Russia is strengthening its positions and numbers on Ukraine’s southern front to ready itself for a Ukrainian counteroffensive and is likely to be preparing the ground to attack, according to British and Ukrainian military authorities. “Russian troops are almost certainly amassing in the south, either waiting for a Ukrainian counteroffensive or preparing to attack. Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, artillery and other things continue to move from the Donbas to the south-west,” the UK’s defence ministry said.
Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for renewed shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for new international sanctions on Moscow for “nuclear terror”. The UN nuclear watchdog has called for an immediate end to all military action near the plant after it was hit by shelling on Saturday night, causing one of the reactors to shut down and creating a “very real risk of a nuclear disaster”.
Russian shelling was recorded on Saturday in dozens of towns along the eastern and southern frontlines, according to the Ukrainian military. It also said Russian forces attempted to conduct assault in six different areas in the eastern Donetsk region, all of which failed to gain any territory and were held back by Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine is investigating almost 26,000 suspected war crime cases committed since Russia’s invasion in February and has charged 135 people, its chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters. Of those charged, approximately 15 are in Ukrainian custody and the remaining 120 remain at large.
Zelenskiy said on Sunday that there could be no talks with Russia if it proceeds with referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine on joining Russia. Russian forces now hold large areas of territory in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and in southern areas, where officials have raised the possibility of holding referendums.
Four ships carrying Ukrainian foodstuffs sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday. Pope Francis welcomed the departure of the ships carrying grain from Ukrainian Black Sea ports saying this could be a model for dialogue to bring an end to the war in Ukraine.
Human rights group Amnesty International apologised for the “distress and anger” caused by a report that accused Ukraine of endangering civilians. The apology comes after Amnesty’s Ukraine head Oksana Pokalchuk said that she was resigning as she opposed the report’s publication, saying the human rights group unwittingly “created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives of the invasion”.
UK defence secretary Ben Wallace welcomed a decision by Sweden to join countries contributing to the UK-led program to train Ukrainian personnel in the UK.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, landed in South Africa on Sunday on a three-country visit with a reported aim of countering Russian influence on the continent.