Ukraine Latest: Russia Says UK Storm Shadows Strike Luhansk

(Bloomberg) -- President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni and other top officials in Rome and later had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Ukraine’s leader is reportedly traveling next to Berlin for talks with leaders there.

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Germany is preparing a a military aid package for Ukraine worth almost $3 billion, the nation’s defense ministry announced. Russia said Ukraine had fired on targets in Luhansk on Friday using Storm Shadow missiles provided by the UK.

Two Russian military helicopters and two jets crashed on Saturday in the Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine, according to Russian media reports.

Key Developments

  • South Africa, US Look to Ease Strain After Russia Weapons Dustup

  • Ukraine’s Zelenskiy in Rome to Meet Pope, Prime Minister

  • China to Send Special Envoy to Ukraine, Russia From Monday

  • Ukraine Cites Gains on Russian Troops Near Embattled Bakhmut

  • Germany Announces Record €2.7B in Military Aid for Ukraine

(All times CET)

Zelenskiy Vows ‘Results’ From Counteroffensive (8:02 p.m.)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine is getting ready, with great effort, for a counteroffensive against Russia, adding that “important steps will be taken shortly.” He provided no other details in a live interview with Italian public broadcaster Rai Uno.

“You will see results,” he said. “We believe in victory.”

South African, Ukrainian Presidents to Talk Saturday (7:17 p.m.)

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will hold talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy, International Relations and Cooperation Minister’s spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said on Twitter.

The remote talks come amid Zelesnskiy’s visit to Rome and reportedly to Germany. They will talk a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Ramaphosa at Pretoria’s initiative on the “strategic partnership” between the two nations, the Kremlin said in a statement Friday.

US Ambassador Says Abrams Tank Training to Start Soon (5:45 p.m.)

Bridget Brink, the US ambassador to Kyiv, said on Twitter that training for Ukrainian soldiers on Abrams main battle tanks will start in Europe soon.

Russia’s Kommersant Says Two Jets, Two Helicopters Crash in Bryansk (5:30 p.m.)

Two Russian military jets — an Su-24 and an Su-35 — and two Mi-8 helicopters likely crashed on Saturday in the Bryansk region not far from Ukraine’s northeast border, with their crews killed, the Kommersant newspaper reported.

Earlier, Russian media reported that one plane and one helicopter had crashed, with the circumstances still under investigation.

In its report, which cited “preliminary data,” Kommersant said the jets had been headed to Ukraine’s Chernihiv region on a bombing mission with the helicopters had trailed them to pick up crew members if they were shot down by enemy fire.

Russia Says Ukraine Used UK Storm Shadow Missiles to Strike Luhansk (3:30 p.m.)

Ukraine’s forces used Storm Shadow missiles provided by the UK to strike occupied Luhansk, Russia’s defense ministry said in an update on what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia said the targets included a polymer factory and a meat plant, without offering evidence. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine’s military. Images on social media showed large plumes of smoke rising in the city that’s far behind the front lines in eastern Ukraine.

The UK confirmed this week that it’s donating the weapons to Ukraine, saying the move was a “calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations.” The missiles have a firing range in excess of 250 kilometers (155 miles). It was unclear when the Storm Shadows would be ready for deployment.

Read more: UK Sends Long-Range Storm Shadow Cruise Missiles to Ukraine

Russian Helicopter, Jet Crash in Bryansk Region (2:30 p.m.)

At least one Russian military helicopter crashed near Klintsy in the Bryansk region, which borders northeastern Ukraine, Russian media reported, citing local officials who said the cause of the accident was an engine fire.

Tass reported that a Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter jet crashed in the same region. Videos circulated on social media of what appeared to be a jet falling from the sky. The footage couldn’t be independently verified.

Russia’s defense ministry hasn’t commented. The incidents come a day after a military helicopter crashed in Russian-occupied Crimea, killing its two pilots, during what was described as a “routine training exercise.”

Zelenskiy in Rome to Meet Prime Minister, Pope Francis (11:43 p.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived in Rome on Saturday to meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and other government officials, as well as Pope Francis.

“We renew our commitment by the side of Ukrainian people, in defense of freedom and democracy,” said Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

Andriy Yermak, Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, posted images from a meeting between Ukrainian and Italian officials that he said had a particular focus on the issue of Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children.

EU’s Borrell Says 1,000 Rounds a Day Needed in Bakhmut (11:40 a.m.)

The Ukrainian armed forces need about 1,000 shells every day just in the Bakhmut area, as fierce fighting continues around city in Donetsk, said Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign policy official.

While European countries are providing shells, they realize that there’s a need to accelerate those deliveries, Borrell said after a meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister and his European counterparts near Stockholm.

“I am very sorry that it is the way it is, but a far as Russia continues attacking, Ukraine has to defend, and this is the requirement that Mr. Kuleba presented today to the ministers,” Borrell said.

Germany Announces €2.7 Billion Military Aid Package for Ukraine (10 a.m.)

Germany is preparing another military support package for Ukraine worth more than €2.7 billion ($2.9 billion), the country’s defense ministry said, confirming an earlier report from Der Spiegel.

Read more: Germany Announces Record €2.7B in Military Aid for Ukraine

The record large package is intended to continue to support Kyiv in its defense against Russia and will include material from the areas of artillery, air defense, and armored combat vehicles including main battle tanks.

“We are once again showing that Germany is serious about its support,” said German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. “Germany will provide all the help it can - as long as it takes,” he added. Ukraine’s president will reportedly travel to Berlin on Saturday after visiting Rome, Der Tagespiegel reported.

Read more: Europe Crowns Zelenskiy As New Charlemagne: Andreas Kluth

Poland Says Probable Observation Balloon Flies in From Belarus (9:44 a.m.)

Poland’s defence ministry said a flying object, probably an observation balloon, entered the NATO member’s airspace from Belarus to the east. Troops are searching for the object after it disappeared from radar near the town of Rypin, some 150 km (93 miles) northwest of Warsaw, the ministry said.

Ukraine’s PM Kuleba Asks Allies to Focus on Weapons Shipments (9:30 a.m.)

Western countries should stop asking when Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia will start and instead focus on providing the equipment it needs to be successful, foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said before a meeting with European foreign ministers in Sweden.

“When you fight a war you need everything, from medical vehicles to transport injured soldiers to long-range missiles, armored personnel carriers and F-16s,” Kuleba told reporters at the meeting venue near Stockholm. “Instead of asking when the counteroffensive will begin, ask: have I done enough for the Ukrainian counteroffensive to begin and to be successful?”

Russia Launched Sixth Drone Attack on Kyiv This Month (8:30 a.m.)

Russia attacked Kyiv with drones early Saturday monring. Air alerts sounded in Ukraine’s capital for over two hours in the sixth air attack there since the beginning of May, Kyiv city military administration said in Telegram.

Some 21 Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 were directed at Kyiv from the north and south, with 17 downed, Ukrainian Air Defence reports.

Ukraine’s southern Mykolayiv and northern Khmelnitskiy regions faced strikes as well. Over 15 strikes from different kind of weapons were directed on southern city of Kherson and the near by areas over the past day. Two people killed and four injured.

Preparations for Counteroffensive Discussed (1:30 a.m.)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, spoke about preparations for the Ukrainian counteroffensive in a call on Friday, the State Department said.

They discussed “how contributions from international partners can support” the success of the counteroffensive, the department said in a statement.

South Africa, US Seek to Smooth Over Weapons Dispute (1:10 a.m.)

South Africa and the US sought to make amends after the American ambassador was summoned in protest over his accusation that the country had provided weapons to Russia.

The government in Pretoria said the ambassador, Reuben Brigety, “admitted that he crossed the line and apologized unreservedly.” That followed South African officials expressing “utter displeasure with his conduct.”

Neither the US nor South Africa addressed the veracity of his claim that South Africa had sent arms Russia for the war in Ukraine. Brigety said in a tweet late Friday that he was grateful for the chance to “correct any misimpressions left by my public remarks.”

Putin Seeks to Stop People From Leaving Russia (6:10 p.m.)

Russia’s president wants additional measures to stop people from leaving the country, according to a document published by Kremlin. Hundreds of thousands fled after Putin invaded Ukraine in 2022 and later announced a mobilization when his army suffered a series of setbacks.

According to Putin’s order, “emigration from Russia has increased because of changed social economic conditions and it is necessary to adopt additional financial, social and other mechanisms to keep human capital and reduce Russian population outflow abroad.”

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