- Russian military leaders are likely to be “increasingly concerned” about security in Crimea after reported explosions, a British intelligence update said. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said both Russian and Ukrainian authorities admitted that an ammunition dump exploded on Tuesday near Dzhankoi in the north of the region and that a nearby railway and sub-station were also damaged. The update said Russian media also reported smoke rising near the Gvardeyskoye airbase. And while the “the cause of these incidents and the extent of the damage is not yet clear”, Russian commanders are likely to be “increasingly concerned” with security in the region that Russia annexed in 2014.
Russia’s Black Sea fleet based in annexed Crimea has installed a new commander, RIA news agency cited sources as saying on Wednesday, after Russian military bases on the peninsula were rocked by explosions in the past nine days. If confirmed, the removal of the previous commander Igor Osipov would mark the most prominent sacking of a military official in the nearly six months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in which it has suffered heavy losses in men and equipment. The Black Sea Fleet, which has a revered history in Russia, has suffered several highly public humiliations in the course of the war that President Vladimir Putin launched on Feb. 24.
- In the Donetsk region at the forefront of the Russian offensive, two civilians were killed and seven others were wounded by recent Russian shelling of several towns and villages. Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, confirmed the latest casualties on Telegram. The area has been the subject of heavy shelling by the Russian military in recent weeks as they try to make tactical advances in the Donbas region.
- A recreation centre has been destroyed and three people injured after Russian shelling in Odesa, a top official has said. Sergey Bratchuk, a representative of the Odesa military administration, said a fire broke out and nearby buildings were damaged after the attack. In a post on the Telegram messaging app he said the damage was caused by two enemy rockets. A rescue operation is continuing, he added.
- North Korea and the self-proclaimed republic in Donetsk will develop “equally beneficial bilateral cooperation”, Denis Pushilin, the head of the separatist administration, said in a letter to Kim Jong-un, North Korean state media reported on Wednesday.
- Finland says it will cut the number of visas it issues to Russians to 10% of current volumes from 1 September after Russian tourists began using the country as a gateway to European holiday destinations. Finland will also join the Baltic states in jointly proposing the discontinuation of an EU visa facilitation agreement with Russia that makes it easier and cheaper for Russians to travel to and within the EU, the foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, said.
- Estonian authorities removed a Soviet-era tank from its pedestal in the eastern city of Narva, the most significant removal yet out of an estimated 200 to 400 such monuments that the government has pledged to take down by the end of the year. “No one wants to see our militant and hostile neighbour foment tensions in our home,” the prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said on Tuesday. Estonia will also this week close its border to more than 50,000 Russians with previously issued visas.