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LIVE – Updated at 19:00

Moscow has ‘definitively’ lost initiative in battle for eastern region; Ukraine attacks key Russian held bridge in Kherson.

Summary

19:00

The time in Kyiv is now 9pm. Here is a round-up of the day’s top headlines:

  • Russia has “definitively” lost the initiative in the battle for the Donbas in Ukraine, according to western officials. Moscow will not take the eastern industrial heartland in the “immediate future”, one official said, but “they are not just going to give up and go home”.
  • Ukraine’s navy confirmed on Wednesday that work had started at three Ukrainian Black Sea ports aimed at preparing for the resumption of grain exports. “In connection with the signing of the agreement on the unblocking of Ukrainian ports for the export of grain, work has been resumed in the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdeny,” the navy said on Facebook.
  • Russia cannot be trusted to honour an agreement to allow the export of Ukrainian grain from Odesa, the Polish prime minister said on Wednesday, after Moscow launched a missile strike on the Black Sea port. “The day after the signing [of the agreement], the Russian armed forces ... attacked Odesa,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.
  • Ukrainian parliament approved the appointment of lawmaker Andriy Kostin as the country’s prosecutor general on Wednesday, the prosecutor general’s office said. Some 299 deputies in the 450-seat parliament endorsed Kostin’s appointment, it said on the Telegram messaging app.
  • A key Russian-held bridge into the occupied southern city of Kherson has been hit with a barrage of rocket fire by Ukrainian forces, who appeared to be stepping up operations to isolate the city. Video and witness accounts showed up to 18 detonations on the Antonivskiy Bridge over the Dnieper river, one of the main Russian resupply routes into Kherson, with Russian anti-missile air defences apparently failing to intercept the strikes. There were also reports that a railway bridge was targeted.
  • Germany has accused Moscow of engaging in “power play” over energy exports, as Russian state-run Gazprom further throttled gas supplies into Europe. As announced two days earlier, the energy giant on Wednesday reduced the gas flow through Nord Stream 1 to 33m cubic metres a day – about 20% of the pipeline’s total capacity and half the amount it has been delivering since resuming service last week after 10 days of maintenance work.
  • Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign affairs minister, was in Uganda on Tuesday for bilateral talks with President Yoweri Museveni, on his third stop of an African tour that ends in Ethiopia today. The trip comes against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is having devastating consequences on food supply across Africa. The war has fuelled food shortages in east Africa, which was already hard-hit by climate change and disruptions to the food supply due to Covid-19.
  • One person has been killed and four wounded in a Russian attack on a hotel in Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, according to local emergency services and the regional governor.
  • A bipartisan group of three US senators urged Meta’s Facebook, Twitter and Telegram to do a better job of stopping Russian efforts to spread Spanish-language disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine. Senators Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent the letters, dated Wednesday, along with Senators Tim Kaine, also a Democrat, and Bill Cassidy, a Republican.
  • A tongue-in-cheek petition to give the outgoing British prime minister, Boris Johnson, Ukrainian citizenship and make him the country’s prime minister has garnered over 2,500 signatures hours after being put up on Ukraine’s official petitions site on Tuesday.
  • The European Union had understood how “essential” to Russia the issue of goods transit to the country’s Kaliningrad exclave is, according to Moscow. Reuters reported that the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said developments around the exclave were “positive”, after a deal with the EU to unblock transit to Kaliningrad.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, and indeed the Ukraine live blog for tonight. Thanks for following along. The latest news from Russia’s war on Ukraine can be found here.

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18:50

A bipartisan group of three US senators urged Meta’s Facebook, Twitter and Telegram to do a better job of stopping Russian efforts to spread Spanish-language disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine.

Senators Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent the letters, dated Wednesday, along with Senators Tim Kaine, also a Democrat, and Bill Cassidy, a Republican.

In particular, the lawmakers asked the companies to better moderate Russia’s RT en Espanol and Sputnik Mundo, Reuters reported.

“We ... know that disinformation campaigns by Russian state media’s Spanish-language outlets targeted at Latin American and Caribbean audiences regularly reach Spanish-speaking communities in the United States, directly harming our national interests,” they said in the three letters.

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The letters were sent to Telegram Chief Executive Pavel Durov, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO. Representatives of Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment while Telegram could not be reached.

A group of 21 US lawmakers sent a similar letter to Facebook in April.

18:08

The British foreign secretary Liz Truss has said Vladimir Putin is holding the rest of the world to ransom over gas prices and said allowing him to succeed would cause “untold misery” across Europe.

Asked by broadcasters whether she believed “Vladimir Putin is effectively holding the rest of the world to ransom” by “cutting off supplies to Germany,” she replied:

That is exactly what he is trying to do and it’s vitally important that we stay strong in the face of his appalling aggression.

If we allow Vladimir Putin to succeed, it will cause untold misery across Europe.

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We know that he wouldn’t just stop at Ukraine the east of Europe is under threat and democracy is under threat.

Russia will not manage to take Donbas in 'immediate future', say western officials

17:50

Russia has “definitively” lost the initiative in the battle for the Donbas in Ukraine, according to western officials.

Moscow will not take the eastern industrial heartland in the “immediate future”, one official said, but “they are not just going to give up and go home”.

They said there has been “wax and wane” in the war in Ukraine, and Russia has the capacity to “adapt and adjust what they are doing”, according to a Press Association report.

Earlier this month, western officials said the sustainability of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine was “challenging”, with Moscow making “genuine headway” on the objective it claimed was the rationale for the invasion - the supposed liberation of the Donbas.

But a western official said on Wednesday that Russia has “definitively lost the initiative” in the battle for the region.

They said it is believed that securing the full extent of Donetsk Oblast remains the “minimum political objective of the Donbas campaign”, but it looks “increasingly unlikely” that Russia will achieve this in the next several months.

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Germany accuses Russia of ‘power play’ as gas pipeline supply drops by half

16:54 Philip Oltermann

Germany has accused Moscow of engaging in “power play” over energy exports, as Russian state-run Gazprom further throttled gas supplies into Europe.

As announced two days earlier, the energy giant on Wednesday reduced the gas flow through Nord Stream 1 to 33m cubic metres a day – about 20% of the pipeline’s total capacity and half the amount it has been delivering since resuming service last week after 10 days of maintenance work.

According to network data from the gas transfer station in Lubmin, north-east Germany, only about 17m kilowatt hours of gas arrived between 8am and 9am, compared with more than 27m kWh between 6am and 7am.

Related: Germany accuses Russia of ‘power play’ as gas pipeline supply drops by half

16:09

A tongue-in-cheek petition to give the outgoing British prime minister, Boris Johnson, Ukrainian citizenship and make him the country’s prime minister has garnered over 2,500 signatures hours after being put up on Ukraine’s official petitions site on Tuesday.

Despite losing domestic popularity and eventually having been forced to announce his resignation after dozens of ministerial departures in early July, Johnson remains a cult figure in Kyiv for his vocal support of Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion.

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The Reuters news agency reported:

The petition, addressed to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, lists Johnson’s strengths as “worldwide support for Boris Johnson, a clear position against the military invasion of Ukraine, (and) wisdom in the political, financial and legal spheres.”

The petition, however, does acknowledge one negative side of such an appointment: its non-compliance with Ukraine’s constitution.

In an apparent coincidence, several hours after the petition was put up on Tuesday, Johnson presented Zelenskiy with the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership award for what his Downing Street office described as “incredible courage, defiance, and dignity” in the face of Russia’s invasion.

Zelenskiy did not mention the new petition when accepting the award, but he will be obliged to officially respond if it receives 25,000 signatures.

Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskiy visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles and weapons in Kyiv. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskiy visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles and weapons in Kyiv. Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

15:39

The Czech government has backed allowing its fighter jets to protect neighbouring Slovakia’s air space from September, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Slovakia has sought help from its Nato allies as it looks to ground its Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets in August under long-standing plans to modernise the military.

Slovak government officials have said the old jets could be sent to neighbouring Ukraine to help Kyiv defend itself against Russia’s invasion, Reuters reported.

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From September, the Czech army’s Gripen JAS-39 fighter jets will provide air policing for Slovakia until at least the end of 2023, the Czech Defence Ministry said. Poland is also expected to take part, it said.

More details will come as part of a joint declaration from the countries to be signed in the near future.

15:13

Russia cannot be trusted to honour an agreement to allow the export of Ukrainian grain from Odesa, the Polish prime minister said on Wednesday, after Moscow launched a missile strike on the Black Sea port.

“The day after the signing [of the agreement], the Russian armed forces ... attacked Odesa,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.

“It follows that such agreements cannot be considered fully credible, because unfortunately that is what Russia is like.”

Work to restart grain exports starts at Black Sea ports

15:12

Ukraine’s navy confirmed on Wednesday that work had started at three Ukrainian Black Sea ports aimed at preparing for the resumption of grain exports.

“In connection with the signing of the agreement on the unblocking of Ukrainian ports for the export of grain, work has been resumed in the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdeny,” the navy said on Facebook.

“The departure and arrival of ships to seaports will be carried out by forming a caravan that will accompany the lead ship.”

Analysis: Is Russia killing off the ISS?

15:11

The invasion of Ukraine appears to be having consequences beyond the confines of earth, as the Guardian’s science editor Ian Sample writes today:

This week’s announcement by Yury Borisov, the new head of Roscosmos, that Russia will quit the International Space Station after 2024, is only the latest expression of the country’s discontent.

Fractures in the partnership, which also includes Europe, Canada and Japan, have appeared before. In 2014, Russia’s then deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said his country would reject plans to extend ISS operations beyond 2020, in protest against sanctions over the annexation of Crimea. The threat was dropped, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year sparked further upheaval for space cooperation that looks far harder to repair.

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Read more of Ian Sample’s analysis here: Is Russia killing off the International Space Station?

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Gazprom says turbine used for Nord Stream 1 has not arrived from Canada

15:11

Gazprom’s deputy CEO, Vitaly Markelov, has said the company has still not received a Siemens turbine used at Nord Stream 1’s Portovaya compressor station that has been undergoing servicing in Canada.

Reuters reports Markelov blamed Siemens, which is servicing the turbine, for the delay, saying that there were sanctions risks associated with the machinery.

Yesterday energy ministers from the 27 EU member states, except Hungary, backed a voluntary 15% reduction in gas usage over the winter, a target that could become mandatory if the Kremlin ordered a complete shutdown of gas to Europe.

14:48 Peter Beaumont

In response to the attack on the Antonivskiy Bridge, Russian military bloggers, some of whom have become more critical of the Kremlin’s conduct of the war, underlined the problems facing Russian forces in the Kherson area.

Among them was the Voennyi Osvedomitel (military informant) Telegram channel, which has a following of 450,000 people.

“The repeated attacks by the armed forces of Ukraine have led to – so far – a temporary failure of the Antonivskiy Bridge, forcing the construction of ferry and pontoon crossings as an alternative.

“There are exactly two problems here. First, the consequences of shelling the bridge have a cumulative effect, that is, each subsequent one does more damage than the previous one … The second is that alternatives in the form of pontoons / ferries are much more vulnerable to enemy fire.

“We are forced to conclude that the problem with the ongoing attempts of the armed forces of Ukraine to cut off the right-bank grouping of [Russian forces] from supplies is not being resolved.”

The bridge has come under repeated attack in the past week as Ukraine has tried to cut off the handful of routes Russia can use to move heavy weapons in and around Kherson, including a road over the dam at nearby Nova Kakhovka.

14:42

Here are some pictures of the newly opened joint coordination centre (JCC) in Istanbul which will oversee the export of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports in a deal brokered by Turkey.

Military delegations of Turkey, Russia and Ukraine sit at the opening of the coordination centre for Ukrainian grain exports. Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Military delegations of Turkey, Russia and Ukraine sit at the opening of the coordination centre for Ukrainian grain exports. Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images A general view of the JCC in Istanbul. Photograph: Erdem Şahin/EPA © Provided by The Guardian A general view of the JCC in Istanbul. Photograph: Erdem Şahin/EPA

Reuters reports that a Turkish official close to the matter said that prior to last week’s agreement the Ukrainian and Russian sides initially did not talk to each other during the negotiations, but then they softened.

“The Ukrainian and Russian representatives are staying here at the joint centre. The parties have social conversations with each other in this campus. They are eating together here,” he said.

A Ukrainian official attends the opening of the JCC. Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian A Ukrainian official attends the opening of the JCC. Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty Images Russian military delegation during the opening ceremony. Photograph: Erdem Şahin/EPA © Provided by The Guardian Russian military delegation during the opening ceremony. Photograph: Erdem Şahin/EPA

14:14

Oleh Synyehubov, governor of Kharkiv, has said that ten high-rise buildings have been damaged as a result of shelling today. There were no casualties or injuries he posted to Telegram, but “they have partially broken windows, broken balconies.”

12:52

Preparations are continuing for the first ships to leave Ukrainian ports under a landmark UN deal to export Ukrainian grains, the Turkish defence minister, Hulusi Akar, has said.

Akar added that the goal of a monitoring centre in Istanbul was to ensure the safe shipment of grains from three Ukrainian ports, with more than 25m tonnes of grain waiting there.

12:30 Caroline Kimeu

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign affairs minister, was in Uganda on Tuesday for bilateral talks with President Yoweri Museveni, on his third stop of an African tour that ends in Ethiopia today.

The trip comes against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is having devastating consequences on food supply across Africa. The war has fuelled food shortages in east Africa, which was already hard-hit by climate change and disruptions to the food supply due to Covid-19.

Roughly 48 million people are facing food shortages in the region, and in Uganda, nearly 500,000 are food insecure.

“Since the blockade [of Ukrainian ports], food prices in Uganda have risen at an alarming rate,” says Catherine Ogolla, east Africa representative at the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development.

“Communities in the most arid areas of northern Uganda and Karamoja are beset by climate change and particularly vulnerable to unstable food markets,” she says.

Russia is doubling down its efforts to strengthen ties with Uganda and other countries across Africa, where a number of states have declined to take a stance on the war because of economic, political and security relations with Russia, Ukraine and western nations.

Uganda was one of 17 African countries that abstained from a United Nations general assembly resolution in March condemning Russia’s offensive into Ukraine.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov (left), and foreign minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, attend a press conference during their meeting in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry/EPA © Provided by The Guardian The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov (left), and foreign minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, attend a press conference during their meeting in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry/EPA

Video: Russia expands Ukraine war goals beyond east (Reuters)

12:14

Ukrainian parliament approved the appointment of lawmaker Andriy Kostin as the country’s prosecutor general on Wednesday, the prosecutor general’s office said.

Some 299 deputies in the 450-seat parliament endorsed Kostin’s appointment, it said on the Telegram messaging app.

Kostin is a member of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party, Reuters reported.

The president had earlier nominated Kostin to replace Iryna Venediktova, who was removed as prosecutor general earlier this month.

12:08

The European Union had understood how “essential” to Russia the issue of goods transit to the country’s Kaliningrad exclave is, according to Moscow.

Reuters reported that the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said developments around the exclave were “positive”, after a deal with the EU to unblock transit to Kaliningrad.

Tensions between the EU and Russia had soared after suggestions that sanctions imposed on Russia over its deployment of troops to Ukraine could ban goods transfers between the Russian mainland and Kaliningrad, which are routed through EU member state Lithuania.

11:34

The Kremlin has said that an EU court’s decision to uphold a ban on Russian state-controlled broadcaster Russia Today was “extremely negative” and that Moscow would take similar measures against Western media in response.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia Today was unable to work in Europe but he hoped it would find loopholes to resume broadcasting.

The EU court earlier upheld a European Union ban imposed on the broadcaster in March due to its systematic disinformation over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

11:12

A volley of Ukrainian missiles rained down on the Antonivskiy Bridge in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson, an indicator that the Ukrainian army is stepping up its attempts to isolate the city.

The bridge is a key Russian resupply route, which Russian forces have held since early March.

Summary of the day so far …

11:01
  • A key Russian-held bridge into the occupied southern city of Kherson has been hit with a barrage of rocket fire by Ukrainian forces, who appeared to be stepping up operations to isolate the city. Video and witness accounts showed up to 18 detonations on the Antonivskiy Bridge over the Dnieper river, one of the main Russian resupply routes into Kherson, with Russian anti-missile air defences apparently failing to intercept the strikes. There were also reports that a railway bridge was targeted.
  • Self-appointed authorities in the occupied Kherson region have closed the bridge to traffic, but said it was structurally sound and that repairs would begin shortly. Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-imposed administration, said “There are hits on the bridge, the bridge has not been destroyed. More holes have been added”. He claimed that the attack would make life slightly more difficult for the resident of Kherson, but “it will not affect the outcome of hostilities in any way.”
  • One person has been killed and four wounded in a Russian attack on a hotel in Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, according to local emergency services and the regional governor.
  • The self-proclaimed republic in Donetsk has said that two civilians were injured in territory it occupies by shelling from Ukrainian forces overnight.
  • The UK’s Ministry of Defence has said “Russian private military company Wagner has likely succeeded in making tactical advances in the Donbas around the Vuhlehirska power plant and the nearby village of Novoluhanske. Some Ukrainian forces have likely withdrawn from the area.”
  • Russian forces continued to strike civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the surrounding region in the country’s northeast. Regional governor, Oleh Syniehubov, said the strikes on the city resumed around dawn Tuesday. “The Russians deliberately target civilian infrastructure objects hospitals, schools, movie theatres. Everything is being fired at, even queues for humanitarian aid,” Syniehubov told Ukrainian television.
  • Russia has lost almost 40,000 soldiers since launching its latest invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has claimed in his nightly address. The number of casualties has not been verified.
  • Zelenskiy has nominated Andriy Kostin, a lawmaker from the president’s political party, to be the country’s next prosecutor general. He would replace Iryna Venediktova, who was removed as prosecutor general earlier this month. The appointment has to be approved by parliament.
  • The headquarters overseeing exports of Ukrainian grain is set to be unveiled in Istanbul today, and a senior Turkish official said the first ship is likely to depart Black Sea ports in a few days. The joint coordination centre (JCC) in Istanbul will oversee departures from three Ukrainian ports in which ships must circumvent mines, and will conduct inspections of incoming ships for weapons. All vessels pass through Turkish waters.
  • The Russian deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, has said a Turkish-brokered deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports on the Black Sea could collapse if obstacles to Russia’s agricultural exports are not promptly removed.
  • The first train with sanctioned goods has arrived from Russia to Kaliningrad via Lithuania in the first such trip since the European Union said Lithuania must allow Russian goods across its territory, according to the regional governor. The train reportedly consisted of 60 freight cars with cement.

That is it from me, Martin Belam, for now. I am handing over to Tom Ambrose, and will be back later on.

10:54

Here is a view of people looking out across the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnipro river in occupied Kherson. It currently appears to be closed to civilians and to traffic.

A view shows the Antonivskiy bridge in Kherson. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian A view shows the Antonivskiy bridge in Kherson. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Kirill Stremousov, one of the self-appointed officials in the Russian-imposed administration in the occupied region, has told Russian news agency Tass that repairs will begin soon.

Reuters is carrying a quote about the attack from Nataliya Humeniuk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian forces. In a TV interview she said: “I will note that we appreciate everything that is in our country, even when it is under occupation. There were strikes, but they were intricate.”

The Ukrainian side is saying it took care to damage the bridge so that it was unusable for heavy goods and military machinery, but not to destroy it.

10:45

We reported earlier that Pavlo Kyrylenko claimed that a hotel had been struck in Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. Reuters is now reporting that local emergency services have put the casualty figures from the attack at four wounded and at least one person dead.

10:13

The Russian deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, has said a Turkish-brokered deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports on the Black Sea could collapse if obstacles to Russia’s agricultural exports are not promptly removed, Interfax reports.

It quotes Rudenko saying grain shipments from Ukraine would start soon, and he hoped the grain deal would hold.

Russia fired cruise missiles at the crucial port of Odesa within hours of signing the grain export deal last week.

09:24

Here are some of the latest images to be sent to us from Ukraine over the news wires.

Ukrainian servicemen patrol a neighbourhood in Kharkiv. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Ukrainian servicemen patrol a neighbourhood in Kharkiv. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images A man sits looking at a memorial wall in Kyiv displaying images of Ukrainian service personnel killed since Russia began its latest invasion of Ukraine in February. Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian A man sits looking at a memorial wall in Kyiv displaying images of Ukrainian service personnel killed since Russia began its latest invasion of Ukraine in February. Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images Insignias with the letter Z, which has become a symbol of support for Russian military action in Ukraine, are seen on sale at a gift stall in Sevastopol in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Photograph: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Insignias with the letter Z, which has become a symbol of support for Russian military action in Ukraine, are seen on sale at a gift stall in Sevastopol in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Photograph: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

09:23

The headquarters overseeing exports of Ukrainian grain is set to be unveiled in Istanbul today, and a senior Turkish official said the first ship is likely to depart Black Sea ports in a few days.

The joint coordination centre (JCC) in Istanbul will oversee departures from three Ukrainian ports in which ships must circumvent mines, and will conduct inspections of incoming ships for weapons. All vessels pass through Turkish waters.

Reuters reports a Turkish official said all the details had been worked out, including a safe route for ships that will not require the clearing of sea mines.

“It will not take more than a few days. It looks like the first grains will be loaded this week and its export from Ukraine will take place,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

09:11

The self-proclaimed republic in Donetsk has said that two civilians were injured in territory it occupies by shelling from Ukrainian forces overnight. The claims have not been independently verified.

08:56

The media channel Nexta is carrying some unverified video footage which purports to show the damage to the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnipro river after it was struck multiple times by Ukrainian forces last night.

08:52

Russian news agencies are carrying a quote from a figure in the Russian-imposed administration of occupied Kherson about the strike on the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnipro river.

Tass and RIA Novosti cite the deputy head of the self-appointed administration Kirill Stremousov saying “There are hits on the bridge, the bridge has not been destroyed. More holes have been added.”

It is being reported that the bridge remains closed to traffic. Stremousov is also quoted as saying that the attack may have some impact on the delivery of food and supplies to the civilian population in the city, but “it will not affect the outcome of hostilities in any way.”

08:24

Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukraine’s governor of Donetsk, has issued a status update on Telegram. In it he lists locations which he claims have been struck by Russian shelling overnight, including Bakhmut, where he claims “the Russians targeted a hotel” and that “according to preliminary information, there are dead and wounded, a rescue operation is underway.”

The claims have not been independently verified.

07:51

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the office of president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has posted to social media about the strikes on the key bridge in occupied Kherson, joking that it has been successfully intercepting Ukrainian missiles, but warning the occupiers to leave the city. He wrote:

You can call the Antonivskiy bridge a means of Russia air defence that intercepts all Ukrainian missiles, but you cannot escape the reality – occupiers should learn how to swim across the Dnieper River. Or should leave Kherson while it is still possible. There may not be a third warning.

07:35

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has issued its regular daily intelligence briefing. On the military situation in Ukraine, it says:

Russian private military company Wagner has likely succeeded in making tactical advances in the Donbas around the Vuhlehirska power plant and the nearby village of Novoluhanske. Some Ukrainian forces have likely withdrawn from the area.

The rest of today’s update is devoted to commentary on Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s tour of African countries, during which the ministry says “Russia will highly likely seek to exploit the visits to blame the West for the international food crisis and win the support of African states which have otherwise remained neutral about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Ukraine attacks key Russian held bridge in Kherson

07:25 Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont in Kyiv has filed this report on a night when it appears that Ukraine has stepped up attacks on Russian-occupied Kherson:

A key Russian held bridge into the occupied southern city of Kherson was hit with a barrage of rocket fire by Ukrainian forces who appeared to be stepping up operations to isolate the city.

Video and witness accounts showed up to 18 detonations on the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnipro river, one of the main Russian resupply routes into Kherson, with Russian anti-missile air defences apparently failing to intercept the strikes.

Ukraine’s armed forces published a one-minute clip on Telegram purportedly showing the rocket fire just after 1am on Wednesday. “The moment of the flight over the Antonivskiy bridge,” the force said.

In another series of videos posted to Telegram where loud explosions could be heard, the military added: “Explosions in the Antonivskiy bridge area.”

The bridge has come under repeated attack in the past week as Ukraine has tried to cut off the handful of routes Russia can use to move heavy weapons in and around Kherson, including a road over the dam at nearby Nova Khakovka.

Read more here: Ukraine steps up attacks on Russian-occupied Kherson

Related: Ukraine steps up attacks on Russian-occupied Kherson

07:24

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has nominated Andriy Kostin, a lawmaker from the president’s political party, to be the country’s next prosecutor general.

Reuters reports Zelenskiy submitted a formal request to parliament for the assembly to vote to confirm Kostin’s appointment. He would replace Iryna Venediktova, who was removed as prosecutor general earlier this month.

07:19

Here is another, unverified, clip that is doing the rounds on social media which is claimed to show the strikes on the vital road bridge in Kherson.

  • This is Martin Belam picking up the live blog in London. You can contact me on [email protected]

First Russian train reaches Kaliningrad, governor says

06:54

The first train with sanctioned goods has arrived from Russia to Kaliningrad via Lithuania in the first such trip since the European Union said Lithuania must allow Russian goods across its territory, according to the regional governor.

Russian news agency Tass cited regional governor Anton Alikhanov as saying:

It is indeed the first train to have arrived after the EU decision ... [it is] quite an important achievement.”

The train reportedly consisted of 60 freight cars with cement.

Wedged between Lithuania and fellow EU and Nato member Poland, Russia’s heavily militarised exclave of Kaliningrad depends on mainland Russia for a sizeable portion of its supplies. But these must transit through Lithuanian territory.

The region has found itself increasingly isolated since Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February.

40,000 Russian soldiers killed since invasion began - Zelenskiy

06:35

Russia has lost almost 40,000 soldiers since launching its invasion on Ukraine on 24 February, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has claimed.

The Ukrainian president made the observations - which are not possible to independently confirm - during his latest national address.

For four months, the Russian state has not provided to its citizens any information - even censored - about the losses of the occupation contingent.

Total silence. Nothing was published or said in numerous interviews and speeches at the political and military levels.

However, this number is already almost 40,000 - that is how many killed people the Russian army has lost since February 24. And tens of thousands more were wounded and maimed.”

06:16

Russian officials appear to have confirmed the latest strike on the Antonivskiy bridge in Russian-occupied Kherson.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-installed regional authority in Kherson, spoke with Russian media this morning, confirming the bridge was shelled, however claims it is still standing.

“There were hits [after the attack of the Ukrainian troops] on the Antonivskiy bridge, we blocked traffic. We will repair it,” Stremousov told RIA Novosti.

Stremousov added that Ukraine used various artillery systems and the number of missiles “exceeded ten”.

Russia using gas prices to terrorise Europe: Zelenskiy

06:09

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday said Russia was deliberately cutting supplies of natural gas to impose a “price terror” against Europe while calling for more sanctions against Moscow.

Using Gazprom, Moscow is doing all it can to make this coming winter as harsh as possible for the European countries. Terror must be answered - impose sanctions.”

Meanwhile, a deal agreed by EU states to curb their gas use should yield enough gas savings to last through an average winter, if Russia were to fully cut supplies in July, the bloc’s energy chief Kadri Simson said.

The Kremlin said a repaired gas turbine for Nord Stream 1, Russia’s biggest gas pipeline to Europe, had not yet arrived after maintenance in Canada, and that a second turbine was showing defects.

Russian gas giant Gazprom has sharply increased pressure in the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline that delivers Russian gas to Europe without prior notice, the Ukrainian state pipeline operator company said.

Such pressure spikes could lead to emergencies including pipeline ruptures, according to the Ukrainian company.

EU to ration gas over supply fears

05:53 Jennifer Rankin

The EU has been forced to water down its plan to ration gas this winter in an attempt to avoid an energy crisis generated by further Russian cuts to supply.

Energy ministers from the 27 member states, except Hungary, backed a voluntary 15% reduction in gas usage over the winter, a target that could become mandatory if the Kremlin ordered a complete shutdown of gas to Europe.

After days of fraught negotiations, ministers agreed opt-outs for island nations and possible exclusions for countries little connected to the European gas network, which will blunt the overall effect in the event of a full-blown gas crisis.

The deal came less than 24 hours after Russia’s state-controlled energy firm, Gazprom, announced a steep reduction in gas supplies through the critical Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Wednesday. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said there was “no justifiable technical reason” for the cut.

She has accused the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of attempting to blackmail European countries for supporting Ukraine. Russia has cut or reduced supplies to a dozen EU countries.

“The announcement by Gazprom that it is further cutting gas deliveries to Europe through Nord Stream 1, for no justifiable technical reason, further illustrates the unreliable nature of Russia as an energy supplier,” Von der Leyen said. “Thanks to today’s decision, we are now ready to address our energy security at a European scale, as a union.”

EU officials hailed the agreement as a milestone for a united energy policy that recalled the leap in integration on health taken during the Covid pandemic.

Related: EU agrees plan to ration gas use over Russia supply fears

Kharkiv hit by Russian rocket, mayor says

05:38

Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv has reportedly hit by Russian rocket attack, according to the city’s mayor.

“At 4.25am, the Kharkiv Industrial District was shelled. Two S-300 missiles arrived,” Ihor Terekhov wrote on his Telegram channel.

“Rescuers are already on the spot, sorting out the debris. According to them, there are no victims, but this is only preliminary information so far. I would like it to be like that,” he added.

Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces also issued an update this morning, saying Russia carried out an attack “with the use of barrel and jet artillery” in the areas of Kharkiv, Chuguyiv, Shevelivka, Krasnopillya and others.With the help of water obstacles, pontoon transfers are trying to improve the logistics of its units.

Ukraine shells Kherson's Antonivskiy bridge - reports

05:33

In the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, there are multiple, yet unconfirmed, reports of Ukrainian forces conducting new strikes on the strategic Antonivskiy bridge across the Dnieper River.

“Explosions in the Antonivskiy Bridge area,” Ukraine’s armed forces said in a Telegram update just before midnight alongside a video purportedly showing a barrage of strikes.

Kviv Independent defence reporter, Illia Ponomarenko, tweeted late Tuesday night: “Reportedly, we have another heavy Ukrainian strike upon the Antonivskiy Bridge, the key Russian supply line in occupied Kherson.”

Senior presidential advisor, Anton Herashchenko, cited Ukraine’s armed forces in an update posted just after 6am this morning.

Himars dealt another powerful blow to one of the two bridges across the Dnieper, which are used by the invaders for a massive transfer of troops. Let’s hope that this time the Antonivskiy bridge will not withstand the power of the Himars missile attack.”

The Antonivskiy Bridge is the main supply route for Russian troops and if damaged, Moscow’s forces would potentially be trapped in Kherson with little ammunition and little supplies - part of Ukraine’s plan to re-take the city.

Kherson, captured in early March, has long been a focus for the Ukrainians, with the defenders making limited gains in the countryside between Mykolaiv and the target city since April. But, apparently helped by the longer-range weapons, with an effective firing distance of up to 50 miles (80km), the Ukrainians are growing more confident.

The city is accessed by four key bridges. Ukraine’s goal appears is not want to destroy the bridges as food supplies are still needed to cross into the city but rather to damage them to the point where the Russians cannot transport heavy equipment across them.

Related: Can Ukrainian forces recapture Kherson from Russia?

Summary and welcome

05:30

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments for the next short while.

In a breaking new development this morning, Ukrainian officials are reporting that Ukraine’s armed forces have delivered a series of powerful blows to the strategic Antonivskiy bridge in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in an attempt to disrupt Russia’s main supply route.

It is 8am in Kyiv and here is where things stand:

  • The strategic Antonivskiy bridge in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson has reportedly been struck by Ukrainian forces hoping to disrupt Russia’s main supply route into the southern Ukrainian city. Multiple, yet unconfirmed, suggest Ukrainian forces conducted new strikes late on Tuesday night. “Explosions in the Antonivskiy Bridge area,” Ukraine’s armed forces said in a Telegram update just before midnight alongside a video purportedly showing the strikes.
  • Russian forces continued to strike civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the surrounding region in the country’s northeast. Regional governor, Oleh Syniehubov, said the strikes on the city resumed around dawn Tuesday. “The Russians deliberately target civilian infrastructure objects hospitals, schools, movie theatres. Everything is being fired at, even queues for humanitarian aid,” Syniehubov told Ukrainian television.
  • Russia’s defence ministry plans to hold strategic military exercises in the east of the country from 30 August to 5 September. Interfax reported that the militaries of unspecified other countries will be taking part in the regular ‘Vostok’ exercises, citing the defence ministry.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hold a one-day visit to the Russian resort of Sochi on 5 August, his office announced. It is anticipated that he will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
  • The EU has been forced to water down its plan to ration gas this winter in an attempt to avoid an energy crisis generated by further Russian cuts to supply. Energy ministers from the 27 member states, except Hungary, backed a voluntary 15% reduction in gas usage over the winter. Ministers agreed opt-outs for island nations and possible exclusions for countries little connected to the European gas network.
  • Zelenskiy has accused Russia of deliberately cutting supplies of natural gas to impose a “price terror” against Europe. “Using Gazprom, Moscow is doing all it can to make this coming winter as harsh as possible for the European countries. Terror must be answered - impose sanctions,” he said in a late-night video address.
  • A joint coordination centre (JCC) for Ukrainian grain exports under a UN-brokered deal will be opened in a ceremony in Istanbul on Wednesday, Turkey’s defence ministry said. Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations signed the accord last week to resume Ukraine’s grain exports.
  • Insurance uncertainty poses the biggest obstacle to grain ships leaving Ukraine’s Black Sea ports this week, exporters say. Questions remain over whether insurance companies will be willing to insure the vessels as they navigate the mined waters, while buyers are hesitant to make new orders given the risk of Russian attacks.
  • The first train with sanctioned goods has arrived from Russia to Kaliningrad via Lithuania in the first such trip since the EU said Lithuania must allow Russian goods across its territory. Russian news agency Tass cited regional governor Anton Alikhanov as saying: “It is indeed the first train to have arrived after the EU decision ... [it is] quite an important achievement.” The train reportedly consisted of 60 freight cars with cement.
  • Russia will pull out of the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 and focus on building its own orbiting outpost, the country’s space chief said. Yuri Borisov said Russia would fulfil its obligations to its partners on the ISS before leaving the project. “The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said, to which Putin responded: “Good.”
  • Ukraine aims to strike a deal for a $15-$20bn programme with the International Monetary Fund before year-end to help shore up its war-torn economy, the country’s central bank governor, Kyrylo Shevchenko, told Reuters.
  • The Russian economy appears to be doing better than expected despite western sanctions. On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund upgraded Russia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimate for this year by 2.5%, although its economy is still expected to contract by 6%. “That’s still a fairly sizeable recession in Russia in 2022,” IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas told AFP, adding that rising energy prices are “providing an enormous amount of revenues to the Russian economy”.
  • Boris Johnson compared Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s leadership of Ukraine to the war-time exploits of Sir Winston Churchill. The British prime minister said he believed “Churchill would have cheered and probably have wept too” when the Ukrainian president insisted he needed “ammunition, not a ride” out of Kyiv when Russia invaded in February.
  • A British citizen who video blogs pro-Kremlin material from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine has been added to a UK government sanctions list. Graham Phillips – the first UK citizen to be added to the growing sanctions list – has been accused of being a conduit for pro-Russian propaganda, receiving medals from the Russian state for his reporting.
Firefighters work at the site of a Russia missile strike in Zatoka, Odesa region, Ukraine on 26 July. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian Firefighters work at the site of a Russia missile strike in Zatoka, Odesa region, Ukraine on 26 July. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters

The First ‘Joker 2’ Teaser is Here and It’s…Different .
It seems the rumours that Joker: Folie à Deux – the sequel to 2019’s Oscar-winning Joker – would be a very different proposition to its predecessor have been confirmed by a new teaser trailer dropped via director Todd Phillips’ Instagram account. For a couple of weeks, there have been mutterings, following a report from Variety, […]The trailer follows an attempt by Warner Bros. to bury the backlash from the Batgirl cancellation by announcing that Joker: Folie à Deux would hit theatres in 2024. Joaquin Phoenix is set to return as the notorious supervillain, with the sequel scheduled for the big screen on October 4, 2024,  – precisely five years after the first film was released.

See also