Ukraine denies carrying out missile strike on prison camp

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 75 injured in a strike on a detention center in the town of Olenivka in Russian-held Donetsk.

NBC News was unable to immediately verify the Russian claim.

Ukrainian officials have denied this claim, saying they did not carry out the missile strike. Officials said Russia was trying to cover up the “torture and murder” of Ukrainian prisoners, according to Reuters.

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out targeted artillery fire at a penal institution in the settlement of Olenivka, Donetsk oblast, where Ukrainian prisoners were also detained,” the state said. Major of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in a statement, according to the news agency.

Russia has repeatedly denied committing war crimes.

—Matt Clinch

Russian forces launch missile attack on Kyiv region

For the first time in weeks, Russian forces launched a missile attack on the Kyiv region on Thursday as Ukrainian troops focus on the south of the country.

Ukrainian officials said Russia also attacked the northern Chernihiv region, northeast of Kyiv and near the Belarusian border.

Kyiv Regional Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram, according to Reuters, that 15 people were injured by missiles hitting military installations in Vyshhorod district, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

—Matt Clinch

Wagner Group handed frontline duties by Moscow, UK says

According to the British Ministry of Defence, the famous Russian private military contractor Wagner Group has been given responsibility for specific sectors on the front line in Ukraine.

“This is a significant change from the group’s previous employment since 2015, when it typically undertook missions separate from regular large-scale Russian military activity,” the ministry said in a tweet.

“Wagner’s role has probably changed because the Russian MoD has a severe shortage of combat infantry.”

The Wagner Group has long been involved in conflicts in volatile countries around the world, including Mali, Libya, Syria, Mozambique and the Central African Republic. Human rights groups accuse his mercenaries of carrying out massacres of civilians and other human rights violations. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any connection to Wagner.

Although its structure and even its existence are disputed, Wagner is believed to have first appeared during Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. The name has since become a catch-all term for an opaque network and expansive of businesses and entities.

—Elliot Smith and Matt Clinch

Hacktivist group Anonymous ’embarrasses and demoralizes’ Kremlin, says cybersecurity expert

Major data leaks carried out on behalf of the hacktivist group Anonymous reveal that Russian cybersecurity defenses are weaker than previously thought, according to cybersecurity experts.

Although Russia remains strong in its offensive capabilities, data leaks from the Central Bank of Russia, the space agency Roscosmos, several of Russia’s largest oil and gas companies and other Russian companies, have “disappointed” the cyber community, said Shmuel Gihon, a security official. researcher at threat intelligence firm Cyberint.

“We expected to see more strength from the Russian government,” Gihon said, “at least when it comes to its strategic assets, such as banks and TV stations, and especially government entities.”

Anonymous has claimed responsibility for hacking more than 2,500 Russian and Belarusian sites, said Jeremiah Fowler, co-founder of cybersecurity firm Security Discovery.

The data leaked online is so voluminous that it will take years to review, he said.

The decentralized hacker collective lifted the lid on Russia’s cybersecurity practices, Fowler said, which is “both embarrassing and demoralizing for the Kremlin.”

Monique Pitrelli

White House refuses to provide update on US proposal to Russia for release of Griner and Whelan

American WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner stands in the defendants’ cage before a hearing at the Khimki court outside Moscow on July 26, 2022.

Alexander Zemlianitchenko | AFP | Getty Images

The White House declined to provide an update on talks with Russia over a US bid for the immediate release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

“I really can’t go into more detail just for the confidentiality and security of the process. We share that we have put a substantial offer on the table,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean- Pierre, during a daily press briefing.

Earlier in the day, the Kremlin said that so far “there is no agreement” on a US request to release Griner and Whelan from Russian custody.

The Kremlin said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will respond to a request for a phone call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken when he has time, according to an Interfax report.

—Amanda Macias

47 million more people could face acute food insecurity if Russia’s war continues, UN says

Wheat grain pours from a machine into a storage silo Monday, July 8, 2013. Temporary silos will be built along the border with Ukraine to help export more grain to deal with a food crisis growing world, US President Joe Biden said, according to Reuters. .

Vincent Mundy | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The United Nations World Food Program estimates that up to 47 million more people could face acute food insecurity this year if Russia’s war in Ukraine continues.

Last week, representatives of the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to reopen three Ukrainian ports, an apparent breakthrough as the Kremlin’s war against its former Soviet neighbor enters its fifth month.

The deal follows a months-long blockade of dozens of Ukrainian ports scattered along the Azov and Black Seas.

Less than 24 hours after the agreement was signed, Russian missiles fell on Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port.

The UN Secretary-General has previously warned that the armed conflict in Ukraine threatens to unleash “an unprecedented wave of hunger and misery, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake”.

—Amanda Macias

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