Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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July 8 (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday said attempts to isolate Moscow with sanctions was akin to a declaration of economic war by the West, dismissing what he said was “frenzied” criticism of the war in Ukraine. 

FIGHTING

* Russia is likely concentrating its equipment in the direction of Siversk, about 8 km (4.9 miles) west of the current Russian front line, Britain’s defence ministry said on Friday. Russian forces are likely pausing to replenish before undertaking new offensive operations in the Donetsk region.

*Russia has used only a small portion of its potential in its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia had barely started in Ukraine and dared the West to try to defeat it on the battlefield, while insisting that Moscow was still open to the idea of peace talks. 

* Russia’s defence ministry said in a briefing on Friday that Russian forces had destroyed two British-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missile systems in Ukraine’s Odesa region overnight.The U.S.-designed missile systems are one of several weapons supplied to Ukraine by NATO countries since Russia sent its armed forces into the country on Feb. 24.

DIPLOMACY/ECONOMY

* Lavrov walked out on Germany’s foreign minister during a plenary session of the G20, a Western official said.

* U.S. Secretary of State Blinken addressed Russia directly at the G20 foreign ministers meeting and called on Moscow to let Ukrainian grain out to the world, a Western official said. 

* In a hawkish speech to parliamentary leaders more than four months into the war, Putin said on Thursday that Russia had barely got started in Ukraine and the prospects for negotiation would grow dimmer the longer the conflict dragged on.

* Zelenskiy, in his nightly video message on Thursday, responded with defiance, saying that the two-month operation to retake Snake Island was a warning to all Russian forces that Ukraine will not be broken.

* Ninety minutes after resigning as British prime minister on Thursday, Boris Johnson called Zelenskiyto say his people had the UK’s unwavering support, and Britain would continue to supply vital defensive aid for as long as needed. 

REFUGEES

* More than 8.79 million people have crossed the border from Ukraine since the invasion on Feb. 24 the U.N. refugee agency said.

* Removed from a warzone, a Ukrainian circus troupe delights in France. 

QUOTES

* “We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading towards this,” said Putin.

* “It’s their (Russians’) fantasy to occupy these cities, but they don’t expect the level of resistance. It’s not just the Ukrainian government, it’s the people who refuse to accept them,” said mechanic-turned-soldier Artchk in Kramatorsk.

The mother of Ukrainian serviceman Andrii Verkhoglyad holds her son’s portrait during his funeral ceremony at St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, 08 July 2022. Andrii, commander of the 3rd battalion of the 72nd infantry brigade, was killed in combat on 23 June near Svitlodarsk, Donetsk Oblast, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. EPA-EFE/OLEG PETRASYUK

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