Russia-Ukraine live: 800 civilians hiding in Severodonetsk plant

  • An official in Ukraine’s southern region says Kyiv forces “out of ammo” as battles rage with Russian troops.
  • Russia will respond “proportionately and appropriately” to a NATO buildup in Poland, an official says.
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy struck a defiant note vowing “we will prevail” over Russian invaders.
  • Ukraine says about 800 people are hiding underneath the Azot plant in the besieged city of Severodonetsk.
  • Russian troops are preparing a new offensive against the city of Sloviansk, Ukraine’s military says.

Who controls what in Ukraine Day 108

Here are the latest updates:

Ukrainian forces in control of Severodonetsk plant: Governor

Ukraine remains in control of the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, according to the region’s governor.

“Azot is not blocked, fighting is going on in the streets next to the plant,” Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukraine’s television.

He added that he expects Russian forces to use all their efforts to try to capture the city either on Sunday or on Monday.

German president criticises ex-chancellor Schroder for Russia ties

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has criticised former chancellor Gerhard Schroder for his business ties to Russia.

Much of what Schroder did during his time as chancellor has been eclipsed by his behaviour since then, Steinmeier told the Bild tabloid’s Sunday edition.

“Gerhard Schroder’s involvement with Russian energy firms has left questions hanging over our country, particularly from our eastern European neighbours,” Steinmeier said.

Steinmeier worked closely with SPD party colleague Schroder in the past. Steinmeier was head of the Schroder’s chancellery office from 1999 to 2005.

Ukraine restores internet link between occupied nuclear plant and IAEA

Ukraine’s state nuclear firm Energoatom says it has helped restore an internet connection between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the servers of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces.

In a statement, Energoatom said the connection to the plant’s servers was lost on May 30 but had been restored as of June 10, allowing the IAEA to resume monitoring data on the control of nuclear material at the plant.

Scholz, Macron, Draghi to visit Kyiv before G7: Bild am Sonntag

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kyiv with his counterparts from France and Italy before the Group of Seven summit at the end of June, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported.

It cited French and Ukrainian government sources.

A German government spokesperson told Reuters: “We are not able to confirm this.” Asked by Reuters, the Elysee palace declined to confirm the information. The Italian government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

None of the three leaders has been to Kyiv since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Sri Lankan prime minister says he’s open to buying Russian oil

Sri Lanka may be compelled to buy more oil from Russia as the island nation hunts desperately for fuel amid an unprecedented economic crisis, the newly appointed prime minister said.

Ranil Wickremesinghe told the Associated Press news agency that he would first look to other sources, but would be open to buying more crude from Moscow. Western nations largely have cut off energy imports from Russia in line with sanctions over its war on Ukraine.

“If we can get from any other sources, we will get from there. Otherwise [we] may have to go to Russia again,” he said.

“Certainly we are looking at the Gulf as our main supply.”

Wickremesinghe said Russia had also offered wheat to Sri Lanka.

China backs talks between Russia, Ukraine

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe says Beijing is saddened by the events in Ukraine and said he supports peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

He also said China opposed the West’s provision of weapons to Ukraine as well as its sanctions on Russia.

“What is the root cause of this crisis? Who is the mastermind behind this? Who loses the most? And who stands to gain the most? Who is promoting peace and who is adding fuel to the fire? I think we all know the answers to these questions,” he said at the Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore.

China Wei Fenghe
China”s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe arrives for a welcome dinner at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, China October 20, 2019 [File: Jason Lee/ Reuters]

Japan donates water purifiers to Odesa

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky says Tokyo is donating 33 portable water purifiers to the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa.

“In the near future, 33 portable water purification devices in case of emergencies will be sent to Odesa. We ask Odesa to share [them] with Mykolaiv. I want to believe that they will not be needed, but we should have them just in case,” he wrote on Facebook.

Ukraine’s first lady opens center for refugees in Lithuania

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has opened a center for Ukrainian refugees in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

“We wanted Ukrainians who were forced to come to Lithuania because of the war to have a truly native place. So that the center will be the place where it is possible to address on any matter – help or communication. To be able to study here, to spend leisure time, join a cultural event or educational course,” Zelenska said via video link from Kyiv.

Zelenskyy claims Russia suffers 32,000 casualties of war

President Zelenskyy said fierce street battles were continuing in Severodonetsk and he was proud of the Ukrainian defenders who for weeks have held back a Russian advance.

He said the Russians have suffered heavy losses since the war began on February 24.

“Do you remember how Russia hoped to capture the entire Donbas by early May? It is now the 108th day of the war… Donbas is holding on. The losses suffered by the occupiers, including in this area, are extremely significant. In total, the Russian army today has about 32,000 dead souls. For what? What did it get you Russia?”

Pentagon chief chides Russia over ‘imperial appetite’

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “is what happens when oppressors trample the rules that protect us all”, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

“It’s what happens when big powers decide that their imperial appetites matter more than the rights of their peaceful neighbours,” Austin said during a visit to Asia. “And it’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in.”

Separatists claim Ukraine defenders ‘holding civilians hostage’

Some non-combatants managed to flee an industrial zone in the war-torn city of Severodonetsk as Russian forces battle Ukraine defenders there.

Rodion Miroshnik, a Russian-backed representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said civilians started to leave the plant, but he did not say how many.

“There are occasional exchanges of fire… They [Ukrainian defenders] may still be holding several hundred civilians hostage,” he said in an online post.

Ukraine says about 800 people were hiding underneath the Azot factory, including about 200 employees and 600 residents of Severodonetsk.

Miroshnik estimated 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were blockaded on the grounds.

‘Highly inaccurate’: Russia using Soviet-era munitions

Russian forces are relying on old weapons capable of causing mass civilian casualties as they try to capture regions in eastern Ukraine.

Russian bombers have likely launched dozens of heavy, 1960s-era anti-ship missiles in ground attacks in Ukraine, the United Kingdom defence ministry said.

When such missiles are used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties”, it said.

Read more here

Ukraine forces ‘out of ammo’ as battles rage with Russian troops

In Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region near the front line in the south, the regional governor stressed the urgent need for international military assistance.

“Russia’s army is more powerful, they have a lot of artillery and ammo. For now, this is a war of artillery … and we are out of ammo,” Vitaliy Kim said. “The help of Europe and America is very, very important because we just need ammo to defend our country.”

President Zelenskyy said in his address that Ukraine must “not allow the world to divert its attention away from what is happening on the battlefield”.

Ukraine army: Russia preparing Sloviansk offensive

Russian troops are preparing a new offensive against the city of Sloviansk, Ukraine’s military said.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Moscow managed to get a foothold in the village of Bohorodychne, 24km (15 miles) northwest of Sloviansk, and was preparing to attack the city.

Army spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun said Russian troops “experienced success” in fighting in the direction of the city. Shtupun also claimed Russia had six carriers in the Black Sea “readied for the use of missile weapons”.

He also stated that the Ukrainian army “repelled” 14 attacks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, destroying four tanks, two artillery systems, and an ammunition depot.

Ukraine in control of Severodonetsk plant sheltering hundreds: Governor

Ukraine remains in control of the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, the region’s governor said.

The comments came after a Russia-backed separatist leader claimed 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were also trapped there.

“The information about the blockade of the Azot plant is a lie,” said Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region. “Our forces are holding an industrial zone of Severodonetsk and are destroying the Russian army in the town.”

Ukraine has said some 800 people were hiding in several bomb shelters underneath the Azot plant, including about 200 employees and 600 residents of Severodonetsk.

Rodion Miroshnik, a Russian-backed representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were blockaded on the grounds of the plant, along with civilians, and had tried to negotiate their passage to the city of Lysychansk.

“Such demands are unacceptable and will not be discussed,” Miroshnik said, adding negotiations with fighters about civilians at the plant were under way.

Who controls what in Donbas DAY 108

Russia says will respond to NATO buildup in Poland

Moscow’s response to a buildup of NATO forces in Poland will be proportionate, Russia’s foreign ministry said.

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

Ukraine hopes to save foreign soldiers sentenced to death: Lawmaker

Ukraine is doing everything possible to save three foreign nationals sentenced to death by proxy authorities in Donbas for fighting for Ukraine, a lawmaker said.

After being captured, two Britons and a Moroccan were convicted of “mercenary activities” by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), whose separatist leaders are backed by Moscow.

“Both the Defence Ministry and the Main Directorate of Intelligence, which deals with the exchange of prisoners, are taking all necessary measures to ensure these citizens of foreign states … are saved,” lawmaker Fedir Venislavskyi said on national television.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said she believed the separatist authorities would ultimately act rationally, “for they are well aware of the irreparable implications for them and for the Russians if they take any wrong steps against these three of our soldiers”.

“Something tells me that, eventually, one way or another, sooner or later, these three servicemen will be exchanged [or otherwise get home].”

Russia says it shot down 3 Ukrainian warplanes

The Russian defence ministry said its air force shot down three Ukrainian war planes.

The Russian military shot down two MIG-29 planes in the Mykolayiv region and one Su-25 fighter jet in the Kharkiv region, it said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Russian shelling triggers fire in Severodonetsk

Russian shelling of the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk caused a major fire after a leak of tonnes of oil, the regional governor said.

Governor Serhiy Haidai did not say if the blaze at the plant, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, had been extinguished. Russian forces controlled most of the city, but Ukraine fighters controlled the Azot chemical factory, he said.

The battle for Severodonetsk and its destruction recall weeks of bombardment of the southern port city of Mariupol.

It was reduced to ruins before Russian forces took control of the city last month, with the last Ukrainian defenders surrendering from their redoubt in the Azovstal steel plant.

‘We will prevail’ vows Ukraine leader

President Zelenskyy struck a defiant note pledging to defeat the Russian invasion.

“We are definitely going to prevail in this war that Russia has started,” Zelenskyy told a conference in Singapore via videolink. “It is on the battlefields in Ukraine that the future rules of this world are being decided.”

Russian strikes knocked out power supplies in Donetsk’s two largest Ukrainian-controlled cities – Kramatorsk and Sloviansk – regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on the Telegram app.

Speaking later on national television, he said the move was part of a deliberate strategy to cut off electricity in towns in Donetsk that remain in Ukrainian hands. “The enemy understands where he is hitting and for what purpose,” he said.

For the news updates on June 11 please see here

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