Russia-Ukraine war ‘about to enter new phase’ as Russian forces gather in the south, UK intelligence warns – live

War ‘about to enter new phase’, UK intelligence warns

We’ve got more from the UK’s MoD.

On what Ukraine’s troops are focusing on, it adds:

Ukrainian forces are focusing their targeting on bridges, ammunition depots, and rail links with growing frequency in Ukraine’s southern regions.

Including the strategically important railroad spur that links Kherson to Russian-occupied Crimea, almost certainly using a combination of block, damage, degrade, deny, destroy, and disrupt effects to try to affect Russia’s ability to logistically resupply.

The MoD then adds it believes the war is about to enter a “new phase”.

Russia’s war on Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, with the heaviest fighting shifting to a roughly 350km frontline stretching south-west from near Zaporizhzhia to Kherson, paralleling the Dnieper River.

Key events

The head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine office has quit the human rights body in a disagreement after the group accused Ukraine’s armed forces of endangering civilians by basing troops in residential areas during the Russian invasion.

Amnesty made the comments in a report published on Thursday that drew fierce criticism from the Ukrainian government, Reuters reports.

Amnesty’s Ukraine head Oksana Pokalchuk said on Facebook late on Friday that she was resigning as she opposed the report’s publication, and now understood that she could not get it changed or removed.

Pokalchuk said the human rights group unwittingly “created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives of the invasion. In an effort to protect civilians, this study became a tool of Russian propaganda”.

“It pains me to admit it, but we disagreed with the leadership of Amnesty International on values. That’s why I decided to leave the organization.”

Asked about Pokalchuk’s resignation, an Amnesty spokesperson quoted Agnes Callamard, the organisation’s secretary general, as saying: *Oksana has been a valued member of Amnesty staff, and has led the Amnesty International Ukraine office for seven years with many significant human rights successes.”

“We are sorry to hear that she is leaving the organization, but we respect her decision and wish her well.

Ukrainian officials say they take every possible measure to evacuate civilians from front-line areas.

Russia denies targeting civilians in what it describes as a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

North Macedonia has agreed to supply tanks and planes to Ukraine, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said.
It was previously reported that North Macedonia would supply Soviet-era tanks but there was no mention of aircraft deliveries. Podolyak said: “Many nations are showing more courage today than half of the G20. “Like North Macedonia, giving Ukraine a (supportive) shoulder in the form of tanks and planes.”

A man extinguishes a fire following shelling as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the Mykolaiv region. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters
A shelling hole near a damaged factory after a rocket hit in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Kharkiv and surrounding areas have been the target of heavy shelling since February.
A shelling hole near a damaged factory after a rocket hit in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Kharkiv and surrounding areas have been the target of heavy shelling since February. Photograph: Vasiliy Zhlobsky/EPA

Summary

It’s 4pm in London and 6pm in Kyiv. Here’s a summary of the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • The EU has condemned Russia’s actions regarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The plant has been described as being “a serious risk” by Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, Energoatom.
  • Inside Olenivka, the notorious detention centre outside Donetsk, dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have been burned to death while many others face torture under a regime of “absolute evil”, Anna Vorosheva, a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur who spent time in the jail, has told the Observer.
  • Russia is amassing troops in the south of Ukraine but the purpose of the build-up is not yet clear, UK intelligence has warned. The Ministry of Defence says Russian forces could be preparing for a new assault or merely anticipating a counter-offensive from Ukraine.
  • Meta, formerly Facebook, have removed a network of Instagram accounts operated by a troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia. 45 Facebook accounts and 1,037 Instagram accounts were removed and the report found that around $1,400 had been spent in rubles to pay for ads on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Overnight Russian shelling in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast injured three people and destroyed residential buildings, including a kindergarten and a children’s art centre, according to reports from the Kyiv Independent.
  • Pro-Russian forces in the Russian-occupied cities of the Luhansk region of Ukraine are using humanitarian aid to lure residents to provide personal data to partake in a referendum on joining Russia.

The EU has condemned Russia’s actions regarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the high respresentative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy and vice-president of the EU Commission, tweeted: “This is a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia’s disregard for international norms”, and called for Russian forces occupying the plant to give open access to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The plant has been described as being ““a serious risk” by Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, Energoatom.

Luke Harding

Luke Harding

Inside Olenivka, the notorious detention centre outside Donetsk, dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have been burned to death while many others face torture under a regime of “absolute evil”, Anna Vorosheva, a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur who spent time in the jail, has told the Observer.

Vorosheva said she had no doubt Russia “cynically and deliberately” murdered Ukrainian prisoners of war after fighters were blown up on 29 July in a mysterious and devastating explosion. Moscow claims Ukraine killed them with a US-made precision-guided Himars rocket, but satellite images and independent analysis suggest they were obliterated by a powerful bomb detonated from inside the building.

“Russia didn’t want them to stay alive. I’m sure some of those ‘killed’ in the explosion were already corpses. It was a convenient way of accounting for the fact they had been tortured to death,” Vorosheva said.

Luke Harding

Luke Harding

The Ukrainian governor of Luhansk province, Serhiy Haidai, has posted a photo on his Telegram channel which appears to show the head of a Ukrainian prisoner of war stuck on a pole outside a house in the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna, which was captured by Russian forces in May and is close to the current frontline in the Donbas.

The Guardian has not confirmed the authenticity of the photo. Geolocation tools suggest it is genuine and was taken in late July, not far from the centre of Popasna.

The photo is the latest in a string of apparent atrocities committed by Russian forces since the invasion started in February.

Pro-Russian forces in the Russian-occupied cities of the Luhansk region of Ukraine are using humanitarian aid to lure residents to provide personal data to partake in a referendum on joining Russia, Sergei Gaidai, the head of Luhansk military administration has reported on his Telegram channel.

The post suggests that campaigning and data collecting is being carried out at events which are being offered to provide support and humanitarian aid to residents of the occupied areas.

“Under the guise of providing food or construction materials, the occupying power and the collaborating public movement organise meetings with the population of the recently captured territories of the region,” Gaidai said in the post.

According to Gaidai the Russian forces “lure out personal data, urge people to go to the so-called referendum” while “forcing people to exchange their will for food or drinking water”.

The Guardian has not been able to independently verify this information.

Here are some of the latest images from photographers on the ground in Ukraine:

A destroyed apartment building in Kostiantynivka
A destroyed apartment building in Kostiantynivka. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
The ruins of a furniture factory following a missile strike on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
The ruins of a furniture factory following a missile strike on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Photograph: Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images
A young girl among barricades in front of Odesa’s National Academic Theatre
A young girl among barricades in front of Odesa’s National Academic Theatre. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Concerns are growing for the safety of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after an attack by Russian anti-aircraft missiles on 5 August.

At the plant, which was severely damaged according to a report on the Telegram account of Energoatom, the Ukrainian state nuclear operator, emergency protection measures have been activated and one of the three working power units was turned off.

The post reported the plant remains in the control of the Russian military but added that “Ukrainian staff of the station continue to work and make every effort to ensure nuclear and radiation safety”.

The plant, which is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world, generates energy for Ukraine and has been controlled by the Russian military since 4 March when Russian troops captured Energodar, the city where the plant is located.

Summary

Hello, it’s 11.15am in London and 1.15pm in Kyiv. Here’s a summary of the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • Russia is amassing troops in the south of Ukraine but the purpose of the build-up is not yet clear, UK intelligence has warned. The Ministry of Defence says Russian forces could be preparing for a new assault or merely anticipating a counter-offensive from Ukraine.
  • Meta, formerly Facebook, have removed a network of Instagram accounts operated by a troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia. 45 Facebook accounts and 1,037 Instagram accounts were removed and the report found that around $1,400 had been spent in rubles to pay for ads on Facebook and Instagram.
  • A European Union plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off dependency on Russia will come into effect early next week, the bloc’s presidency said on Friday. Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15% over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.
  • A leading Russian hypersonics expert has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state-controlled Tass news agency reported on Friday. Andrei Shiplyuk heads the hypersonics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, according to the institute’s website, and has in recent years coordinated research to support the development of hypersonic missile systems, Reuters reports.
  • Overnight Russian shelling in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast injured three people and destroyed residential buildings, including a kindergarten and a children’s art centre, according to reports from the Kyiv Independent.

Meta, formerly Facebook, has removed a network of Instagram accounts operated by a troll farm in St Petersburg, Russia, according to its newest report into global threats, the Kyiv Independent reports.

The accounts, which aimed to create a perception of online support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, posted pro-Russian comments on content shared by social media influencers and media.

The physical troll farm was operating out of an office building in St Petersburg, which had 10 days previously prior advertised job postings for “spammers, commenters, content analysts, designers and programmers” focused on the social media platforms, YouTube, Telegram and TikTok.

The accounts were targeting politicians, journalists, actors, celebrities and commercial brands from around the world that were vocal in their support for Ukraine.

45 Facebook accounts and 1,037 Instagram accounts were removed and the report found that around $1,400 had been spent in rubles to pay for ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Overnight Russian shelling in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast injured three people and destroyed residential buildings, including a kindergarten and a children’s art centre, according to reports from the Kyiv Independent.

The attacks left several thousand people without power or water, as gas and water pipelines and the electricity network were compromised.

Oksana Pokalchuk, the head of Amnesty International’s office in Ukraine, has resigned from her role following a report published by the human rights organisation which accused the Ukrainian military of breaching international humanitarian law.

The report, which has been criticised by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as well as western diplomats, including the British and US ambassadors to Ukraine, accused the Ukrainian military of putting civilians at risk by positioning themselves in residential areas such as empty schools or civilian buildings, meaning Russia will target urban areas risking civilian lives in the crossfire.

Announcing her resignation via Facebook, Pokalchuk said she held meetings with Amnesty International to discuss what they were going to publish but said that her input was “deleted” and replaced with what the organisation published in its report on Thursday.

“If you don’t live in a country invaded by invaders and are tearing it to pieces, you probably don’t understand what it’s like to condemn an army of defenders. And there are no words in any language that can convey this to someone who has not felt this pain,” Pokalchuk said.

The report has since been used by Kremlin-directed Russian media as a way to evidence their false claims that Russian forces are only going after military targets in Ukraine.

Despite ongoing criticism, Amnesty International said that while it condemned Russia’s invasion, the report’s findings were based on evidence gathered during extensive investigations and that it would report Ukrainian violations when it observed them.

Here are some of the latest images from photographers on the ground in Ukraine:

Members of the Dnipro-1 regiment carry logs to fortify their position near Sloviansk, Donetsk region
Members of the Dnipro-1 regiment carry logs to fortify their position near Sloviansk, Donetsk region. Photograph: David Goldman/AP
Yulya, 33, and Roman, 36, say goodbye to each other as Yulya departs on a train and Roman’s rotation to the frontline begins.
Yulya, 33, and Roman, 36, say goodbye to each other as Yulya departs on a train and Roman’s rotation to the frontline begins. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The funeral ceremony for Ukrainian servicemen Andrii Zhovanyk and Yurii Kovalenko in Kyiv.
The funeral ceremony for Ukrainian servicemen Andrii Zhovanyk and Yurii Kovalenko in Kyiv.
Photograph: Reuters

War ‘about to enter new phase’, UK intelligence warns

We’ve got more from the UK’s MoD.

On what Ukraine’s troops are focusing on, it adds:

Ukrainian forces are focusing their targeting on bridges, ammunition depots, and rail links with growing frequency in Ukraine’s southern regions.

Including the strategically important railroad spur that links Kherson to Russian-occupied Crimea, almost certainly using a combination of block, damage, degrade, deny, destroy, and disrupt effects to try to affect Russia’s ability to logistically resupply.

The MoD then adds it believes the war is about to enter a “new phase”.

Russia’s war on Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, with the heaviest fighting shifting to a roughly 350km frontline stretching south-west from near Zaporizhzhia to Kherson, paralleling the Dnieper River.

Russian forces massing in the south, says UK MoD

As we just mentioned, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has revealed there is a significant build-up of Russian forces in southern Ukraine.

However, the MoD said it was unclear whether these additional forces were for a new assault on Ukrainian territory or in anticipation for a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

It reported:

Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, towed artillery, and other weapons continue to move away from Ukraine’s Donbas region and are headed south-west.

Equipment was also reported to be moving from Russian-occupied Melitopol, Berdiansk, Mariupol and from mainland Russia via the Kerch Bridge into Crimea.

Battalion tactical groups (BTG), which comprise between 800 and 1,000 troops, have been deployed to Crimea and would almost certainly be used to support Russian troops in the Kherson region.

On 02 August 2022, a new BTG had been deployed to Crimea and BTGs are also being re-deployed from Eastern Grouping of Forces. These will highly likely be sent into the Kherson region in the coming days.

Summary

Good morning, it’s approaching 7.30am in London and 9.30am in Kyiv. Here’s a summary of the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • Russia is amassing troops in the south of Ukraine but the purpose of the build-up is not yet clear, UK intelligence has warned. The Ministry of Defence says Russian forces could be preparing for a new assault or merely anticipating a counter-offensive from Ukraine
  • Ukraine has accused Russian forces of strikes near a nuclear reactor at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia power plant in the country’s south-east. Energoatom, the state-run operator of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, said in a statement: “Three strikes were recorded on the site of the plant, near one of the power blocks where the nuclear reactor is located.” Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the plant, saying a leak of radiation had been avoided only by luck.
  • A European Union plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off dependency on Russia will come into effect early next week, the bloc’s presidency said on Friday. Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15% over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.
  • A leading Russian hypersonics expert has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state-controlled Tass news agency reported on Friday. Andrei Shiplyuk heads the hypersonics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, according to the institute’s website, and has in recent years coordinated research to support the development of hypersonic missile systems, Reuters reports.
  • Vladimir Putin has met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks that were expected to focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine and that are being rumoured to include Kremlin efforts to circumvent western sanctions. The Russian president welcomed Erdoğan to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea, by thanking the Turkish president for help in securing an international deal that resumed grain exports from Ukraine that had been disrupted by the Kremlin war machine – as well as Russian foodstuffs and fertilisers – to world markets. They agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture, finance and construction industries, they said in a joint statement after a four-hour meeting.

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