Russia-Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy warns of explosions at Russian bases. Source: DW

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Russia-Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy warns of explosions at Russian bases

The Ukrainian leader’s warning comes after massive explosions in Russian-occupied Crimea. Meanwhile, the UN chief plans a trip to Ukraine to push a “political solution” to the war. DW rounds up the latest.

Ukraine has been coy about apparent attacks on Russian-controlled bases in Crimea

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked those “who oppose the occupiers” only hours after a military facility in occupied Crimea was hit by a series of explosions.

On Tuesday night, he urged Ukrainians to steer clear of Russian military bases and ammunition stores.

He added the explosions could have various causes, including incompetence.

“But they all mean the same thing — the destruction of the occupiers’ logistics, their ammunition, military and other equipment, and command posts, saves the lives of our people,” he said in an evening address.

The Russian Defense Ministry said sabotage was behind the explosions at the military depot in the Dzhankoy region of Crimea, the RIA news agency reported.

Kyiv has not formally confirmed responsibility but if Ukrainian forces were behind the explosions, it would demonstrate that they could carry out covert operations deep behind enemy lines.

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine and then annexed the territory in 2014.

0:43 min

‘The enemy does not know how to use fire safety measures’

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine runs nuclear disaster drills

Ukrainian authorities have performed disaster response drills near the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, located near the city of Enerhodar in Ukraine’s south.

The plant has been under Russian occupation since it was captured in March, but is still run by Ukrainian technicians.

Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of the shelling of the plant. Both sides have described this as “nuclear terrorism.”

During the drills Ukrainian first responders donned protective gear and carried out a radiation scan on a man acting as a patient. The first responders were then themselves checked for raditiation.

Ukrainian authorities said the drills will be repeated in the coming days.

Kyiv and Moscow have both called for a visit to the plant by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.

“They need to give some technical estimation on what is happening because we just don’t have concrete information on what is happening inside,” Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said, referring to the potential IAEA visit.

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday for talks. Guterres called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone around the plant.

Russian broadcaster disputes reports about new Black Sea fleet commander

After Russia’s RIA agency published a report about the country’s Black See fleet getting a new commander, a report from Russian broadcaster RBC said there was no change of leadership.

When contacted by RBC, the fleet’s officials said no new commander has been appointed.

“Do not trust the intrigues, once he is appointed, it will be officially announced,” RBC cited a source in the fleets communications department as saying. 

Previously, state-owned RIA said Viktor Sokolov would be leading the fleet and its current commander Igor Osipov would be stepping down. The Black Sea Fleet, which is based in Crimea, has been affected by blasts in Russian-controlled areas, and its flagship Moskva sank in April after an apparent strike by the Ukrainian military.

China will send troops to take part in Russia’s drills

Chinese troops will travel to Russia to take part in joint military exercises led by the host, Beijing’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.

China will be joined in the operation by troops from India, as well as close allies Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan, among other countries. None of the participants convicted Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Beijing said its role in the joint exercises was “unrelated to the current international and regional situation.”

“The aim is to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic collaboration among the participating parties, and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats,” according to China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russian Black Sea fleet reportedly installs new commander 

Russia’s Black Sea fleet, based in annexed Crimea, has named Viktor Sokolov as its new commander, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported citing its own sources.

There has been no official confirmation from Moscow.

If confirmed, the removal of the previous commander Igor Osipov would mark the most prominent sacking of a military official in the nearly six months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Black Sea Fleet has suffered several highly public setbacks over the past few weeks.

In April, Ukraine struck its lead warship, the Moskva, causing it to sink. Last week its Saki air base in southwest Crimea, near the fleet’s headquarters at Sevastopol, was devastated by a series of explosions.

2:42 min

Russia: ‘Saboteurs’ struck Crimean arms depot

On Tuesday, blasts rocked an ammunition depot at a military base in the north of the peninsula. Moscow blamed saboteurs for the blast, and Kyiv has not officially taken responsibility for the attack.

Russia declared |Crimea as its territory in 2014 and uses the peninsula as a staging point to support its military operations across occupied Ukraine. 

Germany’s spies expects more Russian propaganda, espionage

Germany’s domestic intelligence service expects to see more Russian propaganda and espionage activities in the coming months.

“Russia is using issues relating to Europe’s energy supply in particular as a… lever,” the Office for the Protection of the Constitution warned.

The agency said it expected Moscow to stir up fear in Germany about energy and food shortages by spreading false news about gas shortages and price increases.

“Russian propaganda is likely to proliferate within extremist circles and fuel conspiracy narratives with the aim of driving a wedge into our society.”

The Russian state is also expected to “further intensify and adapt its political and military reconnaissance efforts,” the office said.

Biggest convoy of ships to load grain since deal

Ukraine expected five ships to arrive at its Chornomorsk Black Sea port on Wednesday to load more than 70,000 tons of agricultural products.

It would be the largest convoy since an agreement between Kyiv and Moscow to allow Ukraine to resume grain exports through the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian sea ports authority said in a statement that the new cargo would include wheat, corn and sunseed oil.

The authority said that 24 ships carrying food had left Ukrainian ports since the deal has been struck.

Ukraine is one of the world’s major grain producers and before the war, it sent over 90% of its food exports by sea.

German energy giant blames war in Ukraine as it loses billions

Germany’s largest gas importer Uniper made a loss of more than €12.3 billion ($12.5 billion)  in the first half of the year.

The firm said that €6.5 billion were related to interruptions in gas deliveries from Russia due to the war in Ukraine.

Uniper has, for months, been playing a crucial role in stabilizing Germany’s gas supply – at the cost of billions in losses resulting from the sharp drop in gas deliveries from Russia,” Chief Executive Klaus-Dieter Maubach said.

UN Chief the meet Zelenskyy and Erdogan in Ukraine

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plans to travel to Ukraine on Thursday for a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The leaders are expected to discuss a UN and Turkey brokered grain deal allowing Ukrainian food exports to be shipped to world markets to help alleviate the global hunger crisis.

“The need for a political solution” to the war would also be raised during the meeting in the western city of Lviv, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

He added the three leaders will also discuss the situation at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling.

Guterres will also visit Odesa on Friday.

On Saturday, he will visit the center in Istanbul coordinating the Black Sea shipping, which includes the four parties to the deal — Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations.

More on the war in Ukraine

DW’s Miodrag Soric argues EU countries need to adopt a clear, consistent policy on visa bans for Russians.

  • Ukraine’s nuclear operator, Energoatom, reported that Russian-based hackers launched a major three-hour attack on its website on Tuesday but had not caused significant problems. The cyberattack comes as tensions flare over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which Russian forces occupied in March.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was confident Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession would progress rapidly. Sweden’s Magdalena Andersson said the war in Ukraine had prompted major changes in Stockholm and Berlin alike.

The first humanitarian cargo of food from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion has set off from Ukraine. The Lebanese-flagged cargo ship Brave Commander left Ukraine headed for the port of Djibouti carrying some 23,000 metric tons of wheat aboard, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said.

jsi, lo/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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