Lysychansk ‘real hell’ amid Russian shelling, says official

  • The regional governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, says 70 people have been evacuated from Lysychansk city, as he describes conditions under heavy Russian shelling as “real hell”.
  • The price for the battle for the Donbas is “very high” for Ukraine and “just scary”, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.
  • He adds it will be remembered in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe.
  • Russia’s main goal in Ukraine is to protect the breakaway self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claims.
  • Ukraine’s police chief discloses authorities are investigating the killings of more than 12,000 Ukrainians in the war.
  • All the bridges in Severodonetsk have been destroyed, making it impossible to bring in humanitarian supplies or evacuate citizens, the governor says.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are the latest updates:

Russia says Ukrainian fighters at Azot plant can surrender on Friday

Russia’s defence ministry has said it offered Ukrainian fighters sheltering in the Azot chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian town of Sievierodonetsk the chance to surrender on June 15, the Interfax news agency reported.

The ministry said Ukraine had asked Russia to set up an evacuation corridor to help civilians leave the plant, with all the bridges linking Sievierodonetsk to Ukrainian-held territory now destroyed.

France says Macron’s possible visit to Ukraine is an ‘option’

A visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv is one of “several options” that are on the table at present, although no decision has been taken on this yet, government spokesperson Olivia Gregoire said.

German paper Bild am Sonntag reported earlier this month that Chancellor Olaf Scholz would travel to Kyiv on Thursday with Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Macron has sought to maintain dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the war began, but that stance has been criticised by some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe as they see it as undermining efforts to push Putin to the negotiating table.

German howitzers soon to be ready for use in Ukraine: Minister

The training of Ukrainian troops on German howitzers will soon be completed, paving the way for the use of the weapons in the war in Ukraine, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has said.

“The training on the Panzerhaubitze 2000 will soon be completed so that it can be used in battle in Ukraine,” she told reporters during a visit to a military base in the western German town of Rheinbach.

Zelenskyy says ammunition available, long-range weapons needed

Ukraine’s military has enough ammunition and weapons, but needs more long-range weapons, Zelenskyy has told Danish journalists during a press briefing.

Governor of Luhansk says 70 people evacuated from Lysychansk

A further 70 people have been evacuated from Lysychansk and its surrounding settlements, Luhansk Governor Haidai has said.

Haidai described the conditions in the region as “real hell” in a Telegram post.

He explained that residents were facing serious threats and having to travel only when night falls.

“The shelling is so powerful that people can no longer stand in the shelters,” he wrote. “But we cannot lose as long as it is possible to save at least one life – we will save”.

Russian-backed separatists are already in control of most of the Luhansk region.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine War Who controls what in Donbas DAY 111
(Al Jazeera)

Conflict in Ukraine could aggravate drug problems: EU body

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could create “new vulnerabilities” in Europe to illegal drugs by triggering shifts in smuggling routes and potentially exposing more people to narcotics, the Lisbon-based European Union drugs agency has warned.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said in its annual report that many people who have suffered “severe psychological stress” during the conflict may be more vulnerable to substance misuse problems in the future.

Drug traffickers might switch to alternative routes to avoid areas with a heightened security presence, it said, while health services in European countries, especially those bordering Ukraine, are likely to become more strained as drug users fleeing the conflict require support.

“Continuity of treatment, language services and the provision of accommodation and social welfare support are likely to be key requirements,” it said, adding that even those who were not drug users were at risk.

Russia to reopen Mariupol theatre, says official

A Ukrainian official has criticised Russian troops in the southern city of Mariupol as Russian authorities plan to reopen the drama theatre where “hundreds” of Ukrainians were bombed.

A media investigation found evidence that the attack killed an estimated 600 people inside and outside the building.

Mariupol mayor’s adviser Petro Andriyushchenko said on Telegram that Russia’s plan was to restore and reopen the theatre on September 1.

“A dance on bones, an exhibition on a graveyard,” he said about the plan.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russian shelling kills one, wounds five in Kharkiv: Governor

Russian shelling has killed one woman and wounded her three-month-old child in the eastern Kharkiv region, Governor Oleh Synehubov said.

Synehubov said on Telegram that four more people were wounded throughout the region as Russian shelling damaged houses and apartment buildings and caused fires.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russian forces kidnap three in Zaporizhzhia, say officials

Russian servicemen abducted three Ukrainians in the occupied parts of the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, officials have said.

One was kidnapped from Enerhodar, the company town of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and the other two were taken away from the Melitopol district, the regional state administration said on Facebook.

Dozens of the plant’s employees and pro-Ukrainian sympathisers have been kidnapped since Russian forces seized more than half of the region.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Pope criticises Russian cruelty in Ukraine, but says war ‘provoked’

Pope Francis has taken a new series of swipes at Russia for its actions in Ukraine, saying its troops were brutal, cruel and ferocious, while praising “brave” Ukrainians for fighting for survival.

But in the text of a conversation he had last month with editors of Jesuit media, he also said the situation was not black and white and that the war was “perhaps in some way provoked”.

“We must not forget the real problems if we want them to be solved,” Francis said, including the armaments industry among the factors that provide incentives for war.

“It is also true that the Russians thought it would all be over in a week. But they miscalculated. They encountered a brave people, a people who are struggling to survive and who have a history of struggle,” he said.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Regina Coeli noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican.
Pope Francis said several months before President Putin sent his forces into Ukraine, the pontiff met a head of state who expressed concern that NATO was ‘barking at the gates of Russia’ in a way that could lead to war [File: Andrew Medichini/AP Photo]

Moscow Exchange suspends Swiss franc trading after new sanctions

The Moscow Exchange has said it would suspend trading of the Swiss franc against the rouble and the US dollar after Switzerland adopted new EU sanctions against Russia.

The Moscow Exchange, Russia’s largest bourse, said it was having difficulty conducting transactions in the Swiss currency as a result of new trading restrictions imposed by Switzerland last week.

“The suspension of operations is due to difficulties conducting settlements in Swiss francs faced by market participants and the financial sector in connection with the restrictive measures imposed by Switzerland on June 10,” the Moscow Exchange said in a statement.

People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of U.S. Dollar and Euro to Russian Rubles in Moscow's downtown
Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, updated its sanctions package last Friday to match the EU’s latest restrictions against businesses, banks and individuals from Russia and Belarus [File: Pavel Golovkin/AP Photo]

Four injured in shelling of Russian town bordering Ukraine

Four people have been injured by shelling in a Russian town in the Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine, the regional governor said.

The incident occurred in the town of Klintsy, some 50km (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

“A few houses were damaged and four people injured, according to preliminary information,” regional Governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Residents posted footage to social media of a Russian military helicopter hovering over the town after the shelling and reported that electricity and water had been cut off.

Severodonetsk situation ‘extremely aggravated’: Governor

Luhansk’s governor has described the situation in 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,” Haidai wrote on Telegram.

Each day people are killed, but their bodies are “difficult to reach due to the density of shelling,” he said, adding that there are “many damaged high-rise buildings … some of which the Russian army shot to demolish the foundation”.

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.

“The industry could struggle to meet many of these requirements. 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 refuses distinction between ‘good and bad’: Reports

Pope Francis refuses the distinction between “good and bad” in the war in Ukraine, according to the La Stampa daily, which reported the pope’s conversation with editors of Jesuit European cultural magazines.

Asked if he was in favour of President 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 says.

The institute also said 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.

Death toll from attacks on Donetsk rises to 5: Russia-backed separatists

The death toll from Monday’s attacks on the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has reached five, while the number injured has risen to 33, separatist officials say, according to Moscow’s Tass news agency.

Earlier reports said four people died and 22 were injured.

Separatist officials and Russian news agencies on Monday reported several Ukrainian artillery attacks, including on a market. Russian news agencies later reported a shell had fallen on a maternity hospital in the city of Donetsk, starting a fire and prompting staff to send patients into the basement.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports and there has been no immediate reaction from Kyiv. Ukraine routinely denies carrying out any attacks on the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, where separatists seized large swaths of land in 2014.

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

About half of the Australian farmers believe the war in Ukraine will 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 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 … Kherson residents will meet our army on the streets of the city … We will come to Melitopol [and] 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.

Satellite images show destroyed bridges around Severodonetsk

Newly released satellite images, taken on Saturday, June 11 by Maxar Technologies, show a number of destroyed and damaged bridges that 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 Haidai said on Monday.

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

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 railway bridges in the northwest of Severodonetsk June 11 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

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

More than 1,700 people have managed to leave Russian-occupied parts of the Kharkiv region on Monday, the head of a regional village says, 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.

Three killed, five injured in Donetsk: Governor

Russian shelling killed three civilians and injured another five in the Donetsk region on Monday, the governor says.

It is impossible to determine the number of victims in the occupied city of Mariupol and town of Volnovakha, Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram.

One killed, two injured in Sumy region: Governor

A Russian drone dropped grenades on a small community on Monday in Ukraine’s Sumy region, which borders Russia, killing one person and injuring two, the local governor has said.

“Almost at 2pm, an enemy drone dropped ammunition (grenade launcher) on the territory of Velykopysarivska community. As a result of the explosion, two people were injured, one died,” Dmitry Zhivitsky wrote on Telegram.

“At about 5pm, the community was also shelled with mortars,” he added but did not mention any casualties from the attack.

Damaged buildings following a military strike, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Okhtyrka, Sumy region, Ukraine May 17, 2022
Damaged buildings following an attack amid Russia’s invasion, in Okhtyrka, Sumy region May 17 [Dmytro Zhyvytsky/via Reuters]

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 US 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.

Germany’s Scholz coy on possible Ukraine visit

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

Scholz fobbed off questions about the reported travel, saying he would not go beyond what his spokesperson had said earlier. The spokesperson had declined to discuss the reports.

Germany has contributed considerable financial and military aid to Ukraine, but Scholz’s government has been criticised both at home and abroad for being slower 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

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 Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine,” Blinken said after the meeting. “The Republic of Korea has coordinated sanctions and export controls alongside the United States and other allies and partners.”

He said South Korea has also 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, Ukraine will lose not only land but perhaps the bulk of its most capable military forces, opening the way for Moscow to grab more territory and dictate 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”, referencing an ancient deity of sacrifice by saying: “The Russian Moloch has plenty of means to devour human lives to satisfy its imperial ego.”

Read more here.

Battle for Severodonetsk taking ‘terrifying’ human toll: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says Ukraine is 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 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.

Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk is not a mercenary, father says

The father of a Moroccan man sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on mercenary charges says his son should be treated as a prisoner of war.

Morocco-born fighter Brahim Saadoun received Ukrainian citizenship in 2020 after a year of military training as a requirement to access aerospace technology studies at a university in Kyiv, his father Tahar Saadoun said in an email to the Reuters news agency.

He handed himself in “voluntarily” and should be treated as a “prisoner of war”, the father said.

“We as a family suffer from the absence of contact with the lawyer to exchange legal information and this adds to our ordeal,” he said.

Russia’s key goal in Ukraine is to protect Moscow-backed republics: Peskov

Russia’s main goal in Ukraine is to protect the Moscow-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Russia’s RIA state news agency has cited Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying.

“In general, the protection of the republics is the main goal of the special military operation,” Peskov said.

Donetsk and Luhansk are two breakaway Russian-backed entities in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which Russia says it is fighting to remove entirely from Kyiv’s control.

Elena Holovko is attended to as she sits outside her home, damaged by a Russian missile strike, in Druzhkivka in eastern Ukraine, Sunday, June 5, 2022
Elena Holovko is attended to as she sits outside her home, damaged by a Russian missile attack, in Druzhkivka, eastern Ukraine, June 5 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

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