Ukraine updates: Russia says African states can decide on Wagner

Pope’s envoy to meet with Putin’s adviser in Moscow

The Kremlin has said Pope Francis’s envoy would hold talks with President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov in Moscow.

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi began a visit to Russia on Tuesday in the first such trip since Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.

High-ranking Catholic clerics are rarely seen in Moscow, which no pope has ever visited.

Zuppi’s trip comes several weeks after he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

28 Jun 2023 – 19:10

 (19:10 GMT)

Putin ‘weakened’ by Wagner mutiny: Germany’s Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Putin was “weakened” by the Wagner mercenary group’s mutiny but that the ultimate consequences of the rebellion remained unclear.

The weekend uprising – which ended when Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin called off his troops’ advance on Moscow – has prompted questions about Putin’s grip on power as Moscow’s war in Ukraine grinds on.

In his first extensive comments about the aborted rebellion, Scholz said it would “surely have long-term consequences in Russia”.

“I do believe that he [Putin] is weakened,” Scholz told public broadcaster ARD.

“It shows that the autocratic structures, the power structures, have cracks and he in no way sits as firmly in the saddle as he always claims,” the German leader said.

“But I don’t want to take part in speculation about how long he’ll stay in office – it could be a long time or short, we don’t know.”

28 Jun 2023 – 18:07

 (18:07 GMT)

In verbal slip, Biden says Putin losing war in ‘Iraq’

In a new verbal slip-up, Biden said that Putin was “losing the war in Iraq” when he meant to say “Ukraine”.

Speaking to reporters briefly before departing the White House on a trip to Chicago, Biden was asked if Putin had been weakened by the brief uprising of the Wagner Group whose forces have been fighting against Ukraine.

“It’s hard to tell really. But he’s clearly losing the war in Iraq. He’s losing the war at home and he has become a bit of a pariah around the world. And it’s not just NATO, it’s not just the European Union. It’s Japan, it’s 40 nations,” he said.