Interfax news agency said.
Russia’s grip on Kherson appears increasingly fragile. The US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War said the urgent call to evacuate indicated that the occupiers “do not expect a rapid Russian or civilian return” to the city, and appeared to be trying to depopulate it to damage its “long-term social and economic viability”.
All men remaining in Kherson have been invited to join a newly formed local militia. In a notice on Telegram, the occupation authorities said men had the “opportunity” to join territorial defence units if they chose to remain in Kherson of their own free will. Compelling civilians to serve in the armed forces of an occupying power is defined as a breach of the Geneva conventions.
The head of Ukraine’s defence intelligence directorate said Russia was bringing new military units into Kherson as it prepares to defend the city in the face of the advancing Ukrainian counteroffensive. Kyrylo Budanov also said Russia would slow Ukrainian troops’ advance in the south by only about two weeks if it blows up the Kakhova hyrdoelectric dam near Kherson.
A former chief of the British army has said Russia faces an “inevitable defeat” in Kherson ahead of an expected battle. Gen Lord Dannatt claimed Vladimir Putin’s troops are attempting to save face to make their defeat appear “less chaotic”. Dannatt also suggested Russia was targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as they were “still on the back foot” on the battlefield.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of planning to blow up the Nova Kakhovka dam. Breaching it could flood a swathe of southern Ukraine, including Kherson.
Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, has told western counterparts that the war in Ukraine is heading for an “uncontrolled escalation” amid evidence that the Kremlin is weighing how to respond to yet another anticipated battlefield defeat around the key southern city of Kherson.
The United Nations has said urgent steps are needed to relieve a backlog of more than 150 ships involved in a deal that allows Ukraine to export grain from ports in the Black Sea. Ukraine said Russian inspections that have been creating “significant” delays for the export of Ukrainian food products were “politically motivated” and a cause for concern. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Moscow had asked the UN for data on the destination and end-consumers for Ukrainian grain exports, saying that “corrections” to the agreement would depend on this information.
The United States has no indications that Russia has made any decision to use a nuclear weapon, biological weapon or chemical weapon, a US military official has said. The US believes Russia is “keeping lines of communication open” after Moscow requested a call between US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday, the official added.
Ukraine and the US denounced suggestions from Russia that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb” as dangerous lies. “If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address. The White House national security council also rejected Shoigu’s claims. “The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation,” a statement said.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell welcomed Ukraine’s decision to request an expert mission from the UN’s nuclear watchdog to examine its facilities.
Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke with the US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin and his British counterpart Ben Wallace about Russia’s evidence-free claim that Ukraine plans to use a “dirty bomb”. The alliance rejects Moscow’s claims, he said, warning that Russia “must not use it as a pretext for escalation” in its war in Ukraine.
Russia’s military chief of general staff Valery Gerasimov held calls with Britain’s chief of defence staff Tony Radakin and the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff Mark Milley on Monday. The Russian defence ministry said Radakin and his British and American counterparts discussed the possibility, raised by Moscow without providing any evidence, that Ukraine might use a “dirty bomb”.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged Israel to join the fight against Russia and repeated an appeal for Israeli air defence systems. Israel has condemned Russia’s invasion and has limited its assistance to deliveries of humanitarian aid and defensive equipment. Most recently it offered to help Ukrainians develop air attack alerts for civilians. Zelenskiy said that was not enough and asked that Israeli leaders reconsider sending air defences as well.
A Russian fighter jet crashed in Siberia, killing two crew members. The Su-30 fighter jet came down on a private, two-storey building housing two families in Irkutsk, a major industrial centre in eastern Siberia. The crash appears to reflect the growing strain that the fighting in Ukraine has put on the Russian air force.
Iran has said it will supply Russia with 40 turbines to help its gas industry amid western sanctions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, local media reported. Iran’s “industrial successes are not limited to the fields of missiles and drones”, Iranian Gas Engineering and Development Company’s CEO, Reza Noushadi, was quoted as saying by Shana, the oil ministry’s news agency on Sunday.
Ukraine’s special operations forces said that Iranian drone instructors have been spotted in Belarus. According to special operations forces, Iran’s Islamic revolutionary guard corps are training Russian forces in Belarus and coordinating the launches of Iranian-made drones.
Russia fired missiles and drones into Ukrainian-held Mykolaiv on Sunday, destroying an apartment block. Mykolaiv lies roughly 35 km (22 miles) northwest of the frontline to occupied Kherson.
UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, rebutted claims made by the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, that Ukraine, facilitated by western counties including UK, was planning to escalate the conflict. “The defence secretary refuted these claims and cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation,” the UK Ministry of Defence said in a statement after talks between the UK and Russia.
French president Emmanuel Macron said it’s up to Ukraine to decide the time and terms of peace with Russia, and cautioned that the end of war “can’t be the consecration of the law of the strongest.” “To stay neutral would mean accepting the world order of the strongest, and I don’t agree with this,” Macron said at the opening of a three-day peace conference in Rome on Sunday.
Ukraine faces power outages after Russian strikes target energy facilities. Russian airstrikes on energy infastructure across the country have left more than a million households in Ukraine without electricity, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidency, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said at the weekend.
Rebuilding Ukraine will be a “task for a generation” that no country, donor or international institution can manage alone, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said. Scholz said it was important to repair destroyed energy plants and networks but also to make them more efficient, to ultimately allow an expansion of Ukrainian electricity exports to the EU and a step-by-step transition to climate neutrality.
An overwhelming majority of Ukrainians believe the country should keep up its armed resistance to Russia’s invasion, according to a new poll. The survey, conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) took place after two weeks of heavy Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv. It showed 86% said it was necessary to continue fighting even if missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian cities persist.
A pro-Kremlin television presenter has been accused of inciting genocide after calling for Ukrainian children to be “drowned” and “burned” alive during an interview on the state-funded RT channel. Anton Krasovsky, the chief of Russian-language broadcasting for the channel formerly called Russia Today, was suspended from RT, and the head of Russia’s powerful investigative committee said it would review his remarks as part of a potential criminal investigation.
A German lobby group representing companies with interests in eastern Europe has called for a plan to rebuild Ukraine that would mirror the Marshall plan that helped Europe recover from the second world war, the media group RND reported. A Ukraine-Germany business forum in Berlin on Monday will discuss the plan set to be attended by German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian prime minister Denys Schmyhal.
US basketball star Brittney Griner “does not expect miracles” at her appeal hearing on Tuesday, her lawyers said in a statement. The two-time Olympic gold medallist is appealing against a nine-year Russian jail term for drug possession and smuggling. Her lawyers said she would take part in Tuesday’s hearing by video link from the detention centre where she has been held, and that they expected a verdict the same day