Ukraine claims counteroffensive underway against Russian forces

Russia-Ukraine live news: Ukraine governor of Luhansk says counterattack has resulted in 50 percent of Severodonetsk city back under Ukrainian control.

  • Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province, says Ukrainian forces previously in control of just 30 percent of the city mounted counterattack, recapturing another 20 percent.
  • Military experts say the outcome of the battle for Severodonetsk could determine which side has the momentum for a prolonged war of attrition.
  • Ukrainian Defence Minister says impossible to predict outcome of war but, “my optimistic prognosis is that it is realistic to achieve this as early as this year”.
  • Russia’s RIA news agency quotes Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying Moscow was easily coping with US weapons systems sent to Ukraine and had already destroyed dozens.
  • Moscow says that Western weapons will pour “fuel on the fire”, but will not change the course of what it calls a “special military operation”.
(Al Jazeera)

Ukraine players gifted flag by soldiers ahead of World Cup showdown

Ukraine football team coach Oleksandr Petrakov said his players would hang a flag in their dressing room given to them by soldiers on the frontline before their World Cup playoff against Wales on Sunday.

“Players in the team wrote to our soldiers, and they also received a flag from the war, which we’ve promised to hang up in the dressing room,” Petrakov told a news conference.

In their first game since the Russian invasion of their country in February, Ukraine beat Scotland in a World Cup playoff semi-final on Wednesday.

A win against Wales on Sunday in Cardiff will earn Ukraine a place in the World Cup finals.

Ukraine's Roman Yaremchuk celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup 2022 qualifying play-off soccer match between Scotland and Ukraine at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 [Scott Heppell/AP]
Ukraine’s Roman Yaremchuk celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during their World Cup 2022 qualifying play-off against Scotland on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 [Scott Heppell/AP] 

More than two children killed, four injured each day in Ukraine: UN

UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Murat Sahin said that each day, on average, more than two children are killed and more than four are injured because of the war.

Most are casualties of attacks using explosive weapons in populated areas.

The figures represent only the incidents that the UN has been able to verify, and Sahin said he believes the true figures are much higher.

Ukraine plans to resume competitive football in August

Despite being at war with Russia, Ukraine plans to resume competitive football matches by the summer.

Andriy Pavelko, the president of Ukraine’s football federation, revealed details to The Associated Press about his talks with President Zelenskyy and the heads of FIFA and UEFA about finding a safe way of resuming matches on home soil.

“I spoke with our president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, about how important football is to distract,” Pavelko said in an interview.

“We spoke about how football has a very big power to help people think about the future because now people, of course, are not in a good mindset. They’re in the worst mood.”

“So we took the decision with the president that we would resume the Ukrainian championship in August,” Pavelko said through a translator.

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of shelling Orthodox Christian monastery

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the main church at one of Ukraine’s holiest Orthodox Christian sites had burned down following Russian shelling.

News of the destruction of part of the monastery came as Russian forces escalated their attacks in the Donetsk region.

“They are ready to burn everything: Orthodox churches as well as anything else in Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said during his evening address.

He claimed 113 Orthodox churches have already been destroyed or damaged by Russia since the start of the invasion in February.

Russian and Ukrainian military officials have blamed each other for the damage at the Sviatohirsk monastery.

Pope says he will meet Ukraine officials to discuss possible trip

Pope Francis said he would soon meet Ukrainian officials to discuss the possibility of a visit to their country.

“It is not easy to make a decision that could do more harm than good to the rest of the world. I have to find the right moment to do it,” he said.

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

Read all the updates from Saturday, June 4 here.

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