Wed, 17 Aug 2022

The evacuation of civilians from the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk continued Wednesday as Russian troops pressed towards the city in their campaign to control the Donbas region. Follow FRANCE 24's live blog to see how the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time, GMT+2.

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

5:40am: Russian FM arrives in Bali for G20 meeting

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has flown into Indonesia's resort island of Bali for a meeting of G20 foreign ministers, which is set to be overshadowed by tensions triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The G20 gathering runs until Friday in host country Indonesia, which this year has grappled with the balancing act of running a global summit buffeted by geopolitical pressures and a global food crisis blamed on the war.

There was tight security on Thursday in Bali's Nusa Dua area, where the summit is being held, as foreign diplomats descended on the tropical island for the meeting.

4:11pm: Russia introduces jail terms for cooperation with foreigners

Russia's parliament on Wednesday introduced harsh prison terms for calls to act against national security and criminal liability for maintaining "confidential" cooperation with foreigners.

Public calls to act against Russia's security will be punished by up to seven years in prison.

Establishing and maintaining "confidential" cooperation with a foreigner or international organisation and helping them act against the interests of Russia will be punishable by up to eight years in prison.

The development brings to mind the Soviet era when contacts between Russians and foreigners were strictly monitored.

2:51pm: Messing with a nuclear power endangers humanity's future, Russia's Medvedev tells US

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the United States on Wednesday that attempts by the West to punish a nuclear power such as Russia for the war in Ukraine risked endangering humanity.

Attempts to use courts or tribunals to investigate Russia's actions in Ukraine would, Medvedev said, be futile and risk global devastation.

"The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity," Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said on Telegram.

2:30pm: Ukraine evacuates civilians from Sloviansk as Russia advances

The evacuation of civilians from Sloviansk continued Wednesday as Russian troops pressed towards the eastern Ukrainian city in their campaign to control the Donbas region.

Sloviansk has been subjected to heavy bombardment in recent days as the invading Russian forces push westwards.

"Twenty years of work; everything is lost. No more income, no more wealth," Yevgen Oleksandrovych, 66, told AFP as he surveyed the site of his auto parts shop, destroyed in Tuesday's strikes.

AFP journalists saw rockets slam into Sloviansk's marketplace and surrounding streets, with firefighters scrambling to put out the resulting blazes.

Around a third of the market in Sloviansk appeared to have been destroyed, with locals coming to see what was left among the charred wreckage.

1:39pm: Moscow admits Turkey conducting tests on Russian cargo ship

Moscow on Wednesday admitted that Turkey was conducting checks on a Russian ship in the Black Sea that Ukraine says is carrying stolen Ukrainian wheat.

"The (Zhibek Zholy) ship is currently in the roadstead of the Karasu port and is going through standard procedures, including sanitary control," a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, Alexei Zaitsev, said at a briefing.

"Turkish authorities will make a decision on entry or refusal to entry into the port. There is no talk on the detention or arrest of the cargo," he said.

11:47am: Russia ex-president invokes nuclear war if Moscow punished by ICC

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev invoked Wednesday the possibility of nuclear war if the International Criminal Court (ICC) moves to punish Moscow for alleged crimes in Ukraine.

"The idea to punish a country that has the largest nuclear arsenal is absurd in and of itself," Medvedev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said on messaging app Telegram.

"And potentially creates a threat to the existence of mankind."

Medvedev, who was Putin's stand-in president between 2008 and 2012, is now deputy head of the Security Council.

11:19am: Japan's 'unfriendly' position does not facilitate developing ties, says Kremlin

Japan has taken an "unfriendly" position toward Russia which does not help to develop ties in either trade and economy or the energy sector, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

Asked about comments by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on capping the price of Russian oil at around half its current level, Peskov said Tokyo was taking a "very unfriendly" position towards Moscow.

8:45am: Russia hammers Ukraine's Donetsk region

The Russians are supporting their attacks in Donetsk region with massive artillery bombardments on Sloviansk, Bakmout and Kramatorsk, with these three being the main cities in Donetsk region that are still in Ukrainian hands.

There has also been intense fighting and bombardment in Kharkiv region. Reporting from Kyiv, Gulliver Cragg says that all across the country there is a feeling of this being an existential war for Ukraine.

6:35am: US, allies urge suspension of Russia from sport federations

The United States and a range of allies called on Tuesday for Russian and Belarusian national governing bodies of sports to be suspended from international sport federations, due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian embassy in the United States described the move as "Russophobic" and said "sports should stay out of politics".

"Using it as an instrument to exert pressure and settle scores directly violates the basic principles of the Olympic movement and is contrary to the spirit of competitiveness as well as healthy competition," it said in a Facebook post.

The Russian response came hours after the US State Department issued the joint statement with allies, in which they also urged sports organisations to consider suspending the broadcasting of competitions into Russia and Belarus.

6:26am: 'Our task is to hold on', Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking in his nightly address Tuesday, said he was continuing to press for upgraded anti-missile systems as air siren alerts sounded across much of the country, including the capital.

"The Russian army does not take any breaks," he said. "Our task is to hold on."

Russian forces on Tuesday were closing in on the smaller city of Siversk - which lies between Lysychansk and Sloviansk - after days of shelling there.

Two Ukrainian Red Cross minibuses were heading there to evacuate willing civilians, according to AFP reporters.

"Heavy fighting is taking place on the outskirts of Lugansk region near Lysychansk," Luhansk governor Sergiy Gaiday said on Telegram.

To the southwest, in the Moscow-occupied Kherson region, Russian troops have deployed helicopters and artillery to try to stem Ukrainian counter-attacks.

A spokesman for Ukraine's defence ministry said Tuesday that Russian forces outside Donbas were "trying to bind our troops in order to prevent them from moving to the battle areas".

Kherson city, which lies close to Moscow-annexed Crimea, was the first major city to fall to Russian forces in February and has seen a campaign of so-called Russification since.

3:55am: Latvia to reinstate compulsory military service

Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks on Tuesday said the Baltic state will reinstate compulsory military service following growing tension with neighbouring Russia amid Moscow's war in Ukraine.

"The current military system of Latvia has reached its limit. Meanwhile we have no reason to think that Russia will change its behaviour," Pabriks told reporters.

Latvia had scrapped mandatory service a few years after joining the NATO defence alliance. Since 2007, the EU member's military has consisted of career soldiers along with National Guard volunteers who serve in the infantry part-time on weekends.

The country of under two million people, which borders both Belarus and Russia, currently only has 7,500 active-duty soldiers and National Guard members, backed by 1,500 NATO troops

1:53am: Russians moving into Ukraine's Donetsk, says regional governor

Russian troops are engaged in heavy fighting and making their way into Ukraine's Donetsk region after taking control of the last two towns in neighbouring Luhansk, the regional governor of Luhansk said on Tuesday.

Serhiy Gaidai said the Russian troops had sustained heavy losses in the long process of capturing the twin towns of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, but were channelling their efforts into moving southward.

"Heavy fighting is going on at the edge of Luhansk region ... All the forces of the Russian army and reserves have been redirected there ... They are sustaining heavy losses," Gaidai told Ukrainian television.

"A large quantity of equipment is being sent towards Donetsk region. Of course, after Luhansk region, Donetsk is at the top of their list."

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

Originally published on France24

More Tokyo News

Access More

Sign up for The Tokyo News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!