Zelensky says ‘we will definitely win’ as he visits frontline

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President Volodymyr Zelensky walks past destroyed buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine on June 18, 2022.  - Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/via Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelensky walks past destroyed buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine on June 18, 2022. – Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/via Reuters

Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine will “definitely win” in the war against Russia, as he visited troops on the frontline of the southern Mykolaiv region.

The Ukrainian President handed out medals and posed for selfies with soldiers in what appeared to be an underground bunker.

He posted a video of the meeting on his Telegram account on Saturday, but did not confirm when the visit took place.

“Our brave men. Each one of them is working flat out. We will definitely hold out! We will definitely win,” he said.

The president’s office said he also visited the city’s destroyed regional administration building, where 37 people were killed by a missile in late March, as well as a hospital.

It comes a day after Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv to meet with Mr Zelensky, where the two leaders discussed a potential British training programme for Ukrainian forces.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

01:58 PM

Britain must keep up support for Kyiv amid ‘Ukraine fatigue’, says PM

Britain must continue to show support for Kyiv amid the risk of “Ukraine fatigue” as the war rages on, Boris Johnson has said.

“The Russians are grinding forward inch by inch and it is vital for us to show what we know to be true, which is that Ukraine can win and will win,” the Prime Minister told reporters upon his return from the Ukrainian capital.

“When Ukraine fatigue is setting in, it is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and we are giving them the strategic resilience that they need.”

Mr Johnson visited Kyiv on Friday, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, and described the city as “far more lively” than it was during his first visit in April.

“People are much more confident. People are out in the streets eating in cafes and restaurants in a way that they weren’t even a few weeks ago,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Boris Johnson light candles at the Mykhaylo Golden Doms Cathedral in Kyiv on June 17, 2022. - Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Boris Johnson light candles at the Mykhaylo Golden Doms Cathedral in Kyiv on June 17, 2022. – Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/AFP

01:41 PM

Russia putting world in danger of famine, warns EU

Russia is putting the world at risk of famine through its blockade of Ukraine’s shipments of grains and restrictions on its own exports, the EU’s foreign policy chief said on Saturday.

“We are ready to work with the UN and our partners to prevent any unwanted impact on global food security,” Josep Borrell said.

He said that “Russia’s conscious political choice is to ‘weaponise'” grain exports and “use them as a tool for blackmail against anyone that opposes its aggression” in Ukraine.

01:01 PM

Germany probing several hundred possible Russian war crimes

German police said on Saturday that they were investigating several hundred potential Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including political and military officials suspected of being linked to the alleged offences.

“Up until now we have received a three-digit number of leads,” Holger Muench, head of the BKA federal police, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

“Our clear goal is to identify those responsible for atrocities, to prove their actions through our investigations and bring them to justice,” including in Germany, he said.

The country applies universal jurisdiction which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, regardless of where they were committed.

However “that may take time” because investigations linked to the Ukraine conflict are only at their “very beginning”, he added.

12:51 PM

US fighters ‘captured’ by Russian forces in Ukraine appear in mystery video

Fears that two ex-US servicemen have been captured by Russian forces in Ukraine grew on Friday after footage shown on Russian state media appeared to show the pair in custody.

Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, were fighting as volunteers with Ukrainian forces when they went missing in action during fierce fighting outside Kharkiv last Thursday.

(Alexander) Robert J Drueke (Left) and Andy Tai Huynh (right)

(Alexander) Robert J Drueke (Left) and Andy Tai Huynh (right)

Videos shown on Russian state TV on Friday evening showed both men sitting alone in bare-walled rooms, making what appeared to be pre-scripted pro-Russian statements.

Explaining his reasons for volunteering, Mr Huynh said: “When the conflict started on February 24, I saw a lot of news which I now believe was propaganda from the Western side that said Russian forces were indiscriminately killing civilians. Through my travels [in Ukraine] I have not seen that. My Russian captors treated me humanely, and gave us water and blankets to keep warm.”

Mr Drueke’s statement was shorter, saying: “Mum I just want to leave you know that I am still alive and I hope to come  back home as soon as I can.”

Read the full story from Colin Freeman and James Kilner here

12:23 PM

Zelensky pays first visit to Mykolaiv since start of war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the war-torn southern city of Mykolaiv on Saturday for the first time since the Russian invasion, as part of a rare trip outside Kyiv.

Mr Zelensky wrote on Facebook that he met with officials in the city to discuss the economy, restoration of the water supply and agriculture.

11:47 AM

PM: Ukraine can and should host next Eurovision

Ukraine can and should host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, Boris Johnson said on Saturday, after the organisers said they were in talks to hold it in Britain instead due to the war.

The European Broadcasting Union announced on Friday that it was in talks with the BBC to host the event in Britain – the runner-up in the 2022 competition.

“Of course I would love it to be in this country but the fact is they won and they deserve to have it and I believe they can have it and I believe that they should have it,” Johnson told reporters.

“I believe that Kyiv or any other safe Ukrainian city would be a fantastic place to have it,” he added. “It is a year away, it is going to be fine by the time the Eurovision Song Contest comes round and I hope the Ukrainians get it.”

11:22 AM

Up to 100 miners trapped in coal mine in Donetsk

Almost 100 miners have been trapped in a coal mine in Donetsk after the power supply to the pit was cut off.

The Russian state news agency RIA blamed the incident on Ukraine, accusing it of launching attacks in the eastern region that then caused the power failure, according to Reuters.

“As a result of shelling [by Ukrainian forces], power to the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk was cut off, and 77 miners remain underground,” RIA said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report, and there was no immediate reaction from Ukraine.

11:03 AM

More pictures from the PM’s visit to Kyiv

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Volodymyr Zelensky lay flowers at the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, in front of the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral (Mykhailivskyi Zolotoverkhyi) in Kyiv on June 17, 2022.  - Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Volodymyr Zelensky lay flowers at the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, in front of the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral (Mykhailivskyi Zolotoverkhyi) in Kyiv on June 17, 2022. – Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks with Boris Johnson during the latter's visit to Kyiv on June 17, 2022. - Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks with Boris Johnson during the latter’s visit to Kyiv on June 17, 2022. – Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/AFP

Boris Johnson speaks to Air Loadmaster 99 Squadron Sergeant Tom Clare, Officer Commanding 99 Squadron Wing Commander Will Essex and Officer Commanding Operations Wing at RAF Brize Norton Wing commander Andy Hampshire on board a C17, after arriving at the base in Oxfordshire, following a surprise visit to Kyiv. The Prime Minister offered Ukraine a major military training operation he believes that could "change the equation" against Russian forces. - Joe Giddens/Reuters

Boris Johnson speaks to Air Loadmaster 99 Squadron Sergeant Tom Clare, Officer Commanding 99 Squadron Wing Commander Will Essex and Officer Commanding Operations Wing at RAF Brize Norton Wing commander Andy Hampshire on board a C17, after arriving at the base in Oxfordshire, following a surprise visit to Kyiv. The Prime Minister offered Ukraine a major military training operation he believes that could “change the equation” against Russian forces. – Joe Giddens/Reuters

10:41 AM

Odesa Opera House holds gala dedicated to military

10:28 AM

Civilians trapped in Severodonetsk could be ‘forced’ to evacuate to Russian-controlled territory

Civilians trapped in the embattled Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk face being evacuated to areas deeper within Russian-occupied territory, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said.

In its daily intelligence update, the MoD said options to leave Severodonetsk are limited by the destruction of bridges, but Russia’s proposed route would lead people towards the town of Svatova.

“If trapped civilians don’t take up the offer of exiting via a corridor, Russia will likely claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area,” the ministry said on Twitter.

It added that Russia has precedent – both earlier in the war in Ukraine and in Syria – of using unilaterally-declared ‘humanitarian’ corridors as a way of manipulating the battlespace and imposing the forced transfer of populations.

10:21 AM

‘Fierce battles’ rage near Severodonetsk, says local governor

Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday that “fierce battles” with Russian forces continue to rage on in villages outside the eastern city of Severodonetsk.

“Now the most fierce battles are near Severodonetsk. They [Russia] do not control the city entirely,” the governor of the Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, said on Telegram.

“In nearby villages there are very difficult fights – in Toshkivska, Zolote. They are trying to break through but failing,” he said.

“Our defenders are fighting Russians in all directions. Recently, they shot down a plane and took captives.”

He also said that Lysychansk – a Ukrainian-controlled city across a river from Severodonetsk – is being “heavily shelled”.

“They cannot approach it and that’s why they are simply shooting at the city with air strikes,” he said. “It is very dangerous in the city.”

Gaiday also said there was “more destruction” at the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering.

09:41 AM

Russian forces free Ukrainian medic captured in Mariupol

Russian forces have freed a celebrated Ukrainian medic who used a body camera to record her team’s efforts to save the injured in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Yuliia Paievska, known as Taira, was “already home” after being freed on Friday, three months after she was taken captive on the streets of the city.

This undated image provided by the Invictus Games Team of Ukraine shows Yuliia Paievska, known as Taira, a celebrated Ukrainian medic who used a body camera to record her work in Mariupol while the port city was under Russian siege.  - Invictus Games Team Ukraine/Invictus Games Team Ukraine

This undated image provided by the Invictus Games Team of Ukraine shows Yuliia Paievska, known as Taira, a celebrated Ukrainian medic who used a body camera to record her work in Mariupol while the port city was under Russian siege. – Invictus Games Team Ukraine/Invictus Games Team Ukraine

The day before she was captured on March 16, she gave the footage to Associated Press journalists, who were the last remaining international reporters in the embattled city, and one of them fled with it embedded in a tampon.

“We managed to liberate ‘Taira’, Ukrainian paramedic Yuliia Paievska, from captivity. I am grateful to everyone who worked for this result,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

“Taira is already home. We will keep working to liberate everyone.”

09:09 AM

Gazprom’s gas exports to Europe via Ukraine drop to 41.4 mcm

Gazprom said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen down to 41.4m cubic metres on Saturday, from 41.9mcm on Friday.

Reuters reported the Russian gas producer as saying an application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine.

08:56 AM

Lack of medics and arms supplies leaves Ukraine counting its losses

It was a cigarette that saved Serhii’s life. The Ukrainian soldier, who was a welder before he joined the army, was defending his position in a private home on the eastern front in Luhansk last week as Russian forces pounded the area with artillery.

“Nobody was counting the number of explosions per hour; it was constant fire. They were firing from everything, grenade launchers, mortars, artillery, tanks, missiles,” said the gunner, who had only a few days of training before heading to the front.

In the early evening, Serhii broke out of the stifling bunker where he and his comrades were sheltering from the nerve-shattering thuds of incoming shells to grab some fresh air.

Wounded soldiers in an ambulance at Kramatorsk General Hospital. - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph/Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

Wounded soldiers in an ambulance at Kramatorsk General Hospital. – Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph/Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

“It was too windy to light up, so I went around the corner of the building, and just as I did so, a 120mm mine from a grenade launcher landed about 1.5 metres away from where I had been standing,” he said.

Ukraine’s hospitals are under pressure as the grinding war of attrition in the east kills up to 200 soldiers a day and leaves 500 more wounded.

Kyiv has pleaded with the West to drastically step-up supplies of weaponry and ammunition, or risk watching Ukraine’s armed forces “bleed out” in the carnage.

Read the full story by Nicola Smith and Illia Novikov here

08:26 AM

MoD: Russia likely to advance deeper into Donetsk region

It is likely that Russian forces have renewed their efforts to advance south of Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in the past 48 hours, the Ministry of Defence has said.

In their daily intelligence update, posted on Twitter, the MoD said Russia’s goal is to advance deeper into the Donetsk region and envelope Severodonetsk, which has seen intense fighting in recent weeks, from the north.

03:05 AM

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