US to provide another $4.5bn to Ukraine; Moscow suspends nuclear arms inspections under treaty with Washington
Ukraine has arrested two people working for Russian intelligence services who planned to kill the Ukrainian defence minister and the head of the country’s military intelligence agency, Ukraine’s domestic Security Service said on Monday. The Security Service of Ukraine foiled the plot by the Russian GRU military intelligence agency to use a sabotage group to carry out three murders including that of a prominent Ukrainian activist, the agency said.
The United States will provide an additional $4.5bn (£3.7bn) to Ukraine’s government, bringing its total budgetary support since Russia’s February invasion to $8.5bn (£7bn), the US Agency for International Development has announced. The funding, coordinated with the US Treasury Department through the World Bank, will go to Ukraine’s government in tranches, beginning with a $3bn (£2.5bn) disbursement in August, USAid, the Agency for International Development, said.
Russia has suspended an arrangement that allowed US and Russian inspectors to visit each other’s nuclear weapons sites under the 2010 New Start treaty, in a new blow to arms control. Mutual inspections had been suspended as a health precaution since the start of the Covid pandemic, but a foreign ministry statement on Monday added another reason Russia is unwilling to restart them. It argued that US sanctions imposed because of the invasion of Ukraine stopped Russian inspectors travelling to the US.
It is highly likely Russia is deploying anti-personnel mines to protect and deter freedom of movement along its defensive lines in Donetsk and Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.
The ministry called the PFM-1 and PFM-1S mines – also known as “butterfly mines” – “deeply controversial and indiscriminate weapons” with the potential to inflict widespread casualties among both the military and the local civilian population.
Two more ships, carrying corn and soybeans, departed Ukrainian ports, taking the total to 10 ships carrying Ukrainian grain exports since the UN deal to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports was struck, Reuters reported. Future ships exporting Ukraine grain through the Black Sea will now be protected by a 10 nautical mile buffer zone, according to long-awaited procedures agreed by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations.
The first grain carrying ship to depart Ukrainian ports after the UN-brokered deal is looking for another port to unload its cargo after the initial Lebanese buyer refused delivery due to its five-month delay, Reuters reported.
The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom has called for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to be made a military-free zone, warning of the risk of a Chornobyl-style nuclear disaster after shelling of the site caused a reactor to shut down on Saturday. Russia and Ukraine continue to trade accusations over is responsible for the shelling, with the UN calling for international inspectors to be given access. According to reports from the head of the Russian-installed administration of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region, the nuclear power station is currently operating normally.
The Russian-installed head of the occupied part of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region signed a decree on Monday providing for a referendum on joining Russia, in the latest sign that Moscow is moving ahead with its plans to annex seized Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has ruled out any peace talks with Russia if the country proceeds with referendums in the occupied areas.
The Kremlin said on Monday there was no basis for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents at the moment. Negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv have been stalled for months, with each side blaming the other for a lack of progress, Reuters reports.
Russia | The Guardian