Ukraine news – live: Putin threatens to arm ally Belarus with nuclear-capable missiles

‘Putin is weaponising hunger’: Liz Truss blames Russia for food shortages

Russian president Vladimir Putin has promised to arm its ally Belarus with nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile systems on Ukraine’s border.

“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their convential and nuclear versions,” Mr Putin said in a meeting with Belarusion president Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday in St Petersburg.

The announcement comes at the same time Ukraine endured an attack of missile strikes launched from Belarusion territory, despite the nation not officially being a part to the conflict.

Mr Lukashenko asked Mr Putin for help boosting Belarus’ defence systems due to concerns about the “aggressive”, “confrontational” and “repulsive” policies of its Nato-member neighbours Lithuania and Poland.

Belarus also asked for an upgrade to its airforce, with the aim of making them nuclear-capable.

“Minsk must be ready for anything, even the use of serious weaponry to defend our fatherland from Brest to Valivostock,” said the Berlarusian president.


Explained: Why did Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine?

As the war in Ukraine enters its 17th week earlier this week, we explain the key issues behind the conflict, where it all began and how the crisis might continue to unfold.

Aisha Rimi26 June 2022 09:02


Putin promises to arm Belarus with Russian nuclear-capable missiles

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will supply nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile systems to its ally Belarus on Ukraine’s border.

“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Mr Putin said in a meeting held with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday in St Petersburg.

The announcement came the same day Ukraine said it came under a “massive bombardment” of missile strikes launched from Belarusian territory, despite the latter not officially being a party to the conflict.

My colleague Stuti Mishra has the full story:

Aisha Rimi26 June 2022 08:35


Indonesia president to visit Ukraine, Russia on peace-building mission

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he will urge his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to open room for dialogue during a peace-building mission to the warring countries and ask Russia’s Vladimir Putin to order an immediate ceasefire.

The president also said he will encourage the G7 countries to seek peace in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, and find an immediate solution to global food and energy crises.

Separately, Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi said food and fertiliser products from Russia and Ukraine need to be “reintegrated into the global market, despite the war”.

“It is necessary to secure a grain corridor from Ukraine and open food and fertiliser exports from Russia. All countries must refrain from actions that further exacerbate this food crisis,” Ms Marsudi said in a statement on Sunday.

Indonesia has condemned the war and expressed sympathy to Ukrainians. However, Mr Widodo in April said he had declined a request for arms from Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Aisha Rimi26 June 2022 08:12


PM: Ban on Russsian gold will ‘strike at heart of Putin’s war machine’

The UK, US, Canada and Japan will ban imports of Russian gold in the latest stage of the effort to cripple Russia’s economy in response to the war in Ukraine.

Gold exports were worth £12.6 billion to Russia in 2021 and its importance has increased since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as oligarchs have rushed to buy bullion to avoid the impact of sanctions, Downing Street said.

Officials believe that because London is a major gold-trading hub, UK sanctions will have a huge impact on Mr Putin’s ability to raise funds to finance his war effort.

Boris Johnson said: “The measures we have announced today will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine.

“Putin is squandering his dwindling resources on this pointless and barbaric war. He is bankrolling his ego at the expense of both the Ukrainian and Russian people. We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding. The UK and our allies are doing just that.”

Legislation to implement the ban will be introduced in Parliament in the coming weeks. The prohibition will apply to newly mined or refined gold.

Aisha Rimi26 June 2022 08:02


Explosions shake Kyiv’s centre, fire at residential building

Several explosions shook Kyiv’s central Shevchenkivskiy district early on Sunday, causing widespread damage and a fire at a residential building, officials said.

This is the first assault on Ukraine‘s capital since early June.

Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said that residents are being rescued and evacuated from two buildings.

“There are people under the rubble,” Mr Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app. He added that several people had already been hospitalised.

“They (the rescuers) have pulled out a seven-year-old girl. She is alive. Now they’re trying to rescue her mother.”

Aisha Rimi26 June 2022 07:50


Vladimir Putin ally warns London ‘will be bombed first’ if World War 3 breaks out

London will be the first strategic Nato target to be hit by Russian missiles should a third world war erupt, a close ally of president Vladimir Putin has claimed.

Speaking on Russian state TV, Andrey Gurulyov, an MP who sits on Moscow’s defence committee, described how a possible full-scale invasion of Nato’s Baltic state members would work.

Mr Gurulyov, a former military commander and member of the pro-Putin United Russia party, said: “We’ll destroy the entire group of the enemy’s space satellites during the first air operation.

Aisha Rimi26 June 2022 07:38


Biden, G-7 leaders huddle on energy, inflation, Ukraine war

President Joe Biden and his G7 allies will huddle today on strategies to secure energy supplies and tackle inflation, aiming to keep the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from splintering the global coalition working to punish Moscow.

Mr Biden arrived in Germany’s picturesque Bavarian alps early morning today for the annual meeting of the leading democratic economies, where the reverberations from the brutal war in Ukraine will be front and centre in the discussion.

He and the allies aim to present a united front in support of Ukraine as the conflict enters its fourth month.

Stuti Mishra26 June 2022 07:04


Putin promises Belarus nuclear-capable missiles to counter ‘aggressive’ West

Russia will supply Belarus with Iskander-M missile systems within a few months, Russian president Vladimir Putin told a televised meeting with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday.

At the meeting, held in St Petersburg, Mr Lukashenko told Mr Putin that Belarus was concerned by the “aggressive”, “confrontational” and “repulsive” policies of its neighbours Lithuania and Poland.

He asked Mr Putin to help Belarus mount a “symmetrical response” to what he said were nuclear-armed flights by the US-led Nato alliance near Belarus’s borders.

In particular, he asked for help to make Belarus’s military aircraft nuclear-capable.

Mr Putin said he saw no need at present for a symmetrical response, but that Belarus’s Russian-built Su-25 jets could if necessary be upgraded in Russian factories.

He did, however, promise to supply the Iskander-M, a mobile guided missile system codenamed “SS-26 Stone” by Nato, which replaced the Soviet “Scud”.

Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

Stuti Mishra26 June 2022 06:30


Boris Johnson to urge France and Germany to provide more military support to Ukraine at G7

Boris Johnson will use G7 and Nato summits to urge France and Germany to provide more military support to Ukraine and warn them against any attempt to push president Volodymyr Zelensky into a “bad” peace deal.

This week’s conferences in Germany and Spain offer the beleaguered prime minister – battling to stave off a new leadership challenge at home – the chance to talk about strong British backing for Kyiv.

Mr Johnson said he is not worried about rebel Tory MPs plotting to oust him while he is out of the country until Thursday – rejecting calls to come home and reassert his authority following disastrous by-election defeats.

Read more from Adam Forrest here:

Stuti Mishra26 June 2022 06:00


Several explosions in Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskiy district, says mayor

Residents in Kyiv woke up to the sound of several explosions early on Sunday in the Shevchenkivskiy district as images and videos posted on social media show smoke rising to the sky.

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital confirmed that some explosions were heard, in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

“Ambulance crews and rescuers dispatched to the scene. More detailed information – later,” Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, has said on the Telegram messaging app.

Initial posts from people suggest there were as many as four explosions. However, officials are yet to share any details about the loss of life or damage to property.

Nika Melkozerova, executive editor of New Voice Ukraine, said two of the explosions took place in a residential building.

Stuti Mishra26 June 2022 05:30