???? Live: Russia repels Ukraine drone attack on Crimea, says defence ministry

Russia thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack near Sebastopol, a crucial port in Russian-annexed Crimea, Russia’s defence ministry said Sunday morning. Moscow’s air defence forces and Black Sea fleet reportedly took out a total of nine drones throughout the assault, which the ministry said caused no damage or casualties. Follow our live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

8.19am: Russia repelled ‘terrorist’ drone attack, says defence ministry

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Sunday that it had thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack attempt near the port of Sevastopol in Crimea.

“This morning, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack by seven unmanned aerial vehicles and two unmanned semi-submersible boats on objects on the territory of the Crimean peninsula near the city of Sevastopol was thwarted,” the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app. 

There were no casualties and no damage, the ministry added.

The ministry’s version of events could not be independently verified.

7.26am: Ukraine aid ‘single best thing we can do for the global economy’, says Yellen

Redoubling support for war-stricken Ukraine is the “single best” way to aid the global economy, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday, along with boosting emerging economies and tackling debt distress.

Yellen, speaking on the sidelines of a G20 finance minister summit in India, said a “key priority” was “to redouble our support for Ukraine” in its defence against Russia.

“Ending this war is first and foremost a moral imperative,” Yellen told reporters in Gandhinagar. “But it’s also the single best thing we can do for the global economy.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine  both global breadbaskets that together exported almost a quarter of the world’s wheat supply  triggered shockwaves in global economies by sending prices for food and fuel shooting up.

7.24am: Russia says it shot down nine drones over Sevastopol

Russia’s air defence forces and fleet in the Black Sea intercepted nine Ukrainian drones over the Crimean port of Sevastopol early on Sunday, a Moscow-installed official said.

“No objects, either in the city or in the water area were damaged,” Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, said on the Telegram messaging app.

Two aerial drones were shot down over the sea, five were intercepted by Russia’s electronic warfare forces and two water surface drones were destroyed on the outer shore, he added.

The attacks were over the harbour of Sevastopol and the city’s Balaklava, Khersones districts, Razvozhayev said earlier.

4.04am: G7 finance chiefs to talk aid to Ukraine

G7 finance chiefs are set to discuss Sunday aid to war-stricken Ukraine, debt distress faced by struggling economies, bank reform and a global tax deal, alongside wider G20 meetings in India.

A key focus of the talks, which will include US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, will be supporting multilateral development lenders such as the World Bank to better tackle challenges like climate change and poverty, US officials said.

“With over half of all low-income countries at high risk of or in debt distress, it is critical that we take collective action to help put them  and by extension the global economy on a surer footing”, the US Department of the Treasury said in a statement ahead of the meeting in Gandhinagar.

3.44am: Russia repelling Ukraine drone attacks on Crimea: Moscow-installed official

Russia’s air defence forces and fleet in the Black Sea were engaged in repelling Ukrainian drone attacks over the Crimean port of Sevastopol early on Sunday, a Moscow-installed official said.

The attacks were over the harbour of Sevastopol and the city’s Balaklava and Khersones districts, Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, said on the Telegram messaging app.

There were no immediate details of the scale of the attack or any damage from the attacks on the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

2.43am: Wagner mercenaries arriving in Belarus, say Ukraine, Poland

Fighters from the Wagner Group have arrived in Belarus from Russia, Ukrainian and Polish officials said on Saturday, a day after Minsk said that the mercenaries were training the country’s soldiers southeast of the capital.

“Wagner is in Belarus,” Andriy Demchenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian border agency, said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app. He added that the movement of “separate groups” from Russia has been observed in Belarus.

Some Wagner fighters have been in Belarus since at least Tuesday, two sources close to the fighters told Reuters.

The Belarusian defence ministry released a video on Friday, showing what it said were Wagner fighters instructing Belarusian soldiers at a military range near the town of Osipovichi.

Wagner’s move to Belarus was part of a deal that ended the group’s mutiny attempt in June after taking control of a Russian military headquarters, marching on Moscow, and threatening to tip Russia into civil war, President Vladimir Putin said.

12.32am: Ukraine, Russia trade accusations of shelling civilians in Zaporizhzhia

Three civilians were wounded in Russian shelling of a village in Zaporizhzhia, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration said on Saturday, while Moscow-backed officials said that Kyiv’s forces shelled a school there.

Fighting has been taking place in Zaporizhzhia for months, a frontline region in southern Ukraine that Moscow moved to annex last year but does not occupy it in its entirety. The regional capital, the city of Zaporizhzhia, remains under Kyiv’s control.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, said on his Telegram messaging app that Russian forces shelled the village of Stepnohirske in the region from multiple rocket launchers, hitting an administrative building.

“There are three wounded: two women and a men,” Yermak said. Russia also shelled the city of Zaporizhzhia, hitting and damaging at least 16 buildings there, Anatoliy Kurtiev, secretary of the city council said on the Telegram.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in parts of Zaporizhzhia controlled by Moscow, said that Ukrainian forces destroyed a school in the village of Stulneve, while air defence forces intercepted a drone over the city of Tokmak.

Neither side’s accounts could be independently verified. Both sides deny targeting civilians in the nearly 17-month long war that Russia has been waging on its neighbour.

Key developments from Saturday, July 15:

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service said Saturday that the force had observed “some groups” of Wagner fighters crossing from Russia into Belarus. The spokesperson, Andriy Demchenko, made the remarks in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.

Separately, an independent monitoring group reported that a large convoy carrying fighters from the Wagner private army was spotted entering Belarus from Russia early Saturday, after the Belarusian defense ministry said it planned for the mercenaries and Minsk’s own armed forces to conduct joint military drills.

The Belarusian defense ministry said in an online statement late Friday that it had developed a “road map” with Wagner’s management for joint training exercises between the nation’s military personnel and the private mercenaries.

Read yesterday’s liveblog to see how all the day’s events unfolded.

Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine
Read more analysis on the war in Ukraine © France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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