Further Sanctions, Aid promised for Ukraine at G-7 Summit
The 48th G-7 conference — a summit among several economically powerful nations: The United States, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom — began on June 24. The organization met mostly to discuss further aid to Ukraine, including a virtual meeting between the council members and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the face of the Russian invasion.
According to NBC, the leaders vowed on Monday, June 27 to continue providing support to Ukraine indefinitely. Most discussion of aid was economic, though U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned further weapons shipments to Ukraine.
“Zelenskyy has been pleading with the G-7 leaders to speed the support they have pledged, increase the weaponry they are supplying and cut off Russian energy imports,” NBC said.
One major topic was an agreement between the countries to cap the price of Russian oil, one of the largest sectors of the Russian economy. While states supporting Ukraine such as Poland, Lithuania and the Netherlands have begun to move towards other sources of fuel, these countries remain the largest importers of Russian gas, according to The Hill.
“The leaders will continue discussing that step, which could cut into the Kremlin’s energy revenue, and they are expected to direct officials in their countries to work to develop mechanisms to set a global price cap, a senior administration official said in a briefing with reporters,” NBC said.
NBC has also reported on Tuesday that a $4.5 billion package of food relief would be given to help combat global food shortages related to the Russian invasion. Ukraine and Russia are both large food exporters, and the conflict has restricted shipment of these goods drastically across the world, especially in East Africa.
Pro-Russian separatist forces vastly reduced in strength
A report from the BBC gathered from an analysis by British intelligence agencies states the militias of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), both Russian-backed separatists that have occupied parts of eastern Ukraine since 2014, have had over half their soldiers injured or killed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While both Ukrainian and Russian forces have taken heavy casualties in the four months of war, including an Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights report stating 4,634 Ukrainian civilians had been killed since February 28 and 5,769 injured, the article indicates these pro-Russian forces have taken catastrophic losses.
“For months there have been reports of civilians being conscripted into the militia by force, with low morale and poor quality weapons, including rifles that went out of service decades ago. Last month, Ukraine’s SBU security service claimed militiamen compared conditions to slavery and were ready to desert,” the BBC said.
Reports from Ukrainian and British intelligence also show the arrival of several mercenaries in these breakaway factions, with the DNR administration offering one year contracts to foreign fighters. The Wagner Group, a mercenary organization considered a paramilitary group of the Russian military, has been fighting in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.
The Guardian reported last month of two members of the organization captured by Ukrainian forces and facing trial for the intentional murder of civilians in Motyzhyn, a village near Kyiv.
“Russia has used paid fighters to bolster its forces since the start of the war. It was estimated to have deployed between 10,000 and 20,000 mercenaries from Syria, Libya and elsewhere, including Wagner Group fighters, in its offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas region, a European official said last month,” the Guardian said.
Ukrainians recapture Snake Island
On June 30, Russian forces withdrew from Snake Island, a 42-acre island in the Black Sea, according to CNN.
The island became famous on the first day of the invasion when the Ukrainian garrison refused to surrender the island, causing the phrase “Russian warship, go fuck yourself” to become a rallying cry against the Russians.
“In a short post on Telegram on Thursday the Operation Command South of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that ‘the enemy hastily evacuated the remnants of the garrison in two speedboats and probably left the island,’” CNN said.
The evacuation came after several missile and artillery strikes from Ukraine hit the island over the week as Ukrainian forces moved to retake the island, according to CNN.
The Russian government gave an official statement saying that Russian troops on the island withdrew as a sign of goodwill, having completed their assigned tasks.