Ukraine-Russia war latest: Putin claims West provoked Kharkiv offensive (2024)

Key points
  • Russian forces capture two villages in eastern Ukraine
  • Putin claims West provoked Kharkiv offensive
  • NATO comments open door to allowing Ukraine to strike Russia with Western weapons
  • Your questions answered:When will F-16s arrive in Ukraine?
  • The big picture: What you need to know about the war right now
  • Eyewitness:Russia producing shells three times faster than Ukraine's allies
  • Live reporting by Samuel Osborne


We're pausing our live coverage

We're pausing our coverage of the Ukraine war for the moment.

Scroll through the blog below to catch up on today's developments.


Analysis: Putin is concerned and he's rattling the nuclear sabre

By Sean Bell, military analyst

President Putin knows that his critical vulnerability is Western military capability, and that should the West become directly involved in the defence of Ukraine, Russia's objectives would no longer be achievable.

As a result, Russia continues to augment its military strategy in Ukraine with targeted rhetoric and information operations designed to deter Western governments from increasing military support to Ukraine.

As Mr Putin's concerns have mounted, the rhetoric has become more inflammatory, leading to more regular rattling of the nuclear sabre.

You can listen more about this onBell's RedMatrix podcast

However, Mr Putin is also well aware that a nuclear war would have no winners; the concept has been described as MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction.

If the strategy succeeds and the West is deterred from protecting a nation from Russian aggression, where does that leave Russia's wider "empire" ambitions - and China's too?

This past week, Russia chose to remind the world that it had developed the most powerful and longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile - called SATAN II - which can deliver nuclear weapons to almost any point on the Earth's surface.

Russia routinely uses the threat of escalation as a weapon of war. No civilised country wants to go to war, and reminding nations of the potential consequences of an escalation is a powerful deterrent.

However, history shows that there are times when people need to make choices if they are to preserve their way of life and the values they cherish.

A utopian world where all nations live in peace might have enduring appeal, but the harsh reality is that there are always those that will seek to capitalise, to build empires, and provoke major conflicts.

The omnipresent challenge is when to confront such tyrants, and history suggests the earlier, the better.

Mr Putin knows that his battle-worn forces would be no match for Western air and land power, so is using all the tools at his disposal to deter greater Western engagement. And, that strategy appears to be working.

However, if the West decides not to call Mr Putin's bluff and accepts Russia's aggressive expansion, where next?


Russia should continue Ukraine operation in response to West, Kremlin says

Russia should stand its ground and keep on with what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine in response to the West's military fervour, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

Mr Peskov said at the same time the West had no unanimity of opinion regarding the Ukrainian army's strikes on Russian territory using Western weapons.

NATO's Parliamentary Assembly has called for member states to support Ukraine's "international right" to defend itself by lifting "some restrictions" on Kyiv's use of Western weapons in Russia (see 10.57am post).


Putin claims West provoked Kharkiv offensive

Vladimir Putin has said the West provoked the Kremlin'slatest offensive into Ukraine's Kharkiv region by ignoring warnings not to allow Kyiv to strike the Russian region of Belgorod.

Giving a speech earlier today, the Russian president said strikes on Belgorod this month were carried out using weapons provided by the West and were only possible with the help of specialists from Western countries.

"[The] West should understand what it is playing with," Mr Putin warned, adding that any escalation could lead to "serious consequences".

Kharkiv remains a major focus after Russia opened a new front on the northeastern border.

Over the weekend,Moscow's defence ministry claimed it had taken the settlement of Ivanivka, but victory in the Kharkiv region has been the subject of conflicting reports, with Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying Ukraine had secured "combat control".

Ukraine 'rejected' peace talks

When questioned about potential peace talks with Ukraine, Mr Putin blamed Kyiv for refusing negotiations.

He said Russia had never abandoned peace talks and was ready to return to them, but claimed Ukraine was instead focusing on its fortunes on the battlefield.

"That's Ukraine that rejected the peace talks," Mr Putin said.

"They do not want to agree, but are trying to change the situation on the battlefield. In that case, there will be more Ukrainian losses."


In pictures: Ukrainian drone squad

These pictures show a Ukrainian drone squad attaching a grenade to a drone before flying it over the positions of Russian troops.

The 95th Separate Air Assault Brigade is on the frontline in the eastern Donbas region.


Zelenskyy calls for Biden to attend peace summit in Switzerland

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for Joe Biden to attend a peace summit organised by Kyiv in Switzerland next month.

The Ukrainian president said if the US president missed the event it would be like a standing ovation for Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine hopes to host as many countries as possible in an effort to unite opinion on how to halt the war and heap pressure on Russia, which has seized almost a fifth of Ukraine's territory.

"I know that the US supports the summit but we don't knowat what level," Mr Zelenskyy said in Brussels at a joint press conference with Belgian Prime MinisterAlexander De Croo.

"[The] peace summit needs President Biden and so do theother leaders who look at the reaction of the United States.

"Hisabsence would be an applause to Putin, a personal standingapplause to Putin."

On Sunday Mr Zelenskyy urged both Mr Biden and his Chinese counterpart and Mr Putin's close ally, Xi Jinping, to attend the summit.

Russia has said it sees no point in the conference.


In pictures: Volunteers hand over equipment to Russians fighting in Ukrainian armed forces

These pictures show Russian volunteers posing before handing over equipment to an informal military unit consisting of Russians fighting in the armed forces of Ukraine in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The funds are from voluntary donations from Russian citizens and ethnic Russians living in Bulgaria.


More than 1,400 Russian troops killed or injured over weekend

More than 1,400 Russian troops have been injured since last Friday, according to Ukraine's Ministry of Defence.

Moscow also lost 21 tanks and 40 armoured combat vehicles, it said.

Although Western estimates of Russian losses differ from Ukraine's, it is nonetheless a sign of the staggering human cost of the war for Moscow.

Russia does not routinely publish numbers of casualties or losses of equipment. Ukraine provides some figures - but infrequently.

In February, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that 31,000 of his troops had been killed in two years of war.


Poland should not rule out sending troops to Ukraine - foreign minister

Poland should not rule out sending troops to Ukraine, foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in comments published today.

It comes as Kyiv struggles to repel Russian advances in eastern Ukraine.

MrSikorski did not specify what role Polish troops would play in the conflict.

Ukraine's NATO allies have vowed to supply the beleaguered nation with weapons and money for as long as it takes to fend off Russia's invasion, but they have generally ruled out the possibility of sending soldiers.

Asked in an interview whether Poland was ready to sendtroops to Ukraine, Mr Sikorski said: "We shouldn't rule it out. Weshould leave Putin guessing as to our intentions".

The interview was published in Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza,Italy's La Repubblica and Spain's El Pais.

Previously, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested Western troops could help with the training of Ukrainians in Ukraine.

It comes after Ukraine's top military commander said he had signed paperwork allowing French military instructors to visit Ukrainian training centres soon.


Your questions answered: When will F-16s arrive in Ukraine?

As Russia opens a new front on Ukraine's northeastern border, the war has entered an important phase.

Readers have been sending in their questions to our senior correspondents and military experts for their take on the changing battlefield environment.

Today, Tali-IhanTala asks:

When will F-16s arrive? I truly believe they will mark a turning point in the War.

Military analyst Sean Bellhad this to say:

Although there is growing expectation that the initial tranche ofF-16fighter jets being donated to Ukraine could arrive as soon as early July, it is not clear whether the other ingredients of this powerful air power capability will be in place by that time.

Providing a credible and effective Ukrainian combat air capability requires suitably trained and experienced pilots, ground crew, weapons, defensive aids and radar. All these components need to be in place before the Ukrainian Air Force will be ready to go into battle with the Russian military.

Once theF-16s are place, the challenge facing Ukraine will be when and where to use these valuable resources - and how to avoid them being destroyed before they can contribute to the Ukrainian defensive effort.

They will provide Ukraine with an invaluable - albeit scarce - resource. The F-16s could be used to support the frontline, but they will be very vulnerable in that dynamic and hostile air environment.

They could also be used to conduct strikes against key military targets inside Russian territory, which would certainly force a change in Moscow's tactics. Or, if Ukraine wanted to threaten Crimea, theF-16s could be used in a coordinated attack in support of a wider campaign.

Regardless, with Russia on the front foot in the Donbas, Ukraine needs all the help it can to reverse Russian momentum on the battlefield.

Ukraine-Russia war latest: Putin claims West provoked Kharkiv offensive (2024)


Could Russia go to war with NATO? ›

Ukraine-Russia war latest: Russia could be ready to attack NATO in three years, Norway warns. NATO only has two to three years to prepare before Russia regains its ability to launch a conventional attack on the alliance, Norway's top general has said.

Why did Russia invade Ukraine? ›

Putin espoused irredentist views challenging Ukraine's right to exist, and falsely claimed that Ukraine was governed by neo-Nazis persecuting the Russian minority. He said his goal was to "demilitarise and denazify" Ukraine.

When did Ukraine gain independence? ›

Why is Ukraine important to Russia? ›

Russia has deep cultural, economic, and political bonds with Ukraine, and in many ways Ukraine is central to Russia's identity and vision for itself in the world. Family ties. Russia and Ukraine have strong familial bonds that go back centuries.

What was Russia called before Russia? ›

The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic renamed itself as the Russian Federation and became the primary successor state to the Soviet Union. Russia retained its nuclear arsenal but lost its superpower status.

Why was Ukraine called Ukraine? ›

The use of the article relates to the time before independence in 1991, when Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, she says. Since then, it should be merely Ukraine.

What was Ukraine before 1922? ›

Most of Ukraine fell to Russian rule in the 18th century. In the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, most of the Ukrainian region became a republic of the Soviet Union, though parts of western Ukraine were divided between Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia.

How long was Ukraine in the USSR? ›

The republic was one of 15 constituent republics composing the Soviet Union from its entry into the union in 1922 until its dissolution in 1991.

How did Ukraine get independence in 1917? ›

The Central Rada proclaimed four Universals, declaring Ukrainian autonomy on 23 June 1917 (stating that "Ukraine should have the right to order their own lives in their own land”), issuing recognition agreements between the Central Rada and the Provisional Government in Petrograd on 16 July, and announcing the creation ...

What countries declared independence in 1991? ›

Country comparison
Eastern EuropeBelarus (Republic of Belarus)25 August 1991
Moldova (Republic of Moldova)27 August 1991
Russia (Russian Federation)12 December 1991
18 more rows

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