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The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. EDT at all times.
5:34 am: In its latest intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian troops were continuing to battle Russian forces in Kherson Oblast. “Russia is likely trying to slow Ukraine’s offensive by using artillery fire along the natural barrier of the Ingulets River, a tributary of the Dnipro,” the update said.
Ukrainian officials say Russia is preparing to build a military pontoon bridge across the Dnipro, the update said. UK officials say it will be a “very high-risk operation.” UK officials have not been able to verify Ukraine’s claims that such an operation is operating.
4:35 am: The foreign minister of Moldova’s separatist Transnistria region said on Friday it was committed to achieving independence and possible integration with Russia, and that Moldova’s bid for EU membership effectively ended any possibility of cooperation.
Transnistria, a sliver of land between Ukraine and the rest of Moldova, has hosted a contingent of Russian peacekeeping forces since the end of the separatist war in 1992.
Vitaly Ignatiev, the foreign minister of the unrecognized government, told a news conference in Moscow that Transnistria would pursue “the independent development of Transnistria and its subsequent free entry into the Russian Federation.”
Moldova is constitutionally neutral and thus not a potential NATO member but is showing an increasingly Western orientation.
3:37 am: The United States will send Ukraine more accurate rocket systems with tens of thousands of rounds of artillery shells, part of a new security aid package unveiled Friday in what Kiev described as a war of attrition with Western military officials. Russia, Jeff Seldin, VOA’s national security correspondent, reports.
The highlight of the $270 million pledge, the 16th since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, is four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, each with a range of about 70 kilometers, which US officials credit with helping to deter Russia. Donbas advanced.
Ukraine’s military has deployed at least eight HIMARS on the front lines fighting Russian forces, with another four either on the ground or on their way.
The latest US commitment will bring the total number of HIMARS to 16. Additionally, Ukraine has deployed six medium-to-long-range rocket systems from Germany and Britain.
2:30 am: In its latest assessment of the conflict in Ukraine, the US think tank the Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces launched ground offensives east of Sivorsk and east and south of Bakhmut, and attempted and failed to advance northwest of the city of Donetsk.
Russian forces conducted localized ground offensives near the Kherson-Mykolayiv Oblast border, the update said, while Ukrainian forces conducted limited positional combat north of the city of Kharkiv.
1:19 am: Russian state-owned companies Rosneft and Gazprom will this week be able to send oil to third countries under an adjustment of European Union sanctions to limit global energy security risks, according to Reuters.
EU companies are allowed to buy Russian offshore crude oil and export it to third countries, but payments related to such shipments will not be banned under changes to sanctions on Russia that took effect Friday.
12:02 am: The Associated Press reported that the Russian central bank moved away from its Western peers on Friday by cutting its main interest rate, a month after it was there before sending troops to Ukraine.
The bank cut its key rate by 1.5 percentage points to 8%, saying consumer demand is slowing partly because consumer demand is slowing. It said inflation expectations had “declined significantly”, to spring 2021 levels, while the decline in business activity was slower than expected in June.
The central bank raised rates as high as 20% on February 24 in the wake of the military operation in Ukraine and the resulting Western sanctions that limit transactions with Russian banks, individuals and companies.
As sanctions from Russia and the exit of Western companies led to global economic isolation, the central bank managed to stabilize the currency and financial system by blocking money from Russia and forcing exporters to exchange most of their foreign earnings into rubles.
The ruble traded at 58.8 to the dollar on Friday, higher than the day before the Ukraine invasion, when it took 78.8 rubles to reach $1.
Some of the information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.