Ukraine-Russia war: Russia practises missile launches in nuclear drills - as G7 leaders to discuss Moscow sanctions (2024)

Key points
  • UK issues 50 new sanctions on Russia
  • Russia practises electronic missile launches during tactical nuclear drills
  • Sunak to set out £240m Ukraine aid package as G7 to focus on Russia
  • NATO to crack down on Russian spies after sabotage
  • Big picture:Everything you need to know about the war right now
  • Your questions answered:Are there any signs of an underground resistance in Russia?
  • Live reporting by Ollie Cooperand Katie Williams


Pope Francis and Zelenskyy to meet tomorrow

Pope Francis is set to meet Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the G7 summit in Italy tomorrow.

The pope will also meet other world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his visit to Borgo Egnazia.

He will be also become the first pope in history to address a G7 summit.

Pope Francis and Mr Zelenskyy have met previously - but the Catholic Church head sparked criticism from Kyiv earlier in the year when he said Ukraine should have the "courage of the white flag" to negotiate an end to the war with Russia.

The Ukrainian president dismissed the comments as "virtual mediation" and the Vatican backtracked days later, calling Moscow's invasion "unjust".


Starmer pledges continued British support for Ukraine

The candidate considered most likely to be Britain's next prime minister has promised to uphold the UK's commitment to funding Ukraine.

In his party's manifesto released today, Labour's Sir Keir Starmer said: "With Labour, the UK's military, financial, diplomatic and political support for Ukraine will remain steadfast.

"Labour will support efforts to hold Putin's Russia to account for its illegal war, backing calls for a Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression.

"We will work with our allies to enable the seizure and repurposing of frozen Russian state assets to support Ukraine.

"And we will play a leading role in providing Ukraine with a clear path to NATO membership."


UK issues 50 new sanctions on Russia

The UK has announced 50 new sanctions against Russia, aimed at degrading Moscow's war machine.

New targets include ships in Vladimir Putin's shadow fleet, institutions at the heart of Russia’s financial system and suppliers supporting Moscow's military production.

"Today's sanctions aim to disrupt and increase the costs of Russia’s efforts to bypass UK and G7 sanctions through its shadow fleet," a statement from Number 10 read, referencing Russia's capability to still sell its crude oil despite previous bans.

"These new sanctions also target suppliers of munitions, machine tools, microelectronics, and logistics to Russia’s military, including entities based in China, Israel, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, along with ships which transport military goods from North Korea to Russia."


Watch: Russia practises electronic missile launch

Earlier today we reported on how Russia were practising the electronic launch of missiles during tactical nuclear drills.

Vladimir Putin ordered the drills after what Russia said were threats from the West, including suggestions from officials that Ukraine would be allowed to strike deep into Russian territory with Western-supplied weapons.

Footage released by the defence ministry showed Russian sailors focusing on a dummy target and then counting down to launch, including pressing the "launch" button.


China lobbying for alternative Ukraine peace plan

China is lobbying developing nations to join its alternative peace plan for Ukraine ahead of this weekend's peace summit in Switzerland.

As many as 90 states and organisations have registered to take part in this weekend's summit in Lucerne, which Russia was not invited to.

China, which has close ties to Russia, says it will not attend the conference because it does not meet Beijing's requirements, including the participation of Russia.

Bejing-based diplomats told Reuters that China had not overtly criticised the Swiss summit or directly asked countries to abstain.

One diplomat reportedly said Beijing had told developing nations the meeting would prolong the war, while two diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said China had been telling Western nations that many developing countries were aligned with its views on the conference.

Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said last week: "China sincerely hopes that a peace conference will not turn into a platform used to create bloc confrontation. Not attending it does not mean not supporting peace."


Analysis: Don't be fooled by appearances at this G7 summit

By Dominic Waghorn, international affairs editor

As G7 leaders meet near the idyllic Italian city of Bari, the view is stunning.

The Adriatic backdrop calm and serene.

Don't be fooled.

The outlook for the Western alliance is anything but.

The allies meet battered and weakened by storms back home and a sense of impending doom hangs over them.

It says it all that the least dysfunctional of the G7 member states right now is Italy - a country more usually prone to political instability.

Going into this summit its host, Italy's leader, Georgia Meloni, boasted that hers is the strongest government in Europe, "going against the trend".

Who could argue with that?

Not Emmanuel Macron, struggling to save France from the populist right after its election triumph a few days ago and the snap parliamentary vote he's called to follow.

Not Chancellor Olaf Scholz, equally humbled by the same in Germany.

And certainly not Rishi Sunak, limping from one excruciating ordeal to another on the election trail in Britain.

Outside of Europe, Meloni's other guests arrive with similar domestic baggage.

Canada's Justin Trudeau faces rising disenchantment and Japan's Fumio Kishida approval ratings have never been worse.

And Joe Biden is in his own world of pain, personal and political.

Allies and voters back home increasingly wonder if he will last the course to the election let alone another four years in office.

As war rages in Europe and beyond, there could not be a worse time for such weakness and division.

This year's G7 venue, near the walled city of Bari, has lessons for its guests from a long history of conflict, fought over by Byzantines, Saracens, Normans and Angevins.

The leaders convene with their enemies at the gate.

Populist forces threaten to topple the citadels of liberal democracy across Europe.

Russia is on the march in Ukraine - the conflict galvanising an alliance of autocracies to the East.

As host, Georgia Meloni will try to orchestrate a united response.

Italy has been at the forefront of efforts for instance to use Russia's confiscated billions to help finance the war in Ukraine.

But on the eve of this summit, the diplomacy seemed to be unravelling - with Europe reportedly accusing America of not pulling its weight in the initiative.

The allies know too well the price of dither and delay.

The failure to send tanks to Ukraine before Russia could prepare its defences has proven extraordinarily costly on the battlefield.

Expectations of diplomatic progress in Bari are being managed.

Excuses made. Democracy is messy.

It's harder to marshal multiple democracies than it is for the enemy to run a totalitarian state.

But in truth there is no time for division - this could be the West's last best chance.

In a year President Trump may be in place, a man viscerally opposed to all the G7 stands for.

He may be six months into dismantling NATO.

France could be paralysed, its president a lame duck, Germany the same.

The enemies of freedom and democracy are doing what they can to hasten the West's demise.

In Moscow, Tehran and Beijing they are looking on with glee - untroubled by this latest gathering.

Unless the allies can prove them wrong.

Don't hold your breath.


US widens sanctions on Russia

The US has broadened its sanctions on Russia, including targeting China-based companies selling semiconductors to Moscow, as part of an effort to cut funding for the war in Ukraine.

Semiconductors have been found in a wide array of Russian equipment, from drones to radios, missiles and armoured vehicles, recovered from the battlefield, Ukrainian officials say.

The US Treasury said it is raising "the risk of secondary sanctions for foreign financial institutions that deal with Russia's war economy", effectively threating to revoke Moscow's access to the US financial system.

It also said it is moving to restrict Russia's ability to use certain US software and IT services and, alongside the State Department, targeting more than 300 individuals and entities in Russia and across Asia, Europe and Africa.

In addition, the Commerce Department said it is targeting shell companies in Hong Kong for diverting semiconductors to Russia, taking steps that would affect nearly $100m of high-priority items for Moscow including chips.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minster, welcomed the sanctions.

"We particularly applaud tough measures against Russia's defence-industrial base and its access to technology and resources abroad," he wrote on X.

"Any entity assisting Russia in the production of weapons must be subjected to the most intense pressure."


Eight EU countries call for restricting movement of Russian diplomats within bloc

Eight European Union foreign ministers have called on the EU to ban Russian diplomats from moving freely around the bloc and restrict them to countries where they are accredited.

In a letter to EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, ministers said: "Free movement of holders of Russian diplomatic and service passports, accredited in one host state, across the whole Schengen area is easing malign activities."

The ministers said that intelligence, propaganda "or even preparation of sabotage acts are the main workload for a large number of Russian 'diplomats' in the EU".

The letter, which was signed by ministers from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania, added that "this measure will significantly narrow operational space for Russian agents".


Ukraine to sign security agreements with US and Japan today, Zelenskyy says

Ukraine will sign a security agreements with the US and Japan on the sidelines of today's G7 summit, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

"Bilateral security agreements will be signed during [G7] meetings with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida," he said in a social media post ahead of the summit in Italy.

"The document with the United States will be unprecedented, as it should be for leaders who support Ukraine."

Deals with both the US and Japan had been expected, but full details of each of the agreements have not been made public.

Mr Zelenskyy also said quicker fighter jet pilot training, faster plane deliveries to Ukraine, and obtaining more air defence and long range weapons were among Kyiv's priorities at the meeting.


NATO to crack down on Russian spies after sabotage

NATO members are set to take tougher action against Russian spies after a campaign of hostile activities by Moscow that includes acts of sabotage and cyber attacks, the head of NATO has said.

"We have seen several examples of sabotage, of arson attempts, of cyber attacks, of disinformation," Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels - where a meeting of NATO defence ministers is taking place.

Mr Stoltenberg said ministers would also discuss how NATO could respond, as well as how to protect critical maritime and cyber infrastructure, and also "tighter restrictions on Russian intelligence personnel across the alliance".

Ukraine-Russia war: Russia practises missile launches in nuclear drills - as G7 leaders to discuss Moscow sanctions (2024)


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