Ukraine war: State TV journalist detained, H&M and IKEA flog final stock, and oil deliveries restart

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

1. Ukraine says nine Russian warplanes ‘destroyed’ in Crimea blasts

Nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in explosions at a military base in Crimea on Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s air force. 

Two US newspapers reported that Ukrainian special forces had carried out an attack on the Russian-annexed peninsula. 

But Ukrainian officials have not publicly claimed responsibility for the blasts, which Russia said may have been caused by a “careless smoker” causing munitions to catch fire and blow up. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last night said that Crimea was a fundamental strategic objective. 

“This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – its liberation,” Zelenskyy said. 

Russia has denied any aircraft were damaged in the blasts in Crimea. 

2. Russian dissident faces ‘trumped up charges’ after protesting Ukraine war

A Russian critic who burned his passport while protesting the war in Ukraine is facing possible extradition over “trumped-up” tax evasion charges. 

Alexey Alchin, 46, who lives in Bulgaria, could be sent to Moscow to face allegations that he failed to pay VAT debts of over 282.5 million roubles (€4.5m) in late 2015. 

Alchin claims to have settled his debts before leaving Russia and said he knew nothing of the charges which Moscow officials insist go as far back as 2018.

A court in Bulgaria has approved Russia’s request for Alchin’s extradition, sparking a backlash over the the decision. 

Alchin’s wife Olga Gyurova believes her husband is being persecuted by Moscow for his political leanings and anti-war stance. 

In February, Alchin took part in an anti-war protest in Varna, Bulgaria, where he burned his Russian passport. 

If the extradition is to go ahead, it would make Bulgaria the first European Union member state to hand over a Russian national since the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February. 

Read more at our story here.

3. Oil deliveries start again to EU countries

Russia has restarted oil deliveries through a critical pipeline to Slovakia after a payment dispute was settled.

Shipments were halted on Tuesday through the southern branch of the Druzhba – or ‘Friendship’ pipeline –  which runs through Ukraine to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

Russian state pipeline operator Transneft cited complications due to EU sanctions, saying its payment to the company’s Ukrainian counterpart was refused.

Today, Slovakia’s Slovnaft refinery confirmed that oil deliveries had restarted. 

But shipments have not begun again in the Czech Republic and Hungary, officials said. 

The three EU countries, which are landlocked, benefits from waivers on European Union sanctions on importing Russian crude oil. 

4. Russian TV journalist detained after on-air protest

Russian authorities detained a former state TV journalist who made an on-air protest against Moscow’s war in Ukraine. 

Marina Ovsyannikova has been charged with spreading false information about Russia’s armed forces, her lawyer said on social media.

The producer, who worked for Russia’s state-funded Channel One, held a sign during a live broadcast reading: “Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children have been killed (in Ukraine). How many more children should die for you to stop?”

On Wednesday, Ovsyannikova’s home was raided and she was taken for questioning at Moscow’s police headquarters. 

The case against Ovsyannikova was launched under a Russian law that penalises statements against the military, her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov said. A conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Ovsyannikova has already been fined fined 30,000 rubles ($270 at the time) after she was charged with criticising the Russian military. 

She faced two further fines in recent weeks for criticising the military in a Facebook post and for comments she made at a court where opposition figure Ilya Yashin was remanded in custody pending trial for spreading false information about the military.

Read more at our story here.

5. Shoppers buy last goods from H&M and IKEA ahead of wind down

Russian shoppers are buying the last goods from H&M and IKEA as the stores wind down their operations in the country. 

The fashion and furniture brands are moving forward with their exit from Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. 

Both shops paused sales after the military operation began but are now looking to offload stocks. 

One H&M shopper in Moscow, who gave his name as Leonid, said he was “very hurt” that H&M is closing down, adding: “A good store is leaving.”

Both companies are laying off staff. H&M said Tuesday that 6,000 workers will be affected and that it was working on details of continued support in the coming months.

IKEA said in June that many workers will lose their jobs and it has guaranteed six months of pay for them, as well as core benefits. 

It said this week that it has 15,000 workers in Russia and Belarus, but it did not immediately confirm how many would be laid off.

H&M said it expects costs from leaving Russia to reach about 2 billion Swedish kronor (€197 million), which will be included as one-time costs in its third-quarter earnings this year.

IKEA said in June that it will start looking for new owners for its four factories in Russia and will close its purchase and logistics offices in Moscow and in Minsk, Belarus, a key Russian ally.