Ukraine war briefing: Chinese troops hold military exercises with Belarus on Polish border

<span>Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy holds a meeting in Odesa, following a visit by Britain's new secretary of state for defence, John Healey.</span><span>Photograph: AS1 Leah Jones/AP</span>
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy holds a meeting in Odesa, following a visit by Britain's new secretary of state for defence, John Healey.Photograph: AS1 Leah Jones/AP
  • Chinese military personnel are to begin joint “anti-terrorist training” with their counterparts in Belarus on Monday, close to the border with Poland. The “Eagle Assault” exercises by the two Russian allies amid the war in Ukraine will be held over 11 days in the border city of Brest, Belarus, and will involve tasks such as hostage rescue and anti-terrorism operations, China’s Ministry of National Defence said. It comes days after Belarus officially joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization led by China and Russia, deepening their coordination on military, economic and political matters. The Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko has been a key ally of Vladimir Putin since the invasion of Ukraine, holding tactical nuclear drills with Russia last year and agreeing to store tactical nuclear warheads for Moscow on its soil.

  • The Netherlands will begin sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine “without delay”, after export licences were granted, foreign minister Caspar Veldkamp said during a visit to Kyiv at the weekend. “Now that we’ve got clearance on the first F-16s, they will be delivered without delay,” Veldkamp said Saturday in a press conference in the Ukrainian capital. Details of the trip were kept secret until Sunday for security reasons. Veldkamp is part of a new ruling coalition in which Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) is the largest party. Ukraine hopes the advanced US-made jets will help it gain air superiority over Russia and better protect its troops and cities from daily bombardments by Moscow’s troops. Kyiv has been calling for F-16s since shortly after Russia invaded in February 2022.

  • The UK’s new defence minister pledged on Sunday to deliver more artillery guns, ammunition and missiles to Ukraine, stressing ongoing support for Kyiv during a visit to the southern city of Odesa. John Healey, appointed defence minister on Friday, was visiting the port city, a frequent target of Russian missile and drone strikes, on his first international trip. “There may have been a change in government, but the UK is united for Ukraine,” Healey said, according to a statement published by Britain’s defence ministry. Healey pledged a new package of assistance including artillery guns, 250,000 rounds of ammunition, de-mining vehicles, small military boats, missiles and other equipment, the defence ministry said.

  • US House Speaker Mike Johnson will meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday during the Nato summit in Washington, according to Johnson’s schedule. Support for Ukraine is expected to be a focus at the summit in Washington this week, amid concerns about the future of US support for Kyiv should Donald Trump win the presidential election in November. Johnson in April spearheaded a $95bn bipartisan aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan that was opposed by allies of Trump in Congress.

  • Campaigners are urging Britain’s new Labour government to prevent Ukraine being sued in the UK courts if it defaults on its debts to private creditors. A two-year suspension of Ukraine’s debt payments was scheduled to expire on 1 August, Debt Justice said, and action was needed to protect Kyiv from the possibility of legal action. Ukraine is in negotiations with bondholders and is seeking a debt write down of 60% on the $24bn (£18.7bn) it owes to private creditors. Bondholders – which include big investment groups such as BlackRock, Pimco, Fidelity and AllianceBernstein – have said they are willing to take a 20% loss.