Russia-Ukraine live news: Deadly explosions rock Belgorod | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says his country is being “provoked”, claims Ukraine fired several missiles at military targets inside Belarus.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “colossal investments” are needed to rebuild his war-torn country.
  • Ukrainian separatists backed by Russia say they have “completely” encircled the key city of Lysychansk in the eastern Luhansk region.

Here are all the latest updates:

At least three killed in Russia’s Belgorod: Official

At least three people have been killed and dozens of residential buildings damaged in the Russian city of Belgorod, according to the local governor.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said at least 11 apartment buildings and 39 private residential houses were destroyed.

Al Jazeera could not verify the claims independently.

US funds software for Russians to slip past censors

A US-backed campaign is giving Russians access to anti-censor software to dodge Moscow’s crackdown on dissent against its invasion of Ukraine, reports the AFP news agency.

Groups involved in the campaign told AFP that the US-backed Open Technology Fund is paying out money to a handful of American firms providing virtual private networks (VPNs) free of charge to millions of Russians, who can then use them to visit websites blocked by censors.

“Our tool is primarily used by people trying to access independent media, so that funding by the OTF has been absolutely critical,” said a spokesman for Lantern, one of the involved companies.

Explosions reported in Russian city of Belgorod

A Russian official says blasts in the city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, resulted in a fire in a residential building.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod, said three wounded people were taken to a hospital.

“Reasons for the incident are being investigated,” he said on the Telegram messaging app. “Presumably, the air defence system worked.”

Ukraine adviser concedes Lysychansk could fall

An adviser to Zelenskyy has conceded that the city of Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last big bastion in the eastern province of Luhansk, could fall to the Russians.

“This is indeed a threat. We shall see. I do not rule out any one of a number of outcomes here. Things will become much more clear within a day or two,” said Oleksiy Arestovych.

“If Lysychansk is taken, strategically it becomes more difficult for the Russians to continue their offensive. The front lines will be flatter and there will be a frontal attack rather than from the flanks.”


‘Colossal investments’ required to rebuild Ukraine, says Zelenskyy

The Ukrainian president has called for international aid to help rebuild his devastated country once the war is over, sounding a rare hopeful note after four months of brutal conflict.

“It is necessary not only to repair everything the occupiers have destroyed, but also to create a new foundation for our lives: safe, modern, comfortable, accessible,” he said in his night-time address.

This would require “colossal investments, billions, new technologies, best practices, new institutions and, of course, reforms,” he said. “No matter how difficult it is for us today, we must remember that there will be a tomorrow.”

Regulator urges Germans to prepare for possible gas shortage

Fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies, the head of Germany’s regulatory agency for energy has called on residents to save energy and to prepare for winter, when use increases.

Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller urged house and apartment owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximise their efficiency.

“Maintenance can reduce gas consumption by 10 percent to 15 percent,” he told Funke Mediengruppe, a German newspaper and magazine publisher.

Lukashenko says Ukraine fired missiles on Belarus

The Belarusian president says his army has shot down missiles fired into their territory from Ukraine and promised to respond “instantly” to any enemy attack.

“We are being provoked,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying by state news agency Belta.

“I must tell you that around three days ago, maybe more, they tried to strike military targets in Belarus from Ukraine,” he said. “Thank God, our Pantsir anti-air systems intercepted all the missiles fired by the Ukrainian forces.”

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Read all the updates from yesterday, July 2, here.