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UPDATES: ZELENSKY SAYS PAINFUL LOSSES CONTINUE IN SEVERODONETSK AND KHARKIV REGION

Russian forces are now in control of most of Severodonetsk, the epicenter of the bloody battle for Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, but Ukrainian lines to the city do not yet appear to be totally cut.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia would “go further” than his country’s eastern Donbas region if given the chance, as he appealed for more weaponry from Western nations.
Amnesty International has accused Russia of war crimes during its efforts to capture the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, documenting the alleged use of cluster munitions and other indiscriminate means of attack.


A ship carrying 18,000 tons of Ukrainian corn arrived Monday at a port in Spain, using what a regional animal feed producers group described as a “new maritime route” that aims to avoid Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports.


UPDATES: ZELENSKY SAYS PAINFUL LOSSES CONTINUE in SEVERODONETSK AND KHARKIV REGION


Fierce fighting continues in Severodonetsk and the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a video address on Tuesday.

Office of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky


In Severodonetsk “the losses, unfortunately, are painful,” Zelensky said, “But we have to hold on.” He went on to say how it is vital for the Ukrainian military to stay in Donbas.

“The more losses the enemy suffers there, the less strength they will have to continue the aggression. Therefore, the Donbas direction is key to determining who will dominate in the coming weeks,” Zelensky said.
Ukraine’s president also spoke about how “painful losses” have taken place in the Kharkiv region where the Russian army is trying to strengthen its position.

“Fighting for this direction continues, and we still have to fight hard to fight for complete security for Kharkiv and the region,” Zelensky said.

Fierce battles are occurring in Izium, to the south of Kharkiv, according to local official Maksym Strelnyk.

Strelnyk, the deputy of Izium’s city council, tells CNN that Russian forces are trying to move in the direction of Sloviansk and Barvinkove.

Ukrainian Armed Forces have been able to liberate some settlements on the outskirts of Izium with counterattacks. Strelnyk estimates 15,000 civilians remain in Izium and the city lacks electricity, water, gas, mobile communications and internet. According to the official, about 80% of the infrastructure has been destroyed in Izium.


Ukrainian president pleads for anti-missile weapon systems


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country does not have a sufficient amount of modern anti-missile weapon systems and the procrastination in obtaining them cannot be justified.

In a video address on Tuesday, Zelensky pleaded for Ukraine’s partners to provide modern anti-missile weapons and said this week there will be many important talks with not just European politicians who are able to provide Ukraine with modern anti-missile system.

Ukrainian servicemen ride American 155 mm turreted self-propelled howitzers M109 in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on June 13. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters/File)


“Even though there are fewer and fewer modern missiles in Russia with each passing day, Ukraine’s need for such systems remains. Because Russia still has enough Soviet types of missiles, which are even more dangerous. They are many times less accurate, and therefore many times more threatening civilian objects and ordinary residential buildings,” Zelensky said.



Ukraine received 10% of military assistance requested from Western partners, deputy defense minister says


Ukraine has received only 10% of military assistance requested from Western partners, according to the country’s deputy defense minister.

Speaking in televised remarks, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said “Whatever efforts we put, no matter how professional our army is, without the assistance of our Western partners Ukraine will not be able to win this war.”

Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine Hanna Maliar holds a briefing in Kyiv on June 2. (Ukrinform/Shutterstock/File)


Earlier today CNN reported the US expects more announcements of weapons and equipment packages to Ukraine during a key meeting of nearly 50 countries known as the Ukraine Contact Group on Wednesday, according to a senior US defense official.

Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is gaining ground in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, specifically in the city of Severodonestk, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting recently. Without an influx of more weapons, some Ukrainian officials have said it will be increasingly difficult to halt Russia’s incremental progress or reclaim occupied ground in the region.

“We hear what they’re saying, we absolutely hear what they’re saying,” said the senior defense official, who spoke of the “urgency” of the group’s meeting in Brussels.

The official would not detail what countries would be announcing new security packages or what those shipments would include but noted that the US works “very closely” with other countries to figure out what Ukraine’s armed forces need and then find those systems to send over.

Previous reporting from CNN’s Oren Liebermann contributed to this report.



Mayor of captured Ukrainian town switches sides


Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s office said the mayor of Sviatohirsk, Volodymyr Bandura, is being investigated for suspicions of treason committed under martial law.

On Tuesday Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s office said the mayor is under investigation for “moving to the side of the enemy” and spreading through the media “an appeal in which he promoted the ideas of the Russian world.” Russian forces recently captured Sviatohirsk.

In an announcement on the website of Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor accused Bandura of agreeing to the proposal by the Russian Federation to take a position to head the temporarily occupied Sviatohirsk.

On Monday the leader of the so-pro-Russian, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine claimed Bandura had joined the DPR.

“We have been in touch with him for a long time, he was waiting, like many residents of Sviatohirsk, for liberation and he supports a special military operation,” Denis Pushilin said in a post on Telegram.

Pushilin posted a photo of himself meeting with the mayor.

Sviatohirsk, in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, is the site of a prominent monastery that sustained damage in recent weeks during Russia’s advance. It lies on the Siverskyi Donets river, and is a key prize in Russia’s advance toward Sloviansk, to the south.

“For obvious reasons he had to hide his position — the task was to keep people safe,” Pushilin said of Bandura on Telegram.

“At a difficult time, Volodymyr did not leave his post, he is respected and supported by the residents, so I offered him the position of the head of Sviatohirsk city administration,” Pushilin said.

He said that the monastery, or Sviatohirsk Lavra, was intact but “needs repairs.”




Additional bodies of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers to be repatriated in exchange, official says


As part of an exchange, the bodies of 56 Russian soldiers are being repatriated to Russia by Ukraine’s government, Oleh Kotenko, Ukraine’s commissioner for Persons Missing in Special Circumstances, tells CNN.

The bodies of another 64 Ukrainian soldiers who died defending the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, southeast Ukraine, have been repatriated to government-controlled territory, Ukraine’s Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories said Tuesday.

Ukraine and Russia have committed to an exchange of bodies as part of the agreement that ended that siege according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories. This is the third exchange of bodies to have taken place, Kotenko said. He added similar exchanges are planned in the future and the timings of the next exchange will depend on the identification of the bodies on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides.

Olena Tolkachova, chief of the Azov regiment Patronage Services, told CNN she has been working in a morgue to help identify soldiers and civilians from Mariupol, including the 64 soldiers who were from the Azovstal steel plant who were repatriated. She said the Ukrainian bodies are being gathered by the Russians and loaded into their refrigerator and then the bodies are reloaded into the morgue’s refrigerator.

She said oftentimes those who work at the morgue recognize the bodies by their tattoos or personal belongings because they are soldiers from within their regiment. Tolkachova said getting DNA to confirm the bodies with relatives is a complicated process that takes up to three months.



US expects more announcements of weapons to Ukraine during key meeting Wednesday of nearly 50 countries


The US expects more announcements of weapons and equipment packages to Ukraine during a key meeting of nearly 50 countries known as the Ukraine Contact Group on Wednesday, according to a senior US defense official.

Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is gaining ground in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, specifically in the city of Severodonestk, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting recently. Without an influx of more weapons, some Ukrainian officials have said it will be increasingly difficult to halt Russia’s incremental progress or reclaim occupied ground in the region.

“We hear what they’re saying, we absolutely hear what they’re saying,” said the senior defense official, who spoke of the “urgency” of the group’s meeting Thursday in Brussels.

The official would not detail what countries would be announcing new security packages or what those shipments would include but noted that the US works “very closely” with other countries to figure out what Ukraine’s armed forces need and then find those systems to send over.

The official would also not say whether the US would have a new package to announce, but said US President Biden’s administration is already working on the next package.

“It’s a constant drumbeat because it’s a constant battle” with “constantly evolving urgent requirements,” the official told a group of reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.


The Biden administration announced the last weapons package on June 1st, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS), a system capable of launching a barrage of rockets and missiles that Ukraine had urgently requested for weeks. The $700 million package was the first time the administration had drawn from the new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, which received bipartisan support in Congress.

A small group of Ukrainian soldiers began training on HiMARS almost immediately after the weapons package was announced. But the system, which requires three weeks of training, has not yet entered the fight. The senior defense official would only say that it will enter Ukraine “soon.”

The US has taken on “some risk” to its own military readiness in sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said earlier this month, but it was “not an unacceptable level of risk at all.”

The senior defense official said the US and it allies had a significant amount of equipment still available to send to Ukraine.

“We have far from exhausted the resource and the multi-country security assistance for this battle on Ukrainian territory,” the official said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed in his evening speech on Monday that Ukraine would liberate all of the territories occupied by Russia, even the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed shortly after its takeover in 2014. But that could only happen, he said, with more weapons for Ukraine.

“It only takes enough weapons to make it happen. The partners have it. In sufficient quantities. And we work every day for the political will to give us these weapons to appear,” Zelensky said.


Ukrainian officials have said 100 to 200 soldiers a day are dying in the fighting, a number that raises some doubts about the ability of the Ukrainian armed forces to sustain such losses. The US official didn’t doubt the casualty figures.

“The numbers are not out of line with what you would expect for this kind of artillery battle,” the official said. “It’s not surprising that the numbers the Ukrainians are reporting are that serious.”

But the official said the US has not seen a flagging of Ukrainian morale to remain in the fight, even as the conflict becomes a grinding, brutal battle of artillery that may favor the firepower and manpower of Russia’s military. The official sounded a more optimistic note about the state of the fight, even as Russia appears to be gaining momentum in the Donbas region.

Problems of morale, poor command, and supply issues have plagued the Russian military since the beginning of the invasion. Russia was able to paper over some of those issues when the focus shifted to eastern Ukraine, since the battlefield bordered Russia, making it much easier to send supplies the short distance to units on the front line.

A lot of Russia’s high-end equipment has already been destroyed, the official said, forcing them to rely on older models. At the same time, Russia’s stock of precision munitions are dwindling, leading to the use of more artillery, which has had devastating consequences with its lack of precision. Sanctions and export restrictions have also made it higher to resupply their high end capabilities, the official said.

Despite all the challenges the Russians have faced — both self-made and a result of Ukraine’s counter-attacks — Russia still retains its biggest advantage, the sheer size of its military. But that doesn’t mean Russia is guaranteed victory, even if Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no indication that he is considering scaling back his goals.

“It’s not so clear where the advantages and disadvantages fall. There are strains on both sides,” the official said.


Russia bans 49 UK citizens, including 29 journalists


Russia published on Tuesday an updated “stop list” banning a total of 49 UK citizens from entering the country.

The updated list includes 29 journalists and 20 UK citizens who Russia believes to be associated with the UK defense industry, according to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry says the “stop list” was updated following the British government’s introduction of personal sanctions against leading Russian journalists and on heads of companies of the domestic defense complex.

Those added to the “stop list” include journalists from the Guardian, the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky News, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times, the Times, the Independent, the Daily Mail and the Financial Times.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said, “The British journalists included in the list are involved in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia and the events in Ukraine and Donbas. With their biased assessments, they also contribute to fueling Russophobia in British society.”

Among the UK citizens associated with the UK defense industry on the list are UK military officials, defense contractors and members of parliament.



Germany will introduce assets register to strengthen sanctions against Russian oligarchs


Germany plans to introduce an assets register to make sanctions against money of unclear origin more effective — including Russian oligarch assets — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced during a speech at a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conference on money laundering.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has exposed that sanctions need to be more effective, especially against oligarchs abroad,” Scholz said on Tuesday in Berlin.
Germany will facilitate whistleblowing by establishing a special hotline, Scholz said.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine marks a watershed for all of us because it threatens the global order itself,” Scholz reiterated.



Russia calls on Ukrainian fighters to lay down their arms in Severodonetsk


Russia’s Ministry of Defense on Tuesday called on Ukrainian fighters in Severodonetsk to lay down their arms “as has already happened to your comrades who previously surrendered in Mariupol.”

“We call on the official authorities in Kiev to show prudence and give appropriate instructions to the militants to stop their senseless resistance and withdraw from the territory of Azot plant,” the ministry said in a news statement.

The ministry said that it was prepared to conduct a “humanitarian operation” on Wednesday to evacuate civilians from the Ukrainian-held Azot chemical plant to Russian-held territory to the north.

“The Russian military announced their readiness to conduct a humanitarian operation to evacuate civilians from Azot in the northern direction,” towards the town of Svatove, in Russian-occupied territory, the ministry said, adding that Russia will open an evacuation corridor for civilians on Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Moscow time.


The Ukrainian head of the Severodonetsk military administration said Tuesday that just over 500 civilians continued to shelter in the Azot chemical plant, which is still under Ukrainian control, and which authorities say has been the target of intense shelling by Russian forces.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed that Ukraine had requested a corridor to evacuate civilians to Ukrainian-held territory, in Lysychansk, but that “it is not possible to safely evacuate in this direction” because all three major bridges are impassable.


Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said Monday that crossing between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk was now “difficult, but not impossible,” and Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday that evacuations were slow because of the constant bombardment but still possible.

In calling for Ukrainian fighters to surrender, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said that it would guarantee “the preservation of lives and the observance of all norms of the Geneva Convention for the treatment of prisoners of war, as happened to your comrades who previously surrendered in Mariupol.”


CNN



Published By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

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