– Snake Island decision ‘changes situation’: Zelensky –
Russia’s decision to abandon Snake Island “changes the situation in the Black Sea considerably”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says. “It does not yet guarantee security. It does not yet guarantee that the enemy will not return. But it already considerably limits the actions of the occupiers,” he says Thursday, June 30, in his daily address. A strategic target, Snake Island sits aside shipping lanes near Odessa port. Russia had attempted to install missile and air defence batteries while under fire from drones. Britain’s Ministry of Defence says in its latest intelligence update Russia has highly likely withdrawn “owing to the isolation of the garrison and its increasing vulnerability to Ukrainian strikes, rather than as a ‘gesture of good will’, as it has claimed.” The Russian defence ministry on Thursday described the retreat as “a gesture of goodwill” meant to demonstrate that Moscow will not interfere with UN efforts to organise protected grain exports from Ukraine.
– Lysychansk pounded by Russians –
The city of Lysychansk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region continues to come under sustained bombardment, Serhiy Haidai — governor of Luhansk Region, says. Capturing the city would allow the Russians to push deeper in the industrial Donbas, which has become the focus of their offensive since failing to capture Kyiv after their February 24 invasion. “Residents of Lysychansk barely leave their basements and homes,” Haidai writes on Telegram. The Russians have taken control of parts of the city’s oil refinery, he says.
– EU chief warns Ukraine on corruption –
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tells Ukraine’s parliament that EU membership is “within reach” but urges them to press forward with anti-corruption reforms. “You have created an impressive anti-corruption machine,” she tells lawmakers by video link. “But now these institutions need teeth, and the right people in senior posts.” Ukraine applied for EU membership just five days after Russia’s February 24 invasion and the 27 member states accepted its candidacy on June 23, in a strong signal of support. But the accession process could take many years. She stressed that Brussels and the EU member states were firmly behind Ukraine in both its battle with the ongoing Russian invasion and the quest to be “reunited with our European family”.
But she also insisted on the need to build on reforms already introduced since Ukraine’s 2014 revolt against its previous government to battle corruption and the grip of oligarchs on its economy.
– Ukraine exports electricity to EU –
Ukraine has started exporting electricity to the EU via Romania, President Zelensky says, as Russia reduces gas supplies to the bloc. Several European countries, highly dependent upon Russian gas for their energy needs, have been forced to look for alternatives as Moscow slashes deliveries in response to their support for Ukraine. “This is only the first stage. We are preparing to increase supply,” Zelensky says, adding “a significant part of the Russian gas consumed by Europeans can be replaced”.
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