Fires ablaze in Mykolaiv after Russia launches seven missile strikes

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A Ukrainian service member points AK-74 assault rifle in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022. Picture taken June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak  - REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

A Ukrainian service member points AK-74 assault rifle in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022. Picture taken June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak – REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

Russian missile strikes have killed at least one person and damaged a school in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

Oleksandr Senkevych, the city’s mayor, said the attacks caused several fires, damaged a number of residential and business buildings and left smoke hanging over the port city.

“I keep saying it’s still dangerous in the city. Before, people were going out in droves but they go out less now,” Mr Senkevych said.

Vitaliy Kim, the regional governor, said earlier today that seven missiles had hit Mykolaiv.

Viterra, the grain handling company, said its terminal in Mykolaiv was on fire after being hit in an attack, but that no one had been killed there.

The number of people killed in the strike has not yet been independently verified.

Follow the latest updates below.

02:57 PM

Putin signs decree on external debt service as possible default looms

Vladimir Putin has signed a decree establishing temporary procedures to fulfil foreign debt obligations, the Russian news agency Interfax reported, as investors keep a close eye on a potential default.

The agency said Putin had ordered the government to choose banks within 10 days to handle payments on Eurobonds under a new scheme.

Russia’s failure to service its foreign debt due to Western sanctions is taking it closer to its first default on international bonds since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago.

02:47 PM

Ukraine needs ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild, says Scholz

Ukraine needs massive financial help to rebuild after the devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said today, saying the reconstruction would be a “task for generations”.

In reference to the US initiative providing billions to help western Europe rebuild after World War II, Mr Scholz said he had invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate in the G7 summit starting this Sunday, to “agree on what such a ‘Marshall Plan for Ukraine’ would look like”.

02:38 PM

Scholz: Germany’s upgraded army will also defend allies

Olaf Scholz said Nato partners in eastern Europe could rely on Germany as it was re-equipping its army such that it could defend allies as well as itself against all future attacks.

“In Europe’s biggest security crisis for decades, Germany – the EU’s biggest economy and most populous country – is taking on a very special responsibility,” the German Chancellor said in a speech to parliament today about the upcoming European Union, G7 and Nato summits.

“And not just for its own security but also for the security of its allies.”

02:23 PM

Russia warns against Article 5 talk in Kaliningrad standoff

A top Russian official warned the West to stop talking about triggering Nato’s “Article 5” mutual defence clause in a standoff between Lithuania and Russia.

Moscow has promised practical retaliation that will affect Lithuania’s population after the Baltic state blocked the transit of goods subject to EU sanctions from Russia to its Baltic exclave.

“I would like to warn Europeans against dangerous rhetorical games on the topic of conflict,” the Russian news agency Interfax quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying today.

02:01 PM

Putin: Russia is rerouting trade and oil to BRICS countries

Vladimir Putin said that Russia was in the process of rerouting its trade and oil exports towards countries from the BRICS group of emerging economies in the wake of Western sanctions over Ukraine.

The BRICS countries comprise Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

In a video address to the BRICS Business Forum participants, Putin said Russia was discussing increasing the presence of Chinese cars on the Russian market as well as the opening of Indian supermarket chains.

“In its turn, Russia’s presence in the BRICS countries is growing.­­ There has been a noticeable increase in exports of Russian oil to China and India,” Putin said.

01:36 PM

Putin attends ceremony marking anniversary of beginning of WW2

Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in Moscow marking the anniversary of the beginning of WW2 - via REUTERS /SPUTNIK 

Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in Moscow marking the anniversary of the beginning of WW2 – via REUTERS /SPUTNIK

01:16 PM

Germany ‘firmly rejects’ Russia’s Lithuania threats over rail ban

Germany has warned Russia not to seek reprisals over Lithuania’s rail transit ban on EU-sanctioned goods to Moscow’s exclave of Kaliningrad.

Germany “firmly rejects” Russia’s threat of “serious” consequences for the transit stop, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said at a regular press conference.

“We call on Russia not to take any measures that violate international law,” he added.

01:13 PM

Lithuania: We’re ready if Russia cuts us out of power grid

Lithuania will be prepared if Russia disconnects it from the regional power grid in retaliation for blocking rail shipments of some Russian goods to Moscow’s Kaliningrad exclave, but no military confrontation is expected, its president said today.

He spoke after the Kremlin warned Lithuania on Tuesday that Moscow would respond to the ban on the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to Kaliningrad in such a way that citizens of the Baltic state would feel the pain.

Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Nato members Poland and Lithuania and supplied by rail via the territory of Lithuania.

Lithuania shut the route for transport of steel and other ferrous metals from mainland Russia on Friday, saying it had to do so under EU sanctions that took effect that day.

“We are ready and we are prepared for unfriendly actions from Russia (in response), such as disconnection from the BRELL (power grid) system, or others,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in the interview with Reuters.

01:01 PM

Italy’s foreign minister quits party over Ukraine weapons row

Italy’s foreign minister has quit his party, the Five Star Movement, in a bitter dispute over whether Italy should continue supporting the Anglo-American hard line against Russia by sending weapons to the Ukrainians, reports Nick Squires in Rome.

The departure of Luigi Di Maio is a bitter blow for the Five Star Movement, which has seen its support plummet from a high of 33 per cent a few years ago to 12 per cent in recent local elections.

The foreign minister, who will continue to remain a key member of the governing coalition, will take at least 60 MPs and senators with him and intends to set up a new political group in parliament.

Tensions within the ruling coalition over support for Ukraine in the war against Russia have been simmering for weeks.

Five Star and the hard-Right League party, both of which have been soft on Moscow in the past, have objected to the dispatch of more armaments to Kyiv and have called for immediate peace talks.

12:44 PM

Russia may cut off gas to Europe entirely, says energy agency head

Russia may cut off gas to Europe entirely as it seeks to bolster its political leverage amid the Ukraine crisis, the head of the International Energy Agency said today, adding that Europe needed to prepare now.

“Considering this recent behaviour, I wouldn’t rule out Russia continuing to find different issues here and there and continuing to find excuses to further reduce gas deliveries to Europe and maybe even cut it off completely,” Fatih Birol, IEA executive director,  said in a statement to Reuters.

“This is the reason Europe needs contingency plans”.

12:34 PM

Moscow accuses Berlin of ‘Russophobic hysteria’ on anniversary of Nazi invasion

Russia’s foreign ministry has accused Germany of anti-Russian sentiment in a statement on the anniversary of the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi troops in 1941 as tensions rage over Ukraine.

“Russophobic hysteria is systematically fuelled by almost daily public attacks against our country by members of the German government,” the ministry said, adding that authorities in Berlin undermine the process of “historical reconciliation” between Russians and Germans after the Second World War.

12:25 PM

PM looks at messages from Ukrainian children given during Kyiv visit

Boris Johnson looks at messages from Ukrainian children given to him on his recent trip to Kyiv - Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Street 

Boris Johnson looks at messages from Ukrainian children given to him on his recent trip to Kyiv – Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Street

12:07 PM

Ukrainian steelmaker urges customers not to buy ‘stolen’ Mariupol steel

Ukraine’s largest steelmaker has urged customers not to buy any products made at its plants in Mariupol because it fears they may have been stolen by Russian forces occupying the southern city.

Metinvest said in a statement that more than 234,000 tonnes of steel products manufactured by its Ilyich Steel and Azovstal factories had been in storage in Mariupol when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.

The two plants have not cooperated with Russian representatives since Russian and separatist forces took full control of Mariupol in May, it said.

Russian forces have blockaded Ukrainian ports in the Back and Azov seas, preventing Azovstal and Ilyich Steel from exporting products to clients in Europe and the Middle East. But ships loaded with grain and metals will leave Mariupol soon, a pro-Russian separatist leader said last week.

“Metinvest enterprises have underlined that there is a high probability of theft and smuggling of Ukrainian steel products,” Metinvest said in a statement.

11:53 AM

Turkish ship leaves Mariupol after grain talks with Russia

A Turkish cargo ship left Ukraine’s Russian-occupied port of Mariupol today after a round of “constructive” grain talks with Moscow, the Turkish defence ministry said, without specifying if it was carrying wheat.

“The meeting in Moscow gave its first concrete result,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement.

“Just a few hours after the end of the long meeting, the Turkish dry cargo ship, which had been waiting for days, left the Ukrainian port.”

11:37 AM

Inside occupied Mariupol, a city rebuilding itself yet surrounded by death

Rare access shows bodies filling makeshift morgues as markets spring up and school terms begin again in obliterated city, report Luc Lacroix and Alexandra Dalsbaek.

Valeriya Chigrina walked towards the cluster of warehouses on the eastern edge of Mariupol. They once stored vegetables but are now full of dead bodies.

She was looking for help. Her 32-year-old husband was killed in front of their daughter in mid-March by a rocket.

“I’ve been everywhere. I’m now here to try to convince the undertakers to move my husband,” she said, with a streak of desperation, on her return to her home city after fleeing into Russia at the start of the conflict.

Mariupol was once a thriving city of 400,000 people lying on Ukraine’s southern coast, along the Sea of Azov. A predominantly working-class place, with Europe’s largest steelworks at the centre of its relatively prosperous economy.

Now, instead, it is a place of death. Death, here, assaults the senses. You can see the miles of mass graves dug to bury thousands of civilians, smell the rotting bodies of those left unburied and hear the silence of the empty apartment blocks and destroyed family homes.

Read the full dispatch here. 

11:25 AM

Russian refinery blames drones ‘from Western border’ for fire

The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia’s Rostov region, bordering Ukraine, suspended operations today after two unmanned aerial vehicles attacked its facilities “from the Western border”, the refinery said in a statement.

Social media footage showed a drone flying towards the refinery, located just five miles from the border with Ukraine, before a large ball of flame and black smoke billowed up into the sky.

11:16 AM

Finland is ready to fight Russia if attacked, says defence chief

Finland has prepared for decades for a Russian attack and would put up stiff resistance should one occur, its armed forces chief said.

The Nordic country has built up a substantial arsenal. But aside from the military hardware, General Timo Kivinen said, a crucial factor is that Finns would be motivated to fight.

“The most important line of defence is between one’s ears, as the war in Ukraine proves at the moment,” Kivinen said in an interview.

Finland fought two wars in the 1940s against its eastern neighbour, with which it shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border.

11:07 AM

EU sanctions that prompted Lithuania transit ban ‘unacceptable’ – Kremlin

The Kremlin has said that the EU sanctions that led Lithuania to impose a ban on the transit of some goods from mainland Russia to the exclave of Kaliningrad were “absolutely unacceptable”, and that Moscow was working on retaliatory measures.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had yet to decide when it would impose countermeasures.

10:51 AM

Russian McDonald’s sells ‘record’ number of burgers

The new, rebranded McDonald’s in Russia appears to be off to a roaring start: The chain sold a record 120,000 burgers on its opening day, the chain’s CEO told Reuters.

“We have never seen such daily turnover in the whole time McDonald’s has worked in Russia,” Oleg Paroev told Reuters in an exclusive interview published on Tuesday. Mr Paroev was the former CEO of McDonald’s Russia.

McDonald’s exited the Russian market in May after 32 years in the country, citing “the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment.”

The US fast-food chain sold the Russian business to local licensee and businessman Alexander Govor, and it reopened on June 12 under the new name ‘Vkusno & tochka’, which translates to “tasty and that’s it.” A total of 15 rebranded shops opened in and around Moscow on June 12, with another 35 opening the next day, according to Reuters.

Photos from Vkusno & tochka’s opening in Russia earlier this month show restaurants packed with diners.

Last week, James Kilner sent this report on the opening of Vkusno & tochka.

10:33 AM

Despite the horror, Ukrainians carry on with daily life

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - Anadolu Agency /Anadolu 

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – Anadolu Agency /Anadolu

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - Anadolu Agency /Anadolu 

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – Anadolu Agency /Anadolu

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - Anadolu Agency /Anadolu 

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – Anadolu Agency /Anadolu

10:14 AM

Russia’s lowering of gas flows a ‘rogue move’

Russian reductions of gas flows to Europe are “very rogue moves” a senior European Commission official has said, adding plans to step up coal use in the bloc would be temporary and climate goals remained intact.

“The unlawful invasion by Russia of Ukraine has resulted in an emergency situation in the EU,” Elina Bardram, acting director for International Affairs and Climate Finance at the European Commision, told the Africa Energy Forum in Brussels.

“With the very rogue moves we are observing from the Putin administration in terms of Gazprom lowering the flow very suddenly, we are doing some very important measures, but all of those measures are temporary”, she added, referring to coal use.

The EU and other developed economies have widened sanctions on Russia to include its oil and coal but have held off on banning gas imports.

However, gas prices have hit record highs as a slowdown in flows from Russia in recent days has deepened worries over supply in higher-demand winter months.

09:56 AM

‘Kamikaze drone’ causes fire at Russian oil refinery

A fire at Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk refinery in the Rostov region began after two Ukrainian drones were spotted over the plant, TASS cited an unidentified source in the local authorities.

“One of them made an impact, crashing into a heat transfer unit, after which the blaze started. The second one flew away,” the source told TASS.

The local emergency service said the blaze has been put out, Interfax news agency reported.

09:35 AM

Dozens of civilians killed in Kharkiv region after heavy Russian shelling

09:18 AM

Fight with Russia in Severodonetsk ‘hell’ – Kyiv

Ukraine has said that the eastern industrial city of Severodonetsk was “hell” as Russian forces moved to encircle two key cities in the Donbas where Moscow has concentrated its military efforts.

“For four months all our positions have been under fire from everything – and I just want to emphasis this – from all the weapons that the Russian army has,” the Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media.

“It’s just hell out there,” he added, referring to Severodonetsk. “Our boys are holding their positions and will continue to hold on as long as necessary,” he added.

08:57 AM

Ukrainians use American weapons to fire at Russians

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - TYLER HICKS /NYTNS / Redux / eyevine 

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – TYLER HICKS /NYTNS / Redux / eyevine

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - TYLER HICKS /NYTNS / Redux / eyevine 

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – TYLER HICKS /NYTNS / Redux / eyevine

08:29 AM

Sergei Lavrov heads to Iran for talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was due in Iran Wednesday for talks on boosting trade and energy cooperation as the two countries grapple with Western economic sanctions.

Tehran and Moscow both have huge oil and gas reserves but are constrained by sanctions that limit their ability to export their output.

“Lavrov will meet our foreign minister (Hossein Amir-Abdollahian) tomorrow (Thursday),” Iran’s official IRNA news agency said.

Russia was slapped with sanctions following its February invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, while Iran’s economy has been reeling under biting sanctions reimposed by the US in 2018, following Washington’s withdrawal from a nuclear accord between Tehran and major powers.

08:18 AM

The moment a Russian journalist auctions his Nobel Peace Prize for £84m to aid Ukrainian refugees

08:04 AM

Ukraine continues to fight for Severedontesk, in pictures

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock 

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - STRINGER/REUTERS

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – STRINGER/REUTERS

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - STRINGER/REUTERS

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – STRINGER/REUTERS

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire - OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock 

Ukraine war: Russia lays down curtain of fire – OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock

07:52 AM

Indonesian president to visit Kyiv, Moscow this month

Indonesian President and G20 chair Joko Widodo will visit the leaders of Ukraine and Russia this month to discuss the economic and humanitarian fallout of Moscow’s invasion, his foreign minister said on Wednesday.

The G20 summit – which will be held on the Indonesian island of Bali in November – has been shrouded in controversy thanks to Jakarta’s decision to invite Russia despite alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Indonesia holds the rotating presidency of the G20 this year, and has come under pressure from some Western countries, led by the United States, to exclude Russia from the meeting.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Mr Widodo would visit Kyiv and Moscow after representing Indonesia as a guest country at the G7 summit in Germany on June 26 and 27, becoming the first Asian leader to travel to both countries since fighting began.

“In the visit to Kyiv and Moscow, the president will meet with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky and President (Vladimir) Putin,” Mr Marsudi said in an online briefing on Wednesday.

07:41 AM

MoD latest update

06:59 AM

Britain says casualty rate nears 55pc among forces of Donetsk Republic

Casualties have amounted to about 55 per cent of the original strength of the forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, Britain said on Wednesday.

Figures published by the DPR showed that by June 16, 2,128 military personnel had been killed in action, with 8,897 wounded since the beginning of 2022, the defence ministry said in a daily Twitter update.

Russian authorities have not released the tally of military casualties in Ukraine since 25 March, it added.

05:41 AM

Key Ukrainian city under ‘massive’ Russian bombardment

Ukrainian forces are facing “massive” and relentless artillery attacks in a battleground eastern city, Kyiv warned, as Russian troops gained ground throughout the Donbas region.

Moscow’s troops have been pummelling eastern Ukraine for weeks and are slowly advancing, despite fierce resistance from the outgunned Ukrainian military.

With President Vladimir Putin’s forces tightening their grip on the strategically important city of Severodonetsk in the Donbas, its twin city of Lysychansk is now coming under heavier bombardment.

“The Russian army is massively shelling Lysychansk,” Sergiy Gaiday, governor of the Lugansk region, which includes both cities, wrote on Telegram.

“They are just destroying everything there… They destroyed buildings and unfortunately there are casualties.”

04:33 AM

Howitzers arrive in Ukraine, first in pledged weapons package from Germany

German self-propelled howitzers have arrived in Ukraine in the first delivery of heavy weapons promised by Berlin, Ukraine’s defence minister said on Tuesday.

Ukraine has pleaded with the West to send more and better artillery as the country runs out of ammunition for its existing Soviet-era arsenal, which is dwarfed by Russia’s.

“We have replenishment!…The German Panzerhaubitze 2000 with trained Ukrainian crews joined the Ukrainian artillery family,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on social media.

03:47 AM

EU to welcome Ukraine candidacy on Thursday

In a symbolic decision, Ukraine is set to become an official candidate for European Union membership on Thursday, EU diplomats said.

Russia’s failure to make a major breakthrough so far since invading Ukraine means time is on the side of Ukrainians, according to some military analysts.

“It’s a heavyweight boxing match. In 2 months of fighting, there has not yet been a knockout blow. It will come, as RU forces become more depleted,” retired US Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, a former commander of US ground forces in Europe, wrote on Twitter.

03:31 AM

Italy’s government hit after Five Star party split over war

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition government was rocked by fresh turmoil on Tuesday after the largest party in parliament split, with the foreign minister starting a breakaway group.

Luigi Di Maio said his decision to leave the Five Star Movement (M5S) – the party he once led – was due to its “ambiguity” over Italy’s support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

But it follows months of internal tensions in the party, which has lost most of the support that propelled it to power in 2018 and risks being almost wiped out in national elections due next year.

As many as 60 former Five Star lawmakers have already signed up to Mr Di Maio’s new group, “Together for the Future”, media reports said.

03:21 AM

Latest photos of the war in Ukraine as fighting continues in the east

Housing and Communal College building damaged in a recent shelling in Kharkiv, - SERGEY KOZLOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 

Housing and Communal College building damaged in a recent shelling in Kharkiv, – SERGEY KOZLOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ORLANDO BARRIA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12994967c) View of a destroyed building in the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine, 21 June 2022. On 24 February Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Daily life in Kharkiv, Ukraine - 21 Jun 2022  - ORLANDO BARRIA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ORLANDO BARRIA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12994967c) View of a destroyed building in the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine, 21 June 2022. On 24 February Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Daily life in Kharkiv, Ukraine – 21 Jun 2022 – ORLANDO BARRIA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Mandatory Credit: Photo by OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12994963p) Ukrainian servicemen go to a position in the city of Severodonetsk of Luhansk area, Ukraine, 19 June 2022 (issued 21 June 2022). The city of Severodonetsk and its surroundings witnessed heavy fighting for the last days. Ukrainian troops control a part of city include the Azot plant where 568 people, including 38 children, remain in the bomb shelters, the head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai said on June 21. On 24 February Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Fights in Severodonetsk, Luhansk, Ukraine - 19 Jun 2022  - OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12994963p) Ukrainian servicemen go to a position in the city of Severodonetsk of Luhansk area, Ukraine, 19 June 2022 (issued 21 June 2022). The city of Severodonetsk and its surroundings witnessed heavy fighting for the last days. Ukrainian troops control a part of city include the Azot plant where 568 people, including 38 children, remain in the bomb shelters, the head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai said on June 21. On 24 February Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Fights in Severodonetsk, Luhansk, Ukraine – 19 Jun 2022 – OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Mandatory Credit: Photo by OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12994963h) A Ukrainian serviceman takes a cigarette proposed by a comrade on a position in the city of Severodonetsk of Luhansk area, Ukraine 19 June 2022 (issued 21 June 2022). The city of Severodonetsk and its surroundings witnessed heavy fighting for the last days. Ukrainian troops control a part of city include the Azot plant where 568 people, including 38 children, remain in the bomb shelters, the head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai said on June 21. On 24 February Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Fights in Severodonetsk, Luhansk, Ukraine - 19 Jun 2022  - OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12994963h) A Ukrainian serviceman takes a cigarette proposed by a comrade on a position in the city of Severodonetsk of Luhansk area, Ukraine 19 June 2022 (issued 21 June 2022). The city of Severodonetsk and its surroundings witnessed heavy fighting for the last days. Ukrainian troops control a part of city include the Azot plant where 568 people, including 38 children, remain in the bomb shelters, the head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai said on June 21. On 24 February Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. Fights in Severodonetsk, Luhansk, Ukraine – 19 Jun 2022 – OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A Ukrainian service member pets a dog in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022. Picture taken June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak  - REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

A Ukrainian service member pets a dog in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022. Picture taken June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak – REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

02:55 AM

Ukraine strengthening defences in Luhansk

Ukrainian and Russian forces remained entrenched in eastern Ukrainian battlegrounds going into Wednesday, a day of commemoration in both countries to mark the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Fighting in the months-long war has favoured Russia in recent weeks because of its huge edge in artillery firepower, a fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged in a late Tuesday night address.

“Thanks to tactical maneuvers the Ukrainian army is strengthening its defences in the Luhansk region,” he said. “That is really the toughest spot. The occupiers are also pressing strongly in the direction of Donetsk.”

“And just as actively as we are fighting for a positive decision by the European Union on Ukraine’s candidate status, we are also fighting every day for modern weaponry for our country. We don’t let up for a single day,” Mr Zelensky said, urging those nations supporting his country to speed up arms deliveries.

01:10 AM

Today’s Top Stories

  • Mariupol was once a thriving city of 400,000 people lying on Ukraine’s southern coast, along the Sea of Azov. A predominantly working-class place, with Europe’s largest steelworks at the centre of its relatively prosperous economy. Now, instead, it is a place of death. Death, here, assaults the senses

  • Germany has “finally” delivered its first shipment of heavy weapons to Ukraine nearly five months into the war with Russia, Kyiv said on Tuesday

  • Ukrainian forces have launched a “massive” night-time mission to retake Snake Island, the Black Sea outpost captured by Russia at the start of the war

  • Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would deploy its newest intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of reaching Britain in three minutes, by the end of the year

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