Situation in Severodonetsk ‘the hardest’, Zelenskyy says

  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces have occupied about 20 percent of his nation’s territory.
  • He says the situation in Severodonetsk is “the hardest right now”, as well as in cities and communities nearby such as Lysychansk and Bakhmut.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will host the head of the African Union for talks focused on grain supplies and political cooperation.
  • The US has announced new sanctions against Russian officials, oligarchs, and businessmen linked to Putin.
  • UN aid chief Martin Griffiths is in Moscow to discuss allowing exports of grain and other food from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, a UN spokesperson has said.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

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 Telegram.

Russian Pacific fleet begins week-long exercises: Russian agencies

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”.

Ukraine lies thousands of kilometres to the west of where the exercises are occurring in the Pacific.

Kharkiv man faces five years for allegedly supporting Russia’s invasion: Interfax

The Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office have indicted a 47-year-old man for allegedly producing and distributing materials that justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Interfax reports.

“A pre-trial investigation established that in March 2022, a Kharkiv resident made a poster that included the Z symbol used by troops of the aggressor state of the Russian Federation to identify their own forces involved in the aggression against Ukraine,” Interfax quotes the the press service of the prosecutor’s office having said on Telegram.

“After that, the man shot a video with this poster and distributed it in Telegram channels, thereby supporting the criminal actions of the Russian Federation against Ukraine,” the prosecutor’s office said.

The man faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

A man walks past a graffiti depicting a tank with the Z symbol in central Saint Petersburg, Russia June 2, 2022
A man walks past a graffiti depicting a tank with the Z symbol in central Saint Petersburg, Russia June 2, 2022 [Anton Vaganov/Reuters]

Some 50 embassies resume work in Kyiv: Zelenskyy

Around 50 embassies have resumed work in Kyiv, Zelenskyy has said.

“More and more embassies resume their full-fledged activities in Kyiv. As of today, there are already 50 of them,” he said, adding this wasn’t only important on a diplomatic, but also a symbolic, level.

“Every new embassy that returns to our capital is a testament to the faith in our victory. Faith that Ukraine will be able to defend its statehood in this war unleashed on our land by the Russian Federation,” he added.

US and allies vow to hold Russia accountable for crimes in Ukraine

The US and its allies are vowing to hold Russia accountable for crimes committed by its forces since they invaded Ukraine on February 24.

US Undersecretary of State Uzra Zeya told a UN Security Council meeting Thursday on strengthening accountability and justice for serious violations of international law that in nearly 100 days the world has seen Russian forces bomb maternity hospitals, train stations, apartment buildings and homes and even kill civilians cycling down the street.

Zeya said the United States is working with its allies to support a broad range of international investigations into atrocities in Ukraine.

Ireland’s Attorney General Paul Gallagher welcomed efforts over the last three months to support calls for justice in Ukraine, saying Ireland was one of 41 countries that quickly referred the situation in the country to the International Criminal Court. Gallagher said the ICC has deployed a team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support staff to investigate Russian crimes and support Ukrainian efforts.

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.
Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022. The woman and her baby died after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was meant to give birth. [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP File]

Situation in Severodonetsk ‘the hardest’: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said the situation in Severodonetsk was “the hardest right now”, as well as in cities and communities nearby.

“Lysychansk, Bakhmut and others. Many cities are facing a powerful Russian attack,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation.

Zelenskyy said Russian forces were mobilising people from areas of the Donbas that were already under their control and sending them into battle in the first line of attack, with Russian troops coming in behind them.

“The longer the war goes on, the more vile, shameful and cynical things Russia is forever inscribing in its history,” he added.

Much of key Ukraine city destroyed by attacks

Some 60 percent of the infrastructure and residential buildings in Lysychansk, one of only two cities in the east still under at least partial Ukrainian control, have been destroyed by attacks, a local official has said.

Oleksandr Zaika, head of Lysychansk City Military-Civil Administration, said on an “information telemarathon” cited by the Unian news agency that non-stop shelling had knocked out electricity, natural gas, telephone and internet service.

Zaika said 20,000 people are left in the city, down from a prewar population of 97,000.

Ukrainian forces have had some success in Severodonetsk: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian forces have had some success fighting Russian forces in the city of Severodonetsk but the overall military situation in the Donbas region has not changed, Zelenskyy has said.

“The situation in the Donbas has not changed significantly over the last 24 hours. We have had some success in the battles in Severodonetsk,” Zelenskyy said in a late-night video address.

He also slammed what he called the “absolutely senseless shelling” of northern border regions from Russian territory, especially on Chernihiv.

“Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, the Kharkiv region were shelled. The entire temporarily occupied territory of our state is now a zone of complete disaster, for which Russia bears full responsibility,” he added.

US State Department defends advanced weapons for Ukraine

Price, the State Department spokesman, has defended the United States’ position that it has supplied Ukraine with advanced weapons after receiving assurances that the country would not strike Russian territory.

“We want to do everything we can to strengthen the hand of our Ukrainian partners, both on the battlefield but also at the negotiating table,” Price said during a news conference.

“But we also want to be careful to ensure that we are not doing anything or the international community is not doing anything that would needlessly prolong this conflict,” he said.

Biden meets NATO’s Stoltenberg in Washington

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington, in a meeting that focused on preparing for a NATO Summit scheduled in Madrid at the end of June, the White House has said.

“The leaders discussed the implications of Russia’s war on Ukraine for Transatlantic security and the importance of strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defense, in addition to ensuring NATO is properly resourced to address a wide range of challenges, from cyber to climate change,” it said in a readout of the meeting.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for their meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, June 2, 2022
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for their meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, June 2, 2022 [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

US adds 71 new Russian, Belarus companies to trade blacklist

The United States has added 71 new Russian and Belarusian entities to its trade blacklist, including aircraft plants and shipbuilding and research institutes.

The export restrictions include the Russian Academy of Sciences. In total, the Commerce Department has now added 322 entities to its economic blacklist for support of Russia’s military since February.


UN aid chief in Moscow to discuss Ukraine grain exports

The United Nations’ aid chief Martin Griffiths is in Moscow to discuss allowing exports of grain and other food from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, a UN spokesperson has said.

Griffiths will meet Russian officials days after another senior UN official, Rebecca Grynspan, had “constructive” talks in Moscow with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov on expediting Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to broker what he calls a “package deal” to resume both Ukrainian food exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports, which were disrupted by the war.

“The situation remains fluid. The secretary-general, and the two main people he has tasked to work on this, Rebecca Grynspan and Martin Griffiths – we will do and go anywhere we need to go to push this project forward,” spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

Zelenskyy urges more weapons as war enters 100th day

Zelenskyy has urged the country’s Western allies to provide more weapons to help Ukraine reach an “inflection point” and prevail in the war.

Zelenskyy told Luxembourg’s parliament via video link that Russian forces now occupied about a fifth of Ukrainian territory, as the invasion entered its 100th day on Friday.

During a separate address to a forum in Slovakia, Zelenskyy said more weapons supplies would “ensure an inflection point in this confrontation” in Ukraine’s favour.

US sanctions Russian officials, oligarchs, Putin’s megayachts

The US has announced further sanctions on Russia, targeting an oligarch who heads a major steel producer, a yacht management company, the spokesperson for the country’s foreign ministry, and a cellist.

“Today’s action demonstrates that Treasury can and will go after those responsible for shielding and maintaining these ill-gotten interests,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

“We will continue to enforce our sanctions and expose the corrupt systems by which President Putin and his elites enrich themselves,” Nelson added.

Read more here.

New US ambassador to Ukraine submits credentials to Zelenskyy in Kyiv

The new US ambassador to Ukraine has said she gave her credentials to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as the American embassy resumes its work in the capital, Kyiv.

Bridget Brink hailed Zelenskyy as “a symbol of bravery and courage around the world”.

“As I told him, my team and I will do everything we can to help Ukraine defend itself, to hold Russia accountable for atrocities, and to help rebuild Ukraine,” she wrote on Twitter.

Blinken discusses ‘urgency’ of Ukraine support in talks with UK counterpart

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has discussed “the urgency of continued support to Ukraine” in talks with his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss.

That support includes “vital humanitarian and security assistance”, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a readout of the call between the two leaders.

“The Secretary reconfirmed the importance of transatlantic unity in holding those who support the Kremlin’s war of choice to account, as well as ensuring vital agricultural commodities can leave Ukraine to provide the world critical food supplies,” the statement said.

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

Read all the updates from Thursday, June 2 here.

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