- During an unannounced visit to Kyiv Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged new military aid for Ukraine. "We will be there with (you) as much as it takes, for as long as it takes," he said as Ukraine ramps up against Russian forces.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Saturday he planned to speak with Russia President Vladimir Putin by phone soon to urge him to withdraw Russia's troops from Ukraine. “It's not reasonable to force Ukraine to approve and accept the raid that Putin has perpetrated and that parts of Ukraine become Russian just like that," he said. He added he would work to ensure that NATO does not get drawn into the war.
- German investigators are examining evidence suggesting a sabotage team used Poland as an operating base to damage the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea last September, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. had learned of a Ukrainian plan to attack the pipelines three months before the explosions. It is not yet determined who was responsible for the attack.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive is under way, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday, while remaining mum on military advances.
The Ukrainian president exuded optimism in referencing his top generals on the war front. “They are all in a positive mood, pass that on to Putin," he said smiling during a news conference in Kyiv alongside visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Russia says Ukraine is carrying a big offensive push this week, but that Kyiv's forces failed to breach Russian defenses and also sustained heavy casualties.
The British Defense Ministry said Saturday that Ukraine has conducted significant operations in the last 48 hours in the eastern and southern regions. Ukrainian forces have “likely made good progress and penetrated the first line of Russian defenses” in some areas, the daily intelligence update said. In other areas, Ukrainian progress has been slower.
Meanwhile, Russia’s air force, the ministry said, has been “unusually active” in southern Ukraine, but it “remains unclear” whether the airstrikes have been effective.”
Intense fighting is being reported on Ukraine’s front lines, however, independent media have not been able to ascertain whether Ukraine was penetrating Russian defenses.
Trudeau – Ukraine aid
During his impromptu visit in Kyiv, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau announced new military aid for Ukraine. “We will provide 500 million dollars in new funding,” he said during a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. "We will be there with (you) as much as it takes, for as long as it takes," he said, sitting across from the Ukrainian leader.
As one of the largest Ukrainian diasporas in the world and a NATO member, Canada has supplied military and financial assistance to Ukraine and supports its bid for membership into the North Atlantic Alliance.
Zelenskyy thanked Trudeau and the Canadian people for their commitment to the people of Ukraine.
New $2.1 billion U.S. assistance package to Ukraine
The Pentagon announced Friday, a new $2.1 billion assistance package for Ukraine that it said includes critical air defense and ammunition capabilities.
The package includes Hawk air defense systems and missiles, 105 mm and 203 mm artillery rounds, Puma unmanned aerial systems, laser-guided rocket system munitions and support for training and maintenance, the Defense Department said in a statement.
According to the department, since the beginning of the Russian offensive, the U.S. has committed more than $40.4 billion is security assistance to Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress have provided more than $75 billion in humanitarian, financial and military support to Ukraine.
Russia- grain deal
Russia could still walk out of the U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Deal on July 17, when the agreement expires, if its demands are not met, said Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin. Vershinin made the comments Saturday after meeting with senior U.N. trade officials Friday, the TASS news agency reported.
Vershinin expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the memorandum is implemented. "Barriers to our exports remain," he said.
The demands outlined by Moscow include the resumption of the transit of ammonia from Russia via Ukrainian territory to Pivdennyi port in Odesa, from where it is exported and the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT international payment system.
Kakhovka dam explosion
An “extraordinary" 700,000 people need drinking water after the collapse of the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine, said U.N. aid chief Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths. Griffiths said the humanitarian situation in the country has gotten “hugely worse” since the rupture of the dam. He warned that the flooding in one of the world's most important breadbaskets will almost inevitably lead to lower grain exports, higher food prices around the world and less to eat for millions in need. Griffiths told The Associated Press Friday, that “this is a viral problem," noting “the truth is this is only the beginning of seeing the consequences of this act.”
Clear signals of an explosion occurred at the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine early Tuesday morning, the Norwegian seismic research foundation Norsar said.
Earlier Friday, a U.S. official told The New York Times that American spy satellites equipped with infrared sensors detected an explosion at the Kakhovka dam just before it collapsed Tuesday and unleashed a torrent of floodwater into the surrounding areas.
The Associated Press flew a drone over the dam Wednesday and reported that there are no signs of an attack from above “no scorch marks or shrapnel scars” visible on buildings above the flooding that would be “typical of a bombardment” that Russia claims Ukraine carried out.
Russians and Ukrainians have traded blame for the destruction of the vast Soviet-era dam, which is under Russian control.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.