Zelensky refutes Russian claims of village capture in Sumy region

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed Russian statements regarding the capture of a village in Ukraine’s north-eastern Sumy region.

“As of this morning, the Russian flag in the village [of Ryzhivka] has been destroyed, and there are no occupiers present,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram on Monday.

The alleged conquest of the village was a Russian propaganda campaign, he added.

On Sunday evening, the head of Russia’s semi-autonomous republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, stated that a special unit had seized the border village of Ryzhivka in the Sumy region and inflicted significant losses on Ukrainian forces.

However, military observers quickly cast doubt on the claim, although for weeks there has been mounting speculation about Russian troops opening another front in Sumy.

Ukraine has been fending off an all-out Russian invasion for more than two years.

Appeal for aid to rebuild Kharkiv

Meanwhile the mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, called for international assistance to help rebuild the north-eastern Ukrainian city, which has suffered extensive damage from several Russian airstrikes.

Speaking at a conference in Berlin on Monday, Terekhov said that the destruction had caused damage exceeding €10 billion ($10.7 billion).

The city, home to some 1.5 million people, has been under particularly heavy bombardment for weeks.

Russia is bombing civilian infrastructure and killing children, women and men, Terekhov said. But Ukraine is standing firm. The aim is to make the city better and safer during reconstruction, he added.

A two-day Ukraine reconstruction conference begins in Berlin on Tuesday. Berlin’s top economic official, Franziska Giffey, said that Germany stands by Ukraine and will play a leading role in reconstruction.

Nuremberg Mayor Marcus König spoke of a beacon of hope, signalling robust support for Ukraine. Nuremberg and Kharkiv are twin cities.

Reconstruction official resigns

The head of the Ukrainian agency for reconstruction, Mustafa Nayyem, handed in his resignation shortly before Tuesday’s conference on rebuilding Ukraine begins in Berlin.

“Since November last year, the agency’s team has been confronted with constant resistance and the creation of artificial obstacles,” Nayyem wrote on Facebook on Monday.

In his post, Nayyem lamented the underfunding of his agency and excessive bureaucracy, which he said delayed reconstruction measures. Further work had become impossible since the dismissal of Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov at the beginning of May.

Nayyem’s resignation was prompted by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal’s refusal to authorize a business trip to the reconstruction conference in Berlin.

Funding boost for German development work in Ukraine

Germany and the European Union plan to increase funding for work in Ukraine by Germany’s GIZ international development agency, a German Foreign Office spokesman said on Monday.

GIZ will receive an additional €30 million ($32 million) for projects in Ukraine, bringing the agency’s total budget to €75 million, according to the spokesman. The German government will contribute an additional €12 million on top of a previous €27 million, while the EU will double its contribution from €18 million to €36 million.

The project is part of the German Foreign Office’s stabilization plans aimed at providing concrete support to government institutions and civil society in regions torn by conflict and war.

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