Ukraine Crisis

Latest Ukraine update



A number of claims and counterclaims are being made on the Ukraine-Russia conflict on the ground and online. While Independent Press takes utmost care to accurately report this developing news story, we cannot independently verify the authenticity of all statements, photos and videos. 


Thu 16 June, 2022

US President Joe Biden has stated that the US will provide an additional $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

According to a UN official, the war has displaced nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s children.

Follow our live blog for all the latest developments

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Ukraine Day 112


Ukraine ignores Severodonetsk ultimatum to surrender

Ukraine ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender the eastern city of Severodonetsk, which now largely lies in ruins after weeks of heavy bombardment.

Moscow said it opened a humanitarian corridor from Azot to allow civilians to escape to Russian-controlled territory. It accused Ukraine’s forces of disrupting that plan and using civilians as human shields, which Kyiv denied.


2 US military veterans reported missing in Ukraine

Two American veterans from Alabama fighting in Ukraine against Russian forces have not been heard from in days and are missing.

Relatives of Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, have been in contact with both Senate and House offices seeking information about the men’s whereabouts, press aides said.

Representative Robert Aderholt said Huynh volunteered to go fight with the Ukrainian, but relatives have not heard from him since June 8, when he was in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. Huynh and Drueke were together.


US urges Americans not to travel to Ukraine

The White House has urged Americans not to travel to Ukraine after reports emerged that two Americans had been captured by Russian forces.

John Kirby, a National Security Council spokesperson, told reporters that if the reports are true, the United States “will do everything we can” to get them  


Ukraine says Russian forces trying to attack simultaneously in nine directions

The head of Ukraine’s military has said Russia had concentrated its main strike forces in the north of Luhansk region and were trying to attack simultaneously in nine directions.

“The fierce struggle for Luhansk region continues,” Valeriy Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said in an online message. The Russians were using aircraft, rocket-propelled grenades, and artillery, he added.


Germany to deliver rocket launchers to Ukraine: minister

Germany will supply three MARS II multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine, according to Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, adding that the training of Ukrainian troops would begin in the coming weeks.

The MARS II multiple rocket launcher can hit targets at a distance of more than 80km.


West must stay focused on Ukraine: Pentagon chief

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was at a “pivotal” moment and the United States and its allies cannot not lose focus on the three-month-long conflict, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says.

Austin was speaking at a meeting of dozens of defence ministers on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial gathering.

“We can’t afford to let up and we can’t lose steam. The stakes are too high,” Austin said at the start of the meeting in Brussels. “Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield … Russia is using its long-range fires to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions.”


Canada to send $7m of military equipment to Ukraine

Canada will provide 10 replacement barrels for M777 howitzer artillery guns to Ukraine in new military aid valued at nine million Canadian dollars ($6.9 million), according to the Canadian defence minister.

“We will continue to work around the clock to provide Ukraine with the comprehensive military aid that it needs to defend its sovereignty and security,” Defence Minister Anita Anand said in a statement.

Canada donated the M777 howitzers to Ukraine earlier and the replacement barrels are needed to maintain their distance range and accuracy.


Biden announces more security aid in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has announced a new package of arms and ammunition for Ukraine after reaffirming Washington’s support for Kyiv against Russia’s invasion in a call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The package of $1bn-worth of arms includes more artillery, coastal anti-ship defence systems and ammunition for artillery and advanced rocket systems that Ukraine is already using, Biden said.

In the phone call, Biden said he “reaffirmed my commitment that the United States will stand by Ukraine as it defends its democracy and support its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression,” according to a statement.


Ukraine could produce less gas in 2022: energy minister

Ukraine’s gas production could drop to 16-17 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2022 because of the Russian invasion from about 20 bcm in 2021, according to energy minister Herman Halushchenko.

“The fall is due to military actions. We are not operating some fields because of the war,” Halushchenko told Ukraine national television.


Macron toughens tone on Russia before possible Ukraine visit

President Emmanuel Macron voiced a tougher line on Russia on Wednesday after visiting French and allied troops at a NATO base in Romania, seeking to assuage concerns in Ukraine and among some European allies over what has been perceived as an ambiguous stance towards Moscow.

Macron arrived in Romania on Tuesday for a three-day trip to NATO’s southern flank including Moldova before possibly heading to Kyiv on Thursday on a visit with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, two diplomatic sources said.

“We will do everything to stop Russia’s war forces, to help the Ukrainians and their army and continue to negotiate,” he told French and NATO troops at a military base in Romania.


Ukrainian forces mine forest in Donetsk

A Ukrainian special operations unit has been planting anti-tank mines in the Donetsk region to deter advancing Russian troops.

Members of the unit used the thick foliage to hide its advance down dirt tracks through the forest.

In holes scooped out with their spades, the unit mined the forest track with Soviet-era TM-62s and German DM22 anti-tank mines to protect their flank from potential Russian attacks.


Russia tells Ukraine to down weapons in Severodonetsk battle

Russia has told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant in the embattled city of Severodonetsk to lay down their arms, pressing its advantage in the battle for control of eastern Ukraine.

Fighters should “stop their senseless resistance and lay down arms” from 8 am Moscow time (0500 GMT), ​Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defence Management Centre told the Interfax news agency.

Civilians would be let out through a humanitarian corridor, Mizintsev said.

Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are trapped alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory where its forces have resisted weeks of Russian bombardment and assaults that have reduced much of Severodonetsk to ruins.


Moscow destroying Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine: Zelenskyy

Moscow claims to be protecting the rights of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, but most of the cities destroyed by the Russian army were largely Russian-speaking, Zelenskyy has said.

“And they are now switching to Ukrainian because they are shocked at how the Russian army could have done that to them,” Zelenskyy told Danish journalists at an online press conference.

Zelenskyy reiterated he would only negotiate with Russia if its forces withdrew from Ukraine.

“If the Russian Federation is ready to end the war, which means to withdraw troops from our territories, I am personally ready for such a format at any moment,” he said.


Ukraine says 313 children killed amid war

Ukraine says 313 children have been killed and 579 injured amid the war.

Most child casualties were recorded in the regions of Donetsk (291), Kharkiv (169) Kyiv (116) Chernihiv (68),  Luhansk (54), Kherson (52) and Mykolaiv (48), the prosecutor general’s office said on Telegram.


Moscow-backed separatist says Ukraine ‘holding hostage’ civilians at Azot plant

Russian-backed separatists in the Luhansk region say Ukrainian forces have “taken hostage” up to 1,200 civilians in the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, Moscow’s news agency TASS has said.

“Now in Severodonetsk somewhere 1-1,200 civilians have been taken hostage and are in the territory of ‘Azot’. They are kept there forcibly and for a long time…  there is no water, no food, no medicine, among them are about 127 children,” TASS quotes the Moscow-installed assistant minister of internal affairs of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, Vitaly Kiselev, as saying.

Ukraine’s Luhansk Governor, Serhiy Haidai, has said around 500 civilians are sheltering in the Azot chemical plant that Russian forces are attacking with artillery.


More difficult for Ukraine’s army to hold off Russians in Severodonetsk: Governor

It’s becoming more difficult for Ukraine’s forces to hold off Russia’s attacks on Severodonetsk, which are coming from three directions at the same time, the Luhansk governor has said.

Russian forces again fired on the Azot chemical plant on Tuesday, Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram.

“High-rise buildings located closer to the chemical giant are being destroyed. The enemy is weaker in street battles, so it opens artillery fire, destroying our homes,” he said.

Surrounding towns and villages also saw significant damage with many wounded and dozens of homes destroyed, Haidai added.


‘Extensive collateral damage’ in Severodonetsk due to Russian artillery: UK

Russia’s reliance on heavy artillery has caused “extensive collateral damage” throughout Severodonetsk, which Moscow’s forces largely control after more than a month of heavy fighting, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

Ukraine’s fighters can likely survive in the underground bunkers of the city’s Azot chemical plant, where they are holding out with several hundred civilians, the ministry said, adding that Russian forces will likely be fixed in and around the plant.

“This will likely temporarily prevent Russia from re-tasking these units for missions elsewhere,” it said in an intelligence briefing on Twitter.

“It is highly unlikely that Russia anticipated such robust opposition, or such slow, attritional conflict during its original planning for the invasion,” the ministry added.



China should look to West’s Ukraine response when considering Taiwan: Blinken

China should factor in the world’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as it looks to any future actions with respect to Taiwan, the US secretary of state has said.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the last 10 years is China acting more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad, to include actions that it’s taken with regard to Taiwan that are potentially dangerous and destabilising,” Antony Blinken said in an interview on PBS NewsHour on Tuesday.

“One of the things I think that China has to factor into any calculus is the response that we’ve seen to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and so many countries coming together to stand against that aggression, both by making sure that Ukraine had the support that it needed and also making sure that Russia paid a price for the aggression,” he added.

Blinken also said the fighting in Ukraine’s Donbas was “horrific” and has led to “terrible death” and destruction.


Ukraine’s need for more weapons major focus as defence ministers meet

Dozens of defence ministers from NATO and other parts of the world are expected to discuss weapons deliveries to Ukraine on Wednesday in Brussels, the Reuters news agency reports US officials as having said.

“Russia has not given up on the fight, despite its pretty anaemic progress … What we have is this grinding, slow, incremental Russian operation,” a senior US defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

“So the question is what do the Ukrainians need to continue the success they’ve already seen in slowing down and thwarting that Russian objective and that’ll be a major focus for the defence ministers,” the official said about the third such meeting led by United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Ukraine needs 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones, among other heavy weapons, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Monday. In addition, Zelenskyy has called for more modern anti-missile systems.


Russia-backed separatist announces road opening from Donbas to Crimea

The route between Ukraine’s Donbas region and the Russian-annexed territory of Crimea via the occupied regions of Mariupol, Melitopol and Kherson is now available for civilian vehicles, the Russian state-owned TASS news agency reports, citing a member of the self-proclaimed Moscow-backed administration of the Zaporizhia region.

“It’s not only for the military,” Vladimir Rogov said. “I myself have already travelled from Kherson through Melitopol to Berdyansk, Mariupol, Novoazovsk. Through Novoazovsk I went to Russia.”

“People take advantage of this, and there are many who want it, there are queues at the border, it was not designed for such an influx. But this corridor exists,” he added.

Last week, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu announced the opening of the route to Crimea from Russia’s city of Rostov-on-Don – through Ukraine’s occupied cities of Mariupol, Berdyansk and Melitopol.


Nicaragua Congress renews Russian training exercise approval

Nicaragua’s Congress has renewed a decade-long decree allowing Russian forces to train in the Central American country, a decision the US criticised.

Tuesday’s decision allows 230 Russian soldiers to enter Nicaragua between July 1 and December 31 to patrol in Pacific waters with the Nicaraguan Army.

President Daniel Ortega has backed Russian President Vladimir Putin in his attack on Ukraine, and this most recent decision was expected.

Since 2012, Nicaragua’s unicameral Congress has biannually approved the entry of foreign military personnel, including Russians, into the country.


Almost 2 out of 3 Ukraine children uprooted amid war: UN

Nearly two-thirds of children in Ukraine have been uprooted during the war, according to a UN official who visited the country last week.

“The war in Ukraine is a child rights crisis,” Afshan Khan, Europe and Central Asia director for UNICEF, told reporters on Tuesday.

Khan said 277 children in Ukraine have been killed and 456 injured, mostly due to explosives used in urban areas. She said the number of damaged schools is likely in the thousands, and only about 25 percent of schools in Ukraine are even operational.


Russia ‘ready to listen’ should UK appeal on prisoners

Russia would be ready to consider a UK appeal over the fate of two Britons sentenced to death for fighting for Ukraine, the Kremlin has said.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said neither Moscow nor the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who passed the sentence had heard from London on the issue.

“You need to apply, of course, to the authorities of the country whose court passed the verdict, and that is not the Russian Federation,” Peskov said on Tuesday. “But, of course, everything will depend on appeals from London. And I am sure that the Russian side will be ready to listen.”

The two Britons, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, as well as a Moroccan man named Brahim Saadoun, were sentenced to death last week for allegedly fighting as mercenaries by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. The men were given a month to appeal their sentences.


Poland’s PM criticises NATO’s support for Ukraine

Poland’s prime minister has criticised NATO’s support so far for Ukraine, which has time and again called for more and heavier weapons.

“We have not done enough to defend Ukraine, to support Ukrainian people to defend their freedom and sovereignty. And this is why I urge you, I asked you to do much more to deliver weapon, artillery to Ukraine,” Mateusz Morawiecki said at an informal meeting of seven European NATO nations at The Hague.

“Where is our credibility if Ukraine fails? Can we imagine that Ukraine fails and we revert back to business as usual? I hope not,” he added.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said:  “Ukraine should have more heavy weapons, and NATO allies and partners have provided the heavy weapons now for actually a long time. But they are also stepping up.”


European official concerned about Russia flying Western-made airplanes

Europe’s top aviation safety regulator has said he is “very worried” about the safety of Western-made aircraft continuing to fly in Russia without access to spare parts and proper maintenance.

The EU and the US have moved to restrict Russia’s access to spare parts following its invasion of Ukraine.

“This is very unsafe,” Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference, adding that regulators do not have good data on many of the planes flying in Russia.


Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny moved to maximum-security prison

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been abruptly transferred from a prison where he was serving his years-long prison sentence to an undisclosed location, according to his allies.

When his lawyer arrived at Correctional Colony No 2, a prison camp in Pokrov, 119km (74 miles) east of Moscow, he was told, “There is no such convict here,” Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov said on Telegram on Tuesday.

But late in the day, the chairman of a prison monitoring commission said Navalny had been transferred to a maximum-security prison nearby.

Navalny was moved to the IK-6 prison in the village of Melekhovo in the Vladimir region, Russian news agencies reported, citing Sergei Yazhan, chairman of the regional Public Monitoring Commission. Melekhovo is about 250km (155 miles) east of Moscow.


Satellite images show destroyed bridges around Severodonetsk

Newly released satellite images, collected on Saturday, June 11, show a number of destroyed and damaged bridges which link Severodonetsk to the nearby towns of Rubizhne and Lysychansk.

The last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Monday.

He added that some 70 percent of the city was under Russian control.

The images were released by Maxar Technologies.

A satellite image shows damaged railroad bridges in the northwest of Severodonetsk, Ukraine June 11, 2022. Picture taken June 11, 2022

A satellite image shows damaged railroad bridges in the northwest of Severodonetsk, Ukraine June 11, 2022 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]


Ukraine’s besieged farmers fear war-time harvest ‘hell’

Farmers in front-line regions are scrambling to survive a harvest under Russian fire.

They see Russia’s shelling of the Nika-Tera port facility in the southern city of Mykolaiv on June 4 as just the most dramatic example of a wider assault on a pillar of Ukraine’s economy – and the world’s.

“Agriculture is one of the few business sectors that is working… Of course they want to destroy it. They want to end this stream of income into the country,” farmer Volodymyr Onyschuk said near a pile of Russian shell casings on his 2,000 hectare wheat and sunflower holding near Mykolaiv.

Crops will be vulnerable to fire caused by shelling, he said, and that could be “hell” for farmers when the harvest season begins in coming weeks.

Asked how Mykolaiv farmers planned to reduce exposure to Russian actions, he said: “Let us just survive until the next harvest.”


Russian forces cut off last bridge to Severodonetsk

Russian forces eliminated the last routes for evacuating citizens from the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, a Ukrainian official said, as the Kremlin pushed for victory in the Donbas region.

The last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, said regional governor Sergei Gaidai, adding that some 70% of the city was under Russian control.


Severodonetsk situation ‘extremely aggravated’: Governor

Luhansk’s governor has described the situation is Severodonetsk as “extremely aggravated”.

“The storming of the city has been going on for several days in a row. The enemy destroys high-rise buildings and industrial facilities with artillery,” Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram.

Each day people are killed, but their bodies are “difficult to reach due to the density of shelling,” he said.

There are “many damaged high-rise buildings in the old districts of Severodonetsk, some of which the Russian army shot to demolish the foundation,” Haidai added.


Russia’s defence industry could struggle with demands of Ukraine war: UK

Russia’s defence industry could struggle to further meet the demands of the war in Ukraine, partly due to the effects of sanctions and lack of expertise, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry has said.

A top official in Russia’s Military Industrial Commission predicted that defence spending could increase Russia’s defence budget by 20 percent, the ministry said.

“However, the industry could struggle to meet many of these requirements,” it added.

“Russia’s production of high-quality optics and advanced electronics likely remain troubled and could undermine its efforts to replace equipment lost in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

Pope Francis says he refuses distinction between ‘good and bad’ in Ukraine war: Papers

Pope Francis has refused the distinction between “good and bad” in the war in Ukraine, he was quoted as saying by daily La Stampa, which reported the Pope’s conversation with editors of Jesuit European cultural magazines.

Asked if he was in favour of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, the Pope answered: “No, I am not, I am simply opposed to reducing complexity to distinction between good and bad”.

Pope Francis hopes to meet Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church in September in Kazakhstan, he added.


Russian troops pushed Kyiv’s forces out of Severodonetsk city centre: ISW

Russian troops pushed Ukrainian forces away from the Severodonetsk city centre on Monday but did not fully capture the city, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

The institute also said that claims by Moscow-backed separatists that Ukrainian forces had destroyed the last bridge linking Severodonetsk to Lysychansk were likely false.

“Deputy Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Militia Eduard Basurin blamed Ukrainian forces for destroying the bridge (though it is highly unlikely Ukrainian forces would willingly destroy the bridge while any of their forces remained in Severodonetsk and this claim is likely false)…,” the ISW said.


Ukraine war and soaring costs shake Australian farmers’ confidence: Survey

About half of Australian farmers believe the war in Ukraine would hurt farm businesses, a survey has found.

Only 28 percent of farmers expected business conditions to improve in the next 12 months, compared with 31 percent in the previous quarter. Overall, farmers expected their incomes to be stable for the coming 12 months.

Although the war in Ukraine is driving up farms’ selling prices, especially for grains, those rises are needed to offset higher input costs, according to Rabobank, which conducted the survey.

The bank pointed to spiralling costs of fertilisers, fuel, freight and machinery – some also driven by the war – plus broader inflationary pressures in the Australian economy as weighing on sentiment.


Zelenskyy promises to ‘liberate’ taken Ukrainian territory

Ukraine will “liberate” all cities, towns and regions now occupied by Russia’s forces, the president has said in an encouraging address to the nation.

“We will come to Kherson. And ordinary Kherson residents will meet our army on the streets of the city … We will come to Melitopol. And we will return to all Melitopol residents the opportunity to live without fear,” Zelenskyy said.

“We will come to Mariupol. And we will liberate the city for the third time,” he said, explaining that the city was first liberated from the Nazis in 1943 and then again, on June 13, 2014, from Russian-backed separatists.

“We will come to Enerhodar. And I want to repeat to everyone in the city who took to the streets against the Russian military, who refuses to cooperate with the occupiers and who is waiting for us today. I want to repeat that we have not forgotten about our Enerhodar for a day,” he added.


More than 1,700 residents left occupied Kharkiv areas: Local official

More than 1,700 people managed to leave Russian-occupied territories of the Kharkiv region on Monday, the head of one of the region’s villages has said, according to the Interfax news agency.

“With the help of regional and district military administrations, local government bodies and volunteers managed to help people who independently reached the village of Pechenihy and crossed the hydroelectric dam on foot,” Alexander Gusarov said.

“For people who escaped from occupation hell to the territory controlled by Ukraine, the first necessary support has been provided,” he added.


Japan philanthropic group begins fund raising for Ukrainians

A Japanese foundation has announced it is launching a fundraising drive to provide more than 1,200 Ukrainian refugees in Japan with additional financial support for language studies and other needs.

Jumpei Sasakawa, executive director of the Nippon Foundation, said it aims to raise 1 billion yen ($7.4m) through cooperation with the United States and Ukrainian ambassadors.

The foundation has already pledged 5 billion yen ($37.2m) for the transportation and living costs of Ukrainian refugees. Japan has so far accepted more than 1,200 war-displaced Ukrainians since Russia invaded in late February.


Germany’s Scholz coy on possible Ukraine visit

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined to comment Monday on reports that he is planning to visit Ukraine together with his counterparts from France and Italy soon.

Scholz fobbed off questions about the reported travel plans, saying that he would not go beyond what his spokesperson had told reporters earlier in the day. The spokesperson had declined to discuss the reports.

While Germany has contributed considerable financial and military aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion three months ago, Scholz’s government has been criticised both at home and abroad for being slower to do so than the US and some smaller European countries.

Scholz pushed back against such criticism, saying “it would be good if those who express their views on this or that issue spent a moment thinking about it first.”


Colombia stepping up coal, petroleum production amid Ukraine war

Colombia is set to increase coal and petroleum production as it steps up to fill the void created by sanctions against Russia, Energy Minister Diego Mesa has said.

The Andean country has restarted coal exports to Ireland, Mesa said on the sidelines of Canada’s prospectors and developers conference in Toronto. Ireland stopped buying Colombian coal in 2016 on human rights concerns.

“Six years ago Ireland had replaced Colombian coal with Russian coal … but at the beginning of the war they came knocking at our doors again,” Mesa said.


Blinken discusses Ukraine in talks with Korean counterpart in Washington

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with his South Korean counterpart Park Jin in Washington, DC, and discussed a wide range of issues, including Ukraine.

“We are standing together on global security challenges, including [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine,” Blinken said after the meeting. “Since the war began in February the Republic of Korea has coordinated sanctions and export controls alongside the United States and other allies and partners.”

He said South Korea also has offered Ukraine “significant” economic and humanitarian support.


Blinken holds call with British counterpart

Blinken has held a call with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and discussed the continued coordination of support for Ukraine.

“Secretary Blinken expressed his concern regarding recent reports of a sham ‘trial’ and its judgments against lawful combatants serving in Ukraine’s Armed Forces,” the State Department said in a readout of the talks.

The battle of Donbas could prove decisive in Ukraine war

If Russia prevails in the battle of Donbas, it will mean that Ukraine loses not only land but perhaps the bulk of its most capable military forces, opening the way for Moscow to grab more territory and dictate its terms to Kyiv.

A Russian failure in the battle could lay the grounds for a Ukrainian counteroffensive – and possibly lead to political upheaval for the Kremlin.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov described the combat situation as “extremely difficult”, using a reference to an ancient deity of sacrifice by saying: “The Russian Moloch has plenty of means to devour human lives to satisfy its imperial ego.”


Battle for Severodonetsk taking ‘terrifying’ human toll: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Ukraine was paying a very high price in the battle for the Donbas, as Russian forces threaten to take the strategic eastern city of Severodonetsk.

“The price of this battle for us is very high. It’s just scary,” Zelenskyy said in his daily address to the Ukrainian people.

“The battle for the Donbas will without doubt be remembered in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe,” he added. “We are dealing with  absolute evil. And we have no choice but to move forward and free our territory.”


Ukraine exhumes seven bodies of people it says were killed by Russian forces

Ukrainian investigators have exhumed seven bodies from makeshift graves in a forest near Kyiv.

The bodies were found outside the village of Vorzel, less than 10km (6 miles) from the town of Bucha, where Kyiv alleges that Russian forces who occupied the area carried out systematic executions in an abortive attempt to capture the capital. Russia denies that.

“This is another sadistic crime of the Russian army in the Kyiv region,” regional police chief Andriy Nyebytov said on Facebook.


 Industrial zone sheltering civilians under fire

An industrial zone in Severodonetsk where about 500 civilians are sheltering is under heavy artillery fire from Russian forces, the regional governor said on Monday.

Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine that includes Severodonetsk, said on Facebook that Russian forces controlled about 70 percent of the city and fighting there was fierce.


 Ukrainian forces pushed back from centre of Severodonetsk

Ukraine said on Monday that its forces have been pushed back from the centre of the eastern city of Severodonetsk.

“The enemy, with support of artillery, carried out assault operations in the city of Severodonetsk, had partial success, pushed our units away from the city centre,” the Ukrainian military said on Facebook.

Severodonetsk has become the epicentre of the wider battle for control over Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Russian forces have taken most of Severodonetsk, having pulverized parts of the city in one of the bloodiest assaults since the Kremlin unleashed its invasion on February 24.


 Former Russian PM says ‘Putin is out of it’

Mikhail Kasyanov, Russian prime minister between 2000 and 2004 and now a member of the opposition, said in an interview with AFP that Putin’s war on Ukraine has convinced him that: “Putin is already out of it. Not in a medical sense but in political terms.”

“I knew a different Putin,” he said.

Kasyanov also predicted the war could last for up to two years and that it is imperative that Ukraine wins. “If Ukraine falls, the Baltic states will be next”.


 Russia destroys bridge in Severodonetsk, leaving civilians only one way out

Russia on Sunday destroyed a bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River linking Severodonetsk with its twin city of Lysychansk. Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk province, said that means that only one of the city’s three bridges are still standing.

“If after new shelling the bridge collapses, the city will truly be cut off. There will be no way of leaving Severodonetsk in a vehicle,” he said, noting the lack of a cease-fire agreement and no agreed evacuation corridors.

“About 500 civilians remain on the territory of the Azot plant in Severodonetsk, 40 of them are children. Sometimes the military manages to evacuate someone,” Gaidai said.


Amnesty accuses Russia of war crimes in Kharkiv

Amnesty International on Monday accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, saying attacks on Kharkiv, many using banned cluster bombs, had killed 606 civilians so far, and wounded 1,248 others..

“People have been killed in their homes and in the streets, in playgrounds and in cemeteries, while queueing for humanitarian aid, or shopping for food and medicine,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser. “The Russian forces responsible for these horrific attacks must be held accountable.”

The report details how Russian forces began targeting civilian areas of Kharkiv on the first day of the invasion on February 24.


Ukraine pleads for faster deliveries of weapons

Ukraine pleaded to Western countries for faster deliveries of weapons as better-armed Russian forces pounded the east of the country, and for humanitarian support to combat growing outbreaks of deadly diseases.

In Sievierodonetsk, the small city that has become the focus of Russia’s advance in eastern Ukraine and one of the bloodiest flashpoints in a war well into its fourth month, further heavy fighting was reported.

The war in the east, where Russia is focussing its attention, is now primarily an artillery battle in which Kyiv is severely outgunned, Ukrainian officials say.


French experts collect evidence of possible war crimes in Chernihiv

Weapons experts from France are helping their Ukrainian counterparts collect evidence of possible Russian war crimes in the northern region of Chernihiv, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said on Friday.

The French Gendarmerie’s experts, including specialists in drone modelling, ballistics and weapons of mass destruction, have been collecting evidence at sites of destruction from Russian shelling.

They replaced group of gendarmerie forensic experts who arrived in mid-April to help establish what happened in Bucha, near Kyiv, where the killing of many civilians provoked a global outcry.


Zelensky didn’t want to hear it: Biden

US President Joe Biden said Friday that his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky “didn’t want to hear” American warnings ahead of Russia’s invasion of his country. “I know a lot of people thought I was exaggerating,” Biden said at a fundraising reception in Los Angeles, referring to his forewarning of the possibility of a Russian attack.

“But I knew we had data to sustain (the assessment),” he added in front of reporters.

“(Russian President Vladimir Putin) was gonna go into the border. And there was no doubt, and Zelensky didn’t want to hear it, nor did a lot of people. I understand why they didn’t want to hear it, but he went in.”

The United States began raising the alarm over Russia’s preparations for an invasion of Ukraine well before Putin announced the “special operation” against the country on February 24.


Russia says will respond to NATO build up in Poland

Russia’s foreign ministry has said that Moscow’s response to a build up of NATO forces in Poland will be proportionate, Interfax news agency reported, citing a Russian diplomat.

“A response, as always, will be proportionate and appropriate, intended to neutralise potential threats to the security of the Russian Federation,” Oleg Tyapkin, the head of a foreign ministry department in charge of Russian relations with Europe, was quoted as saying.


Ukraine reports deaths of 24 more children in Mariupol

The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general says it has learned about the deaths of 24 more children in Mariupol, bringing the total to 287 children killed since the start of the Russian invasion.

“During the recording of criminal offences, it has become known that 24 more children died in Mariupol, Donetsk region, as a result of the indiscriminate shelling by the Russian military,” the office said on the Telegram messaging app.

“These figures are not final, as work is underway to establish them in places of active hostilities, in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories.”

Russia has denied targeting civilians and has rejected allegations of war crimes.


River crossings to become key in determining course of war: UK

River crossings will be among the most important determining factors in the course of the war in the coming months, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry says.

The ministry said Russia’s 90km (56 miles) key front line in the Donbas lay to the west of the Siverskyi Donets River, which Russian forces have previously been unable to cross. Ukrainian officials said on Sunday that Russian troops had damaged the bridge over the river which linked Severodonetsk with its twin city of Lysychansk.

“To achieve success in the current operational phase of its Donbas offensive, Russia is either going to have to complete ambitious flanking actions, or conduct assault river crossings,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

“Ukrainian forces have often managed to demolish bridges before they withdraw, while Russia has struggled to put in place the complex coordination necessary to conduct successful, large scale river crossings under fire,” it added.


Russian cluster bombs kill one, injure five in Kryvyi Rih

Russian forces dropped cluster bombs on a residential area in the Kryvyi Rih region of Dnipropetrovsk, killing one woman and wounding five people, the head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration has said.

Russians also fired on the Zelenodolsk community which caused a house fire, but no victims, Oleksandr Vilkul wrote on Telegram.


About 500 civilians hiding at Severodonetsk Azot plant: Governor

The governor of Luhansk has said nearly 500 civilians remain in hiding at the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk.

“About 500 civilians remain on the territory of the Azot plant … 40 of them are children. Sometimes the military manages to evacuate someone,” Haidai said on Sunday.


Canada’s FM decries official’s visit to Russian embassy event

It was “unacceptable” for a Canadian official to have attended Russia Day celebrations at the country’s embassy in Ottawa, Canada’s foreign affairs minister has said.

A deputy protocol chief in Canada’s global affairs department, Yasemin Heinbecker, attended Friday’s event, along with representatives of Egypt, Pakistan and some African nations, the Globe and Mail newspaper said in a report.

“No Canadian representative should have attended the event hosted at the Russian embassy and no Canadian representative will attend this kind of event again,” Melanie Joly said in a Twitter post.

Joly also reiterated Canada’s support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.


Russian forces should be seizing bridges rather than destroying them: ISW

Russian forces should, in principle, be seeking to seize bridges rather than destroy them, since Russian troops have struggled to get across the Siverskyi Donetsk River in the past, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said.

Ukrainian officials recently said that Russia had destroyed the bridge over the river, which links Severodonetsk with Lysychansk, cutting off evacuation routes for civilians. The ISW said this move was likely an attempt to cut Ukrainian ground lines of communication that run from Bakhmut to Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

“They could hope to trap Ukrainian defenders in Severodonetsk by cutting off their retreat, but it seems unlikely that the benefit of catching a relatively small number of defenders would be worth the cost of imposing a contested river crossing on Russian troops,” the institute said in its latest offensive assessment on June 12.

The ISW said Russian forces likely expected to break out of their positions around Toshkivna or from Popasna, and to encircle Lysychansk or attack it from the west bank of the river, “thereby obviating the need to seize the bridges or conduct an opposed crossing”.


Ukraine uncovers 50 Russian agents in Lysychansk: Governor

Ukraine has uncovered sabotage activities among 50 people in Lysychansk who were leaking Ukraine’s operational information to Russian forces to help Moscow with its offensive, the governor of Luhansk has said.

Haidai said Ukraine’s security services and police searched through shared network data and found the mobile devices of people who “shared information too vividly with Russian Telegram channels”.

“Traitors. They went to our humanitarian headquarters to use the Internet to leak information to the Russians, and then the cities burned,” Haidai wrote on Facebook.

“It is noteworthy that Russian agents transmitted data through the Starlink satellite network… They cheated on Ukraine. They knew that they were killing and destroying by their actions. Why did you betray your own?” Haidai wrote without saying what the consequences were for such actions.


Russian mountaineer hoists Ukrainian flag on Mt Everest

A Russian mountain climber and blogger has made a stand against her country’s invasion of Ukraine by unfurling the Ukrainian flag when she reached the top of Mount Everest.

Ekaterina Lipka’s photo on the summit of Everest has gone viral after being shared by Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria, Olexander Scherba, on Twitter last Sunday.

The climber also posted a photo of herself on the mountain with a sign that said “Free Navalny”, in support of Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and opposition leader in Russia who in March was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony.



Ukrainian officials say war in the east depends on Western arms supplies

The war in the east, where Russia is focussing its attention, is now primarily an artillery battle in which Kyiv is severely outgunned, Ukrainian officials say. That means the tide of events could be turned only if Washington and others fulfil promises to send more and better weaponry, including rocket systems.

“This is an artillery war now,” Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

“Everything now depends on what [the West] gives us. Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces.”


Britain says Russian forces have not made advances into the south of Severodonetsk

Russian forces around Ukraine’s Severodonetsk have not made advances into the south of the city, Britain’s Defence Ministry has said in its daily intelligence update.

“Intense street to street fighting is ongoing and both sides are likely suffering high numbers of casualties,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.

It added Russian medium bombers have likely launched dozens of 1960s era Kh-22 (NATO designation, AS-4 KITCHEN) air-launched, heavy anti-ship missiles, which are “highly inaccurate and can therefore cause significant collateral damage and civilian casualties.”


Russian passports to be distributed in parts of Zaporizhzhya

Russian passports will be distributed in parts of Zaporizhzhya starting on Saturday, a member of the occupying authority has said.

Recipients will be considered full Russian citizens, Vladimir Rogov told Russian broadcaster Rossiya-24.

Rogov said more than 70,000 people had submitted applications in the region. Moscow simplified the process for receiving a Russian passport in May and proceeded to distribute the documents in occupied areas.


French experts collect evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine’s Chernihiv

Weapons experts from France are helping their Ukrainian counterparts to collect evidence of possible Russian war crimes in the northern region of Chernihiv, Ukraine’s prosecutor general has said.

“They work in the Chernihiv region and conduct research at sites destroyed by shelling,” Iryna Venediktova wrote on her Facebook account. “These war crimes must be punished, and we are ready to do together everything to do so.”

The French Gendarmerie’s experts include specialists in drone modelling, ballistics and weapons of mass destruction.


Mariupol mayor fears thousands may die from cholera

The mayor of the bombed out port city of Mariupol has said sanitation systems were broken and some wells had been contaminated by corpses, sparking an “outbreak of dysentery and cholera.”

Vadym Boichenko told national television that the disease was likely to claim thousands more lives on top of the estimated 20,000 residents killed by the conflict.

He called on the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to establish a humanitarian corridor to allow remaining residents to leave the city, which is now under Russian control.


Zelenskyy says new air strikes launched in Russian-held Kherson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Kyiv has launched new air strikes in the captured southern region of Kherson, one of the first areas to be taken by Russia after the February 24 invasion, as “very difficult battles” are ongoing in the eastern Donbas region.


Zelenskyy to address Shangri-La Dialogue

Zelenskyy is due to address the Shangri-La Dialogue in a few hours.

He’ll speak to the forum in Singapore by video link at 4pm (08:00 GMT).

While the SLD is an Asia Pacific security forum, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has featured prominently with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin warning Putin’s decision to invade a sovereign state was an example of “what happens when oppressors trample on the rules that protect us all”.


Biden says Zelenskyy ‘didn’t want to hear it’ on Russian invasion

US President Joe Biden has said that Zelenskyy “didn’t want to hear it” when US intelligence had information that Russia was preparing to invade, according to the Associated Press.

“Nothing like this has happened since World War II. I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating. But I knew we had data to sustain he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) was going to go in, off the border,” Biden told Democratic donors in Los Angeles.

“There was no doubt. And Zelenskyy didn’t want to hear it.”


Russia-China military cooperation raises Asia Pacific security concerns: Japan

Japan’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi has warned military cooperation between China and Russia has intensified security concerns concerns in the Asia Pacific.

Last month, China and Russia conducted a joint aerial patrol in waters close to Japan and Taiwan, their first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Joint military operations between these two strong military powers will undoubtedly increase concern among other countries,” Kishi said.

Security and stability of the Taiwan Strait was also important for the security of Japan and the wider world, Kishi added, calling China a “nation of concern”.


US defence secretary warns of ‘chaos and turmoil’

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has given an impassioned defence of the international rules-based order at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

He told delegates at the security summit that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an “indefensible assault” on a peaceful neighbour.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is what happens when oppressors trample on the rules that protect us all,” he said. “It’s what happens when big powers decide their imperial appetites matter more than their smaller neighbours.”

Austin warned such disregard for the rules-based international order risked creating a “world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in”.


EU unity must not be compromised by Ukraine candidate status: France

A decision to give Ukraine candidate status to the European Union has to be done without weakening the bloc and to ensure Kyiv is not left in limbo for years, a French presidential official has said.

The European Commission will give its opinion on Ukraine’s candidacy request on June 17, and the EU’s heads of state are expected to discuss the issue at a summit a week later.

“We know that there are different sensitivities on the subject within the European Union,” the French presidential source told reporters.

“We will pay attention to the unity of the European Council. We believe also that the European Union must come out of this crisis in Ukraine stronger and must not come out weakened.”


Growing concerns about Russian artillery superiority: ISW

The Institute for the Study of War says Ukraine is making more urgent requests for sophisticated Western weaponry as a result of concerns about Russia’s superiority in artillery.

It cites a senior military intelligence official saying that Russian troops have 10 to 15 artillery pieces for every one held by Ukrainian forces.

“Considering the current prevalence of protracted positional battles, especially in the Severodonetsk- Lysychansk area, Ukrainian forces urgently need fresh supplies of artillery systems,” ISW said in its latest update on the war. “As Ukrainian forces use the last of their stocks of Soviet-era weapon systems and munitions, they will require consistent Western support to transition to new supply chains of ammunition and artillery systems. Effective artillery will be increasingly decisive in the largely static fighting in eastern Ukraine.”


US inflation at new 40-year high as price increases spread

The prices of gas, food and most other goods and services in the United States jumped in May, the Labor Department has said, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs.

The report underscored fears that inflation is spreading well beyond energy and goods whose prices are being driven up by clogged supply chains and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It also sent stock prices tumbling.

“Virtually every sector has higher-than-normal inflation,” said Ethan Harris, head of global economic research at Bank of America. “It’s made its way into every nook and cranny of the economy. That’s the thing that makes it concerning because it means it’s likely to persist.”


Germany pledges medical aid to Ukraine

Germany will help Ukraine provide medical help for war victims by helping build trauma centres for the wounded, donating prosthetic limbs and deploying German doctors to the country, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has said.

“Ukraine needs humanitarian aid just as urgently as it needs our military support,” the minister said during a visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The aid will include help to supply prostheses, deploying 200 doctors in Ukraine, setting up training on treating burns and connecting some hospitals in Ukraine to a telemedicine service, the ministry said in a statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says some 290 attacks on healthcare facilities have been recorded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.



Lavrov says foreign fighters sentenced to death committed crimes in Donetsk

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that the two Britons and one Moroccan sentenced to death on Thursday in the Donetsk People’s Republic had committed crimes on the territory of the self-proclaimed state trying to break away from Ukraine.

Lavrov said: “At the moment, the trials you mentioned are being held on the basis of the legislation of the Donetsk People’s Republic, because the crimes in question were committed on the DPR’s territory.”


NATO deputy chief Geoana “confident” Sweden and Finland will join NATO

NATO’s deputy chief is confident that member candidates Sweden and Finland will join the defensive alliance despite objections from Turkey, he told the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday.

“We are confident that Sweden and Finland will join our ranks,” Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said.



Russia uses trial of foreigners to raise stakes over talks says Ukraine

Russia wants to use three foreigners who were captured while fighting for Ukraine and sentenced to death as “hostages” to put pressure on the West over peace negotiations, a senior Ukrainian official said.


European Parliament “firmly behind” Ukraine’s EU bid says parliament’s president

The European Union’s parliament supports Ukraine’s bid to achieve candidate status to join the European Union, the parliament’s president Roberta Metsola said on Friday at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit.

“The EU parliament stands firmly behind Ukraine’s bid to receive EU candidate status,” Metsola said.


Russia seeks weak points in Ukrainian defences near key river: Ukraine’s defence ministry 

Russia is looking for weak points in Ukrainian defences near the Siverskyi Donets River in east of the country, said the Ukrainian defence ministry.

Speaking on national television, Ukrainian defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had not abandoned attempts to launch storming operations in the area.

If Russia captures the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk on the Siverskyi Donets, it will hold all of Luhansk, one of two provinces in the Donbas region that Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.


Sweden seeks ‘constructive’ talks with Turkey over NATO bid

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde has said Sweden aims to make constructive progress in talks with Turkey over the Nordic country’s application to join NATO.

“Our application has received broad support among NATO members,” she said in a foreign policy declaration after Sweden, alongside Finland, applied last month to join the military alliance as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Our ambition is to, in a constructive spirit, make progress on the questions that Turkey has raised,” she told parliament.


Hungary price caps could stay in place if war is entrenched, Orban says

Hungary’s price caps on fuel, some basic foods and energy could stay in place for a longer period if the war in Ukraine is entrenched, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday. Orban told public radio that he would like to see the measures extended, adding however that more talks were needed before a final decision is made.


Russian gas embargo would destroy European economy, Orban says

An EU embargo on Russian gas imports would destroy the European economy, already grappling with surging inflation due to higher energy prices, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.

Orban also told public radio that without price caps in place on fuels, some basic foods and retail energy, Hungarian inflation, which accelerated to 10.7 percent in May, would be running at 15 to 16 percent.


Russia says UK ‘often hysterical’, after Donetsk death sentences

Russia said on Friday that Britain should appeal to the authorities of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) – internationally recognised as part of Ukraine, over two British citizens sentenced to death on Thursday by a Donetsk court.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram that Britain’s reaction to such cases was “often hysterical”. Russia describes the two Britons and one Moroccan, who had been captured serving with Ukrainian forces in east Ukraine, as “mercenaries”. The British government says they are prisoners of war, entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention.


Judgement against jailed British men breaches Geneva convention, says UK’s foreign minister

Britain’s foreign minister Liz Truss said on Friday that the judgement against two British men sentenced to death by a court in one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine was a breach of the Geneva convention. “The judgement against them is an egregious breach of the Geneva convention,” Truss said in a tweet after she spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to discuss efforts to secure the release of prisoners of war held by  Russian proxies. 


‘Battles for every house and street’ raging in Severdonetsk: Governor

The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region says “battles are going on for every house and every street” in the city of Severdonetsk.

Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press news agency that Kyiv’s troops currently control an industrial area on the edge of the city, which has been the focus of Russia’s offensive in recent days.


Russian gas embargo would destroy European economy: Orban

An EU embargo on Russian gas imports would destroy the European economy, already grappling with surging inflation due to higher energy prices, Hungary’s prime minister has argued.


Viktor Orban told public radio that without price caps in place on fuels, some basic foods and retail energy, Hungarian inflation, which accelerated to 10.7 percent in May, would be running at 15 to 16 percent.

Orban said he would like to see the price cap measures extended, adding, however, that more talks were needed before a final decision is made.


Canada cracks down on more than $314m in Russian assets, transactions

Canadian police have said that they cracked down on more than 400 million Canadian dollars ($314.8m) in Russian assets and transactions involving people sanctioned as a result of Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement on Thursday that from February 24 to June 7, 123 million Canadian dollars ($98.2m) of Russian assets in Canada had been effectively frozen and a further 289 million Canadian dollars ($230.7m) in transactions had been blocked. It gave no details.

In April, Ottawa said it would change its sanctions law to allow for seized and sanctioned foreign assets to be redistributed as compensation to victims or to help in rebuilding a foreign state from war.


Zelenskyy calls on EU leaders to support Ukraine’s membership

In his nightly address Zelenskyy appealed to EU leaders to support Ukraine’s membership in the bloc.

“Most Europeans support the integration of Ukraine. And if the Europeans support it, then politicians who still have doubts in some countries should not set themselves against people, society and the very course of European history.”

European heads of state and government are expected to consider Ukraine’s bid for EU candidate status at the end of June. The European Parliament has already passed a resolution in favour of making Ukraine a membership candidate.


Zelenskyy cites ‘positive’ military news in Zaporizhzhia region

Zelenskyy has reported “positive” news from the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, where he said Ukraine’s forces were managing to thwart Russian troops.

In a video address, Zelenskyy also said Ukrainian forces were gradually advancing in the Kharkiv region, east of Kyiv, “liberating our land.”


Ukrainian official responds to Putin’s remarks

A senior advisor to Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak has responded to Putin’s earlier remarks likening himself to Peter the Great, calling them an attempt to legalise the theft of land.


Zelenskyy speaks to French counterpart Macron

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he spoke to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and provided him with an update on the situation on war’s front lines.

Zelenskyy said the two leaders also discussed additional defence support for Ukraine.

“Special attention was paid to Ukraine’s path to the #EU, we are coordinating steps,” the Ukrainian president said on Twitter.


Luhansk region to send ‘liberated’ grain to Russia: TASS

One of two breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions backed by Moscow has said it would soon start rail shipments to Russia of grain that its troops had “liberated”, the TASS news agency reported.

Yuri Pronko, agricultural minister of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic, said that until now, the grain had been sent by truck in relatively small amounts.

“Tomorrow is a historical moment – the first wagons of grain will go Russia, 50 wagons, more than 3,000 tonnes,” TASS cited him as saying.


Ukraine blasts ‘show trial’ of foreign nationals

The death sentences handed down by a pro-Russian separatist court to British and Moroccan nationals fighting for Ukraine should be considered null and void, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman has said.

“The so-called ‘trial’ of the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the occupied Ukrainian territories is of no significance,” Oleh Nikolenko told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

“Such show trials put the interests of propaganda above the law and morality; they undermine the mechanisms for the return of prisoners of war. The Ukrainian government will continue to make every effort to release all the defenders of Ukraine,” Nikolenko added.


Street battles rage in eastern Ukraine’s Severodonetsk

Ukrainian forces are holding their positions in intense street fighting in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, where Russians were “dying like flies”, the regional governor has said, but they faced a “catastrophic” lack of artillery.

The battle amid the ruins of Severodonetsk, a small industrial city, has become one of the war’s bloodiest, with Russia concentrating its invasion force there. Both sides say they have inflicted massive casualties.

“They [the Russians] are dying like flies,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said in an online post. “Fierce fighting continues inside Severodonetsk.”


Mayor of Ukraine’s Sievierodonetsk says evacuation impossible, 10,000 civilians remain

Ukrainian forces still hold the industrial zone and adjacent areas in the city of Severodonetsk , and the situation is “difficult but manageable”, Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said on Thursday. He said defence lines were holding despite intense Russian artillery fire but that it was now impossible to evacuate people from Severodonetsk. He said about 10,000 civilians remained in the city, which is now the main focus of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.


Western arms would end Severodonetsk fight in ‘2-3 days’ 

Long-range artillery supplied by the West would give Ukraine the firepower it needs to beat back Russian forces and capture Severodonetsk within days, a regional Ukrainian official said Thursday.

“As soon as we have long-range artillery to be able to conduct duels with Russian artillery, our special forces can clean up the city in two to three days,” Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said in an interview distributed on his official social media channels.


 Russian forces shell Ukraine’s Severodonetsk, street fighting rages

Fighting raged on the streets of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday and Russian forces were destroying “everything that can be used for defence”, the regional governor said.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russia was shelling areas of the city that are still controlled by Ukraine but that Ukrainian forces would be able to “clean up” in the city once they received long-range artillery.


 Ukraine’s president says millions could starve because Russia is blockading ports

Millions of people could starve because of Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday. Warning that the world was on the brink of a “terrible food crisis”, he said in a televised statement that Ukraine was unable to export wheat, corn, oil and other products and added: “Millions of people may starve if the Russian blockade of the Black Sea continues.”


 Russian forces targeting south of Izium: UK

Russian forces have increased their efforts to advance to the south of the town of Izium in eastern Ukraine, likely wanting to secure further options in the region, according to the latest British military update.

“Russia’s progress on the Izium axis had remained stalled since April, after Ukrainian forces made good use of the terrain to slow Russia’s advance,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

“Russia likely seeks to regain momentum in this area in order to put further pressure on Severodonetsk, and to give it the option of advancing deeper into the Donetsk Oblast.”


Fate of Donbas’ being decided in Severodonetsk, Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Severodonetsk the “epicenter” of the battle for the Donbas.

“This is a very fierce battle, very hard, perhaps one of the most difficult of the entire war,” he said in his nightly video address, which was recorded in the street outside his office in Kyiv.

He said the Ukrainian army is defending its positions and inflicting real losses on the Russian forces.

“In many ways, it is there that the fate of our Donbas is being decided,” Zelensky said.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai acknowledged the difficulties of battling Russian forces, saying, “Maybe we will have to retreat, but right now battles are ongoing in the city.”

“Everything the Russian army has — artillery, mortars, tanks, aviation — all of that, they’re using in Severodonetsk in order to wipe the city off the face of the Earth and capture it completely,” he said.


 Millions hurt as Ukraine war hikes prices, UN says

A UN report says the war in Ukraine is increasing the suffering of millions of people by escalating food and energy prices, coming on top of ills from a growing financial crisis, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

The report by the UN Global Crisis Response Group released Wednesday says the war “has exacerbated a global cost-of-living crisis unseen in at least a generation” and is undermining the UN goal of ending extreme poverty around the world by 2030.

The group was appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to assess the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Guterres says the report makes clear that “the war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe and speeding up.”


British American Tobacco says talks to transfer Russia business ongoing

British American Tobacco says it is still working towards transferring its Russian business and that it is confident in delivering its financial targets irrespective of how long it takes to offload the unit.

The maker of Lucky Strike and Newport cigarettes, which stuck to its 2022 revenue and earnings forecast, says annual global tobacco industry volume is seen down 3 percent due to the uncertainty over the Ukraine-Russia conflict.


Russia’s deputy PM says economy growing despite sanctions: Tass

Russia’s deputy prime minister says the country’s economy has been growing despite sanctions, Tass news reports.

“Thanks to the measures taken by the President of the Russian Federation, the government and the Bank of Russia, the economic war against our country did not go according to the plan of those who unleashed it,” Alexei Overchuk said at a conference on cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan in the latter’s capital Nur-Sultan.

He said Russia’s economy grew by about 1.7 percent over the last four months and that, “in May, inflation practically stopped, the last week of May its level was 0 percent, last week we went into deflation,” Overchuk said.


No legal obligation for Russia to help export Ukraine’s grain: Official

Russia has no legal obligation to facilitate the export of grain from Ukraine, a top official from Russia’s committee on constitutional legislation and state-building says.

“Russia simply has no legal obligations to build logistics chains for the export of grain from Ukraine or somehow facilitate this export,” Andrey Klishas wrote on Telegram.


Four killed, 11 injured in Donetsk: Governor

Russian forces have killed four civilians and injured another 11 in Donetsk on Wednesday, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Kyrylenko said on Telegram that three civilians died in the town of Kurakhove and one in Avdiivka and that there had been “four victims in Mariupol, including two children”, without specifying whether they were killed or injured.

He added that the exact number of victims in occupied Mariupol and Volnovakha was currently unknown.


US, China to clash on Ukraine at Shangri-La Dialogue: Reuters

The US and China are expected to use the upcoming Shangri-La Dialogue – which attracts the world’s top-level military officials, diplomats and weapons makers – to spar over everything from Taiwan’s sovereignty to the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

On the sidelines of the summit, to take place June 10-12 in Singapore, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe are expected to hold their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office more than two years ago.

Although the summit is focused on Asian security issues, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be central to discussions. Ukraine will send a delegation to the meeting but Russia will not be attending, a source familiar with the list of attendees told Reuters.


Russian troops trying to lower Ukrainian soldiers’ morale: ISW

Russian forces are using psychological tactics to damage the morale of Ukrainian soldiers, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says.

ISW cited several sources, including Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), which said Russian forces were sending threatening messages to Kyiv’s soldiers, “calling on them to … surrender, or defect to Russia”.

According to the GUR, the messages were being sent on a number of platforms including SMS, Telegram, Viber, Signal, and WhatsApp.

The ISW also cited Ukrainian military expert Dmytro Snegirov who noted that Russian propagandists were disseminating information that the battle for Severodonetsk would become the “next Mariupol.”


Russia ‘pounding’ Severodonetsk: Adviser

An adviser to Zelenskyy’s office says Russian troops changed tactics in the battle for Severodonetsk.

Oleksiy Arestovych said Wednesday that Russian soldiers had retreated from the city and were now pounding it with artillery and air attacks. As a result, he said, the city centre is deserted.

In his daily online interview, Arestovych said: “They retreated, our troops retreated, so the artillery hits an empty place. They are hitting hard without any particular success.”


Arctic Council decisions without Russia ‘illegitimate’: Ambassador

Decisions taken by the Arctic Council without the participation of Russia will be illegitimate and violate the principle of consensus, Russia’s ambassador to the US says, according to state-owned Tass news agency.

Antonov was speaking in relation to Wednesday’s statement from the council that it was resuming “limited” activities without Russia’s participation.

On March 3, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States – the “Arctic 7” – suspended their work in the council due to Russia’s Ukraine invasion.


Russia still feels too strong to negotiate: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says that Russia will not join negotiations to end the war now “because Russia can still feel its power”.

Speaking via video link to US corporate leaders Wednesday through a translator, he added: “We need to weaken Russia and the world is supposed to do it.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine is doing its part on the battlefield and called for even tougher sanctions to weaken Russia economically.


Russia, Turkey support safe corridor for grains shipments

Russia and Turkey say they support a safe corridor in the Black Sea for Ukrainian grain exports, but Kyiv rejected the proposal, saying it was not credible.

This came after a meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. Lavrov repeated earlier promises by Putin that Moscow would not use the safe corridors to launch an attack, but Ukrainian and EU officials cast doubt on Putin’s pledge.

Turkey said it would facilitate and protect the movement of grain in the Black Sea, but the head of Ukraine’s grain traders group responded with: “Turkey doesn’t have enough power in the Black Sea to guarantee security of cargo and Ukrainian ports.”

Ukrainian Grain Union Chief Serhiy Ivashchenko said Wednesday it would take three to four months to remove sea mines and also alleged that, contrary to their claims, it was Russia that mined the area.


Satellite imagery shows destruction in Severodonetsk and Rubizhne

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies collected on Monday shows significant damage and destruction in the city of Severodonetsk and nearby Rubizhne.

“Russian multiple rocket launchers, self-propelled and towed artillery are deployed to the northeast and oriented in firing positions toward the cities,” the US company said in a release.

Ukrainian officials had said their forces staged a surprise counterattack last week, driving the Russians from part of the city centre.

Before that, Russia had seemed on the verge of encircling Ukraine’s garrison in Luhansk, attempting to cut off the main road to Severodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk.



Ukraine says it is holding off Russian assault in Severodonetsk

Ukrainian forces were successfully holding out against the assault in Severodonetsk, the general staff said on Wednesday, while Russian troops were bringing in new resources towards Donbas in an intense battle for control of the eastern region.

Russia on Tuesday claimed residential areas had been “fully liberated” but that Ukrainian forces still hold the industrial zone and surrounding settlements.

Ukrainian officials later countered that the Russians weren’t in control of the city.

The cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river, are the last areas still under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk, which together with Donetsk forms the Donbas region. 


Russia likely to use Kherson as ‘evidence’ of improving Ukrainian living standards: UK

After forcefully aligning the self-declared administration of occupied Kherson with Russia, Moscow is “highly likely” to claim the region as “evidence” of improving Ukrainian living standards, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

“In the occupied Kherson region, Russia is forcibly aligning its administration with that of the Russian Federation by introducing the Russian rouble as legal tender and employing Russian teachers to introduce the Russian curriculum and language to schools,” the ministry said on Twitter.

“Russia will highly likely claim its occupation of Kherson as evidence of delivering improved governance and living standards to the Ukrainian people,” it added.

The ministry also said that Russia has continued to attack Severodonetsk from three directions but it was unlikely either side had gained significant ground in the last 24 hours.


Norway donates 22 howitzers to Ukraine

Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, including spare parts, ammunition and other gear, the Norwegian defence ministry has said.

“The Norwegian government has waited to publicly announce the donation for security reasons. Future donations may not be announced or commented upon,” it said in a statement.


Russia returns 210 dead Mariupol defenders

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency says Russia has so far turned over the bodies of 210 Ukrainian fighters killed in the battle for Mariupol. It says most of them were among the last holdouts in the Azovstal steelworks.

The agency did not specify Tuesday how many more bodies are believed to remain in the rubble of the plant.

Russia now controls the destroyed port city. It began turning over bodies last week. Ukraine said Saturday that the two sides had exchanged 320 bodies, with each getting back 160. It is unclear whether any more bodies have been given to Russia.

The Ukrainian fighters defended the steelworks for nearly three months before surrendering in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.


IAEA says Chernobyl radiation detectors back online, levels normal

Radiation detectors in the Exclusion Zone around Ukraine’s defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant are back online for the first time since Russia seized the area on February 24, and radiation levels are normal, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.

“Most of the 39 detectors sending data from the Exclusion Zone … are now visible on the IRMIS (International Radiation Monitoring Information System) map,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement. “The measurements received so far indicated radiation levels in line with those measured before the conflict.”


Russian cosmonaut who set space endurance record dies

Veteran Russian cosmonaut Valery Ryumin, who set space endurance records on Soviet missions, then returned to orbit after a long absence to fly on a US space shuttle, has died at the age of 82.

Ryumin went into space four times, including to the space stations Salyut-7 and Mir after becoming a cosmonaut in 1973. He logged a total of 371 days in space in two short missions and two record-setting long-duration flights.

“We have lost a comrade and a friend,” Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Roscosmos space agency, said in a statement. “This is an irreparable loss for all of us. I express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Valery Viktorovich. The memory of him will forever remain in our hearts.”

Ryumin will be buried Thursday at a military cemetery outside Moscow, Tass reported.


US deputy secretary of state meets Ukraine counterpart in Seoul

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Dmytro Senik in Seoul on Tuesday.

Sherman and Senik discussed the war’s impact on global food security and how to get Ukraine’s grain to international markets, according to a statement from the US state department.

“The deputy secretary emphasised the United States’ robust, continued support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s unprovoked aggression,” the statement said adding that Sherman updated Senik on US assistance including “budgetary support and aid for long-term efforts”.



Shelling kills three and injures six in Kharkiv: Governor

Russian forces shelled Kharkiv and its regional villages of Cherkaska Lozova, Slatyne and Korobochkyne on Tuesday, killing at least three people and injuring six more, the regional governor has said.

“The scale of the destruction and the final number of victims is being determined,” Oleh Synyehubov wrote on Telegram.

“The shelling may continue today. So, being on the streets now is very dangerous. I urge everyone to stay in the shelters if possible!” he added.


Rebranded ‘McDonald’s’ outlets to open in Moscow

The first 15 outlets of the rebranded “McDonald’s” will open in Moscow and the region on June 12, state-owned Tass news agency reports citing a statement from the newly licensed company.

McDonald’s pulled out of Russia in May and sold the license for all 850 restaurants across the country to local businessman Alexander Govor.

“The chain will operate under a new brand and with new menu names, and all employees will retain jobs ‘under equivalent terms’ for at least two years,” Tass cited the statement as saying without specifying the new name.


Yellen says ‘impossible’ to insulate US from oil market shocks

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said it is “virtually impossible” for the United States to insulate itself from oil market shocks such as those caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, so it is important to shift towards renewable energy sources.

Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee that US oil producers failed to anticipate the recovery in demand and prices following the COVID-19 pandemic, but they now have incentives to increase production.


Russian parliament votes to exit European Court of Human Rights

The Russian Duma has passed a pair of bills ending the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisdiction in Russia.

The bills include one removing Russia from the court’s jurisdiction and a second setting March 16 as the cut-off point, with rulings against Russia made after that date not to be implemented.

Appeals to the ECHR had become a last resort for plaintiffs in several high-profile cases that had been rejected by Russian courts.

On March 15, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to expel Russia from the organisation, of which the ECHR is part, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has said that it independently decided to leave the Council of Europe.


World Bank board approves $1.49bn in new funds for Ukraine

The World Bank has said its board of executive directors approved $1.49bn of additional financing for Ukraine to help pay wages for government and social workers, expanding the bank’s total pledged support for Kyiv to more than $4bn.

The World Bank said in a statement that the latest round of funding for Ukraine is supported by financing guarantees from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Latvia. The project is also being supported by parallel financing from Italy and contributions from a new Multi-Donor Trust Fund.


Ukraine agriculture exports rise 80 percent in May

Ukraine’s grain, oilseed and vegetable oil exports have risen 80 percent in May month on month 1.743 million tonnes but the volumes are still significantly below the exports in May 2021, the agriculture ministry said.

The ministry said corn dominated the shipment with 959,000 tonnes, while exports of sunflower oil totalled 202,650 tonnes.

Ukraine exported 2.245 million tonnes of corn and 501,800 tonnes of sunoil in May 2021.


Russia may hold ‘referendum’ in occupied Kherson, says official

A Moscow-appointed official in occupied Kherson has said that a referendum was likely to be held to declare the southern region’s secession from Ukraine.

“Most likely, there will be a referendum that will be held in the Kherson region on [its] self-determination,” Kirill Stremousov, a former fish inspector and pro-Russian blogger who became Kherson’s deputy governor, told the RIA Novosti news agency.

In 2014, the Kremlin held a “referendum” in Crimea that paved the way for the annexation, despite being unrecognised by the international community. Pro-Russian separatists held similar votes to declare their “independence” from Ukraine.

Stremousov said elections would be the “next step,” but declined to specify the specific dates.

Russian troops advancing from Crimea seized Kherson by early March, ensuring energy, food and water supplies to the annexed peninsula.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev from Kyiv, Ukraine. 


Bodies of Ukrainian fighters from Mariupol handed over to Kyiv

The bodies of some Ukrainian fighters killed defending the city of Mariupol from Russian forces at a vast steel works have been handed over to Kyiv, the families of Ukraine’s Azov unit of the national guard said.

Ukrainian forces defending Mariupol were holed up in the Azovstal steel works for weeks as Russian forces tried to capture the city.

The Ukrainian soldiers eventually surrendered last month and were taken into custody by Russian forces.


Gazprom: Gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine remain steady

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen at 40.9 million cubic metres (mcm) on Tuesday versus 40.1 mcm on Monday.


EU chief decries Russia’s strike on grain terminal

The EU’s foreign policy chief has condemned a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian grain terminal at the weekend in the southern port city of Mykolaiv, saying it contributed to the global food crisis.

Russian forces have destroyed the second biggest grain terminal in #Ukraine, in #Mykolaiv,” Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter.

“In light of such reports, the disinformation spread by Putin deflecting blame becomes ever more cynical,” he added.


Battle for Severodonetsk continues: Governor

Russian forces are maintaining their attack on Severodonetsk as the battle for the key eastern city continues, the governor of Luhansk has said.

Serhiy Haidai said Russian forces shelled the town of Zolote on Monday morning and destroyed 13 houses in one go.

“In the afternoon, the Russians hit the town of Hirske – 11 damaged houses,” he added.

Haidai also said that two people were injured in the shelling of a school, and a market in Lysychansk caught fire. He mentioned that three more people were injured in Lysychansk but did not specify whether these injuries were related to the fire or a separate incident.


Kyiv theatre reopens with sold-out performance

A theatre in Ukraine’s capital has reopened for the first time since Russia invaded the country, and tickets sold out for Sunday’s performance.

Theatre on Podil was the latest cultural institution in Kyiv to resume operations; cinemas and the National Opera opened their doors at the end of May.

“We were wondering how it would be, whether spectators would come during the war, whether they think at all about theatre, whether it’s of any interest,” said one of the actors, Yuriy Felipenko. “And we were happy that the first three plays were sold out.”

Filipenko said the theatre is putting on plays with just a few actors.


Russia’s progress on Popasna axis has stalled, says UK

Ukrainian forces recaptured parts of Severodonetsk over the weekend, but Russian forces are likely to continue to occupy the city’s eastern districts, according to a daily British defence intelligence update.

Russia’s progress made through May on the southern Popasna axis stalled over the last week amid reports of heavy shelling near Izium, which suggests that Moscow is preparing to make a renewed effort on the northern axis, said the defence ministry in a tweet.

“Russia will almost certainly need to achieve a breakthrough on at least one of these axes to translate tactical gains to operational level success and progress towards its political objective of controlling all of Donetsk Oblast,” the ministry said.



Ukrainian troops ‘outnumbered’ in Severodonetsk, says Zelensky

Ukrainian troops are outnumbered by “stronger” Russian forces in the flashpoint eastern city Severodonetsk, said President Volodymyr Zelensky in his latest nightly video address.

“We’re holding out” in the key city but “there are more of them and they are stronger”, said Zelensky. “Fierce street fighting continues” in Severodonetsk and other towns and cities in the Donbas region, Zelensky added. Despite the pressures, the Ukrainian president said “the Ukrainian Donbas stands. It stands firmly.”


Ukraine recovers bodies from Mariupol steel plant 

Russia has begun handing over over the bodies of Ukrainian fighters killed at the Azovstal steelworks, the fortress-like plant in the destroyed city of Mariupol where the fighters’ last-ditch stand became a symbol of resistance against Moscow’s invasion, according to an AP exclusive report.

The dead taken from the ruins of the bombed-out mill were transferred to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where DNA testing is under way to identify the remains, according to both a military leader and a spokeswoman for the Azov Regiment.

The Azov Regiment was among the Ukrainian units that defended the steelworks for nearly three months before surrendering in May under relentless Russian attacks from the ground, sea and air.

It was unclear how many bodies might remain at the plant.


Russia likely retains control over most of Severodonetsk: ISW

Russian forces likely retain control over most of Severodonetsk as of Monday, although the exact situation in the city remains unclear, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said, adding that the city was likely frequently changing hands.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had managed to retake large parts of Severodonetsk and controlled half the city. Ukrainian journalist Yuri Butusov, however, denied this claim, saying Kyiv’s forces only controlled the city’s Azot industrial sector, the ISW said.

“Haidai amended his claims on June 6 and reported that the situation in Severodonetsk has deteriorated significantly, adding that Ukrainian forces were indeed fighting within the Azot industrial site on June 6,” the institute said.

“The reason for Haidai and Butusov’s conflicting reports is unclear, and heavy urban fighting is ongoing in the city,” the ISW added.



Ukraine may give English business language status: PM

The Ukrainian government is working on legislation that would designate English as the language of business communication, the prime minister has said.

“English is now used in business communication throughout the civilised world, so giving it such a status in Ukraine will promote business development, attract investment and accelerate Ukraine’s European integration,” Denys Shmyhal wrote on Telegram without detailing what the law would entail.


Russia imposes sanctions on 61 US citizens

Russia’s foreign ministry announced Monday that is levying sanctions on 61 US nationals. It said the move was being taken “in response to the ever-expanding US sanctions against Russian political and public figures, as well as representatives of domestic business”.

The list includes US officials and former and current top managers of large American companies, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.


Japan to freeze assets of two Russian banks

Japan will freeze the assets of two more Russian banks and one more Belarusian bank as part of additional sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, Japan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.


Ukraine needs ‘constant’ aid until Russia is defeated: Kyiv

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has stressed that the country needed continuous military support from Western countries until it defeated Moscow’s forces, as the war continues.

“We have already entered into a protracted war and we will need constant support,” Ganna Malyar told local media.

“The West must understand that its help cannot be a one-time thing, but something that continues until our victory,” she added.


Pope calls for ‘real negotiations’ in Ukraine war

Pope Francis has called for “real negotiations” to end what he called the “increasingly dangerous escalation” of the conflict in Ukraine.

“As the fury of destruction and death rages and clashes flare, fuelling an escalation that is increasingly dangerous for all, I renew my appeal to the leaders of nations: Please do not lead humanity to destruction,” the pontiff said from the window of the apostolic palace in St Peter’s Square.

The 85-year-old pope confirmed his desire to visit Ukraine, but said he wanted to wait for “the right moment”.


Germany faces 5 billion euro a year hit from Russia sanctions: Report

Russia’s sanctions against Gazprom Germania and its subsidiaries could cost German taxpayers and gas users an extra 5 billion euros ($5.4bn) a year to pay for replacement gas, according to the Welt am Sonntag weekly, citing industry representatives.

In May, Russia decided to stop supplying Gazprom Germania, which had been the German subsidiary of Gazprom, after Berlin put the company under trustee management due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since then, the Bundesnetzagentur energy regulator, acting as trustee, has had to buy replacement gas on the market to fulfil supply contracts with German municipal utilities and regional suppliers.


Moscow missile attack on Kyiv ‘act of terrorism’

Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukrainian presidential adviser, has called Moscow’s missile attack on Kyiv an “act of terrorism” and demanded new sanctions on Russia.

Podolyak also called for Ukraine to be supplied with heavy weapons to defend its territory from Russian attacks.

“Today’s missile attacks on Kiev have only one aim; to kill as many Ukrainians as possible,” he tweeted.


Putin threatens to hit new targets if longer-range missiles supplied

Putin has warned the West that Russia would hit new targets if the US started supplying Ukraine with longer-range missiles, the TASS news agency reported.

If such missiles are supplied, “we will strike at those targets which we have not yet been hitting”, Putin was quoted as saying in an interview with Rossiya-1 state television channel.


France in talks with UAE to replace Russian oil supplies: Minister

Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, says Paris is in talks with the United Arab Emirates to replace Russian oil purchases, which will stop after the imposition of a European Union ban on Russian crude.

“There are discussions with the United Arab Emirates. We have to find an alternative to Russian oil,” Le Maire told Europe 1 radio.


Russian missile flew ‘critically low’ over nuclear plant

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power operator, says a Russian cruise missile flew “critically low” over a major nuclear power plant.

“It’s probable that was the missile that was fired in the direction of Kyiv,” the operator of the Pivdennoukrainska plant, also called the South Ukraine Nuclear Plant, said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.


Missiles hit ‘major train hub’ in Kyiv

Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi reporting from Kyiv said Russian missiles hit a main train hub, a repair centre for railway lines.

“The strikes hit what they are saying is a repair centre but in the past when Russian missiles have hit areas like this whether it was in Kyiv or elsewhere in the country they have said they were targeting what they consider to be military targets,” Basravi said.

“Unconfirmed local reports suggest there may have been an arms depot at the targeted site. The general staff said there were no casualties but one person was injured and taken to hospital,” he added.


Russia says it destroyed tanks in Kyiv sent from Europe

Russian strikes have destroyed tanks and other armoured vehicles on the outskirts of Kyiv that had been provided to Ukraine by European countries, according to Russia’s defence ministry.

The ministry’s statement came after the Ukrainian capital was rocked by several explosions early on Sunday.


Austria calls for intermediate EU membership for Ukraine

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has called for an intermediate stage between cooperation and full membership of the European Union for countries like Ukraine and Moldova.

The so-called “preparatory space” would allow countries to reach the standards of the European Union, similar to the European Economic Area (EEA) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Nehammer said.

“We are united by the same goal, we all want a strong, independent and economically successful Ukraine,” Nehammer said in a statement issued by the chancellor’s office.


Severodonetsk split in half between Ukrainian and Russian forces: Governor

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region where Severodonetsk is located, says control of the city is split in half between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

“It had been a difficult situation, the Russians controlled 70 percent of the city, but over the past two days they have been pushed back,” Haidai said on Ukrainian television.

“The city is now, more or less, divided in half.”


UK: Ukraine counterstrikes Severodonetsk

Ukrainian forces have counterattacked in the contested city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, Britain’s defence ministry said.

This move will likely blunt the operational momentum Russian forces gained by concentrating combat units and firepower, the ministry said in a tweet.

“The use of proxy infantry forces for urban clearance operations is a Russian tactic previously observed in Syria,” it said, adding that the approach likely indicates a desire to limit casualties among regular Russian forces.


US weapons destroyed in Ukraine by the dozen -Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in comments about a US decision to send new arms to Ukraine, said Russia was easily coping and was already destroying American-supplied weapons by the dozen, state-run news agency RIA reported.

Putin made the remarks in an interview with national television, RIA said. It is due to be shown on Sunday.


Russian artillery hits monastery in Ukraine’s east – Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Russian artillery hit an early 17th century Ukrainian Orthodox monastery in war-torn eastern Ukraine, engulfing a church in flames.

Russia’s Defence Ministry denied involvement, accusing Ukrainian troops of setting fire to the All Saints church before pulling back. 

The Svyatohirsk Lavra monastery complex belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and lies near Russian positions in eastern Donetsk, one of two regions that the Kremlin is focused on capturing.


Russian forces pushed back in east in fierce fighting – Ukraine

Ukraine said its forces were managing to push back against Russian troops in fierce fighting in Sievierodonetsk despite Russia “throwing all its power” into capturing the strategic eastern city.

Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in an interview posted on his official social media that the Russian forces had captured most of the city “but now our military has moved them”.

Reinforced Russian troops backed by airstrikes pummeled a portion of eastern Ukraine, blowing up bridges and shelling apartment buildings as they fought to capture two cities that would put a contested province under Moscow’s control, Ukrainian officials said. 


Ukraine slams Macron’s call for Russia not to be humiliated

Kiev has criticised comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently repeated that Moscow should not be humiliated to improve chances of diplomatically resolving the conflict in Ukraine.

“Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media, urging Russia instead to be “put in its place”, to “bring peace and save lives”.


Ukraine says no point in talks until Russian troops pushed back 

Ukraine said there was no point in negotiating with Russia until Moscow’s forces are pushed back as far as possible towards Ukraine’s borders.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak made the comment when asked about an offer from French President Emmanuel Macron to mediate talks between Kiev and Moscow to end the conflict in Ukraine that passed the 100 day mark. 


Russian official hits back at Germany over restrictions on Russian media

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has criticised Germany over its “ban of Russian media.” 

Commenting on a statement by the German Embassy in Russia denying that there were any restrictions on Russian journalists in Germany, Maria Zakharova said on Telegram that she had received a message from a German citizen who sent her a photo of their television showing on screen that the Russian Rossiya TV channel was “temporarily unavailable.”

“The reason of the problem – the ban of Russian media in Europe. This man wanted to watch Rossiya TV channel.


Ukraine announces deaths of four foreign military volunteers

Ukraine has announced the deaths of four foreign military volunteers fighting Russian forces, whose attacks have spurred a wave of solidarity abroad including from experienced combat veterans.

The International Legion of Defence of Ukraine, an official volunteer brigade, announced the men from Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and France had died but did not specify when or under what circumstances.

“We lost our brothers in combat but their bravery, their memory and legacy will forever inspire us,” it said in a statement.


Russian governor says Ukraine hits border village, one man injured

The governor of Russia’s western Bryansk region has said that one man was slightly injured by shrapnel and two houses were set on fire after Ukraine’s forces carried out strikes on a village.

Alexander Bogomaz, the governor, said the man was treated in a local hospital.

Ukraine’s officials were not immediately available to comment.


Russia: Ukrainian military plane with weapons shot down

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane carrying weapons and munitions near the Black Sea port of Odessa.

The ministry said Russian missiles also struck an artillery training centre in Ukraine’s Sumy region where foreign instructors worked. 

Another strike destroyed a “foreign mercenaries'” outpost in the Odessa region, it said. There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine.


Kiev: Russia blowing up bridges in Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces are blowing up bridges across the Seversky Donets river to prevent Ukraine bringing in military reinforcements and delivering aid to civilians in the town of Sievierodonetsk, the governor of the Luhansk region has said.

In a TV broadcast, Sergiy Gaiday said the Ukrainian military continued to hold its positions inside Sievierodonetsk and was pushing back Russian forces in several locations.

Ukraine says it has recaptured a chunk of the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk region, the focus of a Russian offensive to take the eastern Donbass region.


Ukraine looks to bolster military position before resuming Russia talks

Ukraine wants to strengthen its positions on the ground with the help of new weapons deliveries from the West before it resumes peace talks with Russia, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia has said.

“Our armed forces are ready to use (the new weapons)…and then I think we can initiate a new round of talks from a strengthened position,” he told Ukraine national television on Friday.


UK: Russian air activity remains high over Donbass

Britain’s defence ministry has said Russian air activity remains high over Ukraine’s Donbass region with Russian aircraft carrying out strikes using both guided and unguided munitions.

“The increased use of unguided munitions has led to the widespread destruction of built-up areas in the Donbass and has almost certainly caused substantial collateral damage and civilian casualties,” the ministry said in a tweet.

It said Russia increased its use of tactical air to support its creeping advance, combining air strikes and massed artillery attacks to bring its firepower to bear as its operational focus has switched to the Donbass.


Another ship sent to take metal to Russia arrives in Mariupol

A ship sent to load metal and ship it to Russia has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, TASS news agency has reported, the second vessel to arrive in the southeastern city since Russia completed its capture last month.

“The ship has arrived and is in the port,” TASS cited a port authority representative as saying, adding that it was to be loaded with metal.

Earlier this week, a ship left Mariupol for Russia with a cargo of metal. Ukraine said the shipment from the port, whose capture gave Moscow an overland bridge linking mainland Russia and pro-Russian separatist territory to annexed Crimea, amounted to looting.


Gazprom’s gas exports to Europe via Ukraine remain steady

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen at 41.9 million cubic metres on Saturday versus 42.1 million cubic metres on Friday.

An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.


Ukraine claims Russian forces pushed back in Sievierodonetsk

Russian artillery are slamming Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region with fierce fighting over the city of Sievierodonetsk, but the local governor says there has been some progress in pushing back Moscow’s forces.

Some of the fiercest fighting has been centred on Sievierodonetsk, where Ukrainian troops are resisting a complete takeover. “They (Russians) didn’t seize it fully,” Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said, adding that Moscow’s forces have been pushed back “20 percent”.

The situation in Lysychansk — Sievierodonetsk’s twin city, which sits just across a river — looked increasingly dire. About 60 percent of infrastructure and housing had been destroyed, while internet, mobile networks and gas services had been knocked out, said its mayor Oleksandr Zaika.


Japan’s Kishida may join NATO meet to discuss Ukraine crisis

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is leaning towards attending a summit of leaders from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in late June to spur coordination with the West over Russia’s offensive against Ukraine.

The move, reported by Kyodo News, would mark an unusually aggressive stance for a Japanese leader although Kishida has repeatedly condemned Russia over what he has described as a “war crime” against Ukraine. 

In the past, Japanese leaders have maintained a careful line on their relations with Russia as the two countries have wrangled over decades-old territorial disputes. A government spokesman said officials would be unable to comment on the Kyodo report before Monday.


Ukraine in communication with captured Azovstal fighters

Ukraine’s intelligence services are in communication with the captured Azovstal steelworks fighters and Kiev is doing all it can to ensure their release, Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy has said.

Uncertainty has surrounded the fate of hundreds of fighters taken into Russian custody in mid-May after being ordered to stand down. Russia says almost 2,000 Ukrainians had surrendered after making a last stand in the ruins of Mariupol.

“It is through them (intelligence services) that we are learning about the conditions of the detention, nutrition and the possibility of their release,” Monastyrskiy said on Ukrainian television. 



Ukraine has no plans to attack Russia with US missiles, presidential advisor says

Ukraine does not plan to use multiple-launch rocket systems it receives from the United States to attack facilities in Russia, a Ukrainian presidential advisor said on Friday.

“Ukraine is waging a defensive war and does not plan to use the MLRS to attack facilities in Russia,” Mykhailo Podolyak said in a Twitter post. “Our partners know where their weapons are used.”


UK says on 100th day of Ukraine invasion Russia misses objectives

Britain’s defence ministry said that on the 100th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that Moscow failed to achieve its initial objectives to seize Kyiv and Ukrainian centres of government but was achieving tactical success in the Donbas.

“Measured against Russia’s original plan, none of the strategic objectives have been achieved,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter update, but it said it was achieving tactical success in the eastern region of the Donbas and was controlling more than 90% of Luhansk Oblast.

Russia is close to capturing all of Luhansk, one of two Ukrainian regions that make up the swathe of land known as the Donbas.


Russian Pacific fleet begins week-long exercises

Russia’s Pacific Fleet launched a week-long series of exercises with more than 40 ships and up to 20 aircraft taking part, Russian news agencies quoted the defence ministry as saying.

The ministry statement said the exercises, taking place from June 3-10, would involve, among other matters, “groups of ships together with naval aviation taking part in search operations for (enemy) submarines”.

The exercises were taking place amid Russia’s three-month-old incursion into Ukraine, described by Moscow as a “special military operation”. Ukraine lies thousands of kilometres to the west of where the exercises are occurring in the Pacific.


Russia seeks to portray return to normalcy in war-scarred Mariupol

Some children are returning to school in Mariupol after Russian troops captured the Ukrainian port city in a bloody, weeks-long siege. Trucks pass through the streets playing videos from Russian state television as the occupying forces seek to portray a return to normalcy. But signs of death and devastation are everywhere, including in backyard grave sites and massive new cemeteries on the city’s outskirts. A census of those killed in the battle for Mariupol has yet to even begin.


Slovakia says it expects EU solidarity on Russian oil sanctions impact

Slovakia expects solidarity from the European Union to mitigate the impact of the bloc’s sanctions on Russian crude oil, the country’s economy ministry has said.

Slovakia’s sole oil refiner Slovnaft, a unit of Hungary’s MOL, said on Thursday that the sanctions will end the refiner’s oil product exports to key markets such as the Czech Republic, Austria and Poland after eight months and also hurt domestic customers.


Russia likely to control all of Luhansk in two weeks: UK

Russia will likely control the whole of the Luhansk region in the next two weeks, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said.

The ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing that Moscow’s forces are currently in control of more than 90 percent of the region, one of two which make up eastern Ukraine’s Donbas.

But although Russia currently appears to hold the initiative over Ukrainian opposition in the Donbas, Moscow’s “tactical successes” have come at a “significant resource cost”, the ministry added.

Measured against Russia’s original plan to take the capital, Kyiv, and Ukrainian centres of government “none of the strategic objectives have been achieved”, it said.

“In order for Russia to achieve any form of success will require continued huge investment of manpower and equipment, and is likely to take considerable further time.”



Some 70 Luhansk schools, 33 hospitals and 237 clinics destroyed in 100 days: Governor

In the 100 days of Russia’s invasion, more than 400km of roads have been damaged and almost 70 schools and 50 kindergartens destroyed in Luhansk, its governor says.

Haidai said in a Telegram post that the price the region has paid included “33 hospitals and 237 rural outpatient clinics equipped with the latest medical equipment”.

“Today, all this is destroyed by enemy artillery, and angiographs, ultrasound and CT scanners are being taken to the ‘People’s Republic’,” he added, speaking of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic established by Russian-backed separatist forces in the region and recognised by Russia as an independent state.

“Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers are buried on this earth, our children were born here. Therefore, until our last breath, we will fight for the freedom, unity and prosperity of our small homeland,” Haidai said.


UN confirms 9,151 civilian casualties in Ukraine

The UN has confirmed 9,151 civilian casualties in Ukraine from the start of the conflict on February 24 until June 2.

This includes 4,169 people killed and 4,982 injured, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in its latest civilian casualty update, noting that the actual figures are likely “considerably higher”.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the OHCHR said.


Ukraine investigates Russians who looted private property in Bucha

Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office has begun an investigation into 10 Russian military personnel who looted the property of civilians in the town of Bucha, in the Kyiv region, when it was under Russian occupation.

The prosecutor’s office said these men had been reported under “suspicion of violating the customs of war”, having stolen items which “could not be used for military purposes: from underwear and clothing to large household appliances”.

“After the liberation of the territories of Kyiv region, the occupiers, retreating to Belarus, from Mozyr sent the looted property in Ukraine by mail to their relatives,” the prosecutor general said in a post on the Telegram app.


African Union head to speak to Putin in Russia on Friday

The head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, will speak with President Vladimir Putin in the southwestern Russian city of Sochi on Friday, Dakar said.

The visit is aimed at “freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilisers, the blockage of which particularly affects African countries”, along with easing the Ukraine conflict, Sall’s office said Thursday.

The visit was organised after an invitation by Putin, and Sall will travel with the president of the African Union Commission, his office added.

The AU will also receive a video address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though no date has been set.


Slovakia to deliver eight Zuzana 2 howitzers to Ukraine

Slovakia will deliver eight self-propelled Zuzana 2 howitzers to Ukraine under a commercial contract which a state-controlled producer signed, the Slovak Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

The Zuzana 2 howitzer, a modernised version of an older model, is using 155-mm rounds and has an effective range of 40 km (25 miles) to more than 50 km (30 miles) depending on the ammunition type.


Russian forces ‘consolidating their positions’ in Severodonetsk

“The main military spokesman in Kyiv […] said ‘let’s not talk about this in percentage terms’; clearly a lot of Severodonetsk might be regarded as disputed territory and fighting is still going on on the streets of that city,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reported from Kyiv.

“But earlier the regional governor […] had talked about 70 percent of the city being in Russian hands; clearly the Russians are advancing in the city. Ukrainian media [are] also reporting that the Russians have been consolidating their positions in parts of the city.”


Ukraine prosecutor says 261 children killed since start of the war

The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general has said 261 children have been killed and 460 injured since the start of the war.

The tally does not include places of active conflict, the office said on Twitter. It also registered over 15,000 crimes of aggression that could amount to war crimes.



OPEC+ working on making up for lower Russian oil output: Reuters

Oil group OPEC+ is working on compensating for a drop in Russian oil output, Reuters reports two OPEC+ sources as having said.

A Gulf OPEC+ source said a decision on the matter was “highly possible” at a meeting on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Another OPEC+ source familiar with the Russian position told Reuters that Moscow could agree to other producers compensating for its lower output but it may not happen at a Thursday meeting and might not be in full.

Russia’s production has fallen by about one million barrels per day in recent months as a result of Western sanctions.


Russian forces making steady gains in Severodonetsk: UK

While Russia has taken most of the key city of Severodonetsk and continues to make steady gains, its forces have sustained losses in the process and risk losing momentum when they switch to focus on taking the neighbouring Donetsk region, the UK’s ministry of defence has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said that the Siverskyy Donets river crossing, the sites of which include an area between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk and the recently captured town of Lyman, still remain under Ukrainian control. Russian forces would need the crossing as they switch to focusing on the Donetsk region after taking Luhansk, the ministry said.

“It is likely Russia will need at least a short tactical pause to re-set for opposed river crossings and subsequent attacks further into Donetsk Oblast, where Ukrainian forces have prepared defensive positions,” the ministry said.

“To do so risks losing some of the momentum they have built over the last week,” it added.


Drugmaker Novartis resuming business in Ukraine

Novartis is resuming business in Ukraine after reviewing how safe it was to operate in the country that Russia invaded in February, the Swiss drugmaker has said.

“After studying current safety protocols in the country, and on advice which we will regularly review, we have begun to resume business operations remotely to help the war-torn country restore some basic critical business processes,” Novartis said on its website in a post dated June 1.

“The safety and security of our people remains our number one objective, and we will constantly review the situation and our business operations in Ukraine.”

Novartis said it condemned the war in Ukraine and has been providing humanitarian support, financial donations and medicine to people there.


Russians ‘destroying and plundering’ the region: Luhansk governor

The governor of Luhansk has accused Russia of “simply destroying and plundering” the region, saying Moscow’s forces hit the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk on Wednesday, and damaged a hospital in Lysychansk.

“They targeted the Azot Association several times yesterday morning. They hit one of the administrative buildings and the warehouse where methanol was stored. In Lysychansk, the city hospital building was damaged,” Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram.

“The Russians are simply destroying and plundering our region. With anger, because they themselves, sitting on a gas pipe, have almost nothing at home that is commonplace for Ukrainians,” he added.

Haidai said about 52 houses had been damaged yesterday and many more families left without a roof if destroyed apartments were counted. He added that the region was losing 50-60 houses per day.


Gulf Arab states won’t sanction Russia over Ukraine: CCTV

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has said that Gulf Arab states would not participate in sanctions against Russia and Belarus, China’s CCTV has reported.

Lavrov’s comments came after a meeting with members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

CCTV reported that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said during the talks that the Gulf states shared the same position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and were very concerned about the effect of the conflict on world food security.


Russia vulnerable to Ukraine’s forces in Kherson: ISW

Russian forces in the now occupied Kherson region are scrambling to secure the vital ground line of communication the Ukrainians have threatened, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said.

The ISW had previously noted that Russia had left vulnerable its position in Kherson as it threw everything behind its attempts to capture the key Luhansk towns of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

“Ukrainian forces carried out a series of organised counterattacks targeting settlements on the eastern bank of the Ihulets River that are very close to a key highway supporting Russian forces further north,” the ISW said about the Kherson region. The institute added that the Russians destroyed the bridges Ukrainians had used to hold their line against anticipated counteroffensives.

But “Ukrainian forces are likely still close enough to the highway to disrupt its use as a main supply route, potentially undermining the Russians’ ability to hold against Ukrainian counter-offensives from the north,” the ISW said.


After criticism, Germany’s Merkel shows solidarity for Ukraine: Reuters

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed solidarity for Ukraine in what she described as a “barbaric war” with Russia at an event on Wednesday, after months of silence prompted criticism of her own policy towards Moscow.

Merkel, chancellor for 16 years until December, said she would not offer advice from the sidelines but she supported the government’s efforts to “find an end to this barbaric war”, a participant at the event told the Reuters news agency.

“My solidarity goes to Ukraine,” the participant quoted her as saying at a farewell ceremony for the outgoing president of the DGB trade union confederation.

A fluent Russian speaker after growing up in the former communist East Germany, Merkel drew criticism from the United States and others for supporting the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, designed to deliver Russian gas directly to Germany.


Shelling of historic monastery kills two monks and nun: Church

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has said that two monks and a nun have been killed in the shelling of an historic monastery in eastern Ukraine.

The church said in a statement that three monks were also wounded by Monday’s shelling, which heavily damaged the Sviatohirsk monastery in the Donetsk region. It did not give further details.

The monastery, located on the steep right bank of the Siverskyy Donets river, is one of the most important historic Orthodox monasteries in Ukraine.

The monastery provided shelter to civilians fleeing the fighting and had previously been hit by Russian shelling as the Russian troops were pressing their offensive in Donbas.


Football coach dedicates Ukraine win to those fighting Russia

Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov has said his country’s World Cup qualification playoff win over Scotland is a victory for his compatriots who “fight with every last drop of their blood”.

“We played for them, for those who fight with their last drop of blood, for those who suffer every day, we made baby steps towards our great aim,” he said.


Football legend Pele tells Putin: ‘Stop the invasion’

Brazilian football legend Pele has called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his army’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I want to use today’s match as an opportunity to make a request: stop the invasion. There is absolutely no justification for this continued violence,” Pele wrote in an open letter to Putin posted on Instagram just before the Ukrainian men’s football team faced Scotland in their World Cup playoff semi-final.

“This conflict is wicked, unjustifiable and brings nothing but pain, fear, terror and anguish … Wars only exist to separate nations, and there’s no ideology that justifies projectile missiles burying the dreams of children, ruining families and killing the innocent.”


Ireland designates Russia’s invasion an act of genocide

Ireland’s Senate has passed a resolution declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an act of genocide, Chair of the Irish Senate Mark Daly has said in a tweet.

The resolution follows similar moves in recent weeks by Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic.



Cyber activity not against Russia policy: White House

The White House has said that any offensive cyber activity against Russia would not be a violation of US policy of avoiding direct military conflict with Russia.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented on statements from US cyber command chief General Paul Nakasone, who told Sky News the US has conducted a series of digital operations in support of Ukraine.


Russia’s war has led to massive destruction to cultural heritage: Officials

Ukraine’s Culture Ministry has documented 367 war crimes against Ukraine’s cultural heritage, including the destruction of 29 museums, 133 churches, 66 theatres and libraries, and a Jewish cemetery, the Kyiv Independent has reported.

“Russians have the precise aim of destroying our culture as part of our identity, something that distinguishes Ukraine from Russia,” Olha Honchar, co-founder of Ukraine’s Museum Crisis Center told Bloomberg. “It has become quite clear now for the whole world that Russia bombs museums, archives, and theatres not by accident.”


Biden to meet NATO secretary-general at White House

Biden and his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will meet with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said.

Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he would convene a meeting in Brussels in the coming days with senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Turkey to discuss Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.


Denmark looks set to join EU defence policy

Denmark will join the European Union’s defence policy after a referendum, public broadcaster DR has projected.

Preliminary results by DR showed that 66.6 percent of voters were in favour of removing an opt-out to the EU’s so-called Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Denmark is the only EU member that is not part of the policy after the country secured several exemptions in a 1993 referendum.

“It is a completely new approach to Europe, that we are signalling to our European allies, to the whole world,” said former foreign minister and member of the Social Liberal Party, Martin Lidegaard.

“It can hardly be overestimated, the importance it has on our foreign and European policy,” Lidegaard said.


Germany to send Kyiv anti-aircraft missiles, radar systems

Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany will supply Ukraine with modern anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems following pleas from Kyiv as well as German opposition parties to step up heavy weapons deliveries to the country.

Scholz told lawmakers in the Bundestag that the government had decided to provide Ukraine with IRIS-T missiles developed by Germany together with other NATO nations. He said Germany will also supply Ukraine with radar systems to help locate enemy artillery.

“We have been delivering continuously since the beginning of the war,” Scholz said, pointing to more than 15 million rounds of ammunition, 100,000 hand grenades and over 5,000 anti-tank mines sent to Kyiv since Russia invaded in late February.


Wheat can’t be ‘weapon of war’, Pope says

Pope Francis has appealed to Russia to lift its blockade on wheat exports from Ukraine’s ports, saying the foodstuff cannot be used as a “weapon of war”.

Speaking at his general audience to thousands of people in St Peter’s Square, he said the block should be lifted because many millions of people depend on wheat from Ukraine, particularly in the world’s poorest countries.


Denmark seeks parliament’s support for Sweden, Finland NATO membership

Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod will on Thursday ask the country’s parliament to back Finland and Sweden’s bids to join the NATO military alliance, the country’s foreign ministry says.

All 30 NATO allies must unanimously approve any enlargement of the United States-led security body.


Russia scolds US over advanced arms shipments to Ukraine

Russia has said that a US decision to supply advanced rocket systems and munitions to Ukraine was extremely negative and would increase the risk of a direct confrontation.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency RIA Novosti that Moscow views US military aid to Ukraine “extremely negatively”, in particular singling out Washington’s plans to supply Kyiv with the HIMARS.


China bars Russian airlines with foreign planes: Report

China has barred Russia’s airlines from flying foreign-owned jetliners into its airspace, the Russian news outlet RBK has reported. The move came after Putin threw the aircraft’s ownership into doubt by allowing them to be re-registered in Russia to avoid seizure under sanctions over Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

The European Union, home to major aircraft leasing companies, banned the sale or lease of aircraft to Russian carriers in February. Putin responded by approving the re-registration measure in March, which prompted suggestions foreign owners may never recover planes worth billions of dollars.

China’s air regulator asked all foreign carriers last month to update ownership information and other details, RBK said, citing two unidentified sources. It said Russian airlines that could not provide documents showing their aircraft were “de-registered abroad” were barred from Chinese airspace.


Denmark to vote on closer EU defence ties due to Russia concerns

Danes vote on Wednesday to decide whether to join the EU’s defence policy, potentially becoming the final hold-out in the bloc to sign up as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces countries to radically reassess their security.

Denmark is the only member of the 27 nation bloc not in the Common Security and Defence Policy, having secured exemptions from it and the euro currency in a 1993 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the groundwork for the modern EU.

If the notoriously EU-critical Danes vote to abolish the opt-out, as polls suggest will be the case, it would mark another significant shift in policy for Europe after Russia launched the invasion in February.

Participating in the Common Security and Defence Policy would enable Denmark to take part in joint EU military operations, such as those in Somalia, Mali and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Russia continues long-range missile attacks on infrastructure across Ukraine: UK

Russia continues to conduct long-range missile attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure across the country, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry confirmed previous reports that Russian forces are pushing closer to the centre of Severodonetsk city.

“Over half of the town is likely now occupied by Russian forces, including Chechen fighters,” the ministry said.

It added that with Ukraine’s Black Sea ports being blocked, Ukraine’s ports on the Danube river have become critical to its exports.


Russian manufacturing activity returns to growth in May: Survey

Russian manufacturing activity expanded in May after three months of contraction and price pressures eased notably, but sanctions continued to dent client demand, a survey has shown.

The S&P Global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 50.8 from 48.2 in the previous month, climbing above the 50.0 mark that separates expansion from contraction for the first time since January.

“Slower declines in output, new orders, employment and stocks of purchases all helped to boost the seasonally adjusted PMI,” S&P Global, which compiles the index, said. Actual manufacturing output continued to fall in May, S&P Global said.

Exports remained in steep decline, as Russian firms have been severed from the global economy and face significant disruption to their supply chains.


Russia will not suffer from EU oil embargo: Official

Russia’s economy will not suffer from the European Union’s embargo on its oil due to new markets and rising fuel prices, the chairwoman of Russia’s Federation Council has said.

“We can easily reorient this oil, the demand for which is huge, to other markets,” Valentina Matviyenko told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.

“There is only a certain amount of production on the world market, a certain volume of oil for sale, any more, nobody will be able to get from the moon,” Matviyenko said, adding that the sanctions were encouraging Russia to build more oil refinery plants rather than relying on crude exports.

Matviyenko also said that “the price of oil will rise significantly,” which would balance out whatever profits Russia might lose from lower exports.


Russian troops storming Severodonetsk, destroying infrastructure: Governor

Russian forces are storming Severodonetsk and consolidating their positions in the centre of the city, while continuing to destroy the region’s infrastructure, the governor of the Luhansk region has said.

Serhiy Haidai said that at about 6:55pm local time (03:55 GMT) on Tuesday, Russians hit Severodonetsk’s giant Azot chemical plant, which produces nitrogen-based fertilisers, “releasing toxic substances”.

“During the day, the enemy fired artillery at the Proletary factory in Lysychansk,” he added in a post on Telegram.

Haidai said that at least six houses and a local art school were destroyed in the settlement of Vrubivka, five houses destroyed in the village of Novoivanivka, four in Severodonetsk, three in Lysychansk and two in the village of Mykolaivka.


UN confirms 9,029 civilian casualties in Ukraine

The United Nations human rights body (OHCHR) has confirmed 9,029 civilian casualties in Ukraine from February 24 until midnight local time on May 30.

The OHCHR’s latest civilian casualty update confirmed that 4,113 people have been killed and 4,916 injured.

But the organisation noted that the actual figures were considerably higher as information was still pending from areas of “intense hostilities”, such as Mariupol, Izyum and Popasna.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the OHCHR said.


Russia’s nuclear forces holding drills: Interfax

Russia’s nuclear forces are holding drills in Ivanovo province, northeast of Moscow, the Interfax news agency cited the Russian defence ministry as saying.

Some 1,000 servicemen are exercising in intense manoeuvres using more than 100 vehicles, including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, the ministry said.


Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to become part of Russia: RIA

The Russian-occupied Kherson region, as well as the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), will become part of Russia, Russian state news agency RIA reports, citing the secretary-general of the United Russia Party’s general council.

“The decision should be made by the residents themselves, and I am sure that they will accept it. Therefore, I have no doubts that this region will be part of the Russian Federation,” Andrey Turchak said of Kherson, adding he had no doubt the same would happen with the DNR and LNR, and likely the Zaporizhzhia region.

“People want protection, stability so that after eight years of the Bandera terror legalised by the West a long-awaited and lasting peace has come,” he added, saying that plans for a referendum were underway in each region.

Western analysts have previously warned that Russia may stage sham referendums in these territories. The US State Department’s spokesperson earlier said Washington was concerned about “steps Russia is taking to attempt to institutionalise control over sovereign Ukrainian territory, particularly in Ukraine’s Kherson region”.


Ukraine loses 60 to 100 soldiers daily: Zelenskyy

Some 60 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed per day in the war with Russia, Zelenskyy has said, adding that around 500 are wounded daily.

In an interview with Newsmax in Kyiv, Zelenskyy also said that Ukraine’s requests for longer-range weapons were for Ukraine to defend its territory, not to attack Russia on theirs.

“We’re not interested in what’s happening in Russia. We’re only interested in our own territory in Ukraine,” he said.


‘We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia’: Biden

Joe Biden has said that although the US is continuing to “reinforce NATO’s eastern flank with forces and US capabilities”, Washington does not seek a war between NATO and Russia.

“As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow,” Biden wrote in a guest essay in the New York Times newspaper.

“So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces,” he said.

Biden added that the US was not “encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders”, adding “we do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.”


Governor of Luhansk region says Russia controls 70 percent of Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces are now in control of around 70 percent of Sievierodonetsk, a strategically important city in Ukraine’s east, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Wednesday.

“Some Ukrainian troops have retreated to more advantageous, pre-prepared positions,” Gaidai said on the Telegram messaging app.


Germany to send IRIS-T air defence system to Ukraine, Scholz says

Germany will supply Ukraine with the IRIS-T medium-range surface-to-air defence system, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, following pleas from Kyiv as well as German opposition parties to step up heavy weapons deliveries to the country.

“We have been delivering continuously since the beginning of the war,” Scholz said on Wednesday, pointing to more than 15 million rounds of ammunition, 100,000 hand grenades and over 5,000 anti-tank mines sent to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24.


Wheat can’t be ‘weapon of war’, Pope says urging lifting of Ukraine block

Pope Francis on Wednesday appealed to authorities to lift the block on wheat exports from Ukraine, saying the grain cannot be used as a “weapon of war”.

Speaking at his general audience to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, he said the block should be lifted because many millions of people depend on wheat from Ukraine, particularly in the world’s poorest countries.


Russian forces ‘inexorably’ taking more of Severodonetsk

“The governor of the Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai just posted on his Telegram that Russian forces now control the better part of Severodonetsk – more than half, I take that to mean – but of course it’s very hard to know how exactly you calculate these things: are we talking in terms of square metres or the most densely populated parts of the town?” said FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg, reporting from Kyiv.

“And the situation is fluid; there are Russian offensives, Ukrainian counter-offensives that push them back. Then the Russians push forward again. But it does seem that over the last few days that – albeit slowly, inexorably – Russian forces are taking more and more of this city of Severodonetsk.”


Denmark to hold referendum on scrapping EU defence opt-out

Danish voters will on Wednesday decide whether to join the European Union’s defence policy, potentially becoming the final hold-out in the bloc to sign up as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces countries to radically reassess their security.

Denmark is the only member of the 27 nation bloc not in the Common Security and Defence Policy, having secured exemptions from it and the euro currency in a 1993 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the groundwork for the modern EU.

If the Danes vote to abolish the opt-out, as polls suggest will be the case, it would mark another significant shift in policy for Europe after Russia launched the invasion in February.


US sending Himars multiple rocket system to Ukraine military: official

The United States is sending Himars advanced multiple rocket systems to Ukraine, a US official said Tuesday, ending days of speculation over the latest upgrade of military aid to Kyiv in its fight against Russia.

The Himars use precision-guided munitions, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters. The range is about 50 miles (80 kilometers), with Washington deciding against sending munitions with a far longer range.

“These systems will be used by the Ukrainians to repel Russian advances on Ukrainian territory but they will not be used against Russia,” the official said.


Ukrainian forces making some progress in southern region: Zelensky

Ukrainian forces have had some success near the southern city of Kherson and are advancing in parts of the Kharkiv region to the east of Kyiv, said President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Our defenders are showing the utmost courage and remain masters of the situation at the front despite the fact the Russian army has a significant advantage in terms of equipment and numbers,” he said in a late-night address.


Russians control ‘part’ of east Ukraine city Severodonetsk, governor says

Russian forces have taken partial control of the east Ukraine city of Severodonetsk, the Ukrainian official in charge of the region said Tuesday, as Moscow’s army pushed deeper into the Donbas region.

“The situation is extremely complicated. Part of Severodonetsk is controlled by the Russians,” Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media.

He said Ukrainian forces still retain some areas within the east Ukraine industrial city and that Moscow’s troops “cannot move freely through the city”.



OSCE says one of four Ukrainian staff held in eastern Ukraine is free

One of four Ukrainians who had been working for an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitoring mission and were detained in eastern Ukraine has been released, according to the OSCE’s secretary general.

“Very relieved about the release of one national mission member,” Helga Schmid said on Twitter. “I urge for the release of the three colleagues who remain in detention in Donetsk and Luhansk.”

The mission’s mandate expired at the end of March.


Ukrainian court sentences two Russian soldiers to jail

A Ukrainian has court sentenced two captured Russian soldiers to 11 and a half years in jail for shelling a town in eastern Ukraine, the second war crimes verdict since the start of Russia’s invasion in February.

Alexander Bobikin and Alexander Ivanov, who listened to the verdict standing in a reinforced glass box at the Kotelevska district court in central Ukraine, both pleaded ‘guilty’ last week.


Russia says it downed Ukrainian jet

Russia’s defence ministry has said that its forces had downed a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region and bombed a radar station and two ammunition depots in eastern Ukraine.


Latvia welcomes EU ban on most Russian oil

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins has praised the EU’s deal to ban most Russian oil imports, saying the bloc moved together on the sixth package of sanctions to starve Moscow of money to wage war against Ukraine.

“We move as quickly as we can move all together to make it more difficult for Russia to fund this war of aggression in Ukraine,” Karins said after the 27 national leaders sealed the deal, overcoming Hungarian resistance.


EU oil ban would cut money Russia has to spend on Ukraine war: Borrell

The EU deal to cut most of Russian oil imports would force Moscow to offer crude at a lower price to others, according to the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell.

“We are the most important client for Russia,” Borrell said on arriving to second day of EU leaders talks about the latest in Russia’s war against Ukraine. “The purpose is to make Russia have less financial resources to feed its war machine.”


Russia would need territory beyond Severodonetsk to fully control Donbas: UK

Russia will need to capture territory beyond Severodonetsk, including the key city of Kramatorsk and the M04 Dnipro-Donetsk main road, if it wants to fully occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry noted that Russia’s capture of the town of Lyman supported its main operational effort of encircling Severodonetsk and closing the pocket around Ukrainian forces in Luhansk.

“Heavy shelling continues, while street fighting is likely taking place on the outskirts of Severodonetsk town,” the ministry said.

It added that Russia’s progress had been slow but it was holding gains, likely due to the fact it had massed forces and fires in relatively small areas, which forced it to accept risk elsewhere in occupied territory.


Chechen leader posts video of troops in Severodonetsk city centre

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has posted a video of what look to be Chechen troops walking in the middle of the city of Severodonetsk, speaking with residents and taking a Ukrainian flag off one of the city’s central buildings.

Explosions can be heard in the background as residents happily thank the fighters for “liberating” them.

The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said that some fighters from the opposing side had entered the city, but that the scenes of residents welcoming them were staged.

“For the most part, these are stage scenes. Thousands who remain in the city are afraid of revenge or massacre for no reason, as was the case in Bucha,” Haidai said.


Japan will not leave Sakhalin-2 project even if asked: Minister

Japan will not leave the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) project even if asked to leave, the Japanese industry minister has said.

The land for the project is Russia’s but the plant is owned by the Japanese government and companies, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.


Kherson and Zaporizhia switch to Russia’s internet and mobile networks: RIA

The Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, now under Russian control, have switched over to Russia’s mobile and internet network, state news agency RIA reports citing an adviser to the Moscow-installed head of information policy in the annexed territory of Crimea.

“In the liberated territories, it is now exclusively Russian Internet and communications. In fact, this is the end of Ukrainian propaganda. Zelenskyy’s towers of lies have fallen,” Oleg Kryuchkov said.

RIA reports that the occupying military-civilian administration in Kherson asked Moscow whether it could use the capabilities of Russian telecommunications companies to restore cellular communications in the region. The request reportedly came after shelling by Ukrainian forces caused a network blackout.


Blinken and Saudi Arabia’s FM discuss Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, on Tuesday, which included discussions on international support for Ukraine, according to a statement from the state department.

“The Secretary underscored the importance of international support for Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity and emphasised the need for a global response to the food security crisis resulting from President Putin’s brutal war,”  the statement said.

The two ministers reportedly also discussed the truce in Yemen, the consequences of the Safer oil tanker in the Red Sea region and Iran’s nuclear program.



EU backs 9 billion euros of loans for Ukraine

EU members have backed a package of loans worth 9 billion euros ($9.7 billion), with a small component of grants to cover part of the interest, for Ukraine to keep its government going and pay wages for about two months.

Leaders also backed the creation of an international fund to rebuild Ukraine after the war, with details to be decided later.

The European Council President Charles Michel said in a tweet that the council “will continue helping #Ukraine with its immediate liquidity needs, together with @G7.”


Russia’s FM denies rumours of Putin’s ill-health

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denied rumours that President Putin is ill, Russia’s TASS news agency has reported.

“You can watch him on screens, read and listen to his speeches,” Lavrov said in an interview on French TV, according to TASS

“I don’t think that sane people can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment,” he added.

British intelligence sources were quoted telling media outlets that Putin was seriously ill in the last week.


First cargo ship leaves Mariupol since Russia took city, Moscow-backed separatist leader says

A ship has left the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia took the city and is headed east to Russia with a load of metal, the Russian-backed separatist leader of a breakaway region in Ukraine’s Donetsk said on Tuesday.

“Today 2,500 tons of hot-rolled sheets left the port of Mariupol,” Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “The ship headed for (the Russian city of) Rostov.”

Ukraine said that the shipment of metal to Russia from Mariupol amounted to looting.

Russia seized full control of Mariupol earlier this month when more than 2,400 Ukrainian fighters surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steelworks. Russia said last week that the port had been demined and was open again to commercial vessels.

The capture of Mariupol gave Moscow an overland bridge from mainland Russia through Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces and Russia-backed separatists to annexed-Crimea. 


Paris demands probe after French journalist killed in Ukraine

France has called for an investigation after a French journalist was killed in Ukraine on Monday. The vehicle that 32-year-old BFMTV cameraman Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was travelling in, which was being used to evacuate civilians near the city of Severodonetsk, was hit by shelling.

“France demands that a probe be carried out as soon as possible and in transparency on the circumstances of this tragedy,” Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who was in Ukraine on Monday, said in a statement.

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered his “sincere condolences” to Leclerc-Imhoff’s family and colleagues.


EU to exclude Russia’s biggest bank from SWIFT

EU leaders agreed Monday that their sixth sanctions package targeting Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine will include a measure to exclude Russia’s Sberbank from the SWIFT financial messaging system.

Sberbank is Russia’s biggest lender, and adding it to the sanctions list will further isolate the country’s financial system as sanctions begin to bite, more than three months after its forces invaded Ukraine.


Relatives of Ukraine’s evacuated Azovstal fighters seek news

Relatives of Ukrainian fighters who remained for weeks under the besieged Azovstal steel works said on Monday they had received no news of the whereabouts of their loved ones since they were evacuated to Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine.

Uncertainty surrounds the fate of hundreds of fighters, most from the Azov battalion, taken into Russian custody in mid-May after essentially being ordered to give themselves up as Russian forces pounded the plant and the city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine.

The relatives, all women, said they had formed a Council of Wives and Mothers, to ensure the fighters were treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war.

“We were asked to stay silent in order not to make things worse,” Tetyana Horko, sister of marine commander Serhiy Horko, told a news conference.

“But one mustn’t think that the story of Azovstal heroes is over. They need support, they need to be brought back home.”

Sandra Krotevich, sister of the Azov regiment’s first deputy commander, Bohdan Krotevich, said relatives had no idea what was happening to the detained fighters.

“Where they are, what’s happening to them, in what condition they are, we do not know,” Krotevich said.


EU leaders agree to ban ‘more than two thirds’ of Russian oil imports

EU leaders agreed on Monday to ban ‘more than two thirds’ of Russian oil imports into the 27-nation bloc, EU Council President Charles Michel said.

“This immediately covers more than two thirds of oil imports from Russia, cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine,” Michel wrote on Twitter.

The leaders also agreed to cut off the largest Russian bank Sberbank from the SWIFT system and to ban three more Russian state-owned broadcasters, he added.


Gazprom to halt gas sales to Dutch supplier

Russian state gas giant Gazprom confirmed it will halt gas supplies to a Dutch gas trader starting Tuesday due to its refusal to pay for deliveries in roubles, a requirement President Vladimir Putin put forward earlier this year.

GasTerra, based in the northern Dutch city of Groningen, announced the shutoff Monday. It said the move means Gazprom will not deliver some 2 billion cubic metres of gas through October 1, the date the supply contract ends.

In its statement cited by the Russian state news agency TASS, Gazprom said that GasTerra has not paid for the gas supplied in April.

The Dutch trader said it has bought gas from other providers in anticipation of a possible Gazprom shutoff and Dutch Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten said in a statement that the government understands the cutoff will “have no effect on the physical delivery of gas to Dutch households”.

GasTerra is a private company that is owned by the Dutch arms of energy giants Shell and Esso and the Dutch government.


Ukraine claims to kill over 30,300 Russian troops since Feb 24

Ukraine Armed Forces in its latest operational briefing claimed that the defenders have “liquidated” at least 30,350 Russian soldiers since February 24. 

There was no immediate response to Ukrain’s claim from Moscow, and Independent Press could not independently verify his report.


Ukrainian counterattack kills 63 in Kryvyi Rih: Official

Ukrainian forces killed 63 Russian soldiers during a counterattack south of the city of Kryvyi Rih, in central Ukraine, according to a local defence official.

The Russians were advancing from the occupied Kherson region, but the counterattack repelled them and also “destroyed” T-72 tanks, helicopters and the Grad multiple rocket system, Oleksandr Vilkul said in a Telegram post late on Sunday. Kryvyi Rih is Zelenskky’s hometown.

There was no immediate response to Vilkul’s claim from Moscow, and Independent Press could not independently verify his report.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.


Russia says it struck a shipyard in Mykolaiv

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have struck a shipbuilding facility in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

Russian artillery struck a hangar at the Okean Shipyard, destroying vehicles and other equipment, the ministry said.

There was no immediate response to the ministry’s claim from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.


Russia has suffered devastating losses among lower-ranked officers: UK

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence says Moscow appears to have suffered devastating losses amongst mid- and junior-ranking officers.

“With multiple credible reports of localised mutinies amongst Russia’s forces in Ukraine, a lack of experienced and credible platoon and company commanders is likely to result (in) a further decrease in morale and continued poor discipline,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

Brigade and battalion commanders were probably deploying to the most dangerous positions while junior officers have had to lead low-level tactical actions, the ministry added.



Spain backs new sanctions against Russia: Minister

Spain supports a new package of EU sanctions against Moscow but there is no agreement yet as some member states remain heavily dependent on Russian crude imports and are reluctant to block them, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has said.

“There are two goals we have when approving a sanction package. One is not allowing Vladimir Putin to finance his war effort with European capital and the other is not allowing Vladimir Putin’s war to destabilise the European Union,” Albares noted in an interview with state broadcaster TVE.


Ukraine says 243 children killed amid war

Ukraine says 243 children have been killed since Russia started its offensive, with another 444 wounded.

The office of the country’s prosecutor general said the figures were not final as work was under way to establish numbers in areas of active hostilities, and in temporarily occupied as well as “liberated territories”.

Indpendent Press could not independently verify the figures provided.


French foreign minister to meet Zelensky Monday

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv later on Monday to express France’s solidarity with Ukraine and offer more support for the country, the French foreign ministry said.

Colonna’s trip to Ukraine comes amid criticism from some diplomats and political analysts that France is not doing enough to support Ukraine in its fight with Russia.

European Union leaders will also meet on Monday to reiterate support for Ukraine as Russian forces intensified attacks to capture Severodonetsk, a key city in the eastern Donbas region that Moscow has prioritised taking full control over.


Russian forces storm city of Severodonetsk

Russian and Ukrainian troops traded blows in fierce close-quarter combat Sunday in an eastern Ukrainian city as Moscow’s soldiers, supported by intense shelling, attempted to gain a strategic foothold to conquer the region.

Russian forces stormed Severodonetsk after trying unsuccessfully to encircle the strategic city, Ukrainian officials said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the situation there as “indescribably difficult”, with a relentless Russian artillery barrage destroying critical infrastructure and damaging 90 percent of the buildings.


Ukraine pushes back Russian troops in Kherson, military says

Ukrainian forces have counterattacked in the country’s south, claiming to have pushed back Russian troops near three villages in the Kherson region.

Ukrainian forces over the weekend forced Russian troops into “unfavourable positions” around the villages of Andriyivka, Lozovo and Bilohorka in Kherson, the country’s military leadership said in a statement.

“Kherson, hold on. We’re close!” Ukraine’s general staff tweeted Sunday as their forces counterattacked in the only region of the country fully controlled by Russian troops.

Kherson, which borders Crimea, was taken by Russian forces in March and Moscow-backed officials in the region have recently pushed for annexation.

While limited in nature, the counterattack could have the effect of stretching Russian forces, with the general staff claiming the move had forced Moscow to send reserves to the area.


Germany agrees €100 billion fund to modernise military in face of Russia threat

Germany’s government and conservative opposition have agreed a deal that will release €100 billion to modernise the army amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

An agreement was reached late Sunday to create a special fund for military procurement that will also allow Berlin to achieve NATO’s target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defence.

The deal, which involves amending budgetary rules in the national constitution, was struck after weeks of difficult negotiations between the parties in the governing coalition and the conservatives of former chancellor Angela Merkel, representatives of these groups told AFP.

Three days after Russian invaded Ukraine on February 24, Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged a special budget of €100 billion to rearm the German military and modernise its outdated equipment over the next few years.

But critics have since accused Scholz of timidity in his support for Kyiv and failing to take enough concrete action in terms of arms deliveries.


Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Russia, Lavrov says

The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, RIA news agency cited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Sunday.

“The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognised by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority,” Lavrov said in an interview with French TV channel TF1, according to RIA.

For the rest of the territories in Ukraine, “the people should decide their future in these areas”, he said.


Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings in Kharkiv region: Governor

The governor of the Kharkiv region says Russian forces damaged 2,229 high-rise buildings, of which 225 have been destroyed.

In the city of Kharkiv itself, the northern and eastern districts suffered the most damage and destruction, Oleh Synyehubov told Zelenskyy during the president’s visit to Kharkiv, adding that 30 percent of the housing stock was either damaged or destroyed in these areas.


Russian forces fired on 46 communities in Donetsk and Luhansk Sunday: Army

Russian forces fired on 46 communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Sunday, killing at least three civilians, wounding two others, and destroying or damaging 62 civilian buildings.

In a Facebook post, Ukrainian forces in the Donbas said they had been on the defensive all day on Sunday.

Russian shelling also continued across several regions such as in Novy Buh in Mykolaiv and Sumy. The city council in Novy Buh in the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine said on its Telegram channel that a Russian missile attack had caused considerable damage in the city centre.


Russia still occupies one-third of Kharkiv region: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that one-third of the Kharkiv region is still under Russian occupation, but that Ukraine will “definitely liberate the entire territory”.

In his nighttime address, the president also described the destruction in the region’s capital city of Kharkiv, which he visited on Sunday.

“Black, burnt-out, half-ruined apartment buildings face east and north with their windows – from where Russian artillery was firing. From where Russian combat aircraft arrived,” he said.

“They face Russia. And in them now, like in a mirror, the Russian state can see itself. See how much it lost during these 95 days of full-scale war against Ukraine,” Zelenskyy added.


Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra raises $900,000 for army by auctioning Eurovision trophy

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, which won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, raised $900,000 for the country’s military by selling the contest’s trophy.

The group won Eurovision with their entry “Stefania”, surfing a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory that was welcomed by the country’s president.

On Sunday they sold the crystal microphone they were awarded in a Facebook auction led by Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula.

The funds raised will be used to purchase for the armed forces the PD-2 unmanned aerial system, which includes three aircraft and a ground control station, Prytula said at the auction.


Russia’s Gazprom continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine

Russian gas producer Gazprom said on Sunday its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point stood at 44.1 million cubic metres (mcm), up from 43.96 mcm on Saturday. An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.


Fighting for Sievierodonetsk continues says Ukraine’s Armed Forces

Fighting for the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk continues with Russian forces conducting assault operations on Saturday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Sunday. “With the use of artillery, Russian forces carried out assault operations in the area of the city of Sievierodonetsk,” the General Staff said in a statement on its Facebook page.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy voiced hopes in a late-night video address that Ukraine’s allies would provide needed weapons, adding that he expected “good news” this week.


682 children killed or injured in Ukraine

More than 682 children have been injured or killed in Ukraine, the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office said on Telegram.

The statement said 242 have died and 440 have been wounded, adding that the figures were not final as it was difficult to confirm reports in places of active fighting. The largest numbers were in Donetsk (153), Kyiv (116) and Kharkiv (108).


Russia scraps age limit for new troops

Russia has scrapped the upper age limit for Russians and foreigners to join the military, according to Russian state news agency TASS, enabling people over 40 to enlist for the armed forces.

Previously, the army had age limits of 18 to 40 for Russian citizens and 18 to 30 for foreigners wishing to enlist.


“No talks” on referendum

The deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in occupied Kherson has said that there won’t be a referendum on formally joining Russia until fighting stops in the area and the nearby regions of Odesa and Mykolaiv.

Kirill Stremousov said that there are “are no talks about a referendum,” but that “we’ll announce later when some kind of vote or plebiscite is taking place”. Ukrainian officials previously warned that Russian-appointed administrators were preparing for a sham vote to take over parts of Ukraine.


Ukraine calls for long-range weapons

An adviser to Ukraine’s president has called on the West to supply his country with long-range weapons if it really wants Kyiv to win against Russia.

“It is hard to fight when you are attacked from a 70km distance and have nothing to fight back with. Ukraine can bring Russia back behind the Iron Curtain, but we need effective weapons for that,” Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.


Fighting for Severodonetsk continues: Ukraine’s military

Ukraine’s military has said fighting for the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk is continuing with Russian forces conducting assault operations on Saturday.

“With the use of artillery, Russian forces carried out assault operations in the area of the city of Severodonetsk,” the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed forces said in a statement on its Facebook page on Sunday.

“The fighting continues.”


Dozens of Ukrainian athletes killed in war: Official

Ukraine’s Minister of Youth and Sports says more than 50 Ukrainian athletes have died while defending their country against Russia, according to the Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform.

“These are all our guys who played different sports. There are still many athletes who currently serve with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, some of them – in the territorial defense units,” Vadym Huttsalt said.


Zelenskyy says he is expecting ‘good news’ on arms deliveries

Ukraine’s president says he expects good news about the delivery of weapons from partner countries next week.

“Every day we are bringing closer the time when our army will surpass the occupiers technologically and by firepower. Of course, a lot depends on the partners. On their readiness to provide Ukraine with everything necessary to defend freedom. And I expect good news on this already next week,” he said in his evening address.


Japan pledges $1.7m to transport Ukraine aid

Japan has announced $1.7m in aid to help transport aid supplies to Ukraine, according to the NHK broadcaster.

Officials said the money will go to the United Nations Office for Project Services, NHK reported.


Parts of Ukraine village still flooded months after dam destroyed to stop Russian advance

Dozens of homes in the Ukrainian village of Demydiv remain partially submerged months after a dam was destroyed and the area flooded to stop Russian troops from advancing on Kyiv, officials say.

“At this time, about 50 houses in the village of Demydiv remain flooded,” regional Governor Oleksiy Kuleba wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

“People are understanding of the situation. We, in turn, make every effort to resolve the issue.”

The Ukrainian military blew up the dam on the river Irpin in February, flooding houses and fields in Demydiv, whose history goes back a thousand years.


Russia preventing Ukrainians from leaving Kherson, says Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president says Russian forces are trying to prevent the departure of Ukrainians from occupied areas in the southern Kherson region.

“They do not provide any humanitarian corridors. And closed the individual departure of people. Those who are confident in their position would definitely not make such decisions. This is clearly a sign of weakness,” Zelenskyy said in his evening address.


Zelenskyy to address European Council

Ukraine’s president says he is preparing to address a meeting of the European Council, which will take place on May 30-31.

“In particular, I will talk about the following: terror, which has become in fact the only form of action of the Russian state against Europe. Terror on the land of Ukraine. Terror in the energy market of Europe, not just our country. Terror in the food market, and on a global scale. And what type of terror will be next?”

He said in his evening address that he will continue to address the parliaments of European countries next week.

“There will be many other international activities aimed at strengthening our state and increasing the joint pressure of the whole free world on Russia.”


Situation in eastern Ukraine ‘very difficult’: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia’s war on the front lines in Donbas and Kharkiv region “is very difficult”.

Wearing a t-shirt that read, “I’m Ukrainian”, Zelenskyy said the Russian focus remains on the cities of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Bakhmut and Popasna.

He added: “I will remind the world that Russia must finally be officially recognized as a terrorist state and a state sponsor of terrorism.”


Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson region ongoing: ISW

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said an ongoing counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces in the Kherson region has reportedly pushed Russian forces back to “unfavourable borders” near the villages of Andriyivka, Lozove, and Belohirka in Kherson.

The policy research organisation said earlier on Saturday that a ground attack launched by Russian forces near Kherson-Mykolaiv had been unsuccessful.

It was the first such Russian attack near Kherson for several weeks.



Ukraine receives Harpoon anti-ship missiles, howitzers

Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.

Reznikov said Ukraine had received a range of heavy artillery pieces, including modified US-made M109 self-propelled howitzers that will allow the Ukrainian military to strike targets from longer distances.

Harpoon shore-to-ship missiles will be operated alongside Ukrainian Neptune missiles in the defence of the country’s coast, including the southern port of Odesa, the minister wrote on his Facebook page.

Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine, said in an online post that “so many Harpoons have been handed over to us that we can sink the entire Russian Black Sea Fleet. Why not?”


Putin says he is willing to discuss ways to ship grain to Ukraine’s ports

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the leaders of France and Germany that Moscow is ready to look for ways to ship grain stuck in Ukrainian ports but demanded the West lift sanctions.

Putin said the difficulties in supplying grain to world markets were the result of “erroneous economic and financial policies of Western countries”.

“Russia is ready to help find options for the unhindered export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports,” Putin told Macron and Scholz, the Kremlin said.

“An increase in the supply of Russian fertilisers and agricultural products will also help reduce tensions on the global food market, which, of course, will require the removal of the relevant sanctions.”


Russia test-fires Zircon hypersonic cruise missile  at sea

Russia successfully test-fired a hypersonic Zircon cruise missile over a distance of about 1,000 km (625 miles), the defence ministry said on Saturday. The missile was fired from the Barents Sea and hit a target in the White Sea, it said. Video released by the ministry showed the missile being fired from a ship and blazing into the sky on a steep trajectory.

President Vladimir Putin has described the Zircon as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems. Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia has conducted previous test-launches of the Zircon from warships and submarines in the past year.


 Ukrainian negotiator says any agreement with Russia ‘isn’t worth a broken penny’

Ukrainian presidential adviser and peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said Saturday that any agreement with Russia cannot be trusted and Moscow can only be stopped in its invasion by force. “Any agreement with Russia isn’t worth a broken penny, Podolyak wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “Is it possible to negotiate with a country that always lies cynically and propagandistically?”

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other after peace talks stalled, with the last known face-to-face negotiations on March 29. The Kremlin said earlier this month Ukraine was showing no willingness to continue peace talks, while officials in Kyiv blamed Russia for the lack of progress.


Russia’s Gazprom continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine

Russian gas producer Gazprom said on Saturday its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point stood at 43.96 million cubic metres (mcm), slightly up from 43.6 mcm on Friday. An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.


Final deal struck for sale to Boehly-led consortium: Chelsea

English Premier League club has said a “final and definitive agreement” had been struck to sell the club to a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and backed by Clearlake Capital.

“It is expected that the transaction will be completed on Monday,” Chelsea said in a statement. “The Club will update further at that time.”

Former owner Roman Abramovich is subject to sanctions by the British government and had put the London club up for sale in early March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


Any agreement with Russia ‘isn’t worth a broken penny’: Ukraine negotiator

Ukrainian presidential adviser and peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak has said that any agreement with Russia cannot be trusted and Moscow can only  stopped in its invasion by force.

“Any agreement with Russia isn’t worth a broken penny, Podolyak wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“Is it possible to negotiate with a country that always lies cynically and propagandistically?”


Russia affiliated churches in Ukraine critcise Moscow-based leader for supporting invasion

The leaders of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine that were affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church have adopted measures declaring the church’s full independence while criticising the Russian church’s leader for his support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The council of the Moscow-connected body, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, on Friday said it “condemns the war as a violation of God’s commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill!’ … and expresses disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia regarding the war in Ukraine.”


Russia has not surrounded Severodonetsk: Governor

The governor of the Luhansk region has denied Russian claims that their forces have surrounded the eastern city of Severodonetsk but said Ukrainian soldiers may have to retreat.

Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram Friday that the Russians have seized a hotel and bus station.

“The Russians will not be able to capture Luhansk region in the coming days, as analysts predict. We will have enough forces and means to defend ourselves,” Haidai wrote.

He added that it’s possible that “not to be surrounded, we will have to leave.”
A critical supply and evacuation path, the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway, is constantly under fire, but supplies and people are still passing on it, Haidai said.


‘Donbas will be Ukrainian’: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has struck a determined tone in his regular nightly video address amid reports that Russia had captured Lyman and was pounding the city of Severodonetsk.

Ukraine was protecting its land “as much as our current defence resources allow,” he said.

“If the occupiers think that Lyman or Severodonetsk will be theirs, they are wrong,” Zelenskyy said. “Donbas will be Ukrainian.”


Lithuanians come together to buy drone for Ukraine

Lithuanians have raised some 3 million euros ($3.2 million) in just three days – out of the 5 million euros ($5.3 million) needed – to buy an advanced military drone for Ukraine.

Laisves TV, a Lithuanian internet broadcaster that launched the drive, says hundreds of people have donated small amounts.

Ukraine has bought more than 20 Bayraktar TB2 armed drones in recent years and ordered 16 more on January 27. That batch was delivered in early March.

“This is the first case in history when ordinary people raise money to buy something like a Bayraktar. It is unprecedented, it is unbelievable,” Beshta Petro, Ukraine’s ambassador to Lithuania, told Laisves TV, according to the Reuters news agency.


 Russian troops approach the strategic city of Severodonetsk on Friday

Ukraine has pledged to do “everything” to defend Donbas, where an intensifying Russian offensive is prompting Kyiv’s forces to consider a strategic retreat from some key areas to avoid being surrounded. Russia is waging all-out war for the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions that make up Donbas, the country’s industrial heartland, where Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Moscow of carrying out a “genocide”.

In his daily address to Ukrainians, Zelensky said the Russians had “concentrated maximum artillery, maximum reserves in Donbas.” “We are protecting our land in the way that our current defense resources allow,” he added. “We are doing everything to increase them.”

Pro-Russian separatists said Friday they had captured the town of Lyman between Severodonetsk and Kramatorsk, on the road leading to the key cities still under Kyiv’s control. Russian forces are also closing in on Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the Lugansk province, with conflicting reports about the extent of their advance.


Russian forces could struggle in Severodonetsk urban battle: ISW

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has released its latest assessment on the fighting in Ukraine.

It says Russia’s direct attacks on Severodonetsk began even before the city had been completely encircled, which could make it difficult for the military to advance quickly in the town.

“Russian forces have performed poorly in operations in built-up urban terrain throughout the war to date,” the think-tank said.

It also observed an increase in the activity of Ukrainian partisan forces in the south that have been occupied by Russian troops.


Some 10,000 Russian troops in Luhansk region: Governor

Serhiy Haidai has said there are some 10,000 Russian troops in the eastern region.

“These are the (units) that are permanently in Luhansk region, that are trying to assault and are attempting to make gains in any direction they can,” Gaidai said on Ukrainian television.


Satellite images show Russian manoeuvres, devastation

New satellite images have been released giving an insight into what’s happening in eastern Ukraine, and the scale of the devastation.

A satellite image shows a Russian armour unit and the aftermath of artillery bombardments, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Popasna, Luhansk region, Ukraine

A Russian armoured unit and the aftermath of artillery bombardments in Popasna in Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. The picture was taken May 25, 2022 [Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies via Reuters]

satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows towed artillery in firing position deployed in the north of Lyman, Ukraine

Towed artillery in firing position deployed to the north of Lyman in Ukraine [©2022 Maxar Technologies via AP Photo]

satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of artillery craters in fields and destroyed buildings from recent artillery shelling, in Lyman, Ukraine

This satellite image shows fields pockmarked by artillery craters and buildings destroyed by shelling in Lyman. Thursday, May 26, 2022 [©2022 Maxar Technologies via AP Photo]

satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies, Russian forces are deployed in the town of Kolodyazi, approximately 11 kilometers northeast of Lyman, Ukraine,
Russian forces deployed in the town of Kolodyazi, approximately 11 kilometres northeast of Lyman in Ukraine. Thursday, May 26, 2022. Vehicles are positioned near buildings throughout the town [©2022 Maxar Technologies via AP Photo]


US Army confirms buying more Stingers to help replenish stocks

The United States Army has said it has awarded a contract worth $625m to Raytheon Technologies Corp for anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to replenish stocks sent to Ukraine.

The shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft Stinger missiles made by Raytheon were in hot demand in Ukraine, where they have successfully stopped Russian assaults from the air, and in neighbouring European countries that fear they may also need to beat back Russian forces.

US troops have limited use for the current supply of Stingers, but the US needs to maintain its supply on hand while it develops the next generation of a “man-portable air defense system”.

Washington has shipped about 1,400 Stingers to Kyiv since February,


Putin has achieved ‘exactly zero’ of his objectives: US official

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has said Putin has “achieved exactly zero” of his objectives in Ukraine, despite intensifying fighting in the east.

“Our assessment is that the Russians continue to make some incremental gains in the Donbas. Not great magnitude – not leaps and bounds. They are facing and continue to face a stiff Ukrainian resistance,” Kirby told reporters during a news conference.

“We are almost 100 days into this, and Mr Putin has achieved exactly zero of his strategic objectives,” he said.


NATO talks with Sweden, Finland ‘will continue’: Turkish official

A senior Turkish official has told the Reuters news agency that talks with Sweden and Finland over the two countries’ efforts to join NATO are “not an easy process” but will continue.

Ankara has raised concerns over their recent bids to join the US-led alliance, accusing Sweden and Finland of harbouring “terrorists” while also criticising Stockholm for suspending weapons sales to Ankara in 2019 over its involvement in the war in Syria.

Swedish and Finnish diplomats met in Turkey on Wednesday to try to bridge their differences.

The Turkish official told Reuters that Sweden and Finland must take “difficult” steps to win Ankara’s support. “Further negotiations will continue. But a date doesn’t seem very close,” the official said.


Scholz: Putin cannot get away with ‘cynical, inhuman war’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said Putin must not be allowed to get away with his “cynical, inhuman war”.

“Putin’s war is directed against a peace order that arose from the commitment ‘never again’ after two devastating world wars. He wants to return to the law of the strongest,” Scholz said during a speech at the German Catholic Convention in the southwestern city of Stuttgart.


‘About 10 dead’ in Russian attack on central Ukraine military base: Defence official

Russian attacks on a military facility in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro early on Friday left about 10 people dead and injured more than 30 others, a local defence official said.

“A national guard training centre was hit this morning by Iskander missiles. People were killed,” Gennady Korban, the regional head of the national guard, told local Ukrainian media.

“Unfortunately, about 10 people died and between 30 and 35 people have been injured.”


West has declared ‘total war’ on Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused Western countries of waging a “total war” on Russia and its people and culture, as Moscow pushes on with its military operation in Ukraine.

“The West has declared war on us, on the whole Russian world. The culture of cancelling Russia and everything connected with our country is already reaching the point of absurdity,” Lavrov said at a ministry meeting.

He accused the West of banning Russian writers, composers and other cultural figures. “It is safe to say that this situation will be with us for a long time,” he added.


Kremlin accuses Ukraine of “contradictory” statements on peace talks

The Kremlin has said that it blames Ukraine for the fact that peace talks between the two countries are frozen, saying it was unclear what Kiev wanted.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters: “The Ukrainian leadership constantly makes contradictory statements. This does not allow us to fully understand what the Ukrainian side wants.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier that he had tried repeatedly to organise a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict, but that Russia did not appear to be ready yet for serious peace talks.


Ukraine demands Germany cut or halt Nord Stream 1 gas flows

Ukraine’s state gas company and gas infrastructure operator have issued a request to the German government to either halt or severely curtail gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the head of the head of gas system operator said.

The request argues that the operation of the pipeline is allowed under German law on the basis that it contributes to the strengthening of he security of gas supplies to Europe, but that Russia had “violated these principles,” the head of Ukraine’s gas system operator Serhiy Makogon told national television.


Ukraine fighting to keep control of town of Lyman: Defence ministry

Ukrainian troops are still fighting to keep control of the northwestern and southeastern parts of the town of Lyman, Ukraine’s defence ministry has said.

Defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk made the comments hours after pro-Russian separatists said on their Telegram channel that they had taken full control of the strategically important town.

Motuzyanyk added that Ukrainian troops were “counteracting attempts” by Russia to push its offensive towards the key Ukrainian town of Sloviansk, said at a briefing.


Russia looking to boost grain exports as food crisis looms

Russia has said it was looking to ramp up its production of grain to export in the coming season, amid a global food crisis exacerbated by Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

The military action and sanctions imposed on Russia over the offensive have disrupted global supplies of grain, wheat and other commodities.

Russia and Ukraine alone produce 30 percent of the global wheat supply.

“In the current season (2021-2022) we have already exported over 35 million tonnes of grain, including 28.5 million tonnes of wheat,” Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said at a Russian grain forum, adding that before the end of the season on June 30 the export volume will exceed 37 million tonnes.


UK wants to include Ukraine in ‘European Commonwealth’: Report

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to create a new bloc of European nations that would bring together Ukraine, much of Eastern Europe, and Türkiye at a later stage, Italian media has reported.

The daily Corriere della Sera called the idea a “European Commonwealth” and described it as “a new system of political, economic and military alliances – alternative to the European Union.”

The countries in the new bloc would be united by their “diffidence towards Brussels” and criticism of Germany’s excessively timid response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the report suggested.


Ukrainian minister appeals for heavy weapons

Ukraine’s foreign minister has pleaded with Western nations to provide Kiev with heavy weapons to enable it to push Russian forces back.

Dmytro Kuleba tweeted a video of himself answering questions submitted on Twitter and said: “We need heavy weapons. The only position where Russia is better than us it’s the amount of heavy weapons they have. Without artillery, without multiple launch rocket systems we won’t be able to push them back.”

Kuleba said that the situation in the east of the country, where the Russian forces are on the offensive, “is as dire as people say.”


Pro-Russia separatists claim they captured Ukraine’s Lyman

Moscow-backed separatist forces in Ukraine say they have captured Lyman, a strategic town that sits on a road leading to key eastern cities still under Kiev’s control.

Together with Russian troops, separatist forces have “liberated and taken full control of 220 settlements, including Krasny Liman,” the breakaway region of Donetsk said on its Telegram channel, using an old name for the town.

There was no immediate confirmation from Russia or Ukraine.

Located in the north of the eastern Donetsk region, Lyman lies on the road to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the capital of the Ukrainian-controlled part of Donetsk.


Russia expels five Croatian diplomats in retaliatory move

Russia’s foreign ministry has said that it was expelling five staff members of the Croatian embassy in Moscow in response to Zagreb ordering out some of its staff.

Croatia in April told 24 Russian embassy staff to leave over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.


Russian gas deliveries to Slovakia through Ukraine edge lower

Delivery of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine has edged lower while flows from Germany to Poland via the Yamal pipeline were also down.

Nominations for flows into Slovakia from Ukraine via the Velke Kapusany border point stood at 420,009,181 kilowatt hours per hour, down from 421,945122 the previous day, data from the Ukrainian transmission system operator showed.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said that its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point stood at 43.6 million cubic metres, slightly down from 44.5 on Thursday.


Ukraine: Four more killed in Sievierodonetsk

A Ukrainian regional governor has said that at least four people have been killed in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk over the past 24 hours by Russian shelling. One more person was killed by a Russian shell in the village of Komushuvakha.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, wrote in a Telegram post that “the residents of Sievierodonetsk have forgotten when was the last time there was silence in the city for at least half an hour.” 

He said that “the Russians are pounding residential neighbourhoods relentlessly.”


Separatist leader: Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners held in breakaway region

A pro-Russian separatist leader in East Ukraine said that more than 5,000 Ukrainian prisoners were being held in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, TASS reported.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the report. 


Zelenskyy: Ukraine needs to face reality and talk to Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Ukraine was not eager to talk to Russia’s Vladimir Putin but that it has to face the reality that this will likely be necessary to end the conflict.

“There are things to discuss with the Russian leader. I’m not telling you that to me our people are eager to talk to him, but we have to face the realities of what we are living through,” Zelenskyy said in an address to an Indonesian think-tank.

“What do we want from this meeting… We want our lives back… We want to reclaim the life of a sovereign country within its own territory,” he said, adding that Russia did not appear to be ready yet for serious peace talks.


UK: Putin making slow but palpable progress in Donbass

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was making slow but palpable progress in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

“I’m afraid that Putin, at great cost to himself and to the Russian military, is continuing to chew through ground in Donbass,” he told Bloomberg TV.

“He’s continuing to make gradual, slow, but I’m afraid palpable, progress and therefore it is absolutely vital that we continue to support the Ukrainians militarily.”


Ukraine: Russia commits all its forces to take Luhansk

Russia has made an all-out effort to capture the rest of the industrial region of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, officials said. Luhansk is part of Donbass, the industrial basin comprising that region and Donetsk.

Russian forces are now closing in on several urban centres, including the strategically located Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. “The situation remains difficult, because the Russian army has thrown all its forces at taking the Luhansk region,” regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a video.

Gaiday said three people died in recent Russian attacks on Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. Russian forces also bombarded Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv, killing nine people, and five civilians were killed on Thursday in the Donetsk region to the south, according to the governor. 


Moscow ‘failed to achieve goal so far’ in eastern Ukraine

Russian troops are attempting to gain full control over Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions, but their efforts have been unsuccessful so far, the Ukrainian General Staff has said.

“Meanwhile, the enemy is still planning to force a crossing over the Siverskyi Donets (River),” Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told reporters.

He went on to say that Russian forces continue to launch offensive operations in eastern Ukraine and strikes deep into the defence lines of Ukrainian forces.

“Despite the prevailing number of personnel, ammunition and military equipment, the enemy has failed to achieve their goal so far,” he added.


Fiji dismisses plea to stop US seizing Russian superyacht

A Fiji court has dismissed an appeal to stop US authorities from seizing the Russian superyacht Amadea.

The $300 million yacht, linked by the United States to billionaire oligarch and politician Suleiman Kerimov — who is the target of sanctions, was impounded on arrival in Fiji a month ago at Washington’s request.

The yacht’s registered owners, Millemarin Investments, denied Kerimov was the owner and argued that the Fijian law under which the 106-metre Amadea was detained did not allow for the United States to take it away. But the Court of Appeal said it dismissed the appeal.


Zelenskyy says Russia carrying out ‘genocide’ in Ukraine’s Donbass

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of carrying out “an obvious policy of genocide” in his country’s eastern Donbass region.

Moscow’s offensive in Donbass could end up leaving the region “uninhabited,” he said, accusing the Russians of wanting to reduce its cities to ashes.

“All this, including the deportation of our people and the mass killings of civilians, is an obvious policy of genocide pursued by Russia,” he said in his daily televised address.


Russia shows footage of Iskander missile launch: RIA

Russia’s defence ministry has showed footage of an Iskander-K missile launch against an unnamed “military target” in Ukraine, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

The Iskander is a short-range ballistic missile system that Russian forces have deployed against Ukrainian cities, ammo depots and other military targets since it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation.”


Separatist republics ‘hold 8,000 Ukrainian POWs’

Ukrainian prisoners of war held in the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics number about 8,000, Luhansk official Rodion Miroshnik is quoted by TASS news agency as saying.

“There are a lot of prisoners. Of course, there are more of them on the territory of Donetsk People’s Republic, but we also have enough, and now the total number is somewhere in the region of 8,000. That’s a lot, and literally hundreds are being added every day,” Miroshnik said.

The report cannot be independently identified.


Nineteen high-rise buildings destroyed in eastern Ukraine: Kyiv

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office has said 11 high-rise buildings were destroyed in Sievierodonetsk and eight in Lysychansk.

Zelenskyy has said Russian troops heavily outnumber Ukrainian forces in some parts of the east and Kyiv has been trying unsuccessfully to arrange a prisoner swap with Moscow.


Estonian PM says must avoid a bad peace for Ukraine

Ukraine has to be able to negotiate with Russia from a position of strength so that Moscow is not encouraged to take further aggressive action, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Wednesday.

“We must avoid a bad peace, a badly negotiated peace for Ukraine would mean a bad peace for us all,” she said in a speech in Stockholm.

“It is much more dangerous giving in to Putin, than provoking him. All these seemingly small concessions to the aggressor lead to big wars. We have done this mistake already three times: Georgia, Crimea and Donbas.”


Donbas separatist leader wants Russia’s operation to be accelerated: RIA

The leader of Russian-backed separatists in the breakaway Donetsk region has called for the military operation in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine to be accelerated, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said Kyiv had blocked water supplies to key cities in the north of the region and called for military action to be stepped up.


At least 431 civilians killed in Donetsk region amid war: Governor

The governor of Donetsk says at least 431 civilians have been killed and 1,168 wounded in the region since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. But he added that the number of casualties in Mariupol and the town of Volnovakha was currently unknown.

“Russia’s armed forces are killing and destroying the civilian infrastructure of Donetsk settlements, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless,” Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

On Wednesday, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor said that town officials estimated at least 22,000 civilians had died in the three months of Russia’s invasion.


Russian-backed separatists say they hold 8,000 Ukrainian POWs

Ukrainian prisoners of war held in the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” number about 8,000, Luhansk official Rodion Miroshnik was quoted by TASS news agency as having said.

“There are a lot of prisoners. Of course, there are more of them on the territory of Donetsk People’s Republic, but we also have enough, and now the total number is somewhere in the region of 8,000. That’s a lot, and literally hundreds are being added every day,” Miroshnik said.


Ukraine says 240 children killed amid war

Ukraine has confirmed that 240 children have died and 436 have been injured as a result of, and since, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Human rights ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said that the numbers came from a register of pre-trial investigations and “as well as other sources that need to be confirmed”.


US to end Russia’s ability to pay international investors

The US will close the last avenue for Russia to pay its billions in debt back to international investors, making a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable.

The Treasury Department said in a notification that it does not plan to renew the license that allowed Russia to keep paying its debt holders through American banks.

Since the first rounds of sanctions, the Treasury Department has given banks a license to process any dollar-denominated bond payments from Russia. That window expires at midnight May 25.


Sweden, Finland delegations in Türkiye for NATO talks

Delegations from Sweden and Finland are scheduled to hold talks in Ankara with senior Turkish officials, aiming to overcome Türkiye’s objections to their historic bids to join NATO.

Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join the alliance last week in a move that marks one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s war in Ukraine – and which could rewrite Europe’s security map.

Türkiye has said it opposes the two Nordic countries’ membership in the military alliance.


Ukraine: 200 bodies found in basement in Mariupol’s ruins 

Workers digging through the rubble of an apartment building in Mariupol found 200 bodies in the basement, Ukrainian authorities have said, as more horrors come to light in the ruined city that has seen some of the worst suffering of the 3-month-old conflict.

The bodies were decomposing and the stench hung over the neighbourhood, said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor. He did not say when they were discovered, but the sheer number of victims makes it one of the deadliest known attacks of the war.

Heavy fighting, meanwhile, was reported in the Donbass, the eastern industrial heartland that Moscow’s forces are intent on seizing.


Russia fires at Ukrainian border guards: Ukrainian military

The Ukrainian military said Russia has fired at Ukrainian border guards in the northeastern Sumy region in the latest of a series of alleged cross-border attacks over the past few weeks.

Military officials say observers Tuesday night recorded seven shots from Russian territory toward the village of Boyaro-Lezhachi, most likely mortar fire.

The Ukrainian Operational Command North said on its Facebook post that eight other shots were heard Tuesday afternoon near a neighbouring village. There were no reports of any deaths.


Russian lawmakers vote to remove upper age limit for military service

Russia’s State Duma approved a law on Wednesday removing the upper age limit for contractual service in the country’s military. Currently, only Russians aged between 18 and 40 and foreigners aged 18 to 30 can enlist as professional soldiers in the Russian army.


Russia says ready to provide corridor for food-carrying ships leaving Ukraine

Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for the lifting of some sanctions, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying on Wednesday.

Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been blocked since Russia sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 and more than 20 million tonnes of grain are stuck in silos in the country. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies and the lack of significant grain exports from Ukraine ports is contributing to a growing global food crisis.

Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil. Western powers have been discussing the idea of setting up “safe corridors” for grain exports from Ukraine’s ports, adding that any such corridor would need Russian consent.


Moscow preparing measures against English-language media

Moscow is working on measures against English-language media in response to “unfriendly actions” by foreign governments towards Russian news outlets, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says.

Zakharova did not specify which actions Russia might take against what she called the “Anglo-Saxon media”, using a term Russian officials often cite when referring to the English-speaking world.


Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree simplifying the process for residents of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.

The decree extends a scheme available since 2019 to residents of areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.


Swedish PM says talks in Turkey will ‘sort out’ Ankara’s NATO concerns

Swedish diplomats will hold meetings with Turkish officials in Ankara today to discuss Turkey’s concerns over Sweden and Finland’s applications for NATO membership, the country’s prime minister says.

“We will naturally go through and discuss the list and sort out a number of things that have been unclear in reporting in the media and statements from other places,” Magdalena Andersson said.

“Clearly, it’s about where we send our financial aid, for example, and that we sell weapons. We don’t send money to terrorist organisations, obviously – or weapons either.”

NATO member Turkey has repeatedly criticised Sweden and other Western European countries for its handling of organisations deemed to be “terrorists” by Ankara, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as well as supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the United States-based Muslim scholar accused of involvement in a failed 2016 coup.


Russian lawmakers vote to scrap upper age limit for military

Russia’s State Duma has approved a bill to remove the upper age limit for contractual service in the country’s military.

Currently, only Russians aged between 18 and 40 and foreigners aged 18 to 30 can enlist as professional soldiers in the Russian army.


West lacking ‘unity’ over Ukraine: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president has accused the West of being divided over the extent of its support for his country.

“Unity is about weapons. My question is, is there this unity in practice? I can’t see it. Our huge advantage over Russia would be when we are truly united,” Zelenskyy said during a panel discussion on Ukraine at the WEF gathering.

Zelenskyy, who was speaking via video link, also pointed to the lack of consensus over the possible accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. Turkey, a NATO member, has expressed opposition to the Nordic countries becoming members of the military alliance.

“So, is there a strong joint West? No,” he said.


Moscow says Mariupol port operating normally

Russia’s defence ministry says that Mariupol’s Azov Sea port is operating normally after the city was seized by Moscow’s forces following a three-month siege.

The ministry’s statement came after a Russian foreign ministry official said earlier on Wednesday that Moscow was in touch with the United Nations and  “does not rule out the possibility of global talks to unblock Ukraine’s ports”.


Lithuania to transfer 20 armoured personal carriers to Ukraine

Lithuania will transfer 20 M113 armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine, as well as military trucks and de-mining vehicles, the country’s defence ministry says.

The vehicles are worth a total of 15.5 million euros ($16.5m), the ministry said in a statement. Lithuania has previously provided military support to Ukraine worth 100 million euros ($107m), it added.

Defence minister Arvydas Anusauskas said the “coordinated help” from Vilnius and Kyiv’s other allies would prove to be “the deciding factor for the Ukrainian victory”.


Nike not renewing franchise agreements in Russia: Report

US sportswear giant Nike has not renewed agreements with its largest franchisee in Russia, according to the country’s Vedomosti newspaper.

Nike announced on March 3 that it would temporarily suspend operations at all of its stores in Russia in response to Moscow’s invasion and has said that those still open are operated by independent partners.

The head of Inventive Retail Group, which operates Nike-branded stores in Russia through its subsidiary Up And Run, said Nike was no longer supplying goods to Russia, Vedomosti reported.


 West lacking ‘unity’ over Ukraine war: Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that the West remained divided over the extent of its support for Ukraine in its defence against Russia’s months-long invasion. “Unity is about weapons. My question is, is there this unity in practice? I can’t see it. Our huge advantage over Russia would be when we are truly united,” Zelensky said during a panel discussion on Ukraine at the World Economic Forum.

Washington and European countries have poured billions of dollars’ worth of arms into Ukraine to help the country’s outgunned forces beat back the better-armed Russian invaders. Kyiv has called for greater support, membership to the US-led NATO military alliance, and for a no-fly zone to be imposed over the country.

Zelensky said Ukraine was grateful for support from US President Joe Biden but said resolve was lagging closer to home. “We are on the European continent and we need the support of a united Europe,” he added. Zelensky specifically named neighbouring Hungary, which has voiced opposition to a European Union-wide embargo on Russian oil, another key Ukrainian demand.


Russia attempting to trap Ukrainian forces in Donbas 

Russia is attempting to seize the separatist-claimed Donbas’ two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front. 

In the easternmost part of the Ukrainian-held Donbas pocket, the city of Sievierodonetsk on the east bank of the Siverskiy Donets River and its twin Lysychansk, on the west bank, have become a pivotal battlefield. Russian forces were advancing from three directions to encircle them.  

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said Russian forces launched an offensive on Sievierodonetsk early on Wednesday and the town was under constant fire from mortars. 


UK government authorises sale of Chelsea football club post-Abramovich

The UK government said Wednesday it had given the green light to Todd Boehly’s proposed takeover of Chelsea football club from the sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries said she had issued a licence permitting the deal late on Tuesday, shortly after it won approval from the Premier League.

“We are satisfied the proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned individuals,” Dorries tweeted. “Given the sanctions we placed on those linked to (Vladimir) Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be secured under a new owner,” she said.

A consortium led by Boehly, a co-owner of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, had already agreed a record £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) deal to buy the Premier League club from Abramovich on May 7.


Ukraine needs more weapons for ‘ruthless’ Donbas battle: FM

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that the country still does not have all the weapons it needs and that “the Russian offensive in the Donbas is a ruthless battle”.

“I urge partners to speed up the supply of weapons and ammunition, especially MLRS, long-range artillery, APCs [armoured personnel carriers],” Dmytro Kulebo wrote on Twitter.


Quad countries, including India, shared Ukraine concerns: Japan’s PM

Leaders of the Quad grouping of countries, including India’s Modi, shared concerns over the situation in Ukraine at their meeting in Tokyo, the Japanese prime minister has said.


UK in discussions over how to get grain out of Ukraine: Minister

Britain is in discussions with Ukraine about how to help get grain out of the country after Russia blocked its main sea ports, transport secretary Grant Shapps has said.

Shapps said he was very concerned about the issue – which has seen global food prices soar as Ukraine is unable to export nearly 25 million tonnes of grains – and met Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov last week.

“We were discussing details which I can’t go into but about how infrastructure could be in place to ensure the grain leaves,” Shapps told Sky News.

“We’re looking at all the different options … there are lots of different potential ways to get grain and other goods out of the country,” he said. “It’s absolutely essential that we do, otherwise there could be a lot of hunger and indeed even famine.”


Russia may face further logistical difficulties in battle for Severodonetsk: UK

While the capture of Severdonetsk in the Luhansk region may be Russia’s main effort at the moment, it is only one part of its campaign to seize the Donbas, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said that Russia has intensified efforts to encircle Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and Rubizhne, adding that the “northern and southern axes of this operation are separated by approximately 25 km of Ukrainian-held territory”.

“If the Donbas front line moves further west, this will extend Russian lines of communication and likely see its forces face further logistic resupply difficulties,” the ministry said.


Cargoes of Russia’s flagship crude oil at sea climb to record high

Some 62 million barrels of Russia’s flagship Urals crude oil are sitting in vessels at sea, data from energy analytics firm Vortexa has shown, as traders struggled to find buyers for the crude.

The volume of crude oil on the water is triple the pre-war average, Vortexa said, even as Russian seaborne oil exports fell to 6.7 million barrels per day (bpd) so far in May, down about 15 percent from the 7.9 bpd in February.

“The headline numbers, showing Russian exports are still relatively strong, don’t tell the full story,” Houston-based energy strategist Clay Seigle told Reuters. “Russian oil at sea is continuing to accumulate.”

Most barrels of Russian crude oil have headed to Asia, mainly India and China, while volumes to Europe have also ticked up ahead of a ban.


Nationalist Russian groups call for mobilisation: Think-tank

Russian nationalist figures are increasingly criticising the failures of Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and calling for further mobilisation, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

The ISW said that the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, an independent pro-Russian veterans’ association that seeks to reform Russian military strategy, called for Putin to declare war on Ukraine and introduce partial mobilisation in Russia on May 19.

The assembly said that Russia’s operation had failed to achieve its goals in three months. It also appealed to Putin “to recognise that Russian forces are no longer only ‘denazifying’ Ukraine but are fighting a war for Russia’s historic territories and existence in the world order,” the ISW said.

The institute added that while these calls could help set conditions for partial mobilisation, the Kremlin had so far declined to take this step “likely due to concerns over domestic backlash and flaws in Russia’s mobilisation systems”.



Ukraine crisis a ‘global issue’: Biden

Joe Biden has said that the crisis in Ukraine is a global issue which heightens the importance of maintaining international order, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Biden’s comments delivered at the opening of the “Quad” meeting of Indo-Pacific leaders in Tokyo came a day after he broke with convention and volunteered US military support for Taiwan, the self-governed island claimed by China.

“This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue,” Biden said of the crisis in Ukraine at the meeting of the United States, Japan, India and Australia. He stressed Washington would stand with its allies and push for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“International law, human rights must always be defended regardless of where they’re violated in the world,” he said.


Ukraine says it has ‘liberated’ 24 settlements in Kharkiv region

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces has said 24 settlements in the Kharkiv region have been “liberated”.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi said the village of Kutuzovka was among them.

“About 170 local residents lived in the basement of the kindergarten for more than two months. Among them, 40 children aged from three months to 12 years. The Ukrainian military, who liberated the village, provided first aid to the locals, shared with them everything they needed – water, food, clothing,” Zaluzhnyi said in a Facebook post.


Kherson’s schools and universities will be run in Russian: Moscow-backed official

Russian will become the state language of Kherson, alongside Ukrainian, the Moscow-backed self-proclaimed leader of the regional military administration has said, the Russian state-owned RIA news agency reports.

Kirill Stremousov said schools and universities will be run in Russian but Ukrainian classes could also be formed at the request of parents.

“We will not infringe on anyone’s rights. Plus, we have a large community of Crimean Tatars living in our region. The expediency of giving the status of the state language to the Crimean Tatar language, as is done in Crimea, we will discuss in detail at a meeting with the community,” he said.


Ukraine says 580 foreign companies still doing business in Russia

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that 580 foreign companies remain in Russia, continuing to do business “as usual”.

“That is, they pretend that nothing happened,” Dmytro Kuleba said on Instagram on Monday.

He said Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry sent a request to eight of the largest international corporations to stop working in Russia but had not received a response.

“We cannot order them to come out. But we need to work from different angles,” Kuleba added.


Kyiv ready for prisoner exchange with Russia: Zelenskyy

Kyiv is ready for an exchange of prisoners with Russia, Zelenskyy has said as he called on his allies to put pressure on Moscow.

“The exchange of people – this is a humanitarian matter today and a very political decision that depends on the support of many states,” Zelenskyy said in a question-and-answer video link with audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He said that Ukraine has involved the United Nations, Switzerland, Israel and “many, many countries”, but the process was very complicated.

“It is important … to pressure politically on any level, through powerful business, through the closure of businesses, oil embargo … and through these threats actively intensify the exchange of our people for Russian servicemen.”

“We do not need the Russian servicemen, we only need ours,” Zelenskyy said. “We are ready for an exchange even tomorrow.”


Wimbledon’s ban on Russians was ‘wrong’, says Djokovic

Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tennis tournament following the invasion of Ukraine was wrong, world number one Novak Djokovic has said.

Wimbledon was stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA Tours over its decision to exclude players from the two countries.

“I think it (Wimbledon’s ban) was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But at these times it is a sensitive subject and whatever you decide will create a lot of conflict,” said Djokovic, who is Serbian.

“There was never unfortunately a strong communication coming from Wimbledon. That’s why I think it’s wrong.”


EU embargo on Russian oil ‘within days’: German minister

The European Union will likely agree on an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days”, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has told broadcaster ZDF.

Habeck warned, however, that an embargo would not automatically weaken the Kremlin as rising prices were enabling it to rake in more income while selling lower volumes of oil.

Therefore, one consideration was to no longer pay “any price” for oil, but to agree on upper limits, he said. For that to work, however, many countries would have to get on board.


‘Strong views’ on invasion at Quad meeting: Australian PM

Australia’s new prime minister, Antony Albanese, has said “strong views” were expressed on Russia at the Quad leaders meeting in Tokyo.

The grouping known as the Quad includes Australia, Japan, the US and India. US President Joe Biden, who is attending the meeting, has been pushing for a coordinated response to the Ukraine invasion, but India has maintained a neutral stance. 

Speaking to reporters after the Quad meeting, Albanese said Russia’s “unilateral” attack on the people of Ukraine was an outrage. “Strong views were expressed in the meeting,” he said.


In occupied Kherson, discontent on display during organised press tour

At a water treatment plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, a worker offers a curt visit of the premises.  “I was told to give a tour. So, we are giving a tour. Here is where we stock things,” she says, pointing to a closet. “There is a dryer there,” she continues tersely before moving to the next room.

Russian forces took control of the Kherson region, which borders the Donetsk region to the east and Crimea to the south, early in the war and have installed a pro-Kremlin administration.

Protests have broken out in Kherson city, the regional capital, against the invasion of Ukraine. But on an organised press tour three months after the launch of the invasion, residents selected to speak to the press are tight lipped about their situation – mostly.


 Russia not sure it needs resumed ties with West, will work on ties with China, Lavrov says

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow will consider offers of re-establishing ties with the West and think about whether that is needed, but will focus on developing ties with China.

“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” Lavrov said in a speech, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website.

He also said Moscow’s goal now is to further develop ties with China.

“Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” Lavrov said.


German economy minister expects EU embargo on Russian oil ‘within days’

The EU will likely agree an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days”, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told broadcaster ZDF on Monday.

Habeck warned that an embargo would not automatically weaken the Kremlin as rising prices were enabling it to rake in more income while selling lower volumes of oil. Therefore, one consideration was to no longer pay “any price” for oil, but to agree on upper limits, he said. For that to work, however, many countries would have to get on board.


Kremlin says sanctions against Russia cause threat of global food crisis

Russia cannot be blamed for a possible global food crisis and the fundamental reason is the sanctions against the country, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

Agreeing with the UN assessments about the possibility of a global food crisis, Peskov said the ban on deliveries of fertilisers and other restrictions imposed on Russia in connection with the Russia-Ukraine conflict is among the reasons that provoke it. 

Responding to accusations about blockades on the export of Ukraine’s grain via sea routes, Peskov pointed out that the Ukrainian ports were mined by its military to prevent the entrance of the Russian warship. 


Russian diplomat quits over Ukraine conflict

A Russian diplomat in Geneva has left his job in protest at the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine, telling diplomatic colleagues: “Never have I been so ashamed of my country.”

Boris Bondarev, a counsellor at Moscow’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva, wrote in a letter that he was leaving after 20 years in the diplomatic service, decrying Russia’s attacks in its Western neighbour.

In the letter, he condemned “the aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine and in fact against the entire Western world”. This, he said, was “not only a crime against the Ukrainian people but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia”.


Russian, Belarusian presidents hail Moscow’s resilience to sanctions

Russia’s economy shows good resilience to sanctions, the country’s President Vladimir Putin said.

Speaking at a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, Putin noted that the current situation and unprecedented restrictions, imposed on Russia due to the war in Ukraine, demand great efforts from the Russian government, but these efforts give a good result. 

“Despite all difficulties, I would like to note that the Russian economy is withstanding the sanctions blow, it is withstanding very well. This is indicated by all the main macroeconomic indicators,” he said. 


Kremlin slams ‘terror attack’ on Ukraine’s pro-Moscow official

The Kremlin accused Ukrainian nationalists of carrying out a “terror attack” against an official installed by Moscow in southern Ukraine. 

Andrey Shevchik was appointed as mayor of Energodar in the Zaporizhzhia region after Russian troops took control of the town, the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, during Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

On Sunday, Shevchik and his two guards were wounded in the explosion as they were entering a building.


Russian-controlled Ukraine region declares rouble official currency

Authorities in the Moscow-controlled Ukrainian region of Kherson announced the introduction of the rouble as an official currency alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia.

The region’s capital Kherson was the first major city to fall to Russian forces after the start of Moscow’s military operation.

“Today a decree will be issued that formalises the introduction in the Kherson region of dual currency,” the pro-Moscow head of the regional administration, Vladimir Saldo, said in a video address. 


Starbucks says it will completely exit Russia

Starbucks said it will cease operations in Russia, shuttering its 130 cafes in the country. 

The coffee chain, which suspended its operations in early March following the Ukraine-Russia conflict, said it will “exit” Russia and “no longer have a brand presence in the market.” 

“We will continue to support the nearly 2,000 green apron partners in Russia, including pay for six months and assistance for partners to transition to new opportunities outside of Starbucks,” the company said. 


Zelenskyy calls for more sanctions on Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has used the Davos summit to appeal for more weapons for his country and “maximum” sanctions against Moscow.

Speaking by videolink, Zelenskyy told the World Economic Forum that tens of thousands of lives would have been saved if Kiev had received “100 percent of our needs at once back in February” when Russia attacked Ukraine.

Addressing the gathering of the world’s political and business elites, Zelenskyy called for an oil embargo on Russia, punitive measures against all its banks and the shunning of its IT sector, adding that all foreign companies should leave the country.


Russia says fired cruise missiles to destroy Ukrainian weapons

Russia’s defence ministry says it has fired four Kalibr missiles from a submarine in the Black Sea to destroy the military equipment of a Ukrainian mountain assault brigade, the TASS news agency has reported.

It was not immediately possible to verify the report.


UN: More than 6.5 million people have fled Ukraine

More than 6.5 million people have fled Ukraine since late February, according to the UN refugee agency.

Since Russia’s attacks began on February 24, 6,538,998 refugees have left Ukraine, with the majority of them entering Poland.


Azovstal fighters to face trial in breakaway region

The leader of Ukraine’s breakaway so-called Donetsk People’s Republic has said the fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol will a face trial in the separatist region.

“The prisoners from Azovstal are being held on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” Interfax news agency quoted Denis Pushilin as saying. 

“Organising an international tribunal on the republic’s territory is also planned,” Pushilin added, but it was not clear what charges the fighters would face.


Russian soldier sentenced to life in Ukraine

A Ukrainian court has sentenced a 21-year-old Russian soldier to life in prison for killing a Ukrainian civilian, in the first “war crimes” trial held since Russia’s attacks began.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin was accused of shooting a Ukrainian civilian in the head in a village in the northeastern Sumy region in the early days of Moscow’s offensive.

He pleaded guilty and testified that he shot the man after being ordered to do so. He told the court that an officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was speaking on his cellphone, could pinpoint their location to the Ukrainian forces.


Poland to terminate agreement with Russia regarding Yamal gas pipeline

Poland has decided to terminate an intergovernmental agreement with Russia regarding the Yamal gas pipeline, Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa has said on Twitter.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has confirmed the accuracy of the Polish government’s determination to become completely independent from Russian gas. We always knew that Gazprom was not a reliable partner,” Moskwa said. 


City of Mariupol left in ruins

After weeks of siege and strikes much of Mariupol, a Ukrainian city on the coast of the Sea of Azov, has been reduced to a wasteland.

Hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents have fled for their lives. Those who stayed fear for their future. 


Russian soldiers start clearing mines from Ukraine’s Azovstal

Russian soldiers cleared mines and debris on the industrial grounds of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol on Sunday after hundreds of Ukrainian forces holed up in the vast plant for weeks were ordered to stand down.

“The task is huge, the enemy planted their own landmines, we had also planted anti-personnel mines while blocking the enemy. So we’ve got some two weeks of work ahead of us,” said Babai, a Russian soldier who only gave his nom de guerre.

Russia on Friday said the last Ukrainian fighters defending Azovstal had surrendered. Ukraine has not confirmed that development, but a commander of one of the units in the factory said in a video that the troops had been ordered to stand down. 


Polish President Andrzej Duda pledges full support for Ukraine’s EU membership bid

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Sunday pledged full support for Ukraine’s EU membership bid, saying those who “shed their blood” for Europe must be respected, “even if the situation is complicated, even if there are doubts”.

“I have no doubt that the European Union will make such a gesture,” he added, saying the European Council’s decision on Ukraine’s candidate status on June 24 would be “extremely important, above all psychologically and politically”.

Addressing the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, Duda said he would continue his efforts as long as Ukraine remained outside the bloc and that a successful membership bid would be thanks to Warsaw.


Biden: Russia must pay ‘long-term price’ for Ukraine invasion

President Joe Biden said that Russia “has to pay a long-term price” for its “barbarism in Ukraine” in terms of sanctions imposed on Moscow by the United States and its allies.

He said that if, after any future rapprochement between Russia and Ukraine, “the sanctions are not continued to be sustained in many ways, then what signal does that send to China about the cost of attempting to take Taiwan by force?”


Shelling kills one person in Luhansk, child dies from injuries: Governor

Russian shells hit more than 70 residential buildings in the Luhansk region on Sunday and killed one person in Lysychansk, the region’s governor has said.

Serhiy Haidai said the person died when their apartment was hit by a shell in the evening.

He added that a child injured in the town of Pryvillya, when it came under fire on May 7, died in intensive care.


Russia says it controls 95% of Luhansk

Russian forces now control 95 percent Luhansk, Russia’s media has said.

Ukraine’s forces are still holding Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the Zvezda TV channel, run by the Russian defence ministry, said on Sunday.


Russia’s losses in Ukraine as high as the USSR’s in Afghanistan: UK

In three months of the war in Ukraine, Russia has suffered a similar death toll as the Soviet Union did in nine years of war in Afghanistan, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

“A combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes has led to this high casualty rate, which continues to rise in the Donbas offensive,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

The ministry suggested that because the Russian public has been sensitive to casualties suffered in “wars of choice” in the past, the rising death toll in Ukraine may “fuel public dissatisfaction with the war” and a willingness to speak out against it.


Russia’s new Black Sea Fleet flagship heads to Odesa: Ukraine army

Ukraine’s army says Russia is strengthening its position in the Black Sea with a new addition to its fleet, the Admiral Makarov frigate. Ukraine says the ship has left the Crimean port of Sevastopol and is heading towards Odesa.

Russia’s news agency TASS had previously reported a source from occupied Crimea’s intelligence agency saying the Admiral Makarov would be the new flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, replacing the Moskva, which sank in mid-April after Ukraine said it hit it with two missiles.

Ukraine’s army said with the Makarov entering the fold, the risk of missile attacks from the Black Sea had increased.


Russia’s imports down to 2020 levels: Official

Imports into Russia have fallen to 2020 levels due to “measures from unfriendly states”, which have led to logistical difficulties, a deputy head of Russia’s customs service has said, state agency RIA news reports.

Ruslan Davydov said deliveries from the northwest had seen the highest decrease due to port closures and bans on Russian ships, while imports had increased from countries to Russia’s east and south, in particular China and Kazakhstan.

“In addition, we see that in the Baltic countries and Poland, cargoes are artificially slowed down and subjected to 100% inspection,” Davydov said, adding that this represented an “economic war” against Russia.


NZ sending 30 army personnel to train Ukraine soldiers in UK

New Zealand will send 30 defence force personnel to the UK to help train Ukrainian soldiers on operating L119 light field guns.

“Our training team has been requested to help train members of Ukraine’s Armed Forces in the use of the weapon system until the end of July,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, making it clear the NZ soldiers would be based in the UK and would not enter Ukraine.

New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short said 230 Ukrainians would be trained and it would take about a week for each training session.


Russia seeks new advance at Severodonetsk: Think-tank

Russian forces continued ground assaults around the major Luhansk city of Severodonetsk on Sunday but made only minimal gains in the east of the country as it seeks to capture the last Luhansk stronghold, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

In its latest campaign assessment, the institute noted that Russia had been unsuccessful at encircling Severodonetsk from the east to support its previous advances towards the city from the north (via Rubizhne), west (via Bilohorivka), and south (via Popasna). But it added that there had been confirmed reports Russia seemed to have broken through Ukrainian defences around Popasna.

“Russian forces likely seek to open a new line of advance north from Popasna to complete the encirclement of Severodonetsk while simultaneously driving west toward Bakhmut, though Russian forces are unlikely to be able to fully resource both lines of advance simultaneously,” the institute said.



Ukraine to reach verdict on Russian soldier Monday

A Ukrainian court is expected to reach a verdict for a Russian soldier who was the first to go on trial for an alleged war crime.

The 21-year-old sergeant, who has admitted to shooting a Ukrainian man in the head in a village in the northeastern Sumy region on February 28, could get life in prison if convicted.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova said her office was prosecuting war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offences that included bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting.

She said it was looking into more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.


Ukraine, Poland agree on joint customs control

Ukraine and Poland have agreed to establish joint border customs control and work on a shared railway company to ease the movement of people and increase Ukraine’s export potential.

Zelenskyy and Duda touted the increased cooperation during a meeting in Kyiv on Sunday, with Duda telling Ukrainian lawmakers: “The Polish-Ukrainian border should unite not divide.”

Zelenskyy called the joint border customs control a “revolutionary” move and said it would “significantly speed up border procedures”.


Senegalese President Macky Sall says he will visit Moscow and Kyiv in coming weeks

Senegalese President Macky Sall said he would visit Moscow and Kyiv in the coming weeks in his capacity as chairman of the African Union, which he said wanted to see de-escalation in Ukraine and peace reached through dialogue between the two sides.

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Sall said: “We do not want to be aligned on this conflict, very clearly, we want peace. Even though we condemn the invasion, we’re working for a de-escalation, we’re working for a ceasefire, for dialogue … that is the African position.”


French President Emmanuel Macron calls on WHO members to condemn Russian aggression

French President Emmanuel Macron asked the member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) to support a resolution condemning Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, and “reaffirmed the full solidarity of France and the European Union with Ukraine”.

This text is expected to be adopted on Tuesday. Although it strongly condemns Russia, it does not “in any way provide for (its) expulsion”, said a Western diplomat, recalling that the WHO can only impose “very weak” sanctions on a member country.


Zelensky promises reciprocal rights for Poles in Ukraine

Polish citizens in Ukraine will be granted the same rights that Ukrainian refugees in Poland are currently receiving, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda on Sunday during his visit to Kyiv.

Poland has granted over 3 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the right to live and work, and claim social security payments.

Earlier on Sunday, a Ukrainian ruling party lawmaker said that Zelensky had announced the imminent tabling of a parliamentary bill that would give Polish citizens “special legal status” in Ukraine.


France’s Europe minister says Ukraine’s bid to join the EU would take ’15 or 20 years’ 

Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union would not be finalised for “15 or 20 years,” France’s Europe minister said Sunday, dashing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hopes for a quick entry in the wake of Russia’s invasion of his country.

“We have to be honest. If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you’re lying,” Clement Beaune told Radio J. “It’s probably in 15 or 20 years, it takes a long time.”


Ukraine extends martial law through August 23

Ukraine on Sunday extended martial law for three months through to August 23 as the war with Russia continues.

President Volodymyr Zelensky first signed the decree along with a general military mobilisation call on February 24 when Russian forces invaded.

Ukraine’s parliament on Sunday voted by an absolute majority for the decree to be extended a third time as Russia pursues its offensive targeting the eastern Donbas region.


France sees EU membership for Ukraine in ’15 or 20 years’: minister

A bid by Ukraine to join the European Union could not be finalised for “15 or 20 years,” France’s Europe minister has said, pouring cold water on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hopes for a quick entry in the wake of Russian onslaught.

“We have to be honest. If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you’re lying,” Clement Beaune told Radio J. 

“It’s probably in 15 or 20 years, it takes a long time.”


Ukraine must decide its own future: Duda

Only Ukraine has the right to decide its future, the Polish president told lawmakers in Kiev, as he became the first foreign leader to give a speech in person to the Ukrainian parliament since the start of the conflict.

“Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands,” Andrzej Duda said. “Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future… nothing about you without you,” he added, to a standing ovation in the chamber.

“I will not rest until Ukraine becomes a member of the European Union,” he said.


Nine Russian attacks repulsed in Donetsk, Luhansk

The Ukrainian military has said it has repulsed nine Russian attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk over the past day.

Five Russian tanks, four artillery systems, 10 armored combat vehicles, two military vehicles and a drone were also destroyed, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s latest update.

Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile units also shot down two cruise missiles, while 12 units of Russian military equipment were destroyed in airstrikes, it added.


Russia-Ukraine war looms large on Scholz’s Africa tour

Olaf Scholz will embark on his first trip to Africa as German Chancellor with Russia’s effect on energy prices, food prices and security in the backdrop.

The three-day tour of Senegal, Niger and South Africa kicking off on Sunday comes at a time when Germany is seeking to reduce its heavy reliance on Russia for gas following its invasion of Ukraine.

It could also help explore a gas field in Senegal, a government official said on Friday, as reported by Reuters. Senegal has billions of cubic metres of gas reserves and is expected to become a major gas producer in the region.


Poland’s president says Ukraine must decide own fate

Only Ukraine has the right to decide its future, Duda has said to parliamentarians in Kyiv.

“Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands. Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future,” he said.

The Polish president is the first foreign leader to give an in-person speech to the Ukrainian parliament since Russia’s invasion.


Biden to meet Modi in bid to isolate Russia

US President Joe Biden will meet this week with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Japan, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters as the US President flew from South Korea to Japan.

This comes at a time when the US is working to convince India to distance itself from Russia.

India is a major purchaser of Russian arms, and so far has resisted pressure to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine or join a chorus of states in isolating Russia.

Biden and his Indian counterpart will meet on the sidelines of the summit by the Quad, an informal alliance between the US, India, Japan, and Australia.


Russia pounds Ukraine’s Donbass and Mykolaiv regions

Russia has pounded Ukrainian forces with air strikes and artillery in the east and the south, targeting command centres, troops, and ammunition depots, the Russian defence ministry has said.

Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the defence ministry, said air-launched missiles hit three command points, 13 areas where troops and Ukrainian military equipment amassed, as well as four ammunition depots in the Donbass.

In Ukraine’s southern region of Mykolaiv, Russian rockets hit a mobile anti-drone system near the settlement of Hannivka, around 100 km northeast of Mykolaiv city, Konashenkov said.


Ukraine rejects concessions amid Russian attacks in Donbass

Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or concessions to Russia while the latter intensified an offensive in the eastern Donbass region and stopped providing gas to Finland, as Polish President Andrzej Duda prepared to address the Ukrainian parliament on Sunday.

After ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol, Russia is waging a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbass.

Russian-backed separatists already controlled swathes of territory in Luhansk and the neighbouring Donetsk province before the Feb. 24 assault, but Moscow wants to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Donbass.

“The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. The Russian army was trying to attack the cities of Sloviansk and Sievierodonetsk, but Ukrainian forces were holding off their advance, he said.


Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says only talks can end Russia’s war

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that only a diplomatic breakthrough rather than an outright military victory could end Russia’s war on his country.

“There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table,” Zelenskyy said, just as Russia claimed its long-range missiles had destroyed a shipment of Western arms destined for Ukraine’s troops.

Zelenskyy also appealed for more military aid, even as US President Joe Biden formally signed off on a $40bn package of aid for the Ukrainian war effort.


Russia declares travel ban on Biden, Blinken

Russia has announced it was banning entry to 963 Americans including US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA chief William Burns.


Biden signs Ukraine funding bill: White House

US President Joe Biden has signed a bill to provide nearly $40bn in aid for Ukraine as part of efforts to boost military support, the White House said.

The bill, which will funnel support to Ukraine for the next five months or so, includes about $6bn budgeted for armoured vehicles and air defences.


Ukraine ambassador says Poland needs money to help refugees: Associated Press

Ukraine’s ambassador to neighbouring Poland, in an interview with AP news agency, says he hopes the European Union will soon release billions of euros to Poland – so that assistance to Ukrainian refugees does not come “at the cost of the Polish people”.

Ambassador Andrii Deshchytsia said that while there have been no real social tensions and his country was grateful to Poland, he worries they could appear in the future.

“I’m worried because I don’t know where the limits of this hospitality, of the hospitality of Polish people, are,” he said.



Donbas experiencing heavy fighting: Governor

Ukraine’s eastern Donbas province is experiencing heavy fighting, a regional governor has reported.

The eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonetsk has been under fire for days, with several dead and injured, according to the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai.

“The Russians are wiping out Severodonetsk like Mariupol,” Haidai said on the Telegram news channel.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify Haidai’s claims.


Zelensky says only ‘diplomacy’ can end Ukraine war

The Ukraine war can only be resolved through “diplomacy”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday amid a deadlock in negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.

“The end will be through diplomacy,” he told a Ukrainian television channel. The war “will be bloody, there will be fighting but will only definitively end through diplomacy”.


Russia claims full control of Mariupol

Russia’s defence chief says the country’s forces have taken full control of the massive steel plant in Mariupol that was the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the city.

That would mark the end of a nearly three-month siege that reduced much of Ukraine’s vital Black Sea port of Mariupol to ruins and left over 20,000 people there feared dead.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol has been “completely liberated” from Ukrainian fighters.


Russia likely facing Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles shortage: UK

Russia is likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which it has attempted to use to identify targets to be struck by combat jets or artillery, British Defence ministry says.

Russia is likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance UAVs, which is exacerbated by limitations in its domestic manufacturing capacity resulting from sanctions, Britain said in a regular bulletin.

If Russia continues to lose UAVs at current rate, Russian Forces intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance capability will be further degraded negatively impacting operational effectiveness, the ministry said. 


Türkiye-UK work on opening routes for grain stocks

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to work to unlock supply routes for Ukrainian grain stocks and alleviate rising global food prices, the Downing Street spokesperson said.


Moody’s downgrades Ukraine’s outlook on debt uncertainty

Moody’s cut Ukraine’s debt rating for the second time in three months and lowered the outlook to negative due to the growing risk that the Russian offensive will affect the nation’s debt sustainability.

The ratings agency cut the grade a notch to Caa3, after lowering it two notches from B3 in early March, saying the country could face “a more protracted military conflict than Moody’s initially expected” following the invasion in late February.

That “increases the likelihood of a debt restructuring and losses being imposed on private-sector creditors,” the statement said.


Britain wants to arm Moldova: Local media

According to local media outlet The Telegraph, the UK wants to send modern weaponry to Moldova to protect it from any threat of invasion from Russia, citing Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

She told the newspaper that Russian President Putin was determined to create a “greater Russia” even though his invasion of Ukraine had failed to achieve quick success.


US, others walk out of APEC talks over Ukraine war: Reuters

Representatives of the United States and several other nations have walked out of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in Bangkok to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, officials said.

Representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia joined the Americans in walking out of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, two Thai officials and two international diplomats told Reuters news agency.


Russia may open military to older recruits

Russia’s parliament is considering new legislation that would allow Russians over the age of 40 and foreigners who are older than 30 to join the military as contract soldiers.

The proposals were introduced by two members of the United Russia party on Friday.


Russia “digging in” for protracted war: Institute for the Study of War

In its latest update on the fighting in Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says Russian forces appear to be “digging in” around Kharkiv and along the southern axis in preparation for Ukrainian counteroffensives and a protracted war.

The key developments on May 20, according to the ISW:

  • Fighting was focused on the area between Izyum and the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
  • Significant Russian offensives continue around Severodonetsk with “marginal gains” in the north, west and south of the city, especially near Popasna
  • Russia could be overstating the number of soldiers evacuated from Azovstal in order to “maximise” any POW exchange with Ukraine. It said 2,439 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in the past few days, including 531 in the final group.


Russia removes bodies from bombed Mariupol theatre

An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol says Russia on Friday removed the last bodies from the drama theatre where hundreds of civilians had been sheltering when Russian forces bombed it in March.

“Today, the occupiers completed the removal of the bodies of the dead,” Petro Andriushchenko wrote on Telegram.

He said he felt “rage” and “anger” over what he said was a war crime.

“Now we will never know how many civilians were actually killed,” he said, adding that the bodies had been buried in a mass grave.


Wimbledon relegated over ban on players from Russia, Belarus

Tennis’s governing agencies have said players who take part in Wimbledon will not get ranking points because the UK tournament’s organisers banned athletes from Russia and Belarus.

The world’s most prestigious tennis tournament excluded Russian and Belarusian players after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, citing UK government guidance.

It is the first time Wimbledon has excluded players on the grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War II era when German and Japanese players were banned.


Russia should pay for destruction, Zelenskyy says

Zelenskyy devoted his nightly video address to Ukraine’s demand that Russia be held financially responsible for the damage its forces are inflicting on Ukraine.

In the eastern Donbas, where the Russian attack has been fiercest, he said Russian troops turned the towns of Rubizhne and Volnovakha into ruins, just as they did with Mariupol, and were trying to do the same with Severodonetsk.

Zelenskyy said Russia should be made to pay for every home, school, hospital and business it destroys. He said a legal mechanism should be created through which everyone who suffered from Russia’s actions would be able to receive compensation.


Top EU official decries ‘unspeakable crimes’ by Russian forces

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has decried what he called “unspeakable crimes”, including sexual violence, by Russian forces being reported in areas recently recaptured by Ukraine.

“Perpetrators must be held accountable,” Borrell wrote on Twitter.



More than 2,400 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in Mariupol: Russia

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti has quoted the country’s defence ministry as saying a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at Mariupol’s steel plant had surrendered since Monday, including more than 500 on Friday.


Russian missile hits cultural centre in Kharkiv region, Ukraine says

A Russian missile has struck a Ukrainian cultural centre in the Kharkiv region, injuring seven people, including an 11-year-old child, Kyiv has said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s social media channel released a video showing a large explosion hitting the newly renovated Palace of Culture in Lozova. The building was partly destroyed and the roof caught fire, Ukraine’s emergency services reported.

“The occupiers identified culture, education and humanity as their enemies,” Zelenskyy wrote. “What is in the minds of people who choose such targets? Absolute evil, absolute stupidity.”


Wives of Azovstal defenders ask Turkey to ensure safety of husbands help captive by Russia

The wives of Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have appealed to Turkey to help secure the safety of their husbands.

The women expressed hope on Friday that Turkey will become a guarantor of the security of the Ukrainian soldiers and return them home from captivity in Russia.

“We hope in God and Turkey that our defenders will come out alive,” Olga Kerod, the wife of a Ukrainian border guard, told media in Istanbul.

More than 1,900 Ukrainian soldiers in the now-flattened port city of Mariupol have surrendered in recent days, according to the latest figure from Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.


Italy submits peace plan for Ukraine to UN

Italy’s foreign minister has said his country has submitted a peace plan for Ukraine to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said during a Council of Europe meeting in Turin, Italy, that the plan submitted on Thursday calls for local ceasefires to evacuate civilians along humanitarian corridors, and creating the conditions for a general ceasefire leading “to a long-lasting peace.”

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was aware of the plan, adding the European Union is “putting all our efforts into trying to bring this conflict to an end.” Borrell said it’s up to Ukraine to decide the terms of any negotiations. He said that he hopes that “when the time comes for negotiations to take place, Ukraine will be able to negotiate from a position of strength.”


Russia to cut Finland’s natural gas in latest energy clash

Russia will cut off natural gas to Finland after the Nordic country that applied for NATO membership this week refused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand to pay in roubles, the Finnish state-owned energy company has said.

Finland is the latest country to lose the energy supply, which is used to generate electricity and power industry, after rejecting Russia’s decree. Poland and Bulgaria were cut off late last month by Russia but, along with Finland, they were relatively minor customers who had prepared to move away from Russian natural gas.

Putin has declared that “unfriendly foreign buyers” open two accounts in state-owned Gazprombank, one to pay in euros and dollar s as specified in contracts and another in roubles.


Russia to halt gas flows to Finland on Saturday

Russia’s Gazprom has informed Finland that it will halt flows of natural gas from Saturday morning, according to Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum.

Gasum has refused to pay Gazprom Export in roubles as Russia has requested European countries to do.

“It is highly regrettable that natural gas supplies under our supply contract will now be halted,” Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen said in a statement.


Qatar key to Germany’s future energy strategy, Chancellor Scholz says

Qatar will play a central role in Germany’s strategy to diversify away from Russian gas, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

“The energy security issue plays an important role for us. Germany will develop its infrastructure to be in a position to import liquefied gas by ship,” Scholz told journalists at a joint news conference with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Berlin. “It’s a big step and Qatar plays an important role in our strategy,” Scholz added.

Sheikh Tamim confirmed that Qatar plans to start supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Germany in 2024.


Russia has faced a barrage of cyberattacks: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that his country has faced a barrage of cyberattacks from the West but has successfully fended them off.

Speaking to members of Russia’s Security Council, Putin noted that “the challenges in this area have become even more pressing, serious and extensive.”

He charged that “an outright aggression has been unleashed against Russia, a war has been waged in the information space.” Putin added that “the cyber-aggression against us, t he same as the attack on Russia by sanctions in general, has failed.”


Hundreds more Ukrainian soldiers surrender – Russia

Russia’s defence minister has said 1,908 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at the Azovstal steelworks, the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the port city of Mariupol, have surrendered so far.

“Nationalists blocked off at the plant started to surrender. As of now, 1,908 people have laid down arms,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted by the Russian media as saying Friday.

On Thursday, the Russian military put the total of surrendered soldiers at 1,730. It remains unclear how many fighters are still holed up in the giant steel plant’s maze of underground tunnels and bunkers.


Red Cross visits POWs from Ukraine, Russia 

The international Red Cross has said it has been visiting prisoners from “all sides” since the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine almost three months ago.

The International Committee of the Red Cross didn’t specify what “all sides” meant, but it is believed to mean Russian and Ukrainian government forces, as well as pro-Russian separatists who have been waging an armed struggle in eastern Ukraine against the Kiev government since 2014. It could also include foreign fighters who might have been captured.

A Red Cross statement said the POW visits had enabled it to pass on information to hundreds of families about their loved ones.


Russia fulfils obligations on Eurobond coupons

Russia has fulfilled obligations on paying coupons on two Eurobond issues in full, the finance ministry has said, days before the May 26 deadline for coupon payouts.

The prospect of a Russia sovereign default is in the spotlight again with a deadline for a US licence allowing Moscow to make payments expiring on May 25 and $100 million in interest payments due shortly after.

The finance ministry said it channelled $71.25 million on coupon payout for dollar-denominated Eurobonds maturing in 2026 and 26.5 mi llion euros ($28 million) on papers due in 2036.


Don’t forget other crises amid Ukraine focus, UNHCR chief warns

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that countries focused on helping Ukraine should not ignore crises elsewhere, which were likely to worsen due to the conflict.

Filippo Grandi said the “colossal crisis” in Ukraine would raise the number of displaced people globally well above the 84 million it reached in late 2021, with some six million refugees from Ukraine and 8 million people displaced inside the country.

“Unfortunately the global displacement crisis i s increasing. I think an important message… is that there is not just Ukraine and we should not forget the rest,” Grandi said before joining a meeting of EU development ministers in Brussels.


New military bases in western Russia in response to NATO expansion

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says that Moscow will create new military bases in western Russia in response to  moves by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

“By the end of the year, 12 military units and divisions will be established in the Western Military District,” Shoigu said at a meeting in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

The army expects to receive more than two thousand units of military equipment and weapons, Shoigu added.


G7 countries set to approve $18B for Ukraine

The Group of Seven leading economies are set to agree on more than $18 billion in aid for Ukrainian defence efforts as meetings of finance ministers close.

“I think it’s a very good signal that the G-7 nations are standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine because they are not only defending themselves, they are defending our values,” German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said in an interview with Bloomberg.


28,700 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine war

At least 28,700 Russian soldiers have so far been killed during the conflict in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military says.

Some 200 more Russian troops were killed over the past day, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.

It said Ukrainian forces have destroyed 204 Russian aircraft, 168 helicopters, 460 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,263 tanks and 3,090 armored vehicles since the war began on February 24.


Lawyer asks Kiev war crimes trial to acquit Russian soldier

The lawyer for the first Russian soldier on trial in Ukraine says in closing arguments that his client is “not guilty” of premeditated murder and war crimes.

The Russian serviceman, 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin has admitted in court in the capital Kiev to killing a 62-year-old civilian in the early stages of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

“Taking into account the evidence and testimonies I believe that Shishimarin is not guilty of the crime that he is accused of,” his lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, told the court. “I ask you to acquit my client.”


Ukraine’s Azov Regiment says civilians, heavily wounded evacuated from Mariupol plant

The commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment says in a video statement that civilians and heavily wounded Ukrainian fighters have been evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks in the devastated city of Mariupol.

Denys Prokopenko, the commander, said in the video that the process of taking out the bodies of those who had died defending Azovstal was still under way.


Russia claims ‘nearing’ full control of Ukraine breakaway region

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that Moscow was nearing full control of the separatist region of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

“The liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic is nearing completion,” Shoigu said at a meeting in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

He also said that 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, which is under Moscow’s control.


Russia likely to reinforce operations in Donbass: UK

Russia is likely to reinforce its operations in the industrial Donbass region once they secure the city of Mariupol, British military intelligence says.

As many as 1,700 soldiers are likely to have surrendered at the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol, the report added.

Moscow also said that 1,730 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered from the steel factory so far, including 771 in the past 24 hours.


Japan pledges $2.1M to secure Ukraine’s nuclear power plants

Japan has pledged nearly $2.1 million to support activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said at a joint press conference in Tokyo after a meeting that they agreed to continue co-operation in ensuring the security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

Japan is funding the dispatch of IAEA experts and necessary equipment for the Ukrainian nuclear facilities, said Hayashi.


EU exploring ways to use Russian oligarchs’ frozen assets to rebuild Ukraine

The European Union is looking into ways of using the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs to fund the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

The commission proposed on Wednesday a multi-billion dollar loan to Ukraine to keep the country going as it struggles to fend off the Russian assault and wants to set up a reconstruction facility after the assault.

“Our lawyers are working intensively on finding possible ways of using frozen assets of the oligarchs for the rebuilding of Ukraine. “I think Russia should also make its contribution,” she told ZDF television.


Russian rock singer faces charges for anti-war remarks

A veteran Russian rock musician is facing charges over anti-war remarks made at a concert.

Yuri Shevchuk, singer for the band DDT, could face a fine of up to 50,000 rubles ($800).

After the war began, Russia passed a more severe law making the spread of “fake news” about the conflict punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Old people, women and children are dying,” Shevchuk said during a concert.

“The motherland, my friends, is not the ass of a president that you have to lick and kiss all the time. The motherland is a poor grandmother selling potatoes at the train station.”


Dozens of countries ‘knocking on famine’s door’: UN food chief

The UN food chief has warned that the war in Ukraine has created “an unprecedented crisis” of escalating food prices that has sparked protests.

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said growing hunger will add at least 47 million people to the 276 million “marching to starvation” before Russia’s invasion of its smaller neighbor.


Donbas region has been completely destroyed: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russian forces had “completely destroyed” the eastern Donbas region and accused Moscow of carrying out senseless bombardments as it intensified its offensive.

“In the Donbas, the occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It is hell there – and that is not an exaggeration,” he said in a late night video address.

“This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible, to destroy as many houses, social facilities and enterprises as possible.”


Alexey Navalny’s team urges more US sanctions

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s team has urged a fresh round of US sanctions over the war in Ukraine that moves beyond wealthy oligarchs to spread the financial pain to Russian government officials, mid-level politicians and public figures.

The group, which visited Capitol Hill, is discussing with senators a list of 6,000 people for possible sanctions, including Russian defence and security officials, administrative employees, governors, members of parliament, even editors and managers at state-aligned media operations.

Vladimir Ashurkov, the executive director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the “avalanche of sanctions” so far from the West is having an effect in Russia.

“Let’s bring on, or at least announce, the next wave,” Ashurkov said.


Biden says US aid package will help Ukraine ‘defend their democracy’

US President Joe Biden has applauded Congress for passing a nearly $40bn military and humanitarian assistance package for Kyiv, saying it sends “a clear bipartisan message to the world that the US stands with Ukraine”.

The bill, previously passed by the House of Representatives, passed in the Senate by an overwhelming 86-to-11 vote.

“This package will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom.”


Washington announces additional $100m in military assistance to Kyiv

The Biden administration has announced an additional $100m in weapons and other military equipment for Ukraine.

Biden said in a statement that the aid includes additional artillery, radars, and other equipment.

“This brings total US military assistance to Ukraine to approximately $3.9 billion in arms and equipment since Russia launched its brutal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said.


NATO membership for Sweden, Finland will ‘strengthen collective security’: Biden

NATO’s collective security will be strengthened by the membership of Sweden and Finland, Biden has said, after meeting with the leaders of the two Nordic nations at the White House.

In a statement after the discussions, the White House said the US president “warmly welcomed [Sweden and Finland’s] applications for NATO membership, which will strengthen our collective security”.

“At this historic moment for both Finland and Sweden, the President underscored his commitment to support both countries as they seek formal NATO accession, including by working with NATO Allies and Congress to welcome them into the Alliance as quickly as possible,” the statement read.


Ukrainian attack on Russian border town kills civilian, Russian govenor says

One person died and others were injured in southwestern Russia after an attack in a village on the border with Ukraine, the governor of Kursk region said on Thursday. 

“Another enemy attack on Tyotkino, which took place at dawn unfortunately ended in tragedy. At the moment, we know of at least one civilian death,” governor Roman Starovoyt said on Telegram, implying that the attack came from Ukraine. 

He said that according to preliminary information, the victim was a truck driver who was making a delivery to a local distillery, which was struck “several times”. 

Starovoyt added that others were wounded and work was underway to put out fires in the village of around 4,000 people on border with Ukraine, where Russia sent troops on February 24.

“Several houses were damaged. There are also reports of unexploded shells,” Starovoyt said. 

On Telegram, he posted photos showing charred buildings, blown out windows and dents in the ground from where the shells allegedly landed. 

Authorities in Russian regions bordering Ukraine have repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of launching attacks.


Mariupol deserted after weeks of Russian attacks

Ukrainian fighters are reportedly receiving medical care after leaving Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant. In recent days, nearly 1,000 soldiers who spent weeks holed up in the steel plant have surrendered to Russian forces, with some taken into territories controlled by Russian backed separatists.

Mariupol was home to around 500,000 inhabitants at the start of the war, but weeks of Russian attacks have left the city deserted and largely destroyed.


Ukraine says Russian army lost 28.5 thousand men

Ukraine’s army says that the Russian military has lost 28.5 thousand men since the start of the invasion.

In a Facebook post, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also said that Russia had lost 1,254 tanks and 3,063 armoured vehicles.

Ukraine’s figures of Russia’s losses are significantly higher than Moscow’s. On March 25, Russia said 1,351 of its soldiers had been killed in combat and has given no more information since. At the time Ukraine had the number at 19,000.

Experts say figures by both parties cannot be trusted as Kyiv is likely to inflate them to boost the morale of its troops, while Russia is probably downplaying them.


Ukraine says 231 children killed amid war

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman has said that 231 children have died since, and as a result of, the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, while 427 children have been injured.

Lyudmyla Denisova said the figures were gathered to a register of pre-trial investigations and “other sources that need confirmation”.


Money for Ukraine to top G7 agenda

G7 financial leaders are likely to focus on Thursday and Friday on how to help Ukraine pay its bills. Reconstruction after the war, surging global inflation, climate change, supply chains and the impending food crisis will also be high on the agenda.

Ukraine estimates its financial needs at $5 billion a month to keep public employees’ salaries paid and the administration working despite the daily destruction wrought by Russia.

A short-term financing package to be agreed by the G7 would cover three months of Ukraine’s needs.


Culture of scapegoating in Russia’s military likely hampers operations: UK

A culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is likely prevalent in Russia’s military and security system, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry listed some of Russia’s senior commanders who had recently been fired after being considered to have poorly performed in Ukraine. This includes Vice Admiral Igor Osipov who commanded the Black Sea Fleet and was suspended after the sinking of Moskva.

“Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs, the ministry said, adding this would likely place further strain on Russia’s centralised command model.

“It will be difficult for Russia to regain the initiative under these conditions,” the ministry added.


Ukraine will not give up any territory to Russia: Advisor

Ukraine will not compromise with Russia and will not give up any territory, an advisor to Zelenskyy has said.

“The only option for reconciliation is Russia’s capitulation, the withdrawal of troops and talks on compensation. This is the principle position of the government,” Oleksiy Arestovych told 24 Channel.

Arestovych said he believed some countries wanted a repeat of the Minsk agreements, which had sought unsuccessfully to end the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region since 2014.

But he said, although some countries would try to negotiate, “there will be no option where we allow Russians to stay here”.


Red Cross must have immediate access to Ukraine fighters taken to Russian territory: Amnesty

Amnesty International has said that the Red Cross should be given immediate access to the Ukrainian fighters from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant who surrendered to the Russians and were taken to Russian-occupied territory.

Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty’s deputy director for the region, cited lawless executions allegedly carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine and said the Azovstal defenders “must not meet the same fate.”

Russia said on Wednesday that nearly 1,000 last-ditch Ukrainian fighters who held out inside a pulverised steel plant had surrendered.

It was unclear how many fighters remained inside the plant’s labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers, where 2,000 were believed to be holed up at one point.


Ukraine war may involve other countries if it keeps going: Kyiv official

The head of Ukraine’s president’s office has said that the longer the war lasts, the more risk there is that it will involve other countries.

“At first, it will affect states that have borders with Russia, and then it may be a war involving even more countries,” Andriy Yermak said in an interview with MSNBC.


US announces $215 million in emergency food assistance for Ukraine

Blinken has said that Ukraine will be getting $215 million in emergency food assistance, with more aid expected in the future.

“Today, given the urgency of the crisis, we’re announcing another $215 million in new emergency food assistance. And we’ll do much more,” he said during the UN meeting on food security on Wednesday.


Japan doubles Ukraine fiscal aid to $600 m

Japan will double fiscal aid for Ukraine to $600 million in a coordinated move with the World Bank to back the country’s near-term fiscal necessities damaged by Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said.

Japan, a member of the G7, had previously announced $300 million in loans to Ukraine in April.


Bridget Brink confirmed as US ambassador to Ukraine

The US Senate confirmed Bridget Brink as the US ambassador to Ukraine as officials plan to return US diplomats to Kyiv.

The veteran foreign service officer, who has spent most of her career in the shadow of the former Soviet Union, was nominated to the position last month by President Joe Biden.

Brink was confirmed by the Senate unanimously without a formal roll call vote.


Australia to send armoured personnel carriers, more Bushmasters to Ukraine

Australia is sending Ukraine an extra 20 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, 14 M113 armoured personnel carriers and radiation monitoring and personal protective equipment, pushing the nation’s contribution to Kyiv’s war effort above 285 million Australian dollars ($199m), the Australian newspaper has reported.

The support package includes 60 pallets of medical supplies donated by Australian citizens.

“The Australian government will continue to identify opportunities for further military assistance where it is able to provide a required capability to the Ukraine Armed Forces expeditiously,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton said.

Australia has previously sent Ukraine 20 Bushmasters following a request from Zelenskyy.


Ukraine officials give conflicting accounts of attack on Russian train: Reuters

Ukraine’s territorial defence force said on Wednesday that its fighters had blown up an armoured train carrying Russian troops, but an adviser to President Zelenskyy later said the attack had been confined to rails near the train, the Reuters news agency reports.

The defence force said that explosives had detonated under a rail car carrying military personnel in the occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, in the Zaporizhzhia region. It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage.

But several hours later, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych gave a conflicting account, saying Ukrainian forces had blown up the tracks ahead of the train.

“The partisans got it, although they did not blow up the armoured train itself,” he said in a video posted on social media, saying the Russians “got off lightly”.


Zelenskyy’s life story told in new comic book

Zelenskyy’s life story – from comedian to war-time leader – has been given the graphic novel treatment in TidalWave Comics’ latest biography: “Political Power: Volodymyr Zelenskyy”.

The 22-page glossy released on Wednesday tells the story of how Zelenskyy, who once played a fictional president in a TV show, swept to power in 2019 promising to end a war with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. He had no political experience when he took office as the country’s sixth president.

“Who is he? What makes him tick? Why is he the right leader for Ukraine at this moment? Those are the things I was curious about when I started the research,” said writer Michael Frizell.

A portion of sale proceeds will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross.



US intel shows Russians fear Mariupol abuse will backfire

The US has gathered intelligence that shows some Russian officials have become concerned that Russian forces in the ravaged port city of Mariupol are carrying out grievous abuses, a US official familiar with the findings has said, Associated Press reports.

The Russian officials are concerned that the abuses will backfire and further inspire Mariupol residents to resist the Russian occupation.

The US official, who was not authorised to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the Russians, who were not identified, also feared that the abuses will undercut Russia’s claim that they have liberated the Russian-speaking city.

The abuses include beating and electrocuting city officials and robbing homes, according to the intelligence finding.


Pentagon discusses Russia threats with Sweden, Finland: Officials

A senior defence official has said US Pentagon officials are having discussions with Sweden and Finland on their security needs to deter Russia as both move towards NATO membership, the Associated Press reports.

The official said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist on Wednesday and spoke about the interim period between when the NATO application is formally made and when it is approved.

There have been concerns about threats from Russia during that period, in which Sweden and Finland would not formally be covered by NATO’s Article 5 which says that an attack against one member is an attack against all and calls for collective defence.


Zelenskyy thanks EC for 9 billion euro loan

Zelenskyy has thanked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for the EU’s 9 billion euro ($9.5bn) macro-financial aid and recovery program for Ukraine.

“This step by the European Commission is a testament to the true leadership that the European Union is capable of. And it will definitely help us in the struggle for our common freedom,” he said in his late-night address.

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday a 9 billion euro ($9.5 billion) loan to Ukraine to keep the country going as it struggles to fend off the Russian invasion and wants to set up a facility for post-war reconstruction.

The money for the loan would be borrowed by the Commission on the markets under the macro-financial assistance mechanism, backed by guarantees of EU governments.


US embassy reopens in Kyiv

After three months of closure, the US flag is flying over the American embassy in Kyiv once again.

“We are officially reopening operations,” spokesperson Daniel Langenkamp told Reuters, adding that a small number of diplomats would return initially to staff the mission.

The news was also confirmed by US State Secretary Anthony Blinken: “The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia’s unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again,” he said in a statement.


Russian senator urges death penalty for Azov fighters

Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from the Azov battalion who surrendered to Russian and separatist forces should be sentenced to death, a Russian senator has said.

Russia bans death penalty, but the separatist “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk live according to Josef Stalin’s constitution that prescribes capital punishment for a number of crimes.

“All the neo-Nazis from Azov should be tried for the crimes they committed in Donetsk and Luhansk,” senator Andrey Klichas said on Telegram.

They should be “tried in accordance with the laws of the people’s republics,” he added.

The Kremlin has long called the Azov battalion a hotbed of white supremacism and neo-Nazism.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.


Moscow expels 34 French, 24 Italian, 27 Spanish diplomats

Russia has moved to expel a total of 85 European embassy staff, responding to similar moves by those countries. The Foreign Ministry said it was ordering out 34 diplomatic staff from France, 27 from Spain and 24 from Italy.

The three countries are among European nations that have collectively thrown out more than 300 Russians since Moscow’s February 24 incursion of Ukraine. In many cases, they accused Russian diplomats of spying, which Moscow has denied.

Russia’s response has included sending home 45 Polish staff and 40 Germans last month. It has also announced tit-for-tat moves against Finland, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan, among others.


Russian soldier pleads guilty at Kiev ‘war crimes’ trial

The first Russian soldier on trial in Ukraine for “war crimes” has pleaded guilty, facing possible life imprisonment in Kiev. He is accused of killing a 62-year-old civilian in northeast Ukraine in the first days of the Kremlin’s offensive.

Asked in court if he was guilty of the allegations, including “war crimes” and premeditated murder, 21-year-old sergeant Vadim Shishimarin responded “yes”. As a prosecutor read out charges against him in Ukrainian, an interpreter translated for him into Russian.

Prosecutors say Shishimarin — from the Siberian region of Irkutsk — was commanding a unit in a tank division when his convoy came under attack. He and four others stole a car and encountered a 62-year-old man. According to prosecutors, Shishimarin was ordered to kill the civilian and used a Kalashnikov assault rifle to do so.


EU proposes up to 9B euros in more aid to Ukraine

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has proposed extra aid to Ukraine of up to nine billion euros ($9.5 billion) this year to help Kiev cope with the ravages of Russia’s offensive.

The money would be raised by the EU on the markets and offered to Ukraine in the form of loans, an official in von der Leyen’s European Commission told AFP news agency.

In a broadcast statement, von der Leyen also said it was time to think about rebuilding Ukraine whenever the conflict ends, adding the EU has “a strategic interest in leading this reconstruction effort”. Other countries and international institutions should also be part of the reconstruction project, she said.


EU rushes out $300B roadmap to ditch Russian energy

The European Union’s executive arm has moved to jump-start plans for the bloc to abandon Russian energy amid the Kremlin’s Ukraine offensive, proposing a nearly 300 billion-euro ($315 billion) package that includes more efficient use of fuels and faster rollout of renewable power.

The European Commission’s investment initiative is meant to help the 27 EU countries start weaning themselves off Russian fossil fuels this year. The goal is to deprive Russia, the EU’s main supplier of oil, natural gas and coal, of tens of billions in revenue and strengthen EU climate policies.


US, banks, unveil plan to ease food crisis from Russia’s offensive

The US, several global development banks and other groups have unveiled a multi-billion dollar plan meant to address a worldwide food security crisis exacerbated by Russia’s offensive against Ukraine.

The Treasury Department announced that several global development banks are “working swiftly to bring to bear their financing, policy engagement, technical assistance” to prevent starvation prompted by the conflict, rising food costs and climate damage to crops.

The Asian Development Bank will contribute funds to feeding Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and the African Development bank will use $1.5 billion to assist 20 million African farmers. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank will also contribute tens of billions in the coming months and years.


Ukraine colours daubed on Swiss monument to Russian soldiers

Vandals have daubed blue and yellow paint — Ukraine’s national colours — on a Russian monument to soldiers who perished fighting Napoleon’s forces in Switzerland in the 18th century.

“Hundreds of Russian men died fighting the French in the Swiss Alps. They have nothing to do with 21 century events, and their memory must not be desecrated,” the Russian mission in Geneva tweeted.

Erected by Russia in 1899, it is dedicated to Russian General Alexander Suvorov and his fallen soldiers who fought the French in the Schoellenen Gorge in September 1799. Uri police said they were investigating the case and a separate incident in which the town hall in Altdorf was defaced.


Germany got over 200 asylum applications from Russians in April

Germany has registered a slight increase in the number of Russian nationals applying for asylum since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, an interior ministry spokesperson has said.

In April, the second full month of the offensive, 222 people from Russia applied for asylum in Germany, the spokesperson said in Berlin.


Russia expels 34 French diplomats: foreign ministry

Moscow says it is expelling 34 “employees of French diplomatic missions” in a retaliatory move following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from France as part of joint European action over Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“Thirty-four employees of French diplomatic missions in Russia have been declared persona non grata,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that they have two weeks to leave the country. France “strongly” condemned the move soon after.

France in April kicked out 35 Russians with diplomatic status as part of a broader wave of expulsions that saw more than 300 Russians sent home from European capitals.


Ukraine claims 28,300 Russian troops killed since start of conflict

At least 28,300 Russian soldiers have so far been killed during the conflict in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry announces.

Some 400 Russian troops have been killed over the past 24 hours, the ministry said in a statement.

The Ukrainian forces have also destroyed 202 Russian aircraft, 167 helicopters, 441 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,251 tanks, 3,043 armoured vehicles, and 586 cannons since February 24, according to the latest update.


Japan urges China to play ‘responsible’ role on Ukraine crisis

Japan’s foreign minister has urged Beijing to “play a responsible role” over Russia’s offensive in Ukraine in his first talks with his Chinese counterpart in six months.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that Russia’s offensive “is a clear violation of the UN Charter and other international laws,” Japan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

He “urged China to play a responsible role in maintaining international peace and security,” it added.