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Ukraine live briefing: Zelensky asks Biden for NATO invite; four killed in Lviv attack

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed Thursday that the leader of Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, is no longer in Belarus but in Russia. After Prigozhin staged a failed rebellion against Russian defense officials, Lukashenko said on June 27 that Prigozhin was in Belarus as part of a deal between Moscow and Wagner that Lukashenko claimed to have brokered.

Though the Kremlin said it “does not follow” Prigozhin’s movements, and would not comment on his return to Russia country, a St. Petersburg businessman, speaking Wednesday on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, confirmed his presence in the country and said authorities had returned funds to him.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on both Russian and Ukrainian forces to “immediately stop” using cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch said in a statement Thursday, and urged the United States not to transfer them to Ukraine, as Washington is poised to do. The group published new evidence suggesting that Ukrainian forces have injured civilians by use of the widely banned munitions — which Russian forces have used far more extensively, also causing civilian deaths. Cluster munitions, which scatter bomblets, are “indiscriminate weapons” that continue to cause harm long after the end of a conflict, the rights group said.

Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.

While both sides dialed up the rhetoric, an analysis published Wednesday by the Institute for the Study of War said it was unlikely that Moscow would create a nuclear disaster. The escalation in provocative statements is probably intended to accuse Ukraine of irresponsible behavior near the plant as NATO prepares to meet next week, the D.C.-based think tank said.

Catherine Belton contributed to this report.

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