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Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 1

People lay flowers to pay last respects to victims of the Russian rocket attack at a shopping center in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, June 29, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

10:01 p.m.: Two Britons have been charged with "mercenary activities" by investigators in a Russian-backed separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine, the Russian state news agency TASS reported on Friday.

TASS cited a source in the power structures of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), recognized only by Russia and Syria, as saying criminal cases had been opened and charges filed against Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill under Article 430 of the DPR criminal code.

Last month, two Britons and a Moroccan man were sentenced to death on the same charges by the authorities in Russian-controlled Donetsk.

8:47 p.m.: In Ukraine, Odesa spokesman Bratchuk accused Russia of failing to abide by its assertions that it had left Snake Island as a "gesture of good will." On his Telegram channel, Bratchuk said two Russian warplanes had taken off from a base in Crimea and bombed targets on the island on Friday evening, Reuters reported.

He posted a video of what he said was the attack. Reuters had no way of confirming the video or the Russian action. There was no immediate Russian comment.

8 p.m.: The United States is sending Ukraine two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, four additional counter-artillery radars and up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition as part of its latest weapons packages for Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The assistance package, worth about $820 million, was broadly announced by U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday in Madrid following a gathering of NATO leaders, Reuters reported.

The Pentagon offered more details on Friday as it formalized the announcement and said the latest round of security assistance also included additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

Including the latest rounds of assistance, the United States has now committed approximately $6.9 billion since Russia forces rolled into Ukraine on Feb. 24 and brought full-scale war back to Europe.

7:22 p.m.: Ukrainian wheat is finding its way onto world markets despite the Russian invasion, the head of Swiss baked goods group Aryzta ARYN.S said in a newspaper interview.

"At the moment, the quantities of grain are still there, they simply cannot be exported under Ukrainian control. But they find other ways onto the world market. Because grain is money, and money means weapons," CEO Urs Jordi said in an interview published Friday by Swiss paper Finanz und Wirtschaft.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces have seized. The Kremlin has denied this.

6:30 p.m.:

5:12 p.m.: Poland's northern city of Gdansk on Friday honored the resistance put up by the Ukrainian city of 's Mariupol against Russian forces by naming a city square after its defenders, The Associated Press reported.

The ceremony also included an open-air exhibition of Mariupol's suffering during the months-long Russian siege.

City officials said that naming a city square Heroic Mariupol was a call for more help and support for Ukraine in its struggle to protect its sovereignty.

The Russian siege saw the port city shelled for weeks resulting in many civilian deaths. Poland, including Gdansk, has provided shelter to millions of refugees from Ukraine.

Gdansk also has a square named Free Ukraine.

4:20 p.m.: VOA's Jeff Seldin has the latest assessments by a senior US defense official on Russia-Ukraine from the Pentagon:

2 p.m.: The Gogol Center theater, one of the last bastions of artistic freedom in Vladimir Putin's Russia, shut its doors Thursday night with a defiant final show called "I Don't Take Part In War."

The emotional play protesting against the Kremlin's military intervention in Ukraine marked a dramatic end of an era for the Russian capital's ever-shrinking opposition and intelligentsia circles, Agence France-Presse reported.

Previously run by rebel director Kirill Serebrennikov, who left Russia after criticizing Moscow's offensive in Ukraine, the Gogol Center staged daring plays for a decade, often testing increasingly strict laws and Moscow's sharp conservative turn.

Thursday's performance had some of the audience in tears when actors recited poems by Soviet poet and soldier Yuri Levitansky, a Soviet poet and soldier who was born in what is now Ukraine.

The play's name was taken from one of Levitansky's emblematic verses: "I don't take part in war, it takes part in me."

As the show ended, the theatre's outgoing artistic director, Alexei Agranovich announced: "The Gogol Center is closed. Forever."

12:05 p.m.: Norway pledged one billion euros to support Ukraine Friday reports Reuters. Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere made the announcement during a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“After five months of terrible war, Norway will pledge its solidarity with the people of Ukraine. And we will pledge one billion euros in support to your country and your people, for the remaining part of 2022 and for 2023,” said the Norwegian prime minister.

11:30 a.m.: Ukraine has started exporting electricity to the EU via Romania, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, 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, reports Agence France-Presse.

"This is only the first stage. We are preparing to increase supply,” Zelenskyy says, adding "a significant part of the Russian gas consumed by Europeans can be replaced."

11:11 a.m.: Ukraine requested that Turkey detain and arrest the Russian-flagged cargo ship Zhibek Zholy carrying a cargo of Ukrainian grain taken from the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk, reports Reuters.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry official, citing information received from the country's maritime administration, said Friday the ship had loaded the first cargo of some 4,500 tons of grain from Berdyansk, which the official said belonged to Ukraine.

In a letter dated June 30 to Turkey's justice ministry, Ukraine's prosecutor general's office separately that the Zhibek Zholy was involved in the “illegal export of Ukrainian grain” from Berdyansk and headed to Karasu, Turkey with 7,000 tons of cargo, which is a larger cargo than cited by the official.

10:56 a.m.: Missiles slammed into a residential building and a recreation center early Friday, killing 21 people and wounding dozens in Ukraine's Odessa region, in attacks swiftly condemned by Germany.

Two children were among the dead and six others among the injured, Ukrainian officials said, one day after Russia abandoned positions on a strategic island in a major setback to the Kremlin's invasion.

The missiles struck the two buildings in the town of Sergiyvka about 80 kilometers south of the Black Sea port of Odesa, which has become a strategic flashpoint in the now 5-month-old war.

9:05 a.m.: The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told Ukraine's parliament on Friday that EU membership was "within reach" but urged them to press forward with anti-corruption reforms.

"You have created an impressive anti-corruption machine," she told the lawmakers by video link. "But now these institutions need teeth, and the right people in senior posts."

Von der Leyen 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."

8:50 a.m.: Schools in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, will re-open for classes at the start of the school year on September 1, the city's authorities said.

Kyiv schools are now on summer holiday and had all gone online after Russian invaded Ukraine on February 24, reports Agence France-Presse

"The most important task for the new school year is the safety of students and teachers," Olena Fidanyan, head of Kyiv's education and science department, said in a statement.

8:18 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine and the European Union were starting a new chapter of their history after Brussels formally accepted Ukraine's candidacy to join the 27-nation bloc.

“A new (chapter) of history for the European Union and Ukraine has started. Now we're not close. Now we are together," Zelenskyy said addressing Ukraine's parliament. "We made a journey of 115 days to candidate status and our journey to membership shouldn't take decades. We should make it down this road quickly," Zelenskyy said.

7:55 a.m.: Ukrainian cultural officials are calling on UNESCO member states to fast track an application to add the cultural tradition of Ukrainian borscht to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The national version of borscht consumed in several countries is an integral part of Ukrainian family and community life.

In its decision, the Intergovernmental Committee’s noted that “the armed conflict has threatened the viability of the element.” The displacement of people and bearers threatens the element, as people are unable not only to cook or grow local vegetables for borscht.

7:25 a.m.: Russian missiles struck a nine-story apartment building and a resort facility near Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens, reports Ukrainian military officials. Footage released by the State Emergency Services of Ukraine showed the aftermath of the missile strike as emergency services searched through debris of the destroyed apartment building.

5:39 a.m.: U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is expected to appear in a Russian courtroom today to face drug charges, The New York Times reported.

Griner has been in Russian custody since February. Russian officials say they discovered vape cartridges with traces of hashish oil in her luggage, the Times reported. She'd been in Russia to play for a Russian professional basketball team. If convicted of drug charges, she could get 10 years in a penal colony.

5:06 a.m.: Al Jazeera reported that Russian forces have captured part of Ukraine's Lyschansk oil refinery.

Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram that Russian troops were holding the northwestern and southeastern sections of the plant, Al Jazeera said.

4:12 a.m.: A leading economic expert in Russia was detained Thursday on embezzlement charges as part of a high-profile case that some observers saw as linked to purges targeting members of the country's liberal elite, The Associated Press reported.

Investigators accused Vladimir Mau, the rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, of embezzling funds from the institution, a leading school for public servants. Mau denied the charges.

Since the early 1990s, Mau has served as a senior economic adviser to the Russian government. He received high state awards from President Vladimir Putin in 2012 and 2017.

Kremlin critics have described the arrests as part of a widening government crackdown on independent voices amid the military action in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on Mau's detention.

3:09 a.m.: The U.K. defense ministry's latest intelligence update said Russia's withdrawal from Snake Island was not the "gesture of good will" it claimed. Rather, the update said, the area's isolation and increasing vulnerability to Ukrainian strikes drove the move.

The update also said that intense fighting will probably continue for the area around the Lyschansk oil refinery.

2:10 a.m.: U.S. think tank The Institute of the Study of War, in its latest assessment of the conflict in Ukraine, said that Russia has made limited gains within the Lysychansk Oil Refinery and around Lysychansk.

Russia is continuing operations near Slovyansk and Bakhmut, the assessment said, and is aiming to further economically integrate occupied areas.

1:08 a.m.: European power grid operators are ready to implement immediately a long-term plan to bring the Baltic states, which rely on the Russian grid, into the European Union system in the event Moscow cuts them off, sources told Reuters.

Concern about depending on Russia for any form of energy has mounted across Europe because of reductions in Russian gas supplies to some countries following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have a long-standing plan to become part of the European decentralized network of power grids by 2025.

12:02 a.m.: Ukrainian doubles specialist Denys Molchanov says he could return to his homeland to help with the war effort, admitting he is finding it tough to focus on tennis as the conflict rages on, Agence France-Presse reported.

Molchanov, who teamed up with Russian-born Andrey Golubev in the Wimbledon men's doubles, is based in Zagreb with his wife and daughter, who fled Ukraine hours after Russia's invasion in late February.

"It's always in my mind," he said following his first-round defeat to Pedro Martinez and John-Patrick Smith at the All England Club. "It's tough to play in these conditions when we have (the war) right now in our country and it's not about tennis right now."

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.