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Ukraine live briefing: Russia slams Azov commanders’ release from Turkey; Biden faces a divided NATO


Moscow accused Kyiv and Ankara of violating a prisoner exchange agreement after five commanders from Ukraine’s Azov Brigade returned to Ukraine from Turkey, where they were held after being freed from Russian captivity. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that neither Turkey nor Ukraine consulted Russia about the transfer. The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he accompanied the men from an Istanbul airport back to Ukraine after a state visit to Turkey.

NATO member states will meet in Vilnius, Lithuania, this week, with Ukraine’s candidacy and Sweden’s blocked bid to join the military alliance expected to dominate the agenda. President Biden heads to Europe on Monday.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Ukraine pushes to reclaim Bakhmut, fighting on fallen city’s flanks: Russia captured the embattled city of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, in May following weeks of fierce fighting — its only significant territorial gain in 2023. But now, its troops are battling Ukraine’s counteroffensive push from the city’s flanks in an inch-by-inch fight, report Fredrick Kunkle and Serhii Korolchuk.

On a recent moonlit night, a four-man Ukrainian squad attempted to float a drone amid the ruins of a kindergarten in a village south of the city.

“We are trying to pin as many Muscovites as possible around Bakhmut,” said Mykola Bielieskov, a research fellow with Ukraine’s National Institute for Strategic Studies.

POST AUTHOR: Niha Masih, Leo Sands

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