BORIS Johnson has said Ukraine "will win the war" against Russia as he made a surprise stop in Kyiv to mark the country's Independence Day.

Amid fresh concerns over Putin's health, his security officials have bluntly told the warmongering president that he has run out of “good” options, insiders claim.

And making his last visit to Ukraine before leaving office, the PM said the UK "will continue to stand with our friends" as he set out a further £54 million package of military aid to repel the invaders.

Mr Johnson's visit came as Ukraine marked 31 years since its independence from Moscow's rule.

The Prime Minister has formed a close bond with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his visit appears intended to demonstrate that the links between the two countries will continue once he has left No 10.

Speaking on his third trip to the city, he said: "For the past six months, the United Kingdom has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine, supporting this sovereign country to defend itself from this barbaric and illegal invader.

“Today’s package of support will give the brave and resilient Ukrainian Armed Forces another boost in capability, allowing them to continue to push back Russian forces and fight for their freedom.

“What happens in Ukraine matters to us all, which is why I am here today to deliver the message that the United Kingdom is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win.”

Read our Ukraine-Russia blog below for the latest updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    Nearly 100 dead in attacks on Ukraine healthcare says WHO

    There have been 473 verified attacks on healthcare in Ukraine since Russia invaded six months ago, which have killed nearly 100 people, the WHO said Wednesday.

    The World Health Organization's Europe chief Hans Kluge branded the attacks "unconscionable".

    As well as the 98 people known to have been killed in verified attacks on healthcare, at least 134 others were wounded, the WHO's figures showed.

    Nearly 400 of the attacks hit health facilities. Dozens of attacks struck transport, including ambulances, while warehouses, supplies, personnel and patients were also damaged.

    Jarno Habicht, the WHO's representative in Ukraine, said the number of attacks on health care was unprecedented.

    "These attacks are not only a violation of international law, they are also a barrier for many who need health care during the war," he told reporters in Geneva, via video-link from a bunker in Dnipro.

    Although the war had had a devastating impact on the health and lives of Ukraine's people, the health system had not collapsed, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    "But no system can deliver optimum health to its people under the stress of war, which is why we continue to call on the Russian Federation to end this war," Tedros added.

  • Joseph Gamp

    In pictures: Boris meets Zelensky in Kyiv on Independence Day

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Kyiv on Wednesday, hailing Ukraine's six-month long resistance to the Russian invasion as his counterpart President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed the fight would continue "until the end".

    Wednesday marks half a year since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the large-scale invasion of Ukraine, as well as the day the nation annually celebrates its 1991 independence from the Soviet Union.

    During a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital – hounded by air raid sirens throughout the day – Johnson said Putin had failed to account for the "strong will of Ukrainians to resist".

    "You defend your right to live in peace, in freedom, and that's why Ukraine will win," he said in front of reporters during the afternoon.

    Boris Johnson and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky walk together in central Kyiv
  • Joseph Gamp

    French energy giant accused of fuelling Russian bombers

    A Russian gas field partly owned by France's TotalEnergies is being used to produce fuel for bombers striking targets in Ukraine, Le Monde daily reported Wednesday, a claim contested by the company.

    Hydrocarbons from the Termokarstovoye gas field in Siberia are transformed into jet fuel, which can ultimately be tracked to two military airbases near the Ukrainian border, the journalists wrote.

    Squadrons based there have been accused by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International of attacks on civilians, including the March 16 bombing of a Mariupol theatre where hundreds of people are believed to have died in what Amnesty described as a "war crime".

    TotalEnergies — formerly Total — owns 49 percent of Terneftegaz, the company that extracts gas from the Termokarstovoye field, according to its 2021 annual report.

    The other 51 percent is held by Russian company Novatek, in which the French firm also holds a 19.4 percent stake.

    Le Monde wrote that natural gas condensates — a liquid hydrocarbon recovered when extracting the gas itself — are sent by pipeline for processing at a Novatek plant in Purovsky.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ben Wallace REJECTS blanket ban on visas for Russians

    The Defence Secretary has rejected the idea of a blanket ban on visas for Russians but insisted “we can toughen up the conditions”.

    Ben Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I certainly think we can toughen up the conditions of our visas. I am not sure whether an outright ban is the right way.

    “I think that’s a matter for the Home Secretary to look at. But I don’t like, and I’m sure none of your listeners like watching oligarchs’ wives or indeed Russian senior officials’ wives enjoying themselves in Greece or south of France, or super yachts around the world while their army is committing war crimes in Ukraine.

    “I think that is very wrong. I think the problem has been all the way back to 2014, that Russia invaded Crimea, illegally annexed it, and then it was allowed in some countries to carry on as if nothing had really changed.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow is committed to Ukraine grain deal

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Russia is committed to a Turkish-brokered deal to unblock grain exports from Ukraine struck in Istanbul last month.

    Writing on Telegram, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia is “entirely committed” to the deal.

  • Joseph Gamp

    US to send more military aid to Ukraine

    The package is reported to be worth around $3 million.

    This will be the biggest aid package America has sent the Ukraine since the war began.

    Weapons from US stocks will be sent to Ukraine, Reuters reported.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Nicola Sturgeon offers Scotland's 'continued solidarity' to Ukraine

    Nicola Sturgeon has written to Ukraine's president offering Scotland's "continued solidarity" six months on from Russia's "unjust, unprovoked and illegal" invasion.

    Ms Sturgeon wrote to President Volodymyr Zelensky as Ukraine marked its independence day in the midst of the ongoing conflict.

    The Scottish First Minister met Ukraine's ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, on Wednesday, and passed the letter to him during their meeting.

    In it she said: "To mark Ukraine's independence day, I offer Scotland's continued solidarity with Ukraine and our admiration for your people's bravery in the face of an unjust, unprovoked and illegal invasion.

    "Scotland stands with Ukraine for democracy, human rights and the rule of law at home and abroad."

    She added that since the conflict began Scotland had "offered sanctuary – and a helping hand – to more than 14,000 people who have been forced to leave their homes".

    And Ms Sturgeon told President Zelensky she hoped this action "strengthens the bond between our two countries now and in a more peaceful future".

  • Joseph Gamp

    Pope appeals for peace to 'beloved' Ukraine on Independence Day

    Pope Francis renewed calls for peace Wednesday "for the beloved Ukrainian people" on the war-torn country's Independence Day and the six-month anniversary of the start of Russia's invasion.

    Following his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Francis directed his address to "the beloved Ukrainian people who for six months today have been suffering the horror of war," while warning of the risk of nuclear catastrophe in the region.

    "I hope that concrete steps will be taken to put an end to the war and to avert the risk of a nuclear disaster in Zaporizhzhia," he said, referring to the Russian-controlled nuclear plant in southern Ukraine — Europe's largest – that has been the target of military strikes, blamed by each side on the other.

    The 85-year-old pope cited "so many innocents who are paying for madness" — whether prisoners, refugees, children or orphans — as the war drags on.

    "I think of that poor girl who died because of a bomb under the seat of her car in Moscow," added Francis, referring to Daria Dugina, the daughter of a Russian ultranationalist intellectual allied with President Vladimir Putin, killed by a car bomb Saturday.

    "Those who profit from war and the arms trade are criminals who kill humanity," the pope said, while denouncing long-standing military conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Myanmar.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ex-mayor arrested on charges of discrediting Russian army

    The former mayor of Russia's fourth-largest city was arrested Wednesday on charges of discrediting the country's military, part of a crackdown on critics of Moscow's military action in Ukraine.

    Police arrested Yevgeny Roizman, 59 who served as the mayor of Yekaterinburg in 2013-2018, following searches at his apartment and office.

    Roizman told reporters he was charged under a new law adopted after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

    Russian courts fined Roizman three times earlier this year on similar charges, paving the way for a criminal case the law authorizes for repeat offenses.

    Roizman, a sharp critic of the Kremlin, is one of the most visible and charismatic opposition figures in Russia. During his tenure as mayor, he enjoyed broad popularity in Yekaterinburg, a city of 1.5 million in the Ural Mountains.

    Shortly after his arrest, a few local residents picketed in his support.

    Cautious words of support also came from Roizman's longtime political rival, the governor of Russia's Sverdlovsk region.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Germany vows to support Ukraine as long as necessary

    Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday assured Kyiv of Germany's support for as long as necessary, as Ukraine marked both its independence day and six months since the start of the Russian invasion.

    "Germany… stands firmly by the side of the threatened Ukraine today and for as long as Ukraine needs our support," Scholz said in a video posted on Twitter.

    "We will continue to supply weapons" and "train Ukrainian soldiers on the latest European military equipment", Scholz said after announcing fresh deliveries worth more than 500 million euros ($500 million) on Tuesday.

    The new tranche of weapons — including three IRIS-T anti-aircraft systems as well as armed recovery vehicles and rocket-launchers — is mostly earmarked for delivery in 2023.

    "We will continue our sanctions. We will support Ukraine financially and help rebuild the destroyed cities and villages," Scholz said.

    The chancellor also said Berlin would be hosting an international reconstruction conference in October to help set "the course for the future of Ukraine".

  • Joseph Gamp

    Belarus congratulates Ukraine on Independence Day

    The authoritarian leader of ex-Soviet Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday congratulated Ukraine on its Independence Day, saying that "today's contradictions" should not destroy long-term neighbourly ties with the pro-Western country.

    Wednesday also marked six months since the start of Moscow's "special military operation" in Ukraine, which Russia launched from several directions, including from Belarusian territory.

    "I am convinced that today's contradictions will not be able to destroy the centuries-old foundation of sincere good neighbourly ties between the peoples of our two countries," Lukashenko said in a statement released by his press service.

    "Belarus will continue to stand for the preservation of harmony, the development of friendly, mutually respectful contacts at all levels," it added.

    Belarus relies financially and politically on its close ally Russia.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin backed Lukashenko when he faced an international backlash and Western sanctions for his crackdown on 2020 protests against his re-election for a sixth term.

    Western countries have slapped Belarus with new sanctions this year for its role in Russia's Ukraine offensive launched on February 24.

    Lukashenko allowed Russian troops into the country under the pretext of military exercises in the months before Moscow launched its military operation.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Pope warns of potential 'nuclear disaster' at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia plant

    Pope Francis on Wednesday called for "concrete steps" to end the war in Ukraine and avert the risk of a "nuclear disaster" at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

    Speaking at his weekly general audience, Francis went off script to condemn wars as "madness" and, referring to Darya Dugina, said the woman killed by a car bomb near Moscow was among "innocents" killed because of war.

    He also said arms merchants who profit from war are "delinquents who kill humanity".

  • Joseph Gamp

    Head of Russian-controlled Ukrainian town killed in car bomb

    The Russian-installed head of the Ukrainian town of Mykhailivka in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporizhzhia region was killed in a car bomb on Tuesday, an official in the region's Russian-backed administration said.

    Writing on Telegram, Zaporizhzhia region administration member Vladimir Rogov said that Mykhailivka head Ivan Sushko had been critically injured when a bomb placed under his car exploded, and died shortly afterwards in hospital.

    Mykhailivka has a population of 11,000.

    It is the latest in a series of assassinations of Russian-installed officials in occupied areas of Ukraine. In neighbouring Kherson region, the deputy head of the town of Novaya Kakhovka was shot dead in his home on August 6.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ben Wallace REJECTS blanket ban on visas for Russians

    The Defence Secretary has rejected the idea of a blanket ban on visas for Russians but insisted "we can toughen up the conditions".

    Ben Wallace told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I certainly think we can toughen up the conditions of our visas. I am not sure whether an outright ban is the right way.

    "I think that's a matter for the Home Secretary to look at. But I don't like, and I'm sure none of your listeners like watching oligarchs' wives or indeed Russian senior officials' wives enjoying themselves in Greece or south of France, or super yachts around the world while their army is committing war crimes in Ukraine.

    "I think that is very wrong. I think the problem has been all the way back to 2014, that Russia invaded Crimea, illegally annexed it, and then it was allowed in some countries to carry on as if nothing had really changed."

  • Joseph Gamp

    Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow is committed to Ukraine grain deal

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Russia is committed to a Turkish-brokered deal to unblock grain exports from Ukraine struck in Istanbul last month.

    Writing on Telegram, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia is “entirely committed” to the deal.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ukraine strikes administration headquarters in Donetsk, Russia-installed separatists say

    Ukrainian forces shelled a building housing the local administration headquarters in the centre of separatist-controlled Donetsk on Tuesday with Western-supplied weapons, the TASS news agency reported, citing Russian-installed officials.

    Three people were killed in a series of strikes on Donetsk, which has been under the control of Russian-backed separatists since 2014, on Tuesday, the Russian-installed mayor of Donetsk said in a post on his Telegram channel.

    A separatist official said at least one of the shells used in the attack was fired from a U.S.-made HIMARS artillery system, Russian state news agencies reported.

    Western officials have warned of a possible escalation in fighting in Ukraine this week, as Wednesday marks six months since Russia’s invasion

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ukraine warns of powerful response to Russian attacks

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Moscow on Tuesday of a powerful response if Russian forces carry out attacks on or around Ukraine’s Independence Day.

    Zelensky has warned that Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, could try “something particularly ugly” in the run-up to Wednesday’s Independence Day, which marks Ukraine’s break from Soviet rule.

    Asked at a news conference with visiting Polish President Andrzej Duda about the possibility of a Russian missile strike on Kyiv, he said there was a daily threat of attacks and Ukrainian intelligence was working with foreign intelligence.

    “Russia does this all the time. Can they increase the number of these strikes? Yes, they can do it on (August) 23rd-24th,” Zelensky said.

    “What will Ukraine do if they hit Kyiv? The same as now. Because for me as president, and for every Ukrainian, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Donbas, it is all the same. Ukrainians live there. (and) Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia.”

    He said the response would be the same for any Ukrainian city that comes under attack from Russia.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Boris Johnson says UK and allies ‘must continue to support Ukraine’

    Boris Johnson yesterday said the UK and allies must continue to support Ukraine in the face of the “hideous war” unleashed by Vladimir Putin.

    In a video address to an international conference hosted by Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said: “We will never recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea or any other Ukrainian territory.

    “In the face of Putin’s assault we must continue to give our Ukrainian friends all the military, humanitarian, economic and diplomatic support that they need until Russia ends this hideous war and withdraws its forces from the entirety of Ukraine.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    EU ready to support Ukraine ‘for the long term’ says Macron

    French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday vowed the EU’s support for Ukraine as it struggles against Russia’s invasion would continue “for the long term.”

    “Our determination has not changed and we are ready to maintain this effort for the long term,” Macron said in a video address to participants in the Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv.

  • Joseph Gamp

    US embassy issues new security alert for Ukraine

    The US Embassy in Kyiv, warning of an increased possibility of Russian military strikes on Ukraine in the coming days around Ukrainian independence day, has again urged U.S. citizens to leave if they can.

    An alert on the Embassy’s website reads: “The Department of State has information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days,”

    “The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to depart Ukraine now using privately available ground transportation options if it is safe to do so,” the alert said, repeating the advice of previous security warnings.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Refugee hosts need more financial support

    As cost of living increases, more hosts of Ukrainian refugees are feeling the pinch.

    When the war started, the Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched. The scheme meant families were able to host Ukrainian refugees for up to six months.

    According to euronews, false rumours claimed that over 25% of UK hosts want to evict their Ukrainian guests after six months.

    After being fact checked, the ONS ran a survey across 7,000 families who had taken part in the scheme, and found that 5% of respondents answered that they intended to house refugees for six months or fewer, while 37% said they were ready to accommodate families for one year or longer.

    The survey showed that 30%of current or previous sponsors had made decisions on housing based on the rising cost of living.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ukraine war having ‘devastating knock-on effects’ says Red Cross

    The Ukraine conflict is stretching the entire humanitarian system and could have lasting impacts on the ability of organisations to tackle emergencies worldwide, the Red Cross warned Tuesday.

    The war, now six months old, has pushed people to “a critical breaking point,” said Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

    “The devastating knock-on effects are only growing as the conflict drags on, with rising food and fuel prices and worsening food crises,” he said in a statement.

    The Red Cross, which now counts more than 100,000 local volunteers and staff in Ukraine and nearby countries, is continuing to scale up the humanitarian need.

    The organisation warned that “even if the conflict were to end tomorrow, it will take years to repair the damage to cities and homes and the impact on families.”

    Soaring inflation and shortages of essential products like fuel and food in Ukraine and neighbouring countries have left people struggling to afford basic supplies.

    And needs will only grow as the weather chills in the weeks ahead.

    “It will be the hardest winter,” Maksym Dotsenko, head of the Ukrainian Red Cross, said in a virtual press briefing.

    Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine — one of the world’s biggest grain exporters — has already contributed to a dire food shortage now confronting some of the poorest parts of the globe.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Ukraine will not agree to freeze front lines to 'calm' Russia, says Zelensky

    Ukraine will not agree to any proposal to freeze the current frontlines in its conflict with Russia in order to "calm" Moscow, President Volodymyr Zelensky told a news conference on Tuesday.

    He also urged the world not to show fatigue with the war, saying this would pose a big threat to the whole world.

  • Joseph Gamp

    US warns of Russian strikes on Ukraine government targets

    Washington today warned Russia could attack Ukrainian government facilities in the coming days as Moscow said it would show "no mercy" over an assassination it has blamed on Ukraine.

    World leaders also reasserted their support for the country on the eve of its independence day celebrations and the six-month anniversary of the beginning of Russia's invasion on February 24.

    Leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned Russia against further attempts to annex Ukrainian territory in the same way it did with Crimea.

    "It has never been more important for us all to stand together," Johnson said in a video address to the Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv.

    Polish President Andrzej Duda attended in person, warning against any "appeasement" of Russia.

    "There is no return to business as usual in relations with Russia," he said.

    In his address, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that the EU's support for Ukraine would continue "for the long term".

    "There can be no weakness, no spirit of compromise, because it's a matter of our freedom, for everyone, and of peace everywhere around the world," he said.

  • Lauren Cole-Lomas

    Cyprus police arrest Ukrainian woman ‘holding knife’ at Russia celebration

     Cypriot police have arrested a Ukrainian woman suspected of threatening a group of Russians with a knife as they celebrated their National Flag Day, police and media said on Tuesday.

    The woman, aged 55, appeared holding a knife as a group of about 20 flag-waving Russians gathered in the coastal town of Larnaca on Monday night. They were due to start a car convoy through the town.

    She was being held on custody on suspicion of common assault, public drunkenness, possession of a weapon and of disrupting the peace, police spokesman Harris Hadjiyiasemis told the semi-official Cyprus news agency.

    Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians live in Cyprus. On Saturday a small group of Russians gathered in the city of Limassol, waving flags and creating the “Z” symbol which has become synonymous with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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