As the conflict enters its 506th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Friday, July 14, 2023.
- Ukrainian officials said air defences shot down 20 Iranian-made Russian drones. The wreckage fell on four districts of Kyiv, injuring two people and destroying several homes. The Ukrainian military said it also intercepted two Russian cruise missiles.
- Russian shelling killed three people – an 85-year-old woman in the southern region of Kherson, a man in his 40s in the southern Zaporizhia region, and a 60-year-old resident of a village in the northern region of Sumy.
- Moscow’s military leadership dismissed Major General Ivan Popov, commander-in-chief of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army fighting in southern Ukraine after he criticised battlefield strategy and expressed concern about his troops fighting without rest.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Western supplies of new weapons to Ukraine would be a “priority target” for Russian forces fighting in the country. He insisted the weapons would change nothing on the battlefield and would only further escalate the conflict.
- Russia’s nuclear chief said only “a complete idiot” would be reckless enough to blow up the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant amid Ukrainian claims that Moscow was planning an attack. Russia has occupied the site since the early weeks of its invasion.
- The Wagner mercenary group is no longer involved in military operations in Ukraine in any significant way, the Pentagon said, more than two weeks after the group staged a short-lived armed mutiny in Russia. Wagner played a key role in Russia’s capture of Bakhmut in May.
- Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, said shelling attacks were reported in several villages near the Ukrainian border. One man was injured.
- Putin threatened to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal, which allows for the safe export of Ukrainian grain and fertiliser from Black Sea ports and is due to expire on Monday. Moscow has repeatedly threatened to block the agreement’s extension over aspects of its implementation affecting Russia’s own exports. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has suggested a compromise, while the European Commission said it was working with the UN and Turkey, which helped broker the original deal, to get it extended. In a televised interview, Putin said nothing had been done to address Russia’s concerns. “We will think about what to do. We have a few more days,” he said.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the outcome of the fast-concluded NATO summit in Vilnius. “For the first time since our independence, we have established a foundation of security for Ukraine on its path to NATO,” Zelenskyy said in a video posted on Twitter. “These are concrete security guarantees confirmed by the world’s top seven democracies. Never before have we had such a security base and it is at the level of the G7.”
- United States President Joe Biden said NATO had never been stronger after promising more defence packages to Ukraine to counter Russia’s invasion. Biden was speaking in Finland, the security alliance’s newest member.
- Germany said China was not credible in its defence of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. “Chinese propaganda is amplifying Russia’s narratives regarding its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine,” Berlin said in its new China strategy document. Beijing has not condemned Moscow’s February 2022 invasion.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he discussed Ukraine with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia. “An exchange of views took place on the current situation around the Ukrainian crisis. Attention was paid to assessing the efforts of the international community to launch a peaceful negotiation process on Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement.
- Biden said he was serious about pursuing a prisoner exchange for Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia for more than 100 days. “That process is under way,” he told reporters.
- The European Union’s lending arm has unveiled a new fund worth 400 million euros ($447m) to spend on rebuilding Ukraine before the bloc’s longer-term reconstruction plan kicks in.
- Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said meetings at the NATO summit in Vilnius were “very productive” for Ukraine and that allies pledged more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.68bn) in military aid.
- The Ukrainian military and the Pentagon said the first US cluster munitions had arrived in the country. Valeryi Shershen, a spokesman for the Tavria military command in southern Ukraine, told Ukrainian television, the controversial bombs were “in the hands of our defence forces”. More than 100 countries have banned the weapons, which typically release large numbers of bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area. Those that fail to explode can pose a danger for decades.
- The British Ministry of Defence said Russian forces had been using “antiquated” armoured cars as explosives. The ministry said Chechen units probably pioneered the tactic.
- Russia Foreign Minister Lavrov said Moscow will regard F-16 fighter jets sent to Ukraine as a “nuclear” threat because they are able to carry atomic weapons. The Netherlands and Denmark are leading an F-16 training programme for Ukrainian pilots that will start in August.