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Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 4

Rescue workers clearing rubble of a destroyed school after an attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, July 4, 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:

11:30 p.m.: Reuters reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will fly to Hanoi on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Vietnam before heading to a G-20 meeting later this week in Indonesia, the Vietnamese government said.

The visit at the invitation of Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son comes as the two nations mark the 10th anniversary of their "comprehensive strategic partnership," the government said in a statement.

Russia is Vietnam's biggest arms supplier and its companies are involved in several major energy projects in the country.

The two nations have close ties dating back to the Soviet era and Vietnam has not so far condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special operation."

In April, Vietnam voted against a resolution to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council over the war.

Trade between Vietnam and Russia rose 25% last year to $7.1 billion, the statement said.

Lavrov will attend a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 biggest economies (G-20) held on the Indonesian island of Bali later this week.

11 p.m.: Russian cosmonauts onboard the ISS held a flag symbolizing pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and congratulated Moscow's forces on capturing the region of Lugansk, the space agency in Moscow said Monday.

Roscosmos posted a photograph of cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergei Korsakov holding the flag of the self-proclaimed separatist Lugansk People's Republic in space, Agence France-Press reported.

"We celebrate on earth and in space," the space agency said on Telegram.

The ISS, a collaboration among the U.S., Canada, Japan, the European Space Agency and Russia, is split into two sections: the U.S. Orbital Segment, and the Russian Orbital Segment.

10:20 p.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that alternative routes to ship grain from Ukraine, including down Europe's Danube, need to be looked at if grain cannot be moved via the Bosphorus in Turkey, Reuters reported.

"The Turks are absolutely indispensable to solving this. They're doing their very best ... It does depend on the Russians agreeing to allow that grain to get out," Johnson told Parliament.

"We are looking at all the possible options," he said.

9:27 p.m.:

8:36 p.m.: Two British nationals and a Moroccan man who were sentenced to death last month by Russian-backed separatists after being captured while fighting for Ukraine have appealed their convictions, a court in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic says.

The cases of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner of Britain and Brahim Saadun of Morocco have caused an international outcry, Agence France-Presse reported.

Russia accuses them of acting as mercenaries, but they contend they were serving members of the Ukrainian military and should be treated as prisoners of war.

7:40 p.m.: Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv and pledged to triple the IOC funding for Ukrainian athletes and that the Ukrainian flag will "fly high" at the 2024 Games in Paris, Agence France-Presse reported.

The IOC has recommended that international sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes, but Russia is not currently banned from competing at the 2024 Olympics.

6:47 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, "A significant part of the economy has been destroyed by hostilities and Russian strikes, thousands of enterprises are out of business. And this means a high need for jobs, for ensuring social benefits despite the decrease in tax revenues.

"That is why the recovery of Ukraine is not only about what needs to be done later, after our victory, but also about what needs to be done at this time. And we have to do it together with our partners, with the entire democratic world. Do now," he said.

5:58 p.m.: A strip of land outside the British Embassy in Moscow will be named after the self-proclaimed separatist Luhansk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine following an online poll, the city administration said in a statement on its website.

Last month, an intersection near the U.S. Embassy was named "Donetsk People's Republic Square" after another Russian-backed breakaway state in Ukraine, also recognized only by Russia and Syria, Reuters reported.

City councilors had initially proposed the name "Defenders of Donbas Square," which the embassy jokingly welcomed as a tribute to Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russian aggression.

4:37 p.m.: When Russia invaded Ukraine, Ilya Kostyukov started an anti-war activist group in the Russian city of Belgorod. Since then, he has faced threats of expulsion from his university, been visited at his home by police, and continues to walk a careful line around the country’s new censorship laws, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

While the early days of the invasion saw anti-war protests across major cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, five months into the conflict a dwindling number of dissidents and increasingly few people willing to tackle it head on.

Those who have spoken out face a deepening sense of hopelessness and hardening repression from the authorities in the form of arrests targeting activists and new legislation that can lead to a 15-year prison sentence for criticizing Russia’s military.

But the 19-year-old Kostyukov from Belgorod, a city some 40 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, says he believes a substantial portion of the Russian population is still receptive to arguments against the war despite a growing wave of nationalistic support for the offensive.

3:43 p.m.: Bridget Brink, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, spent part of her July 4th with Ukrainian soldiers.

3 p.m.:

2:33 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk on Monday, one day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining bulwark of resistance in the province, The Associated Press reported.

The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces were now focusing on the line of Siversk, Fedorivka and Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, about half of which is controlled by Russia. The Russian army has also intensified its shelling of the key Ukrainian strongholds of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, deeper in Donetsk.

An intelligence briefing Monday from the British Defense Ministry supported the Ukrainian military's assessment, noting that Russian forces will "now almost certainly" switch to capturing Donetsk. The briefing said the conflict in Donbas has been "grinding and attritional," and is unlikely to change in the coming weeks.

1:39 p.m.: U.S. and European leaders are working to resume shipments of Ukrainian grain. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty explain why that won't be easy.

12:51 p.m.: The Ukrainian flag flies again on Snake Island in the Black Sea, Ukraine's military said on Monday.

12 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the IOC for supporting a ban on Russian teams and athletes competing in most Olympics sports, The Associated Press reported

Zelenskyy met in Kyiv on Sunday with Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee. The ban faces a challenge Tuesday at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the Olympic home city of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Four days later, the IOC advised sports leaders to act and soccer bodies FIFA and UEFA made a joint ruling later that day.

Russian teams have been removed from more than 15 soccer competitions including qualifying games for the men's and women's World Cups, and the women's European Championship finals tournament which starts Wednesday in England.

Bach has consistently said sports sanctions on Russia, including as an events host, are to protect the integrity of competitions and the security of athletes rather than to punish on the basis of nationality.

A total of 89 athletes and coaches have died "as a result of hostilities," Zelenskyy said, 13 more have been captured by the Russians, and "more than a hundred thousand Ukrainian athletes do not have the opportunity of training," Zelenskyy said.

11:05 a.m.: Britain said it would introduce on Tuesday new economic, trade and transport sanctions on Belarus over the country's support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The sanctions are to include import and export bans on goods worth about $73 million, including the export of oil refining goods, advanced technology components and luxury goods, and imports of Belarusian iron and steel.

Britain will also ban more Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London.

10:03 a.m.: Ukraine’s prime minister told the Ukraine Recovery Conference hosted by Switzerland that his country needs $750 billion for a three-stage recovery plan in the wake of Russia's invasion, Reuters reported.

Denys Shmygal said that there had been over $100 billion of direct damage to Ukrainian infrastructure from Russia's invasion.

"We believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs," he said, citing estimates that frozen Russian assets were worth $300-$500 billion.

The conference in the Swiss town of Lugano is bringing together leaders from dozens of countries and international organizations.

8:51 a.m.: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the EU will set up a reconstruction platform to coordinate the rebuilding of Ukraine after its war with Russia, according to Reuters.

The platform will be used to map investment needs, coordinate action and channel resources, von der Leyen told the Ukraine Recovery Conference in the Swiss city of Lugano on Monday. "Since the beginning of the war, the European Union has mobilized around 6.2 billion euros in financial support," von der Leyen said.

7:10 a.m.: Russia said Monday it will not be sending kind words to mark the Independence Day holiday in the United States.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that congratulations "can hardly be considered appropriate" and cited what he called the "unfriendly policies" of the United States.

The U.S. has opposed Russia’s war in Ukraine, sending weapons and helping train Ukrainian forces while also leading efforts to impose sanctions against Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated previous U.S. leaders on the holiday, including former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted his wish of "peace and prosperity" to U.S President Joe Biden and the American people on Monday.

6:45 a.m.: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has visited Ukrainian cities where Russia is accused of committing war crimes against civilians. Albanese has also promised about US$70 million of additional military aid. For VOA, Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.

6:30 a.m.: Turkey has halted a Russian-flagged cargo ship off its Black Sea coast and is investigating a Ukrainian claim that it was carrying stolen grain, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.

Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday the Zhibek Zholy ship was detained by Turkish customs authorities. Ukraine previously asked Turkey to detain the vessel, according to an official and documents viewed by Reuters.

6:15 a.m.:

6 a.m.: German’s foreign ministry spokesperson said that a meeting between German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, while in Indonesia for the G-20 is not up for discussion because of the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported on Monday.

Baerbock will attend the G-20 meeting on Thursday and Friday, said the ministry spokesperson. Lavrov is expected to attend.

5:00 a.m.: In an exclusive interview with Reuters from his Vatican residence, Pope Francis said he hopes to be able to go to Moscow and Kyiv in the coming months.

In a 90-minute conversation on Saturday afternoon, conducted in Italian, the 85-year-old pontiff spoke of the situation in Ukraine saying that there have been contacts between Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about a possible trip to Moscow.

The initial signs were not good. No pope has ever visited Moscow, and Francis has repeatedly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine; last Thursday he implicitly accused it of waging a "cruel and senseless war of aggression."

When the Vatican first asked about a trip several months ago, Francis said Moscow replied that it was not the right time. But he hinted that something may now have changed.

"I would like to go (to Ukraine), and I wanted to go to Moscow first. We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the Russian president gave me a small window to serve the cause of peace."

"And now it is possible, after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine," he said. "The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals."

4:15 a.m.:

4 a.m.: Russia will shift the main focus of its war in Ukraine to trying to seize all of the Donetsk region after capturing neighboring Luhansk, Reuters reported Monday citing the Luhansk region's governor.

Governor Serhiy Haidai told Reuters in an interview that he expected the city of Sloviansk and the town of Bakhmut in particular to come under attack as Russia tries to take full control of what is known as the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Russia says it has established full control over the Luhansk region following a withdrawal by Ukrainian forces from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk.

"In terms of the military, it is bad to leave positions, but there is nothing critical (in the loss of Lysychansk). We need to win the war, not the battle for Lysychansk," Haidai said.

"It hurts a lot, but it's not losing the war."

He said the withdrawal from Lysychansk had been "centralized," indicating that it had been planned and orderly, but that Ukrainian forces had risked being surrounded.

"Still, for them (Russian forces) goal number 1 is the Donetsk region. Sloviansk and Bakhmut will come under attack — Bakhmut has already started being shelled very hard," he said.

3:20 a.m.:

3:00 a.m.: Reuters reported that France's Schneider Electric said Monday it has agreed to sell its Russian unit to the local leadership team, joining a wave of major companies to divest of their Russian businesses after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Schneider Electric said it expected to write off up to $312.9 million (300 million euros) in terms of the company's net book value as a result of the divestment.

Last week, Michelin said it planned to hand over its Russian activities to a new entity under local management by the end of the year while rival Nokian Tyres PLC also said it would quit Russia. Read full story

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation."

2:30 a.m.:

2:00 a.m.: Ukraine’s Ambassador to Turkey said Turkish customs officials have detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain shipped from a Russian-occupied area of Ukraine.

Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said Sunday the ship was at the entrance of Turkey’s Karasu port, and that Ukraine hoped Turkish officials would confiscate the grain.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from territories it has taken over since launching its war in Ukraine in late February.

Russia denies the allegations.

1:10 a.m.: The European Investment Bank, the lending arm of the European Union, is proposing a funding structure previously used during the COVID-19 pandemic to help rebuild Ukraine with up to 100 billion euros ($104.3 billion) of investment, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The EU-Ukraine Gateway Trust Fund would seek to have an initial 20 billion euros in contributions from EU countries and the EU budget in the form of grants, loans and guarantees.

The guarantees in particular would have a multiplier effect, leading to infrastructure projects totaling some 100 billion euros, the document said, about half of Ukraine's more immediate needs.

The EIB's proposal is set to be unveiled on Monday, the first day of the international Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland that aims to provide resources to Ukraine and aid a post-war recovery.

12:01 a.m.: Ukraine's forces have withdrawn from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk, prompting Russia to claim full control of the eastern Luhansk region, a key Kremlin war goal, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to regain the lost territory, Reuters reported.

Ukraine on Sunday said the tactical withdrawal would save the lives of its soldiers who would regroup, to launch a counter offensive with the help of long-range Western weapons.

But Moscow said the capture of Lysychansk less than a week after taking neighboring Sievierdonetsk meant it had "liberated" Luhansk. It said it will give Luhansk to the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People's Republic whose independence it recognized on the eve of the war.

The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighboring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls swathes of territory.

Some information in this report came from Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and The Associated Press.