Ukraine news from June 6: ‘There’s more of them, they are more powerful, but we have a chance to hold the advance,’ says Ukraine’s president.
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These were the updates on Monday, June 6:
The Ukrainian navy has said it pushed back a fleet of Russian warships more than 100km (60 miles) from its Black Sea coast, where Moscow’s ships have been carrying out a naval blockade for weeks.
The Russian fleet was “forced to change tactics”, the navy command of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook.
“We deprived the Russian Black Sea Fleet of complete control over the northwestern part of the Black Sea, which has become a ‘grey zone’. At the same time, the enemy has adopted our tactics and is trying to regain control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea through coastal missile systems and air-based cruise missiles,” the navy statement said.
UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten has said Monday that she believes the “unprecedented” displacement of millions of Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion is “turning into a human trafficking crisis”.
“Women and children fleeing the conflict are being targeted for trafficking and exploitation – in some cases facing further exposure to rape and other risks while seeking refuge,” Patten told the UN Security Council in New York City on Monday.
Patten said that Western allies supporting Ukraine militarily also needed a “coherent and coordinated response” to address the emergency.
New car sales in Russia have sunk by 83.5 percent in May as the effects of Western sanctions hit the country’s industry with parts shortages and spiralling prices.
Auto sales plunged to another historic low in May, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) said on Monday.
Sales of new cars have been falling since March as sanctions blocked main supply chains. Last month, only 24,268 vehicles were sold, AEB said. A year earlier, sales were six times greater, the Reuters news agency reported.
Moscow has imposed sanctions on 61 United States officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, as well as a number of leading defence and media executives, the Russian foreign ministry said on Monday.
The ministry said the personal sanctions were in retaliation for the “constantly expanding US sanctions against Russian political and public figures, as well as representatives of domestic business”.
Also included are Edward Bastian, chief executive of Delta Air Lines, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, and Jeffrey Sprecher, chair of the New York Stock Exchange.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that there could be as much as 75 million tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine by this autumn because of Russian blockades, and that Kyiv wanted anti-ship weapons to secure the safe passage of its exports.
Zelenskyy said that Ukraine has been discussing with the United Kingdom and Turkey the idea of naval help from a third country guaranteeing the passage of Ukrainian grain exports through the Russia-dominated Black Sea.
However, the strongest guarantee of the safe passage of the grain exports would be Ukrainian weaponry, he said, according to Reuters.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has been charged with exporting two US-origin planes to Russia without a licence by American authorities.
A federal court in New York signed a warrant today authorising the seizure of two planes owned by Abramovich – a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, and a Gulfstream G650ER.
Prosecutors say both planes were flown in March to Russia, in violation of US economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by Washington in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the payment of $81,500 to the families of each member of Russia’s national guard who died in Ukraine and Syria, state news agency Tass reports.
The decree amounted to official recognition that members of the guard, known as Rosgvardia, are among the casualties of the war in Ukraine that Russia describes as a “special military operation”.
The Russian occupation’s administration in Mariupol has shut down the southern port city for quarantine over a possible cholera outbreak, Ukrainian authorities say.
Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said on Ukrainian television that the city is bracing itself for an epidemic as dead bodies and litter are piling up in the city on the Azov Sea.
Ukraine’s health ministry warned that mass burials and poor access to clean water were creating a risk of cholera, according to a report by The Kyiv Independent.
⚡️ Health Ministry: Risk of cholera in Mariupol.
Mass burials, poor access to clean water lead to a critical situation in Russian-occupied Mariupol, said Deputy Health Minister Ihor Kuzin. The ministry began monitoring suspected cases of cholera in the region on June 1.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) June 6, 2022
At least one person has been killed and several more have been injured after Russia shelled a residential area of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, according to the head of the regional council.
“This morning Mykolaiv was being shelled chaotically again,” Hanna Zamazieieva, head of the Mykolaiv regional council, said on Telegram. “Civil residential houses in different districts of the city with no military objects were shelled.”
Explosions were heard in the southern Black Sea port city earlier in the day. Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych reported the blasts in a Telegram post.
A United Nations commission has increased its projection for poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2022, citing economic disruptions caused by the conflict in Ukraine.
Extreme poverty is projected to reach 14.5 percent this year, 0.7 percentage point more than in 2021, according to a study published by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Higher fuel prices and fertiliser and wheat supply problems provoked by the war in Ukraine have fanned inflation while intensifying hunger, casting doubts about the region’s growth prospects, the UN agency added.
It also warned of a significant jump in the number of people in the region deemed food insecure.
Russia has reportedly begun turning over the bodies of Ukrainian fighters killed at the Azovstal steelworks, the fortress-like plant in the destroyed southeastern port city of Mariupol where the Ukrainians’ last-ditch stand became a symbol of resistance against Moscow’s invasion.
Dozens of fighters’ bodies recovered from the bombed-out plant’s now Russian-occupied ruins have been transferred to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where DNA testing is under way to identify the remains, Maksym Zhorin, a military commander and former leader of the Azov Regiment, told The Associated Press news agency.
The Azov Regiment was among the Ukrainian units that defended the factory for nearly three months before surrendering.
It isn’t clear how many bodies might still remain at the plant, which was relentlessly pounded by surrounding Russian forces from the air and sea before being captured.
Investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, known for his coverage of Russian security agencies, says that Russian authorities have placed him on a wanted list and frozen his bank accounts.
Soldatov, who co-founded the Agentura.ru website, wrote on Twitter: “My Monday: my accounts in Russian banks are under arrest, plus I’m placed on Russia’s wanted list.”
The Interior Ministry’s website listed Soldatov as wanted under an unspecified article of the criminal code.
In a separate post in the Telegram messaging platform, Soldatov wrote that the case against him had been filed in a manner similar to that of two journalists accused of spreading “fake information” about Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Italy has summoned Russia’s ambassador to protest against Moscow’s criticism of Italian media outlets’ coverage of the war.
The Italian foreign ministry said in a statement it “rejected insinuations concerning the alleged involvement of our country’s media in an anti-Russian campaign”.
It added that it “firmly rejected accusations of amorality” levelled at certain unnamed Italian officials and journalists by the Russian foreign ministry.
The Russian embassy in Rome posted a statement on Facebook saying Ambassador Sergey Razov had repudiated the criticism during his meeting with the secretary-general of Italy’s foreign ministry.
“He pointed out that the propaganda line that is dominating in the Italian media can hardly be qualified otherwise than as hostile,” the statement said.
A Moscow court has fined United States-backed broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) 20 million roubles ($325,214) for distributing allegedly “fake” content about Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports.
According to Interfax, the outlet refused to delete reports that included a tally of deaths among civilians and Russian service personnel “as well as extremist statements about Russians”. Russia has not provided military casualty figures since March.
RFE/RL, which also runs a news website, has been given a slew of fines in recent months and said in March that it was suspending operations in Russia after it was declared bankrupt and police pressure against its journalists intensified.
Zelenskyy says that Russian forces have the numerical advantage in the battle for Severodonetsk, but that Kyiv’s troops have “a chance” of fighting back and holding off Moscow’s press for control of the city.
Speaking to reporters at a news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine’s leader said that the situation would become very difficult for his country if Russia breaks through in its eastern region of Donbas.
“Ukraine is holding the situation in the Severodonetsk direction. There’s more of them, they are more powerful but we have a chance to hold the advance,” Zelenskyy said.
At least 32 journalists have been killed in Ukraine amid Russia’s offensive, the country’s culture and information policy minister says.
Noting the toll as Ukraine marked its annual Journalists’ Day, Oleksandr Tkachenko hailed all reporters still working in the war-ravaged country as “heroes”.
“Eternal memory to our fighters of information front. All journalists today who work 24/7 are heroes. Our information front is strong thanks to all of you,” he tweeted.
This year’s #JournalistDay in 🇺🇦 is lost of 32 journalists because of war… Eternal memory to our fighters of information front.
All journalists today who work 24/7 are heroes.
Our information front is strong thanks to all of you. pic.twitter.com/RoJsSsJxwa
— Tkachenko Oleksandr (@otkachenkoua) June 6, 2022
The mayor of Severodonetsk says Ukraine has concentrated enough forces there to repel Russian attacks, adding neither side is preparing to withdraw amid intense street fighting.
“[We] have focused enough forces and resources there to beat back attacks on the city,” Oleksandr Stryuk told Ukrainian television.
In separate comments, defence ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a briefing that Russia was not sparing troops or equipment in its push to capture Severodonetsk, the largest remaining Ukrainian-controlled city in Luhansk.
As Kyiv district authorities investigate possible war crimes perpetrated by Russian troops, volunteers shoulder the harrowing task of exhuming bodies.
Read more here.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will respond to Western deliveries of long-range weapons to Ukraine by pushing Ukrainian forces back, further away from Russia’s border.
“The longer the range of the systems that will be delivered, the further we will move back the Nazis from that line from which threats to Russian-speakers and the Russian Federation may come,” he told a news conference, citing Russia’s repeated description of authorities in Ukraine as neo-Nazis and nationalists – labels that Kyiv says are being used as propaganda to justify the conflict.
Lavrov also described as “unprecedented” a move by Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro to block his plane from travelling to Serbia, adding that he had yet to receive an explanation for their decision.
He said that he would instead invite his Serbian counterpart to visit him in Moscow. “The main thing is no one will be able to destroy our relations with Serbia,” Lavrov added.
Zelenskyy says that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a new package of military aid to Ukraine from the United Kingdom during a call between the two leaders.
Zelesnkyy added in a Twitter post that he and Johnson were “looking for ways to avoid the food crisis & unblock [Ukraine’s] ports,” referring to Russia’s naval blockade of Ukraine which has left the latter unable to export much of its agricultural produce.
His remarks came after the UK said earlier on Monday that the multiple-launch rocket systems it has pledged to Ukraine will provide “a significant boost in capability” for the country’s efforts to resist Russia’s invasion.
Talked with @BorisJohnson. Told about the situation on the front. Received confirmation of a new enhanced defense support package for 🇺🇦. Raised the issue of intensifying work on security guarantees. Jointly with 🇬🇧 we’re looking for ways to avoid the food crisis & unblock ports.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 6, 2022
The Kremlin has said Russia is interested in talks with the United States over nuclear arms but cautioned that negotiations are unlikely to take place at this time.
“We are interested and believe that continued negotiations and discussions on this topic, given the tectonic shifts that we are seeing… the whole world needs these kinds of talks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the UN nuclear watchdog is “developing the modalities” for an international mission of experts it hopes to send to the Russian-held nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, which is Europe’s largest.
“We are developing the modalities to dispatch such a mission; other considerations should not prevent this essential international mission from taking place,” Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement to the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors, adding that Ukraine had requested the move and also indicated that it is concerned about the supply of spare parts to the facility.
“Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya NPP site remains under the control of the Russian forces there. I have repeatedly expressed my grave concern at the extremely stressful and challenging working conditions under which Ukrainian management and staff are operating the plant,” he said, noting the situation posed a “clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards” there.
Moscow has denounced airspace closures by three eastern European countries which prevented Lavrov from travelling to Serbia as a “hostile action”.
Countries surrounding Serbia – Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro – closed their airspace to an official plane that would have carried Moscow’s top diplomat to Belgrade on Monday.
Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told reporters such actions could cause problems with the timing of high-level diplomatic meetings. But they would not prevent Moscow from maintaining contacts with friendly countries, he added.
Numerous countries have provided arms to Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24.
Click here for a round-up of the weapons supplies.
Ukraine’s army says Russian forces are attacking along the entire front line in the country’s southeastern Donetsk region as well as conducting offensive operations in the neighbouring region of Luhansk.
Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesman for Ukraine’s armed forces, said Moscow’s troops were continuing to press for full control of the city of Severodonetsk, in Luhansk, and were also attacking in Slovyansk and Lysychansk.
Shtupun also accused Russian forces of targeting civilian infrastructure in the regions of Chernihiv and Sumy, in Ukraine’s north and northeast respectively.
Russia and the US should keep their respective embassies in one another’s countries open despite the crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine because the world’s two biggest nuclear powers must continue to talk, the US ambassador to Moscow has been quoted as saying.
John Sullivan told Russia’s state-controlled TASS news agency that Washington and Moscow should not simply break off diplomatic relations.
“We must preserve the ability to speak to each other,” Sullivan said. His remarks were reported by TASS in Russian and translated into English by the Reuters news agency.
A planned visit to Serbia by Lavrov has been cancelled after countries around the Balkan nation closed their airspace to his aircraft, according to media reports.
Read more here.
Explosions have been heard in Ukraine’s southern Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv, its mayor says.
Oleksandr Senkevych reported the blasts in a Telegram post. There was no further information immediately available.
The position of Ukrainian forces fighting in Severodonetsk has “worsened a little”, the governor of the Luhansk region has said.
“Our defenders managed to undertake a counterattack for a certain time; they liberated almost half of the city. But now the situation has worsened a little for us again,” Serhiy Haidai said in televised remarks.
The governor of Russia’s Kursk region, which borders Ukraine, says the village of Tetkino was shelled on Monday morning.
“There were no wounded or dead. The main blow was inflicted on the local bridge,” Roman Starovoit said on Telegram.
The governors of several of Russia’s border regions have repeatedly accused Ukraine of firing on their settlements.
Ukraine’s military says 31,250 Russian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of its invasion on February 24.
The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also said Russia had also lost 1,386 tanks, 3,400 armoured personnel vehicles, 690 artillery systems, 209 multiple-launch rocket systems, 551 cruise missiles, 96 air defence systems, 211 aircraft, 176 helicopters, and 13 ships and boats.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures provided.
Втрати ворога в інфографіці 👇@armyinformcomua pic.twitter.com/Jedp4IxFwU
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) June 6, 2022
Russian forces continued to shell Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region on Sunday, wounding six people, the governor has said.
Oleh Synyehubov said Russian shelling injured a 52-year-old man in the town of Chuhuiv, two people in the villages of Korobochkyne and Chkalovske, two others in the village of Malinovka and an elderly woman in the town of Balakliya.
Russian shelling in Luhansk wounded one woman and damaged more than 27 houses, the governor has said.
Serhiy Haidai also said it was unclear how much damage has been done in Severodonetsk, as street fights there are continuing.
Haidai said a bakery in Lysychansk had caught fire and was extinguished by firefighters.
Russia has likely moved air defence systems to Snake Island in the Black Sea, contributing to its blockade of the Ukrainian coast and hindering grain exports, the UK’s defence ministry says.
“Russian forces have likely moved multiple air defence assets to Snake Island in the western Black Sea including SA-15 and SA-22 systems,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing, adding that the weapons are likely to provide air defence for Russian ships operating around the island.
The ministry also said that heavy fighting was continuing in Severodonetsk and that Russian forces continued to push towards Sloviansk “as part of their attempted encirclement of Ukrainian forces”.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 6 June 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/7sDt8fXMK3
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/BwzT24DRlM
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 6, 2022
Russian aluminium producer Rusal has filed a lawsuit against global miner Rio Tinto, seeking to regain access to its 20 percent share of alumina produced at a jointly owned refiner in Australia.
Rio Tinto took sole control of Queensland Alumina Ltd (QAL) in April, sidelining Rusal. Rio owns 80 percent of the refinery, while Rusal owns 20 percent.
Australia banned the export of alumina and aluminium ores to Russia following its Ukraine invasion. Rusal was not directly targeted by Australian sanctions, but Rio Tinto’s actions were triggered by sanctions on oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, who own 25.6 percent and 8 percent of Rusal respectively.
Rusal’s Australian unit Alumina and Bauxite Company (ABC) said in an Australian Federal Court filing that the circumstances required for Rio to step in to take control did not exist and amounted to a breach of obligations, according to the court documents reviewed by Reuters.
The website of Russia’s Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities appears to have been hacked, with an internet search for the site leading to a “Glory to Ukraine” sign in Ukrainian, the Reuters news agency reported.
Russia’s state news agency RIA late on Sunday quoted a ministry representative as saying that the site was down but users’ personal data was safe. RIA said other media had reported that hackers were demanding a ransom to prevent the release of users’ data. Reuters was not able to ascertain which media outlets were being cited by RIA.
Many Russian state-owned companies and news organisations have suffered sporadic hacking attempts since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
The UK says it will supply Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems that can attack targets up to 80km (50 miles) away, in a move coordinated with the US.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said UK support for Ukraine would change as Russia’s tactics evolved, explaining the gift of the M270 multiple-launch systems, which are similar to the systems the US is sending, the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
The UK said Ukrainian troops would be trained on how to use the new launchers in Britain after it previously announced it would train Ukrainian personnel to use armoured vehicles.
A Russian general was killed in eastern Ukraine, a Russian state media journalist said on Sunday, adding to the string of high-ranking military casualties sustained by Moscow.
The report, published on the Telegram messaging app by state television reporter Alexander Sladkov, did not say precisely when and where Major General Roman Kutuzov was killed.
There was no immediate comment from the Russian defence ministry, which classifies military deaths as state secrets even in peacetime and has not updated its official casualty figures in Ukraine since March 25, when it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of its invasion.
Russian missile attacks have killed three people and injured another two in the Donetsk region on Sunday, the governor said.
Two people were killed in the town of Avdiivka and one in the town of Druzhkivka, Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram.
He added it was impossible to establish the exact number of victims in the occupied city of Mariupol and the town of Volnovakha.
Evacuations have resumed from the Ukrainian-held part of Luhansk province on Sunday, and 98 people had managed to escape the town of Lysychansk, the governor said.
However, Serhiy Haidai said that “evacuation from Severodonetsk is currently impossible”, and about 15,000 people remained in the city.
Russian forces have been trying for weeks to cut off the main road out of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk to encircle Ukrainian troops there, and evacuations were halted last week after a journalist was killed in the shelling.
In May, the US sent an alert to 14 countries, mostly in Africa, that Russian cargo vessels were leaving ports near Ukraine carrying what the state department called “stolen Ukrainian grain”, the New York Times reported, adding that Russia has been trying to sell the stolen grain to African countries.
Ukraine says Russia has stolen up to 500,000 tonnes of wheat worth $100m since it invaded in February. Most of it was taken to ports in Russia-controlled Crimea and put on ships, including some under Western sanctions, Ukrainian officials say.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the African Union head, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, who tried to find a solution to the grain problem. African countries are acutely affected by the grain shortage crisis driven in large part by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, which has sent prices of grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser soaring.
Zelenskyy says he visited two towns near the front line of battles against the Russian army after meeting troops in the Zaporizhia region.
“After that, I went with the head of [my] office to the east. We were in Lysychansk and Soledar,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video.
Lysychansk is in the Luhansk region and Soledar is in the Donetsk region. Both regions make up the Donbas, which is the focus of Russia’s campaign in eastern Ukraine.
Russia took aim at Western military supplies for Ukraine on Sunday, launching air raids on Kyiv that it claimed destroyed donated tanks.
Ukraine said missiles aimed at the capital hit a train repair shop. At least one person was hospitalised but no deaths had been reported, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Before the morning attack, Kyiv had not faced any such Russian air raids since the April 28 visit of UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Read more here.
Putin has lashed out at Western deliveries of weapons to Ukraine, saying they aim to prolong the conflict.
He insisted such supplies were unlikely to change the military situation for Ukraine’s government.
If Kyiv gets longer-range rockets, he added, Moscow will “draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have plenty of, in order to strike at those objects that we haven’t yet struck”.
Read more here.
The UK defence ministry says Ukrainian counterattacks in Severodonetsk were “likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower”.
Russian forces previously made a string of advances in the city, but Ukrainian fighters have pushed back in recent days. The ministry’s intelligence brief also said Russia’s military was partly relying on reserve forces of Luhansk separatists.
“These troops are poorly equipped and trained, and lack heavy equipment in comparison to regular Russian units,” it said, adding the use of these troops likely “indicates a desire to limit casualties suffered by regular Russian forces”.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 5 June 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/8afxKwSwSn
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/Sy8NG76Fa8
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 5, 2022
It was an agonising end to Ukraine’s mission to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar while under invasion by Russia.
The Ukrainian players appeared heartbroken following the defeat; their coach Oleksandr Petrakov said he could not utter a word of criticism of his players.
“I think we did everything we could but I want the people of Ukraine to remember our team, our efforts. I want to say sorry we didn’t score. But that is sport, that happens.”
Read more here.
Ukraine says its forces have retaken control of half of the strategic eastern city of Severodonetsk as a counterattack drove back Russian troops in the critical battle for the Luhansk region.
But Luhansk’s governor Serhiy Haidai said they expect a major counterattack from Russian forces in the coming days.
“Our armed forces have cleaned half” of the industrial hub of Russian forces, Haidai said on his official social media channels. “In the next five days, there will be a large increase in the number of shellings from heavy artillery.”
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Ukraine latest updates: Moscow has ‘advantage’ in Severodonetsk – Al Jazeera English
Ukraine news from June 6: ‘There’s more of them, they are more powerful, but we have a chance to hold the advance,’ says Ukraine’s president.