Elite troops being wiped out in Donbass

A commander of an elite unit of Ukrainian marines has told Sky News the majority of his best trained troops have been injured or killed.

Speaking near the frontline, south of the city of Severodonetsk, company commander Oleksandr said a core of experienced soldiers who had been fighting together since 2018 have been lost.

“My unit was 100% made up of professional soldiers who have a lot of experience. Now, 80% are incapacitated from serious injuries or death,” he says.

In comments which will alarm those backing Ukraine in its four-month long war with Russia, he says he does not know how long his unit can sustain such losses.

“I don’t even know how to answer this question,” Oleksandr says

Russians blockade Lysychansk

Russian forces trying to blockade Lysychansk from south

Russian forces trying to blockade Lysychansk from south

In the Donetsk direction, Russian troops, supported by artillery, are trying to block the town of Lysychansk from the south.

That’s according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukrinform reports.

In the Volyn and Polissia directions, no signs were spotted of the formation of enemy offensive groups. According to available information, the Belarus leadership continues to provide military support to the Russian Federation. Another consignment of up to 20 rail cars of ammunition was transported to Belgorod region.

Belarus sends about 20 railcars with ammunition to Russia 

Belarus sends about 20 railcars with ammunition to Russia - General Staff

“No signs of the enemy forming offensive groups have been recorded in the Volyn and Polissia areas. According to available information, the leadership of the Republic of Belarus continues to provide military support to the Russian Federation. In particular, another consignment of ammunition of up to 20 railcars has been sent to the Belgorod region,” the statement said.

Ukrainian troops pull back after intense fight in SEVERODONETSK city

UKRAINIAN TROOPS RETREAT FROM SEVERODONETSK CITY IN THE EASTERN LUHANSK OBLAST AFTER WEEKS OF FIGHTING, JUNE 24, 2022

The retreat of Ukrainian troops from Severodonetsk city in the Luhansk Oblast of the country is a pivotal moment in the ongoing conflict. The Russian forces are now almost in total control over the Luhansk region. The latest reports from front lines say Russian forces entered the last remaining city of Lysychansk in Luhansk on June 25.

In a briefing today, Russian Ministry of Defence announced in Moscow: “On June 25, the cities of Severodonetsk and Borovskoye, the settlements of Voronovo and Sirotino passed under control of the Lugansk People’s Republic. The localities liberated… are inhabited by about 108,000 people. Total area of the liberated territory is about 145 square kilometres.

“Success of the Russian army… considerably diminishes the morale and psychological condition of the Ukrainian army personnel. In 30th Mechanised Brigade deployed near Artyomovsk, there are mass cases of alcohol abuse, drug use and unauthorised abandonment of combat positions

Sanctions Push Russia to First Foreign Default Since Bolshevik Revolution

Russia was poised to default on its foreign debt for the first time since 1918, pushed into delinquency not for lack of money but because of punishing Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia missed payments on two foreign-currency bonds as of late Sunday, according to holders of the bonds. The day marks the expiration of a 30-day grace period since the country was due to pay the equivalent of $100 million in dollars and euros to bondholders.

The default has been long in coming since the West all but unplugged Russia from the global financial system, creating payment obstacles Moscow couldn’t overcome. It wasn’t expected to cause any immediate ripple effects in markets or Russia’s economy. Russian bonds have traded for pennies on the dollar since days after the invasion, a sign that investors believed default was probable.

Russia last failed to pay its foreign borrowing during the Bolshevik Revolution when Vladimir Lenin, the newly installed communist leader, repudiated the debt of the Russian Empire. Russia defaulted on its ruble-denominated bonds during a financial crisis in 1998, but it was able to stay current with its overseas debt at the time.

Litigation over the lack of payment could span years. Russia has accused the West of manufacturing an artificial default, and has gone to great lengths in recent months to route money in roundabout ways to get the required payments into the hands of bondholders. 

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on Thursday said Western nations created artificial barriers in order to “hang the label ‘default’ ” on Russia and called the situation a farce.

Russia has plenty of money from oil and gas sales to pay its foreign debts, which are relatively small compared with the size of its economy. But allied Western governments have blocked the Kremlin’s ability to tap foreign bank accounts or use cross-border payment networks to move money.

Because Russia has the money and intent to pay, its default is expected to pose unique legal challenges. Once the grace period is breached, bond investors can declare a default. Russia will claim its obligations were fulfilled. Unusual for most sovereign bonds, Russia’s don’t specify a jurisdiction to decide disputes. Lawyers say English or U.S. courts are likely venues to decide who is right.

The first step is for holders of 25% of the bonds to agree to invoke the so-called acceleration clause, which allows them to demand immediate repayment on the bonds’ outstanding amount. Bondholders have three years to bring claims against Russia to court.

Video: EU agrees Russia oil embargo, gives Hungary exemptions; Zelenskiy vows more sanctions (Reuters)

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EU agrees Russia oil embargo, gives Hungary exemptions; Zelenskiy vows more sanctions

“This is the messiest and most legally uncertain case of sovereign default that I can think of,” said Mark Weidemaier, a sovereign-debt specialist and law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “That’s got to be one of many things that makes investors nervous when they think about the prospect of suing the Russian government.”

One investor said clearinghouse Euroclear received funds for the May interest payments just before the Treasury’s exemption expiration. But the funds were frozen there due to sanctions, unable to be forwarded to his account. Lawyers say the bond documents are unclear over whether payments that reached the clearinghouse, but not the bondholder account, would constitute a formal default. 

A Euroclear spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia last week codified plans to pay bondholders in rubles under a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin. Russia will send ruble payments to accounts for foreign bondholders at unsanctioned Russian banks. Foreign investors could then convert the rubles into foreign currencies.

The Russian Finance Ministry said it made roughly $400 million in payments on Thursday and Friday to bondholders under the new mechanism.

Euroclear didn’t immediately respond to comment.

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