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Ukraine war briefing: Fightback against Russian advance in Kharkiv

Andriy Shevchenko, Ukrainian football association president, in front of an installation of bombed stadium seats taken from Kharkiv and displayed in Munich, Germany, for the UEFA Euro 2024 match between Romania and Ukraine.

Putin thanks North Korea for support ahead of visit; Russian missile strike injures 22 in Poltava region. What we know on day 846

A Russian occupation official said on Monday that fighting was gripping parts of Ukraine’s north-eastern Kharkiv region, with Ukraine’s military pouring men and equipment into the contested area. “There is fighting still going on in the Kharkiv sector. The fiercest clashes are in Vovchansk and near Lyptsy,” Vitaly Ganchev told Russian news agencies.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukrainian forces were gradually pushing Russian troops out of parts of Kharkiv they have fought over since May. His top commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, predicted the Russians would try to press forward pending the arrival in Ukraine of sophisticated western equipment, including US-made F-16 fighter jets. Syrsky also said that Russian forces were concentrating their firepower on the Donetsk region, particularly on the Pokrovsk front.

A Russian missile attack on Ukraine’s east-central Poltava region on Monday injured 22 people, including three children, and damaged homes and power lines, knocking out electricity for more than 55,000 consumers, the regional governor said. Ukraine’s general prosecutor’s office said the attack was carried out with an X-59 cruise missile.

Vladimir Putin has said that Russia highly appreciates North Korea “firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine”. North Korea is accused by Ukraine’s allies of illegally selling weapons to Vladimir Putin’s regime. A Pentagon report in May said debris analysis showed Russia was using North Korean ballistic missiles. North Korea has called such claims “absurd”, but thanked Russia for using its UN veto in March to effectively end monitoring of sanctions violations, just as UN experts were starting to investigate the alleged arms transfers.

Putin, travelling to Pyongyang on Tuesday, said the two countries were “actively developing the many-sided partnership”. North Korea is under UN sanctions because of its banned weapons programmes. The trip “will put bilateral cooperation on to a higher level with our joint efforts and this will contribute to developing reciprocal and equal cooperation between Russia and the DPRK”, Putin wrote in an editorial, according to North Korea’s propaganda news agency, the KCNA.

Nato’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg, said Putin’s visit to North Korea showed Russia’s war effort in Ukraine had become “dependent” on authoritarian leaders. “Their closest friends and the biggest supporters of the Russian war effort – war of aggression – [are] North Korea, Iran and China,” Stoltenberg said. Stoltenberg called for China to face consequences if it keeps up support to Russia. US officials say China is undertaking is a major export push to rebuild Russia’s defence industry. China says it is conducting normal trade with Russia and not sending lethal aide into the conflict.

Denmark has said it is considering ways to stop a shadow tanker fleet carrying Russian oil through the Baltic Sea. Since western countries imposed a price cap, Russia has relied on often ageing tankers based and insured outside the west. Other Baltic Sea states and EU members were also involved in addressing the “international problem” posed by the shadow fleet, said Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the Danish foreign minister. Imposing restrictions on ships passing through the straits would be unacceptable and could breach treaty obligations, said Russia’s ambassador to Denmark, Vladimir Barbin.

Former Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko presented the shell-blasted seats of a Kharkiv stadium built for Euro 2012 in Munich on Monday, as cheering Ukraine fans vowed to keep fighting the Russian invasion. In a central Munich square, Ukrainian refugees and supporters who had driven 25 hours from Ukraine looked at the blue and yellow seats, hours before their team were due to play their first Euro 2024 game against Romania.

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