Russia-Ukraine live news: EU blames Moscow for food crisis

  • European Council President Charles Michel asserts Russia’s blocking of food exports from Ukraine is “pushing people into poverty and destabilising entire regions”.
  • Zelenskyy maintains his country’s forces are not giving up positions in Severodonetsk, where “fierce” street fighting is raging.
  • UN official Pramila Patten declares the “unprecedented” displacement of millions of Ukrainians is “turning into a human trafficking crisis”.
  • A Ukrainian military leader says Russia has begun turning over the bodies of Ukrainian fighters killed at the Azovstal steelworks, with dozens of bodies transferred to Kyiv where DNA testing is being done to identify them.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are the latest updates:

Russia’s progress on Popasna axis stalled over last week: UK

Russia’s progress made through May on the southern Popasna axis has stalled over the last week, Britain’s defence ministry has said.

Reports of heavy shelling near the city of Izyum suggests Russia is preparing to make a renewed effort on the northern axis, the ministry also said in its latest intelligence briefing.

The ministry said Russian forces likely occupied the eastern districts of Severodonetsk and Moscow’s broader plan was to cut the off the main city area from both the north and the south.

“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.

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 7 June 2022

Find out more about the UK government’s response:

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦

— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 7, 2022

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 if 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; movie theatres 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.

Washington ‘harassing’ Russian journalists: Ambassador

Russia’s ambassador to the United States has accused Washington of harassing Russian journalists in the US, state news agency RIA has reported.

“Russian journalists sent to the United States are being harassed. They face direct bans on broadcasting on American soil. They have limited access to official events. The process of obtaining work visas is complicated. Bank accounts are blocked. Special services approach employees of our media, persuading them to cooperate” Anatoly Antonov wrote on Telegram, according to RIA.

“Numerous attempts by the embassy to convey to ordinary US citizens our position on topical issues of international politics, with rare exceptions, are immediately rejected by local publications as ‘malicious propaganda’. There is no possibility to publish materials even on a commercial basis,” Antonov added.

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.

New: #Russian forces likely retain control over most of #Severodonetsk as of June 6, though the exact situation in the city remains unclear. Heavy urban fighting is ongoing, and control of terrain is likely changing hands frequently.

w/ @criticalthreats:

— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) June 7, 2022

Ukraine’s first lady says 60% of country needs psychological help

About 60 percent of Ukrainians need psychological help as a result of the war, Ukraine’s first lady has said, adding that Kyiv was working on establishing a national support system.

Olena Zelenska said that the figure was mentioned in a working group of the National Program for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, which she said had gone from negotiations with first ladies of various countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the creation of a specific action plan at the state level.

She said the action plan included having representatives of WHO helping Ukraine establish a model for a system of care, and delivering training to family doctors, psychologists, social workers and teachers in rapid methods of psychological support.

A resident injured in a Russian strike sits at a hospital in Pokrovsk, Ukraine.
A resident injured in a Russian attack sits at a hospital in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, on the day two rockets struck the eastern Ukrainian town in the Donetsk region [Francisco Seco/AP]

Japan imposes more Russian sanctions

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

Not in Russia’s interests to torture Azovstal POWs: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said he did not believe it would be in Russia’s interests to torture Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered from the Azovstal steel plant and were being held as prisoners of war in Russian-occupied territory.

Zelenskyy told journalists there were more than 2,500 prisoners from Azovstal in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, adding that they were “public prisoners” whose condition was being monitored by international organisations.

The president said Ukraine’s intelligence directorate was dealing with the prisoner swap and that he trusted the negotiators to achieve results.

“We know what can be agreed on with the Russians, we know this price. We know they can’t be trusted. The Main Intelligence Directorate must deal with this issue and provide the result. The only result is to bring people home,” he said.

Russians kill five, injure nine in Donetsk: Governor

Russian forces killed five civilians in the Donetsk region on Monday and wounded nine others, the governor has said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko said two people were killed in the village of Niu-York, one in the city of Lyman, one in the village of Vremenny Yar and one in the village of Pesky.

He did not specify whether the deaths were due to shelling or other means.

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.

Washington accuses Moscow of conducting ‘full assault on media’

The US has accused Russia of trying to “intimidate” American correspondents in Moscow who were summoned by the Russian foreign ministry and threatened with reprisals because of US sanctions.

“The Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs summoned your colleagues to quote, ‘explain to them the consequences of their government’s hostile line in the media sphere,’” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in the US capital.

“Let’s be clear, the Kremlin is engaged in a full assault on media freedom, access to information and the truth,” he added, slamming what he called “a clear and apparent effort to intimidate independent journalists”.

Russia’s offensive an ‘unambiguous act of aggression’: US’s Milley

The United States and its allies will keep providing “significant” support to Ukraine out of respect for the legacy of D-Day soldiers, whose victory over the Nazis helped lead to a new world order and a “better peace”, the top US army general has said.

In an interview with The Associated Press news agency overlooking Omaha Beach in Normandy, Mark Milley, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Russia’s war in Ukraine undermines the rules established by Allied countries after the end of World War II.

He spoke on the 78th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Allied troops onto the beaches of France, which led to the overthrow of Nazi Germany’s occupation.

One fundamental rule of the “global rules-based order” is that “countries cannot attack other countries with their military forces in acts of aggression unless it’s an act of pure self-defence”, Milley told the news agency. “But that’s not what’s happened here in Ukraine. What’s happened here is an open, unambiguous act of aggression.”

Zelenskyy thanks UK for providing ‘exactly the weapons’ Ukraine needs

Zelenskyy has thanked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for sending Ukraine “exactly the weapons” it needs to fight the war with Russia.

Earlier, the United Kingdom said that in coordination with the US, it will supply Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems that can attack targets up to 80km (50 miles) away as part of a new military aid package for Kyiv.

“I am grateful to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the complete understanding of our demands and preparedness to provide Ukraine with exactly the weapons that it so needs to protect the lives of our people,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits an area damaged by Russian military strikes.
Zelenskyy has called on Ukraine’s allies to provide heavy weaponry to defend against Russia’s eastern offensive [Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters]

Blinken says reports of Russian theft of Ukrainian grain ‘credible’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said there are “credible reports” that Russia is “pilfering” Ukraine’s grain exports to sell for profit.

Speaking during a virtual roundtable with philanthropies, non-governmental organisations and private-sector entities, Blinken said the alleged theft was part of broader Russian actions during the war that have hit Ukraine’s ability to export its wheat crop and worsened a global food crisis.

“There are credible reports, as we saw in one of our leading newspapers today, that Russia is pilfering Ukraine’s grain exports … to sell for its own profit,” Blinken said, an apparent reference to a New York Times story that said Washington last month warned 14 countries, mainly in Africa, that Russia was trying to ship stolen Ukrainian grain to buyers overseas.

‘Donbas stands strong,’ Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his troops are not giving up positions in Severodonetsk, a city where some of the war’s biggest ground battles have been taking place.

“Our heroes do not give up positions in Severodonetsk. In the city, fierce street fighting continues,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

Referring to the broader Donbas region where Severodonetsk is located, Zelenskyy said: “And the Ukrainian Donbas stands, stands strong.”

Russia handing over bodies of Ukrainian fighters from Mariupol

Russia has begun turning over the bodies of Ukrainian fighters killed at the Azovstal steelworks, the fortress-like plant in the destroyed city of Mariupol.

Dozens of the dead taken from the bombed-out mill’s now Russian-occupied ruins have been transferred to Kyiv, where DNA testing is underway to identify the remains, according to both a military leader and a spokeswoman for the Azov Regiment.

Top EU official says Russia alone to blame for food crisis

European Council President Charles Michel has accused Russia of using food supplies as “a stealth missile against developing countries” and blamed the Kremlin for a looming global food crisis, prompting Moscow’s UN ambassador to walk out of a Security Council meeting.

Michel addressed Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia directly at a council meeting, saying he saw millions of tonnes of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships at the Ukrainian port of Odesa a few weeks ago “because of Russian warships in the Black Sea”.

He said Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine’s transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities, as well as its tanks, aerial bombings and mines, are preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting.

“This is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty and destabilising entire regions,” Michel said. “Russia is solely responsible for this looming food crisis.”

US moves to seize jets owned by Russian billionaire Abramovich

US authorities are pushing to seize two luxury jets linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich after a federal magistrate judge signed a warrant approving the move.

“Today’s action reflects the global scope of the United States’ response to illegal Russian aggression in Ukraine,” said Andrew C Adams, who is leading a task force in the US Justice Department targeting Russian oligarchs.

One of the planes is believed to have been in Moscow since March 15, according to a Justice Department affidavit. The other, meanwhile, is believed to be in Dubai following a round-trip flight from the United Arab Emirates to Russia, the affidavit said.

The jets are worth more than $400m, the Justice Department said.

United States Obtains Warrant for Seizure of Two Airplanes of Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich Worth Over $400 Million

— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) June 6, 2022

UN official: Russia’s invasion ‘turning into human trafficking crisis’

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten has said the “unprecedented” displacement of millions of Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion is “turning into a human trafficking crisis”.

“Women and children fleeing the conflict are being targeted for trafficking and exploitation – in some cases facing further exposure to rape and other risks while seeking refuge,” Patten told the UN Security Council.

No change in posture of US embassy in Kyiv: State Department

There has been no change in the US Embassy posture in Kyiv, the State Department has said, after Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital for the first time in more than a month.

The US embassy in Kyiv resumed operations last month, nearly three months after removing its diplomats and suspending work there over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Read all the updates from Monday, June 6, here.

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