Russia attacks Ukrainian ports; arresting Putin would amount to declaration of war on Russia, South African president says

Russia-Ukraine war – latest news updates

Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday it had carried out overnight strikes on two Ukrainian port cities in what it called “a mass revenge strike” a day after an attack on the Kursk Bridge, which it blamed on Kyiv. The ministry claiming thats it hit “facilities where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared using crewless boats, as well as at the place of their manufacture at a shipyard near the city of Odesa”, and fuel depots in Mykolayiv.

Russia and Ukraine presented vastly different accounts of fighting in northeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, with Moscow reporting advances by its troops and Kyiv saying it had seized the initiative in the region. Both sides reported no letup in the fighting. Ukraine has reported a measure of progress in a counteroffensive launched early last month in the east and in capturing villages in the south, while Moscow says it has contained any move forward by Kyiv’s forces.

Both sides have achieved “marginal advances” in different areas over the past week, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence update on the conflict.

There are a “number of ideas being floated” to help get Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertiliser to global markets after Moscow quit a deal allowing the safe export of Ukraine grain through the Black Sea, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The head of USAid accused Putin of making a “life and death decision” affecting millions of the world’s poorest people by withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal. Speaking in the shadow of several vast grain silos in the key trading port of Odesa, Samantha Power pledged a further $250m to create and expand alternative routes for Ukrainian grain to leave the country, but admitted nothing would compensate for the loss of the Black Sea ports.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, discussed with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, ways of exporting Russian grain via routes “that would not be susceptible to Kyiv and the west’s sabotage”, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked permission from the international criminal court not to arrest Russia’s Vladimir Putin, because to do so would amount to a declaration of war, a local court submission published on Tuesday showed. South Africa is due to host a summit of the BRICS club of nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – next month. But the ICC has an arrest warrant out for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. South Africa, as an ICC member, is obliged to arrest him should he appear in person at the summit.

An investigation has identified military units under Russia’s command that carried out human rights abuses last year during the occupation of the Ukrainian city of Izium. The report by the Centre for Information Resilience names four militia units that allegedly abused civilians and prisoners of war.

US General Mark Milley said in a Pentagon briefing that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is far from a failure but the fight ahead will be long. He said: “I think there’s a lot of fighting left to go and I’ll stay with what we said before: This is going to be long. It’s going be hard. It’s going to be bloody.”

Ben Wallace, the outgoing UK defence secretary, said the war in Ukraine is “winnable”, arguing the Nato alliance “does function” as a deterrent against Russia at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change conference in London.

Russia’s parliament has extended the eligibility for military call-up by at least five years – in the case of the highest-ranking officers, up to the age of 70.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday it plans to invest £2.5bn ($3.3bn) in army stockpiles and munitions “to improve fighting readiness”, as it “takes learnings from the war in Ukraine”.

Russian air defences and electronic countermeasure systems downed 28 Ukrainian drones over Crimea in the early hours of Tuesday, the RIA news agency has cited the Russian defence ministry as saying. The drone attacks caused no casualties or damages, the ministry said.

Russian state-owned media is reporting that Russian Federation security services claim to have detained a woman on suspicion of preparing “a terrorist attack” in the Yaroslavl region, to the north of Moscow.

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