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Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russian strikes near Odesa after Snake Island withdrawal

(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 01, 4:25 pm
21 dead, 39 injured in missile strike near Odesa

Russian missiles struck residential areas near the key port city of Odesa in southern Ukraine early Friday, killing at least 21 people and wounding 39 others, Ukrainian authorities said.

Russian bombers fired a trio of X-22 missiles that hit a nine-story apartment building and two recreational areas in the small coastal town of Serhiivka, located about 31 miles southwest of Odesa, according to a statement from the Security Service of Ukraine, which noted that rescue operations were underway.

Many victims were in the apartment building, where the entire entrance was “completely destroyed,” authorities said.

One of the wounded children was a baby who was in a coma after being pulled from the charred rubble, according to authorities.

“This was a targeted Russian missile attack — Russian terror against our cities, villages, our people,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

The pre-dawn attacks followed the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine’s Snake Island on Thursday, a move that was expected to potentially ease the threat to nearby Odesa, home to Ukraine’s biggest seaport and one of the largest ports in the Black Sea basin.

“Occupants can’t win on the battlefield, so resort to the vile murder of civilians,” Ivan Bakanov, chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, said in a statement Friday. “After the enemy was kicked out of Snake Island, he decided to respond with a cynical shelling of civilian objects.”

We are at the apartment building outside Odesa struck by Russia last night. The same massive anti-ship missile that hit Kremenchuk. This place was crushed as people slept in their beds. #ukraine pic.twitter.com/DpF8KXJ18l

— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) July 1, 2022

Jul 01, 12:50 pm
Ukraine submits memo to International Court of Justice on Russian aggression

Ukraine on Friday submitted a memorandum to the International Court of Justice on Russian aggression.

“We prove that Russia violated the Genocide Convention by justifying its aggression with a false pretext of a ‘genocide’ that never was,” tweeted Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He called it a “critical step to hold Russia accountable and make Russia pay for the harm it has inflicted.”

Today, Ukraine submitted a major filing at the ICJ. We prove that Russia violated the Genocide Convention by justifying its aggression with a false pretext of a ‘genocide’ that never was. Critical step to hold Russia accountable and make Russia pay for the harm it has inflicted.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) July 1, 2022

Jul 01, 11:27 am
Most Ukrainians want to return home

Close to 90% of refugees who fled Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion plan to return home at some point, according to a recent poll by the Rating group.

Only 8% of refugees said they would never return to Ukraine, while 15% are prepared to go back as soon as possible, the poll showed.

Around half of those displaced only plan on returning when the war is over. Close to a third of people who lost their jobs because of the war are still not able to find new employment, the data revealed.

Jul 01, 9:42 am
Moscow denies targeting civilians in Odesa

Russia has dismissed reports from Ukrainian officials that Russian missiles struck residential areas in the southern town of Odesa early on Friday morning and reiterated its claim that Moscow does not target civilians.

“I would like to remind you of president [Vladimir Putin’s] words that the Russian Armed Forces do not engage with civilian targets,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters on Friday.

Ukrainian authorities had earlier said Russian missiles hit an apartment building and two holiday camps in the region, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens of others, including children.

To counter the threat of indiscriminate Russian strikes, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged more supplies of advanced weapons and equipment to Ukraine on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference in Madrid, Stoltenberg said NATO has a list of requested equipment and nothing would be ruled out or excluded from that list. Several NATO countries expressed reservations about the transfer of some weapons — including tanks and other heavy weapons — to Ukraine in the first months of the war.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Max Uzol, Fidel Pavlenko and Yuriy Zaliznyak

Jul 01, 8:59 am
Will Russia become a pariah state?

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, the West has imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia, nearly crippling its economy and isolating it from all but a few allies.

U.S. President Joe Biden and other government officials have said sanctions from the United States and its allies will make Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, pariahs on the world stage.

However, one expert who spoke with ABC News says that casting Russia out of the international community, making it a pariah state, may not be so easy.

“Russia is a member of the UN security council, it has veto power there. It is just a major actor on the world stage in so many ways. So isolating Russia, shaming it, making it a pariah is a huge challenge,” said Daniel Hamilton, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

Yet, “Russia has not done too well with allies,” Hamilton also said.

“Today, it’s real allies are … sort of also pariah states. It’s Assad’s Syria, it’s Venezuela, it’s Cuba and that’s about it. Others tolerate Russia. They figure out ways to deal with it, in the former Soviet space. But they’re not really allies,” Hamilton said.

Russia and Belarus are yet to mirror NATO’s recent military activity, Belarusian President Oleksandr Lukashenko said in a speech on Thursday. Lukashenko also called on Russia to “be ready” for the use of nuclear weapons.

While a frontal attack on Ukraine from Belarusian territory is not perceived as an imminent threat by Ukrainian officials, roadblocks were reinforced in the capital of Kyiv due to the risk of diversionary and intelligence groups from Belarus roaming around the city, a National Guard spokesperson said Friday as reported by local media.

Belarus extended a large-scale military exercise near the Ukrainian border until at least July 9, a local monitoring group reported on Friday.

Lukashenko’s administration ordered conscripts en masse to report to military commissariats without disclosing the reason for the call-up, local media reported on Thursday.

Military officials threatened conscripts with criminal prosecution in case they failed to show up to their respective commissariats, according to local reports.

Belarusian officials maintain that the call-up is “simply training” that is part of “mobilization exercises.” “No one is taking anyone to any war,” military officials claimed as quoted by local media.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Max Uzol, Fidel Pavlenko and Yuriy Zaliznyak

Jul 01, 7:03 am
Russian missiles kill at least 19 in residential areas near Odesa

Russian missiles struck residential areas near the key port city of Odesa in southern Ukraine early Friday, killing at least 19 people, Ukrainian authorities said.

Russian bombers fired a trio of X-22 missiles that hit a nine-story apartment building and two recreational areas in the small coastal town of Serhiivka, located about 31 miles southwest of Odesa, according to a statement from the Security Service of Ukraine, which noted that rescue operations were underway.

Two children were among the 19 confirmed deaths. Another 38 people, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalized with injuries. Most of the victims were in the apartment building, where the entire entrance was “completely destroyed,” authorities said.

One of the wounded children was a baby who was in a coma after being pulled from the charred rubble, according to authorities.

The pre-dawn attacks followed the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine’s Snake Island on Thursday, a move that was expected to potentially ease the threat to nearby Odesa, home to Ukraine’s biggest seaport and one of the largest ports in the Black Sea basin.

“Occupants can’t win on the battlefield, so resort to the vile murder of civilians,” Ivan Bakanov, chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, said in a statement Friday. “After the enemy was kicked out of Snake Island, he decided to respond with a cynical shelling of civilian objects.”

Jun 30, 7:09 pm
Snake Island ‘significantly changes’ situation in Black Sea, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation on Snake Island, which was freed of Russian forces Thursday, “significantly changes the situation in the Black Sea.”

“It does not guarantee safety yet, it does not yet guarantee that the enemy will not return. But it already limits the actions of the occupiers significantly,” he said in his latest national address.

The rocky Ukrainian island, located in the Black Sea, has been the target of Russia since day one of the invasion.

Ukrainian military officials claimed Thursday to have taken back control of Snake Island overnight following a successful military operation. Meanwhile, the Russian defense ministry said Thursday that it withdrew all its forces from Snake Island as a “gesture of goodwill.”

Jun 30, 2:24 pm
Fierce fighting ongoing near last Luhansk Oblast city under Ukraine’s control

Fierce fighting is ongoing southwest of Lysychansk — the last city in Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast that remains under Ukrainian control, Ukraine’s General Staff said. If Lysychansk falls, one of the two Donbas regions would effectively be seized by Russia.

Russian forces have secured positions in the northwestern and southeastern parts of the Lysychansk Oil Refinery and are firing artillery on Ukrainian forces around the refinery and in nearby settlements, Ukraine’s General Staff said.

Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk RMA, said Russian forces are shelling the city from several directions, but there’s no street fighting in Lysychansk and the city is not yet encircled.
 

Jun 30, 10:09 am
Biden announces $800M more in aid, ‘going to support Ukraine as long as it takes’

President Joe Biden at his press conference in Madrid Thursday announced $800 million more in aid for Ukraine, including air defense systems and offensive weapons.

A reporter asked how to explain to the American people a joint statement from Biden and other G-7 leaders Monday that read: “We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Asked if that meant indefinite support from the U.S., or whether there would be a time support from the U.S. would stop, Biden replied: “We are going to support Ukraine as long as it takes.”

“I don’t know what — how it’s going to end,” Biden added, “But it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said recently that the war needs to end by the winter. But Biden said that, “no,” that assessment hadn’t changed his calculation in terms of the pace and kind of assistance the U.S. is sending Ukraine.

Biden was also pressed on record high gas prices that he has attributed to the war in Ukraine. “How long is it fair to expect American drivers and drivers around the world to pay that premium for this war?” he was asked by a reporter.

“As long as it takes,” he replied. “Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine. This is a critical, critical position for the world.”

Biden highlighted his domestic efforts to bring down the price at the pump, like releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and asking Congress and states to approve a gas tax holiday to help save consumers money at the pump.

“So I think there’s a lot of things we can do, and we will do, but the bottom line is ultimately the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia,” he said. “Russia, Russia, Russia. The reason why the food crisis exists is because of Russia. Russia not allowing grain to get out of Ukraine.”

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson and Molly Nagle

Jun 30, 8:10 am
Nearly all released Azov defenders return wounded

Almost all soldiers of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment who were released from Russian captivity return home wounded, a representative of the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders told local media on Wednesday.

“Almost everyone – 99% – were left without arms, without legs. Some do not hear, some do not see, but their eyes are happy,” Tetiana Kharko said.

According to Kharko, the sister of a captured Marine commander, some troops “talk with tears in their eyes, some can’t [speak].” The representative added that the soldiers from the latest exchange of prisoners need urgent medical care and an examination.

In his Wednesday evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 95 Azovstal defenders returned home from Ukrainian captivity, along with dozens of other troops.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Max Uzol, Natalya Kushnir and Yuriy Zaliznyak

Jun 30, 7:07 am
Mariupol theater airstrike was ‘a clear war crime’ by Russian military: Amnesty International

The Russian military committed “a clear war crime” when its forces bombed a packed drama theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in March, Amnesty International said Thursday.

The London-based international human rights group published a new report documenting how the deadly blitz on the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater unfolded, citing interviews with numerous survivors and witnesses as well as “extensive digital evidence,” which included photographs, videos, radio intercepts, satellite imagery and radar data. The report concluded that the evidence indicates the attack “was almost certainly an airstrike carried out by the Russian military,” with the theater as “the intended target.”

“After months of rigorous investigation, analysis of satellite imagery and interviews with dozens of witnesses, we concluded that the strike was a clear war crime committed by Russian forces,” Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in a statement Thursday.

Jun 30, 7:01 am
War outlook remains ‘grim,’ top US intelligence officer says

Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to seize most of Ukraine, and the outlook for the war remains grim, Avril Haines, the top U.S. intelligence officer, said Wednesday as reported by Reuters.

“In short, the picture remains pretty grim and Russia’s attitude toward the West is hardening,” Haines said at a Commerce Department conference.

The intelligence officer added that U.S. spy agencies expect the war to grind on “for an extended period of time.” But the Russian forces are so degraded by combat, Haines said, that they likely can only achieve incremental gains in the near term.

Haines also said it will take years for Russia to rebuild its forces. Still, U.S. intelligence agencies foresee three possible scenarios in the war, according to Haines, the most likely being a grinding conflict in which Russian forces “make incremental gains, with no breakthrough.”

The other scenarios include a major Russian breakthrough and Ukraine succeeding in stabilizing the frontlines while achieving small gains, perhaps near the Russian-held city of Kherson and other areas of southern Ukraine.

Ukraine is likely to rely on more NATO support as the conflict drags on, with Ihor Zhovkva, the Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, stating Wednesday that Ukraine believes it already meets NATO standards and maintains a course to continue integration.

“No one removes Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration from the agenda,” Zhovkva said at the NATO summit in Madrid.

Zhovka, who headed the Ukrainian delegation in Madrid, said he was satisfied with the results of the summit. The official also stressed that Ukraine maintains its course to join NATO.

Russia warned Tuesday that Ukraine joining NATO could lead to World War III should Kyiv then attempt to encroach on the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Max Uzol, Natalya Kushnir and Yuriy Zaliznyak

Jun 29, 3:20 pm
Zelenskyy addresses NATO summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the NATO summit Wednesday, commending the decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Zelenskyy told the NATO leaders, “The goals of Ukraine are exactly the same as yours: We are interested in security and stability on the European continent and in the world.”

“This is not a war of Russia only against Ukraine, this is a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe,” he said.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Jun 29, 1:37 pm
Biden, Erdogan meet after Turkey drops opposition to Finland, Sweden joining NATO

President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the NATO summit in Madrid Wednesday, where he thanked Erdoğan for dropping his objections to Finland and Sweden becoming NATO members.

“I want to particularly thank you for what you did putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden and all the incredible work you’re doing to try to get the grain out of Ukraine and Russia,” Biden said.

“We think your pioneering in this regard is going to be crucial in terms of strengthening NATO for the future,” Erdoğan said. “And it’s going to have a very positive contribution to the process between Ukraine and Russia.”

Senior administration officials told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. made no formal offer in exchange for Erdoğan dropping Turkey’s resistance to Finland and Sweden becoming NATO members.

The U.S. Department of Defense earlier came out in support of Turkey’s plans to modernize its aircraft fleet with American-made F-16s.

-ABC News’ Gabe Ferris

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