Fri, 07 Oct 2022

Live: Massive blasts rock Russian-controlled Crimea

16 Aug 2022, 22:08 GMT+10

Explosions rocked an ammunition depot and disrupted trains in Russian-annexed Crimea on Tuesday. Moscow said explosions at an ammunition depot in Crimea was due to an "act of sabotage" in a rare admission of damage to military logistics and supply lines in Russian-controlled territory. Follow FRANCE 24's live coverage of the Ukraine crisis. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

1:12pm: Russia fines veteran rock star for criticising Ukraine conflict

A Russian court has found Soviet rock legend and Kremlin critic Yuri Shevchuk guilty of "discrediting" the Russian army after he condemned Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.

He received the maximum fine of 50,000 rubles ($815), the press service of a court in the central city of Ufa said on the Telegram messenger.

The court said Shevchuk made a speech during his concert that contained "public calls to prevent the use of Russia's Armed Forces", the statement added.

Shevchuk did not attend the hearing in person due to a coronavirus-related quarantine but conveyed a written statement with his lawyer.

"I, Yuri Shevchuk have always been against war, in any country, at any time... I think all problems and difficulties of a political nature between countries and people should be resolved through diplomacy," the statement said.

The frontman of the 1980s Soviet rock band DDT, Shevchuk has over the years publicly criticised Putin and opposed the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

12:45pm: Finland to drastically cut Russian tourist visas

Finland will limit Russian tourist visas to 10 percent of current volumes as of September 1 due to rising discontent over Russian tourism amid the war in Ukraine, the government has said.

"Tourist visas will not stop completely, but their number will be significantly reduced," Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters in Helsinki.

Tourist visas from neighbouring Russia will be limited by restricting the allotted opening hours for tourism visa applications, as an outright ban based on nationality is not possible, Haavisto said.

"This means that other types of visas - visits to relatives, family contacts, work, study - will be given preference and more time," the minister explained.

Currently, Finland processes around 1,000 Russian visa applications a day, Haavisto told public broadcaster Yle.

11:47am: Blasts shake Russian-held Crimea

Explosions have rocked an ammunition depot and disrupted trains in Russian-annexed Crimea in the latest such incident in a region Moscow uses as a supply line for its war in Ukraine.

Moscow's senior representative in the region, Sergei Aksyonov, confirmed that two people were wounded, railway traffic halted and about 2,000 people evacuated from a village near the military depot, but he provided no details of the likely cause of the blasts.

Ukraine hinted at involvement which, if true, could show it has new capability to strike deeper into Russian-held territory, potentially changing the dynamic of the six-month war.

An electricity substation also caught fire near the town of Dzhankoi in the north of Crimea, according to footage on Russian state TV. It showed large explosions on the horizon which authorities said came from the ammunition detonations.

Ukraine has not officially confirmed or denied responsibility for explosions in Crimea, though its officials have openly cheered incidents in Russian-controlled territory.

11:20am: Macron to speak to Zelensky about situation at nuclear plant

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, the French presidential office has said.

Tuesday's phone conversation between the two leaders follows their last telephone exchange on August 1.

Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, Europe's largest, shortly after the start of the invasion.

Both sides have traded accusations over renewed shelling of the plant, which has raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

10:12am: Dilemma facing Ukrainians if they push 'too hard too soon'

Reporting from Kyiv, FRANCE 24's Rob Parsons says the Ukrainian counteroffensive is currently focused on the southern city of Kherson, the only metropolitan area west of the Dnieper River that the Russians have managed to capture since the February 28 invasion.

But progress has been incremental, Parsons explained, with the Ukrainian forces concentrating on destroying bridges and infrastructure around Kherson to cut Russian supply lines.

"There is a window of opportunity at the moment. If the Ukrainians push their offensive before the onset of the winter, they have a chance of taking the city," said Parsons. "But the dilemma facing Ukraine at the moment is, if they press too hard too soon they could suffer the consequences. They could suffer a heavy military defeat and the effect on the morale of the Ukrainian people would be immense."

9:50am: US seeking to 'prolong this conflict', Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fuelling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including in Taiwan.

"The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fuelling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America," Putin said in televised remarks.

"The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilise and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world," he added, referring to the recent Taiwan visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

8:03am: Russia's Black Sea fleet 'struggling to exercise' sea control, says UK

Russia's Black Sea fleet is "struggling to exercise effective sea control" with surface vessels still locked in an extremely defensive posture, according to the daily UK military intelligence briefing posted on Twitter.

Russian patrols are generally limited to waters within sight of the Crimean coast with the Black Sea fleet primarily using long-range cruise missiles to support ground offensives, the statement added.

Turkey says five more grain ships leave Ukrainian ports

7:28am: Turkey says five more grain ships leave Ukrainian ports

Five more ships have left Ukrainian ports carrying corn and wheat, three from Chornomorsk and two from Pivdennyi, under a UN-brokered grain export deal, says Turkey's defence ministry.

It added that four more ships bound for Ukraine were to be inspected on Tuesday by the joint co-ordination centre, set up by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations in Istanbul.

One of the ships leaving on Tuesday was the Brave Commander, carrying the first cargo of humanitarian food aid bound for Africa from Ukraine since Russia's invasion, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

6:35am: Brave Commander bound for Africa leaves Ukrainian port

The ship Brave Commander has left the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi, carrying the first cargo of humanitarian food aid bound for Africa from Ukraine since Russia's invasion, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Tuesday.

The bulk carrier, with 23,000 tonnes of wheat aboard, left for the African port of Djibouti with supplies destined for consumers in Ethiopia, Ukraine's infrastructure ministry said.

"The ministry and the United Nations are working on ways to increase food supplies for the socially vulnerable sections of the African population," it said in a statement.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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