Ukraine-Russia war – live: Vladimir Putin lands in North Korea as he ‘praises dictator Kim Jong-un’

Ukraine-Russia war – live: Vladimir Putin lands in North Korea as he ‘praises dictator Kim Jong-un’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has landed in North Korea as he praised the pariah state’s dictator Kim Jong-un as his “comrade”.

Putin arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday for a key summit set to deepen trade and security ties intended to offset sanctions placed on the two regimes by the United States.

In an article published by North Korean state media, Putin praised “Comrade” Kim, and promised to “jointly resist illegitimate unilateral restrictions” by Washington.

“Washington, refusing to implement previously reached agreements, continuously puts forward new, increasingly stringent and obviously unacceptable demands,” Putin said in the article published by Rodong Sinmun, Kim’s ruling mouthpiece.

Meanwhile, the US and its Asian allies are trying to work out how far Russia will go in support of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose country is the only one to have conducted nuclear weapon tests in the 21st century.

It came as Ukraine has been systematically targeting Russian energy infrastructure to try to disrupt Russia’s economy and its ability to fund its military effort. On Tuesday a drone attack set ablaze oil storage sites in Russia’s southern Rostov region.

Key points

  • Vladimir Putin thanks North Korea for support ahead of Kim Jong-un summit

  • Oil depots on fire in Russia's Rostov after Ukranian drone attack, governor says

  • Record number of Nato members hitting defence spending targets, says chief

  • Ukraine says its air defence systems destroyed 10 Russian drones

  • China should suffer consequences for helping Russia's war effort, says Nato chief

Russia and North Korea have had a complicated relationship over the decades

21:30 , Alexander Butler

President Vladimir Putin is in North Korea for a summit with its leader, Kim Jong Un, as the two nations deepen their cooperation.

The visit comes amid growing concerns about an arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions to fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine in exchange for economic assistance and technology to enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

Despite their often aligning interests, relations between Russia and North Korea have experienced highs and lows. Read more here:

Russia and North Korea have had a complicated relationship over the decades

Estonia sentences Russian citizen for spying

20:30 , Alexander Butler

An Estonian court has sentenced a former professor of political theory at the University of Tartu, a Russian citizen, to six years and three months in jail for spying, the country’s public broadcaster ERR reported.

Viacheslav Morozov was arrested in January and accused of gathering information about Estonia’s internal, defence and security policy, as well as people and infrastructure related to it, ERR said.

He was also accused of conveying information about Estonia’s political situation, relationships with allies, integration and social cohesion.

Nuclear-powered Russian sub leaves Havana ahead of expected military drills in Caribbean

19:01 , Alexander Butler

Nuclear-powered Russian sub leaves Havana ahead of drills in Caribbean

Ukraine investigates suspected beheading of soldier by Russia

17:51 , Alexander Butler

Ukraine is investigating the suspected beheading of one of its servicemen by Russian forces in an occupied part of the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian general prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.

Russia, which has repeatedly denied its forces carry out war crimes during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine launched in February 2022, has made no comment on the allegation.

“The fact of decapitation of a Ukrainian defender was recorded in the Donetsk region,” Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin wrote on the X social media platform.

In a statement, the general prosecutor’s office said the severed head of a Ukrainian soldier had been identified on a damaged armoured vehicle during aerial reconnaissance of the area.

Russia ‘buying spies' to make up for expelled diplomats

16:45 , Alexander Butler

Russia has turned increasingly to blackmail and financial incentives to hire Germans to spy for it after the blow dealt to its intelligence services by Europe’s expulsion of some 600 Russian diplomats, Germany’s domestic security service said.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said Russian intelligence services were spending big to recruit agents in Germany despite Western attempts to limit their operations since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia is working hard to compensate for the German government’s reduction in the number of Russian agents in Germany,” BfV chief Thomas Haldenwang told a news conference upon presenting the agency’s annual report.

White House ‘comfortable’ with its nuclear position after Nato chief suggests increase in deployed weapons

16:08 , Alexander Butler

Washington reacts to Nato chief on possibility of readying more nuclear weapons

Putin’s best friend routine with Kim Jong Un is a clear and present danger to the West

15:39 , Alexander Butler

Kim Jong Un is not new to striking up sudden friendships with the world’s powerful leaders. There were the memorable times with Donald Trump after the exchange of letters described as “beautiful” by the US president, followed by tender moments in meetings which were supposed to reshape geopolitics.

Nothing much came from the sessions of mutual admiration, apart from a temporary suspension by North Korea of ballistic missile building and deep apprehension from America’s allies in the region that Trump may do a deal with Kim jeopardising their security. That did not materialise in the end, to much relief.

Now Kim has a new bestie, Vladimir Putin, and this presents a clear and present danger to the West and its allies. North Korea is already stepping in to provide Russia to replenish exhausted ammunition and missile stock for the Ukraine war.

Moscow has been accused of circumventing international sanctions to help Kim develop his military arsenal as well as planning to help his nuclear programme.

Read the full article here:

Putin’s friendship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is a clear danger to the West

Putin leaves Russia's far east for North Korea, Russian media outlet says

15:00 , Barney Davis

Russian President Vladimir Putin has left Russia’s far eastern region of Sakha for North Korea after stopping off there for a few hours en route to his summit with Kim Jong Un, regional news outlet 14news reported on Tuesday.

Timeline of Ukrainian drone strikes designed to cripple Russia’s ability to wage war

14:30 , Barney Davis

Ukraine has been systematically targeting Russian energy infrastructure to try to disrupt Russia’s economy and its ability to fund its military effort.

Following is a chronology of some of the main drone strikes on Russian oil refineries and infrastructure this year.

June 18 - A drone attack set ablaze oil storage sites in Russia’s southern Rostov region.

June 14 - Debris from a downed drone damaged an unused reservoir at a fuel depot in Russia’s Voronezh region.

June 6 - A fire was extinguished at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia’s Rostov region which had been attacked by a drone.

May 20 - Slavyansk oil refinery was attacked by a drone.

May 18 - The Importpischeprom oil products terminal at Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiisk resumed fuel loadings after suspending operations following a drone attack a day earlier, according to industry sources and LSEG data.

Smoke and fire rise from a refinery after a drone attack in Tuapse, Krasnodar Region, Russia (Reuters)
Smoke and fire rise from a refinery after a drone attack in Tuapse, Krasnodar Region, Russia (Reuters)

Putin praises ‘comrade Kim’ in open letter

14:00 , Barney Davis

In a signal that Russia, a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council, is reassessing its entire approach to North Korea, Putin praised Pyongyang for resisting what he said was U.S. economic pressure, blackmail and threats.

In an article published by North Korean state media, Putin praised “Comrade” Kim, and promised to “jointly resist illegitimate unilateral restrictions”, to develop trade and strengthen security across Eurasia.

“Washington, refusing to implement previously reached agreements, continuously puts forward new, increasingly stringent and obviously unacceptable demands,” Putin said in the article, printed on the front page of North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun, the ruling Workers’ Party mouthpiece.

“Russia has always supported and will continue to support the DPRK and the heroic Korean people in their opposition to the insidious, dangerous and aggressive enemy.”

US, Cyprus embark on strategic dialogue that officials say demonstrates closest-ever ties

13:30 , Tom Watling

US, Cyprus embark on strategic dialogue that officials say demonstrates closest-ever ties

Putin says Russia and North Korea ‘ready to confront ambition of West’ as he arrives for rare visit

13:00 , Tom Watling

Visiting Putin says Russia and North Korea ‘ready to confront ambition of West’

Before his summit with North Korea's Kim, Putin vows they'll beat sanctions together

12:30 , Tom Watling

Before his summit with North Korea's Kim, Putin vows they'll beat sanctions together

Zelensky says he would hold peace talks tomorrow if Russia leaves Ukraine territory

12:00 , Tom Watling

Zelensky says he would hold peace talks tomorrow if Russia leaves Ukraine territory

Ukrainian soldiers watch the country’s first Euro group match

11:30 , Tom Watling

Photos have dropped on the wire showing Ukrainian soldiers watching the country’s first group stage match at the Euros.

Ukraine were beaten 3-0 by Romania.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Separate Galician Air Assault Brigade watch the UEFA Euro 2024 football match between Romania and Ukraine, in a house converted to a military base, in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Separate Galician Air Assault Brigade watch the UEFA Euro 2024 football match between Romania and Ukraine, in a house converted to a military base, in the Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)

Rod Stewart responds after ‘booing’ heard during display of support for Ukraine

11:00 , Tom Watling

Rod Stewart responds after ‘booing’ heard during display of support for Ukraine

Drone attack on Russian oil depots was operation by Ukraine’s SBU, source says

10:35 , Tom Watling

A drone attack that set on fire oil storage sites in Russia’s southern Rostov region overnight was conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), an intelligence source said on Tuesday.

Russian officials said earlier that several oil storage tanks had caught fire after a drone attack in the town of Azov. The source told Reuters the attack struck the Azovskaya and Azovnefteprodukt depots that have a total of 22 fuel tanks.

Russian warships leave Havana's port after a 5-day visit to Cuba

10:15 , Tom Watling

Russian warships leave Havana's port after a 5-day visit to Cuba

Slovakia backs Mark Rutte’s candidacy for top Nato job

09:45 , Tom Watling

Slovakia supports Mark Rutte’s proposed appointment as the next Nato secretary-general, Slovak President Peter Pellegrini said on Tuesday, one of the last countries in the alliance to fall in line behind the outgoing Dutch prime minister.

Slovakia had preferred a “geographically” closer candidate from central and eastern Europe, such as Romanian President Klaus Iohannis who had also sought the job, but now backs Rutte, Pellegrini said after a European Union summit in Brussels.

“After a final discussion with Mark Rutte and consultation with the Slovak government, Slovakia can imagine Mark Rutte as the Nato chief,” and will support him, Pellegrini said at a news briefing broadcast live on television.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany back Rutte to succeed Jens Stoltenberg, who will step down as Nato’s head in October.

Nato takes decisions by consensus, so any candidate needs the support of all 32 allies. With the nods of Slovakia and Hungary, Rutte now awaits support from just Romania.

Putin says Russia and North Korea ‘ready to confront ambition of West’ as he arrives for rare visit

09:23 , Tom Watling

Visiting Putin says Russia and North Korea ‘ready to confront ambition of West’

Hungary not opposed to Rutte’s candidacy for Nato top job anymore, Dutch media reports

09:00 , Tom Watling

Hungary has dropped its opposition to Mark Rutte as the next Nato secretary-general, Dutch media has reported, after the outgoing Dutch prime minister and his Hungarian counterpart met on the sidelines of a European Union leaders’ meeting in Brussels.

Citing sources, Dutch outlets Nos and RTL reported that Orban did not reiterate his demand for an apology from Rutte for what Orban described last month as “problematic” opinions on Hungary.

The apology had been one of the two conditions Hungary had put forward for approving Rutte as the successor to Jens Stoltenberg at the helm of Nato.

The other - the guarantee that Hungary would not have to provide funding for Ukraine or send personnel to the war-torn country - was met last week by Stoltenberg.

This year, the United States, Britain, France and Germany all backed Rutte to succeed Stoltenberg, who will step down in October, as the head of Nato.

Turkey told its allies in April it would also support Rutte. Now only Romania and Slovakia have not yet given a green light.

Nato takes decisions by consensus, so any candidate needs the support of all 32 allies.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said in March he was running for the Nato top job, arguing Eastern European states need better representation in Euro-Atlantic leadership roles.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends a European Union leaders informal summit in Brussels (REUTERS)
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends a European Union leaders informal summit in Brussels (REUTERS)

Oil depots on fire in Russia's Rostov region after drone attack

08:45 , Tom Watling

Several oil storage tanks were on fire after a drone attack early on Tuesday in the town of Azov in Russia’s southern region of Rostov, officials said.

“According to preliminary data, there are no casualties,” Vasily Golubev, governor of the Rostov region that borders Ukraine, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia’s ministry of emergency situations said on Telegram that the fire had spread across 5,000 cubic metres, and that several dozen firefighters with 21 pieces of equipment were battling the blaze.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Kyiv has often said that targeting Russia’s energy, military and transport infrastructure undermines Moscow’s war effort.

The town of Azov is situated on the Don River and is about 16 kilometres from the Sea of Azov.

Members of the Russian emergencies ministry work to extinguish fire at an oil storage tank after an alleged drone attack in the town of Azov in the southern region of Rostov (via REUTERS)
Members of the Russian emergencies ministry work to extinguish fire at an oil storage tank after an alleged drone attack in the town of Azov in the southern region of Rostov (via REUTERS)
Russia’s ministry of emergency situations said on Telegram that the fire had spread across 5,000 cubic metres (via REUTERS)
Russia’s ministry of emergency situations said on Telegram that the fire had spread across 5,000 cubic metres (via REUTERS)

Ukraine says its air defence systems destroy all 10 Russia-launched drones

08:38 , Tom Watling

Ukraine‘s air force has said that its air defence systems destroyed all 10 drones that Russia launched overnight targeting the country.

The drones were destroyed over Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine, the air force said on the Telegram messaging app.

Here are some of the latest photos from Ukraine

08:30 , Tom Watling

Good morning.

Below we have some of the latest photos coming out of Ukraine and Russia.

Artillerymen of the 13th Operative Purpose Brigade ‘Khartiia’ of the National Guard of Ukraine fire a howitzer towards Russian troops near Lyptsi in Kharkiv Oblast (REUTERS)
Artillerymen of the 13th Operative Purpose Brigade ‘Khartiia’ of the National Guard of Ukraine fire a howitzer towards Russian troops near Lyptsi in Kharkiv Oblast (REUTERS)
An artilleryman of the 13th Operative Purpose Brigade 'Khartiia' of the National Guard of Ukraine waits to fire towards Russian troops (REUTERS)
An artilleryman of the 13th Operative Purpose Brigade 'Khartiia' of the National Guard of Ukraine waits to fire towards Russian troops (REUTERS)
Members of the Russian emergencies ministry work to extinguish fire at an oil storage tank after an alleged drone attack in the town of Azov in the southern region of Rostov, Russia (via REUTERS)
Members of the Russian emergencies ministry work to extinguish fire at an oil storage tank after an alleged drone attack in the town of Azov in the southern region of Rostov, Russia (via REUTERS)

Estonia’s Kallas, fierce Russia critic, tipped to be new EU foreign policy chief

08:15 , Namita Singh

Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas is tipped to become the European Union’s next foreign policy boss, but her tough stance on Russia may raise doubts as to whether she can represent views from across the bloc.

EU leaders held informal talks yesterday, their first since the European Parliament election, to discuss appointments for the bloc’s top jobs, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen expected to secure a second term and EU diplomats saying Ms Kallas was in line for the foreign affairs role.

Ms Kallas, who turns 47 today, has been a staunch critic of neighbouring Russia since she became prime minister in early 2021.

An uncompromising voice in the EU and Nato for unconditional support to Kyiv and for containing Moscow, she led her country of 1.4 million people to become one of the highest per-capita military donors to Ukraine.

The war between Russia and Ukraine set to grind on as a peace conference packs little punch

08:00 , Namita Singh

Russia and Ukraine are set to remain locked in battle for the foreseeable future after an international gathering billed as a first step toward peace delivered no eye-catching diplomatic breakthrough that might suggest a coming end to Europe’s biggest conflict since the second World War.

The war between Russia and Ukraine is set to grind on as a peace conference packs little punch

Russian official says Ukraine pouring troops into contested Kharkiv region

07:45 , Namita Singh

A Russian official yesterday said that fighting was gripping parts of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region which Moscow has been trying to seize and added that Ukraine’s military was pouring men and equipment into the contested area.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv’s forces were gradually pushing Russian troops out of the contested area. His top commander predicted that Moscow would try to press forward pending the arrival in Ukraine of sophisticated Western equipment, including US-made F-16 fighter jets.

A Ukrainian serviceman rests at his positions at a front line near a Russian border in a Kharkiv region (Reuters)
A Ukrainian serviceman rests at his positions at a front line near a Russian border in a Kharkiv region (Reuters)

Russian forces crossed into parts of Kharkiv region last month and officials say they have seized about a dozen villages.

Vitaly Ganchev, Russia-appointed governor of the areas of Kharkiv region controlled by Moscow, said Russian forces were beating back Ukraine’s latest counter-attacks in areas near Vovchansk, 5km inside the border.

“There is fighting still going on in the Kharkiv sector. The fiercest clashes are in Vovchansk and near Lyptsy,” Mr Ganchev told Russian news agencies.

“The enemy is sending reserves and trying to counter-attack but is meeting a fierce response from our armed forces.”

Russian warships leave Cuba after a 5-day visit

07:30 , Namita Singh

A fleet of Russian warships, including a nuclear submarine, left Havana’s port yesterday after a five-day visit to Cuba following planned military drills in the Atlantic Ocean.

The exercise was seen as a show of strength by Moscow amid growing tensions with the US and other Western countries supporting Ukraine against Russia.

The submarine, a frigate, an oil tanker and a rescue tug slowly departed from the port on Monday morning.

It’s unclear what the fleet’s destination is or where it will dock next in the Caribbean, although US officials have said the vessels could possibly stop in Venezuela.

Report:

Russian warships leave Havana's port after a 5-day visit to Cuba

Journalist Evan Gershkovich's trial to be held behind closed doors

07:15 , Namita Singh

The trial of jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich will start in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg later this month behind closed doors, the court has said.

The first American journalist to be detained on spy charges in Russia since the end of the Cold War more than three decades ago, Mr Gershkovich has repeatedly denied the charges while the US and the UK have hit out at what they see as politically motivated charges.

US president Joe Biden has called his detention “totally illegal”.

My colleague Tom Watling reports:

Trial of jailed journalist Gershkovich to be behind closed doors, Russia court says

Kidnapped, abused, humiliated – the Ukrainian children stolen by Russia

07:00 , Tom Watling

Kidnapped, abused, humiliated – the Ukrainian children stolen by Russia

Indian court denies bail to man accused of trafficking men to Russia

06:56 , Namita Singh

A court in Delhi has denied bail to a man accused of trafficking Indian citizens to be deployed in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“The allegations against the accused are grave and serious in nature. Enlarging the applicant on bail at this stage will hamper further investigation of the case,” said the court as it denied relief to Micheal Elangovan.

Ukrainian servicemen ride on a Humvee military pickup truck in the Donetsk region, on 17 June 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen ride on a Humvee military pickup truck in the Donetsk region, on 17 June 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

The accused has denied the allegations.

“There is also a possibility that he may try to destroy the evidence which are yet to be obtained by the IO (investigating officer). The applicant may also assist the other accused persons in continuing to evade the process of law,” said the court.

Nato targets AI, robots and space tech in $1.1bn fund

06:45 , Namita Singh

A consortium of Nato allies has confirmed the first tranche of companies awarded funding as part of the group’s $1.1bn innovation fund.

The alliance unveiled the fund in the summer of 2022, months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, promising to invest in technologies that would enhance its defences. The fund is backed by 24 of NATO’s 32 member states, including Finland and Sweden, which joined the alliance earlier this year.

On Tuesday, the Nato Innovation Fund (NIF) confirmed it had directly invested in four European tech companies, which it said would help address challenges in defence, security, and resilience.

The body has allocated funding to Fractile AI, a London-based computer chipmaker aiming to make large language models (LLMs) like those that power ChatGPT run faster, as well as Germany’s ARX Robotics, which designs unmanned robots with functions ranging from heavy-lifting to surveillance.

China should face consequences for helping Putin’s war on Ukraine, says Nato chief

06:40 , Namita Singh

China should face consequences for helping Vladimir Putin in his war on Ukraine.

Beijing was “trying to get it both ways” by supporting Russia’s war effort, while trying to have a relationship with European allies.

“This cannot work in the long run,” Mr Stoltenberg told BBC News, as he raised concerns about China sharing technologies with Russia that it is using to “build missiles, weapons they use against Ukraine”.

“At some stage, we should consider some kind of economic cost if China doesn’t change their behaviour,” he told the outlet.

Putin treats international law like ‘toilet paper’, says Kyiv’s top official as peace summit meets

06:00 , Tom Watling

Putin treats global law like ‘toilet paper’, says Kyiv official ahead of peace summit

Rod Stewart ‘booed’ as he salutes Ukraine president Zelensky

05:50 , Namita Singh

Sir Rod Stewart appeared to be booed by his own fans after he saluted photos of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky during a concert in Germany.

The British rocker, 79, has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in 2022.

During his performance at Leipzigs Quarterback Immobilien Arena on Friday (14 June), Stewart had the Ukrainian flag projected on to the large screen behind him.

Roisin O’Connor reports:

Sir Rod Stewart ‘booed’ as he salutes Ukraine president Zelensky during concert

Ukraine says its air defence systems destroyed 10 Russian drones

05:49 , Namita Singh

Ukraine’s air force said its air defence systems destroyed all 10 drones that Russia launched overnight targeting the country.

The drones were destroyed over Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine, the air force said on the Telegram messaging app.

Putin congratulates South Africa’s Ramaphosa on re-election

05:42 , Namita Singh

Vladimir Putin congratulated South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa on his re-election as president yesterday, reflecting continued good relations with Pretoria despite uncertainty over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

“Hope was expressed for continued joint work on further strengthening of the partnership between Russia and South Africa in all its aspects,” a statement on the Kremlin website said, referring to Mr Putin’s telephone call to Mr Ramaphosa.

Mr Ramaphosa was re-elected by parliament on Friday. But the failure of his African National Congress party to win a majority in last month’s election, for the first time in 30 years, prompted the formation of a government made up - so far - of five parties.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa reacts after being re-elected as president of South Africa during the first sitting of the National Assembly following elections at the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC) in Cape Town, South Africa on 14 June 2024 (Reuters)
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa reacts after being re-elected as president of South Africa during the first sitting of the National Assembly following elections at the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC) in Cape Town, South Africa on 14 June 2024 (Reuters)

Russia and Ukraine have jostled for support from African nations since the 2022 invasion, with each country’s foreign minister embarking on several tours of the continent.

South Africa initially denounced Russia’s February 2022 invasion, but has since adopted a more nuanced position and abstained on several votes in the UN General Assembly condemning Russian actions.

South Africa attended the “peace summit” on Ukraine held in Switzerland over the weekend. But it declined to sign the final communique, along with India, Indonesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, even though some contentious issues were omitted in the hope of drawing wider support.

Oil depots on fire in Russia's Rostov region after drone attack, governor says

05:03 , Namita Singh

Oil depots were on fire after a drone attack early this morning in the town of Azov in Russia’s Rostov region, the governor of the southern Russian region said.

“According to preliminary data, there are no casualties,” the governor, Vasily Golubev, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

What to expect from Nato summit in DC

05:02 , Namita Singh

The summit is expected to address what Nato and Nato members can do for Ukraine as it faces unrelenting air and ground attacks from Russia.

They so far have resisted Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s appeals to take his country into the bloc as long as the war is still on.

Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg pointed to efforts to bolster Ukraine in the meantime. They include Nato streamlining the eventual membership process for Ukraine, and Nato nations providing updated arms and training to Ukraine’s military, including the US giving it F-16s and bringing Ukrainian pilots to the US for training on the advanced aircraft.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg visits the White House (EPA)
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg visits the White House (EPA)

“The idea is to move them so close to membership that when the time comes, when there is consensus, they can become a member straight away,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

However, Russia’s offensive concludes, just taking Ukraine into the alliance will dissuade Vladimir Putin from trying again in the future to conquer Ukraine, the Nato chief claimed.“When the fighting ends, Nato membership” for Ukraine “assures that the war really ends”, he said.

Rod Stewart ‘booed’ as he salutes Ukraine president Zelensky during Germany concert

05:00 , Tom Watling

Rod Stewart ‘booed’ as he salutes Ukraine president Zelensky during concert

‘Nato good for US jobs’ as allies buy more military equipment

04:53 , Namita Singh

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg noted that allies were buying more military equipment from the US. “So Nato is good for US security, but Nato is also good for US jobs.” he said.

Nato members agreed last year to spend at least two per cent of their gross domestic product on defence. The surge in spending reflects the worries about the war in Ukraine.

Poland, at more than four per cent, and tiny Estonia both lead the United States this year in the percentage of their GDP they spend on defence. Both countries border Russia.

Defence spending across European allies and Canada was up nearly 18 per cent this year alone, the biggest increase in decades, according to Nato’s estimated figures released yesterday.

Concerns among Nato allies about possible change in US administration

04:51 , Namita Singh

Some countries are concerned about the possible reelection of former president Donald Trump, who has characterised many Nato allies as freeloading on US military spending and said on the campaign trail that he would not defend Nato members that don’t meet defence spending targets.

“Shifting US administrations have had the absolutely valid point to say that US allies are spending too little,” Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

“The good news is that’s changing.”

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg visits the White House (EPA)
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg visits the White House (EPA)

Record number of Nato members hitting defence spending targets, says chief

04:40 , Namita Singh

A record 23 of Nato’s 32 member nations are hitting the Western military alliance’s defense spending target this year, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday, as Russia’s war in Ukraine has raised the threat of expanding conflict in Europe.

The estimated figure is a nearly fourfold increase from 2021, when only six nations were meeting the goal. That was before Russian president Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

US president Joe Biden meets with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House on 17 June 2024 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)
US president Joe Biden meets with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House on 17 June 2024 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

“Europeans are doing more for their collective security than just a few years ago,” Mr Stoltenberg said in a speech at the Wilson Center research group.

After the speech, Mr Stoltenberg met at the White House with president Joe Biden. The US president said the alliance has become “larger, stronger and more united than it’s ever been” during Mr Stoltenberg’s tenure.

Mr Biden spoke affectionately of Mr Stoltenberg, calling him “pal” and saying he wished that Stoltenberg, who has been Nato’s secretary general since 2014, could serve another term when the current one expires in October.

“Together, we’ve deterred further Russian aggression in Europe,” Mr Biden said. “We’ve strengthened Nato’s eastern flank, making it clear that we’ll defend every single inch of Nato territory.”

US criticises Putin’s trip to Vietnam

04:19 , Namita Singh

After North Korea, the Kremlin said Vladimir Putin will visit Vietnam tomorrow and on Thursday for talks that are expected to be focused on trade.

The United States, which has spent years strengthening ties and accelerating trade with Vietnam, criticised Mr Putin’s planned visit.

As Russia continues to seek international support to sustain its illegal and brutal war against Ukraine, we reiterate that no country should give Mr Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalise his atrocities.

US Embassy in Vietnam

North Korea and Russia to expand cooperation in tourism, culture and education

04:09 , Namita Singh

North Korea is under heavy UN Security Council economic sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs, while Russia is also grappling with sanctions by the United States and its Western partners over its aggression in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin said the countries will also expand cooperation in tourism, culture and education.

The visit comes amid growing concerns about an arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions to fuel Mr Putin’s war in Ukraine in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that would enhance the threat posed by Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

File: Russian president Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting at the Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky, about 200km from the city of Blagoveshchensk in the far eastern Amur region, Russia on 13 September 2023 (AP)
File: Russian president Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting at the Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky, about 200km from the city of Blagoveshchensk in the far eastern Amur region, Russia on 13 September 2023 (AP)

Military, economic and other exchanges between North Korea and Russia have sharply increased since Mr Kim visited the Russian Far East in September for a meeting with Mr Putin, their first since 2019.

US and South Korean officials have accused the North of providing Russia with artillery, missiles and other military equipment to help prolong its fighting in Ukraine, possibly in return for key military technologies and aid.

Vladimir Putin thanks North Korea for support ahead of Kim Jong Un summit

04:06 , Namita Singh

Russian president Vladimir Putin thanked North Korea for supporting his actions in Ukraine and said their countries will co-operate closely to overcome US-led sanctions as he headed to Pyongyang for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Putin’s comments appeared in North Korean state media hours before he was expected to arrive for a two-day visit as the countries deepen their alignment in the face of separate, intensifying confrontations with Washington.

Mr Putin, who will be making his first visit to North Korea in 24 years, said he highly appreciates its firm support of his invasion of Ukraine.

He said the countries would continue to “resolutely oppose” what he described as Western ambitions “to hinder the establishment of a multipolarised world order based on mutual respect for justice”.

Mr Putin also said Russia and North Korea will develop unspecified trade and payment systems “that are not controlled by the West” and jointly oppose sanctions against the countries, which he described as “unilateral and illegal restrictive measures”.

Nicolae Stanciu stunner helps Romania record impressive victory over Ukraine

04:00 , Tom Watling

Nicolae Stanciu stunner helps Romania record impressive victory over Ukraine

Putin to visit North Korea as US, allies decry military ties

03:00 , Tom Watling

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea this week for the first time in 24 years, the two countries said, a rare trip that underscores Moscow’s burgeoning partnership with the nuclear-armed state.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un extended an invitation to Putin during a visit to Russia’s Far East last September. Putin last visited Pyongyang in July 2000.

“At the invitation of the Chairman of State Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin will pay a friendly state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on June 18-19,” the Kremlin said.

North Korea’s state news agency KCNA also announced the visit but offered no further details.

The war between Russia and Ukraine is set to grind on as a peace conference packs little punch

02:00 , Tom Watling

The war between Russia and Ukraine is set to grind on as a peace conference packs little punch

Russian attack on Ukraine's Poltava region injures 12, causes power cuts

01:00 , Tom Watling

A Russian missile attack on Ukraine‘s east-central Poltava region on Monday injured 12 people, including two children, and damaged power lines, knocking out electricity for more than 55,000 consumers, a regional governor said.

According to preliminary information, there were no fatalities, Filip Pronin said in a video address from the site posted on Telegram. Several high-rise buildings were damaged, he said. Smoke rising from damaged garages could be seen in the background, while rescuers attempted to extinguish fires. Pronin said later that due to damage to power lines, some 53,000 private and 2,400 industrial consumers faced electricity cuts. Earlier, Ukraine‘s air force announced a missile alert for the region.

G7 leaders strike deal on $50bn funding for Ukraine using Russian assets

Tuesday 18 June 2024 00:00 , Tom Watling

G7 leaders strike deal on $50bn funding for Ukraine using Russian assets

Ukraine employs a flexible defense while waiting for new Western ammo to get to the front

Monday 17 June 2024 23:00 , Tom Watling

Ukraine employs a flexible defense while waiting for new Western ammo to get to the front

Putin treats international law like ‘toilet paper’, says Kyiv’s top official as peace summit meets

Monday 17 June 2024 22:00 , Tom Watling

Putin treats global law like ‘toilet paper’, says Kyiv official ahead of peace summit

Kidnapped, abused, humiliated – the Ukrainian children stolen by Russia

Monday 17 June 2024 21:00 , Tom Watling

Kidnapped, abused, humiliated – the Ukrainian children stolen by Russia

Putin warns West’s ‘theft’ of Russian assets in G7 deal won’t go unpunished

Monday 17 June 2024 20:00 , Tom Watling

Putin says West’s ‘theft’ of Russian assets in G7 deal won’t go unpunished

The war between Russia and Ukraine is set to grind on as a peace conference packs little punch

Monday 17 June 2024 19:00 , Tom Watling

The war between Russia and Ukraine is set to grind on as a peace conference packs little punch

Nicolae Stanciu stunner helps Romania record impressive victory over Ukraine

Monday 17 June 2024 18:00 , Tom Watling

Nicolae Stanciu stunner helps Romania record impressive victory over Ukraine

Putin to visit North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un, both countries say

Monday 17 June 2024 17:00 , Tom Watling

Putin to visit North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un, both countries say

Ukrainian soldiers watch as their team plays Romania in Euro 2024

Monday 17 June 2024 16:30 , Tom Watling

Ukrainian soldiers somewhere along the frontline in the eastern Donetsk region have been pictured watching their national team play against Romania in their first game of Euro 2024.

Ukrainian service members react as they watch the Euro 2024 match between Romania and Ukraine (REUTERS)
Ukrainian service members react as they watch the Euro 2024 match between Romania and Ukraine (REUTERS)

We rescue Ukrainian children from Russia and see the trauma they suffer

Monday 17 June 2024 16:00 , Tom Watling

We rescue Ukrainian children from Russia and see the trauma they suffer

Putin sacks four Russian deputy defence ministers, appoints his niece

Monday 17 June 2024 15:30 , Tom Watling

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday sacked four deputy defence ministers and appointed a relative, Anna Tsivileva, to fill one of the vacancies, according to Kremlin decrees.

The trial of a US reporter charged with espionage in Russia is to begin June 26

Monday 17 June 2024 15:00 , Tom Watling

The trial of a US reporter charged with espionage in Russia is to begin June 26

Russian attack knocks out power for 55,000 consumers in Ukraine's Poltava region

Monday 17 June 2024 14:30 , Tom Watling

More than 55,000 private and industrial consumers were left without electricity on Monday after power lines in Ukraine‘s east-central Poltava region were damaged in a Russian air attack, the regional governor said.

Russia's Putin to visit Vietnam, sparking US rebuke of Hanoi

Monday 17 June 2024 14:00 , Tom Watling

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Hanoi this week, Vietnamese and Russian state media said on Monday, highlighting Communist-ruled Vietnam’s loyalty to Russia and triggering a U.S. rebuke.

The visit follows Hanoi avoiding a Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland last weekend, while sending its deputy foreign minister to a BRICS meeting in Russia earlier last week.

Putin, who was sworn in for a fifth time just over a month ago, is expected to meet Vietnam’s new president, To Lam, and other leaders during the two-day visit to Hanoi on Wednesday and Thursday, officials said.

The United States, which upgraded relations with Hanoi last year and is Vietnam’s top trading partner, reacted harshly.

“No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalise his atrocities,” a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi told Reuters when asked about the impact of the visit on ties with the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks to Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov at the Kremlin in Moscow (AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks to Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov at the Kremlin in Moscow (AP)

Ukraine’s national security chief: Putin could use nuclear weapons if he is on the verge of defeat

Monday 17 June 2024 13:28 , Tom Watling

Ukraine’s head of the national security council has warned that Vladimir Putin could resort to using nuclear weapons if he is on the “verge of a catastrophic defeat”.

Asked by The Times if there was ever a scenario where Putin could use nuclear weapons - a threat the Russian leader and his officials have made frequently over the past two and half years - Oleksandr Lytvynenko said: “We can’t rule out anything, if Russia is on the verge of a catastrophic defeat.”

He added, however, that there was no likelihood that Putin would deploy nuclear weapons while Russia had the upper hand in the war. Currently, Russian forces hold the momentum, having recently pushed into the northeast Ukrainian region of Kharkiv and retaken territory further east, though their advances have been minimised.

Zelensky says he would hold peace talks tomorrow if Russia leaves Ukraine territory

Monday 17 June 2024 13:10 , Tom Watling

Zelensky says he would hold peace talks tomorrow if Russia leaves Ukraine territory

World’s top nine nuclear-armed nations deepening their reliance on nuclear weapons

Monday 17 June 2024 12:40 , Tom Watling

World’s top nine nuclear-armed nations deepening their reliance on nuclear weapons

Rod Stewart ‘booed’ as he salutes Ukraine president Zelensky during Germany concert

Monday 17 June 2024 12:10 , Tom Watling

Rod Stewart ‘booed’ as he salutes Ukraine president Zelensky during concert

Kremlin says Swiss conference showed futility of talks without Russia

Monday 17 June 2024 11:40 , Tom Watling

The Kremlin has said that a Swiss-hosted conference on the Ukraine war had produced negligible results and showed the futility of holding talks without Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the results of the meeting were “close to zero”.

President Vladimir Putin said last week that Russia was willing to end the war, but he set out conditions for Ukraine - renouncing its Nato ambitions and withdrawing troops from four regions claimed by Russia - that Kyiv rejected as tantamount to capitulation.

At the weekend summit in Switzerland, Western powers and their allies denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but failed to persuade major non-aligned states to join their final statement, and no country came forward to host a sequel.

Over 90 countries attended the two-day talks at a Swiss Alpine resort at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, billed as a “peace summit” even though Moscow was not invited.

Russia ridiculed the event from afar. A decision by China to stay away all but assured that the summit would fail to achieve Ukraine‘s goal of persuading major countries from the “global South” to join in isolating Russia.

Brazil attended only as an “observer”. And in the end, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and South Africa all withheld their signatures from the summit communique, even though some contentious issues were omitted in the hope of drawing wider support.

Still, the conference provided Kyiv with a chance to showcase the support from Western allies that it says it needs to keep fighting against a far bigger enemy.

LGBT soldiers in Ukraine hope their service is changing attitudes as they rally for legal rights

Monday 17 June 2024 11:10 , Tom Watling

LGBT soldiers in Ukraine hope their service is changing attitudes as they rally for legal rights

Russian spy chief says next peace terms in Ukraine will be tougher, Tass reports

Monday 17 June 2024 10:45 , Tom Watling

If Russian President Vladimir Putin's current proposals for a peace treaty with Ukraine are rejected, the next peace terms will be tougher, Russian spy chief and close Putin ally Sergei Naryshkin has said, according to the Kremlin-approved Tass news agency.

He didn't specify whom the proposals could be accepted or rejected by in the report.

Chairman of the Russian Historical Society Sergei Naryshkin (3-L) is pictured at the Red Square in Moscow, Russia (EPA)
Chairman of the Russian Historical Society Sergei Naryshkin (3-L) is pictured at the Red Square in Moscow, Russia (EPA)

Kidnapped, abused, humiliated – the Ukrainian children stolen by Russia

Monday 17 June 2024 10:10 , Tom Watling

Kidnapped, abused, humiliated – the Ukrainian children stolen by Russia

Putin treats international law like ‘toilet paper’, says Kyiv’s top official as peace summit meets

Monday 17 June 2024 09:45 , Tom Watling

Putin treats global law like ‘toilet paper’, says Kyiv official ahead of peace summit

Denmark aims to limit shadow fleet of Russian oil tankers

Monday 17 June 2024 09:20 , Tom Watling

Denmark is considering ways to limit the passage of old tankers carrying Russian oil through the Baltic Sea, the Nordic country’s foreign minister said in a statement on Monday, in a move that could trigger confrontation with Moscow.

Russia sends about a third of its seaborne oil exports, or 1.5 per cent of global supply, through the Danish straits that sit as a gateway to the Baltic Sea, so any attempt to halt supplies would send oil prices higher and hit the Kremlin’s finances.

Denmark has brought together a group of allied countries evaluating measures targeting the so-called shadow fleet of ageing ships transporting the Russian oil, Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told Reuters.

Crude oil tanker Nevskiy Prospect, owned by Russia's leading tanker group Sovcomflot, transits the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey (REUTERS)
Crude oil tanker Nevskiy Prospect, owned by Russia's leading tanker group Sovcomflot, transits the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey (REUTERS)

We could start negotiating with Russia tomorrow, says Zelensky

Monday 17 June 2024 08:52 , Tom Watling

Ukraine could begin negotiating a peace plan with Russia “even tomorrow” if it takes seriously Kyiv’s demands to withdraw its troops entirely from Ukraine, president Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

In his concluding speech at a Swiss peace summit over the weekend, Mr Zelensky said: “If Russia is at the next summit, it shows that it wants peace … it can start [negotiations] even tomorrow, if it withdraws its troops from our territory.”

He added that the next summit could take place “in months, not years”.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin claims he is willing to negotiate a peace deal but the terms of his proposal, which includes not only the seizure of Ukrainian territories currently occupied by Russia but also land still within Ukraine’s control, has been described by Kyiv as a Hitler-like “ultimatum”.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walks to attend bilateral talks during the Summit on peace in Ukraine (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walks to attend bilateral talks during the Summit on peace in Ukraine (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Putin would be allowed to attend next peace summit, says Swiss president

Monday 17 June 2024 08:42 , Tom Watling

An exception to Vladimir Putin’s travel embargo, the result of an arrest warrant for genocide issued last year by the International Criminal Court, “can be made” if the Russian leader wishes to attend Switzerland’s next peace summit, the country’s president has said.

Speaking after the first summit over the weekend, Swiss president Viola Amherd said: “An exception can be made. In the case of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, this could be an exception.”

A similar statement was made by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. He also said that the second conference on Ukraine could be held before the US presidential election scheduled for November this year.

After the ICC issued an arrest for Putin in March 2023 for his commanding role in the forcible deportation of tens of thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of Ukrainian children to Russia, the autocrat has been barred from visiting any of the 124 countries that are signatories to the international court. They are legally obliged to arrest him as soon as he steps on their territory.

It is unclear how Switzerland would circumvent this obligation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with participants of the 'Time of Heroes' project that will virtually help veterans of the special military operation to become government administrators (EPA)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with participants of the 'Time of Heroes' project that will virtually help veterans of the special military operation to become government administrators (EPA)

Signatories of Ukraine peace summit drops to 78

Monday 17 June 2024 08:32 , Tom Watling

The number of countries that have signed their support for a Ukraine peace plan after an international summit in Switzerland has dropped to 78, a Swiss statement has said.

Originally, it was reported that 80 countries had signed their backing for the proposal, which calls for Russian forces to withdraw completely from Ukrainian territory.

But the communique shows that Iraq and Jordan have withdrawn their signatures.

At least 12 countries - including Saudi Arabia - had already withheld their signature.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky flashes a V sign as he addresses Ukraine’s closing press conference of the Summit on peace in Ukraine, at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne, Switzerland (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky flashes a V sign as he addresses Ukraine’s closing press conference of the Summit on peace in Ukraine, at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne, Switzerland (AFP via Getty Images)