June 1, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Christian Edwards, Schams Elwazer, Sarah Dean, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 10:22 AM ET, Fri June 2, 2023
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12:42 p.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Poland and the Netherlands will help train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood and Catherine Nicholls in London

The Dutch and Polish prime ministers announced their countries' intent to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.

“We set up the schedule for those training. Poland will help Ukraine train the pilots of F-16 jets,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the European Political Community Summit in Moldova. 

Poland also has "few" Patriot systems, Morawiecki continued, urging other countries who do have them to share them with Ukraine "as soon as possible." In March, Poland became the first NATO member to pledge MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in a move to assist Kyiv’s battle against Russia. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who also attended the summit, said Thursday the Netherlands would also start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets "as soon as possible."

Countries at the summit are "part of the fighter jet coalition for Ukraine. I have called on other countries present to join the coalition," he said on Twitter.

“This is an essential step in ensuring Ukraine can defend itself,” he added.

1:29 p.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Ukrainian President Zelensky says he's heard "powerful support" from allies on fighter jets

From CNN’s Zahid Mahmood in London and Yulia Kesaieva

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference in Bulboaca, Moldova, on Thursday.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference in Bulboaca, Moldova, on Thursday. Vadim Ghirda/AP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has heard “powerful support” from allies at the European Political Community Summit in Moldova on countries supplying fighter jets to Kyiv to help repel Russian forces.

“What’s even more important I’ve heard about a significant number of aircraft fighter (jets)," Zelensky said at the summit in Moldova, urging that while he is thankful, Ukraine still needs more.

“That's why we do need to have a coalition of patriot [systems],” he said.

He said the leaders also discussed training Ukrainian pilots on those F-16 jets and other aircraft. In an official readout from Zelensky, the Ukrainian president said the parties with whom he discussed the training with “agreed to start this process in the near future.”

11:46 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Ukraine receives Romania's backing ahead of NATO summit

From Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he signed an agreement with his Romanian counterpart, Klaus Iohannis, reinforcing Bucharest's support "for Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration."

"This is an important step on the eve of the July NATO Summit in Vilnius," Zelensky said.

The leaders met at the European Political Community Summit in Moldova and "also discussed further steps in Romania's assistance to Ukraine to counter Russian aggression," Zelensky said on Telegram.

He thanked Romania for its help in strengthening Ukraine's defense capabilities.

11:04 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Kharkiv hit by Russian missiles, Ukrainian officials say

From Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Two Russian missiles have struck an industrial area close to the city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials say.

A woman had been rescued from the rubble with minor injuries after two S-300 missiles had struck the area, said Kharkiv city Mayor Ihor Terekhov.

The plant that was hit was "a civilian enterprise, which has no connection to the military activity or production," Terekhov added.

Some background: Ukraine has recorded daily Russian shelling in the direction of Vovchansk, though the city itself has not been hit, he noted, adding that Russia also continued attacks with missiles and guided air-launched bombs against the areas around the cities of Kupyansk.

Terekhov also welcomed the activities of Russian volunteer groups in attacking Russia’s border region of Belgorod, "because the further Russian troops are located from the Ukrainian border — the more it guarantees safety for our citizens."

11:45 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Explosion in Russian city of Belgorod appears to be caused by drone, governor says

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Tim Lister and Yulia Kesaieva

The governor of the Russian border region of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that it appears a drone caused an explosion in the regional capital on Thursday.

"An unknown device exploded in Belgorod. According to preliminary data, the UAV fell on the roadway," Gladkov said on Telegram.

He said two men had received light injuries, and one car was damaged.

Photographs and video from unofficial social media accounts show a plume of smoke rising in a downtown location. In one video, broken windows can be seen in a nearby high-rise building. One account said that a main street in the city had been blocked off, citing eyewitnesses.

More background: The city and its surroundings have seen drone attacks in the last few weeks. The latest incident occurred as border districts in the Belgorod region came under fire, apparently from mortars and artillery.

Moscow has denied claims by a volunteer group of Russians opposed to the Kremlin that they have again crossed into Russian territory.

9:53 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Wagner's next assignment could be defending Russian territory, chief says

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

The head of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has suggested that his fighters' next role may be in defending Russian territory.

First, Wagner wants "at least one month of recovery" after fighting for months in the eastern city of Bakhmut, Prigozhin told Russian military reporters, adding that then there will be "next scuffles, I think, most likely this time on Russian territory."

His comments come amid attacks on Russia’s border region of Belgorod, where groups of Russian volunteers who oppose the current Kremlin leadership have again claimed to have entered Russian territory. The Kremlin said they were repelled and did not violate the state border.

Wagner fighters are due to leave the Bakhmut area by June 5, being replaced by regular Russian forces. Prigozhin said Wagner units will relocate to rear camps in Donetsk and Luhansk regions for now, away from the line of contact. 

9:59 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Belgorod attacks cannot change course of "special military operation" in Ukraine, Kremlin says

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

A drone image released by Freedom of Russia Legion shows what they claim is a destruction of Russian military targets near Shebekino in Russia's Belgorod region, in this image obtained from social media and released on June 1.
A drone image released by Freedom of Russia Legion shows what they claim is a destruction of Russian military targets near Shebekino in Russia's Belgorod region, in this image obtained from social media and released on June 1. Freedom Of Russia Legion/Reuters

Kremlin says the attacks on Russia’s border region of Belgorod will not change the course of the so-called "special military operation," which is the term President Vladimir Putin uses to refer to Russia's war in Ukraine. 

“This cannot have any effect on the course of the special military operation,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday, adding that Putin is continuously receiving updates on the situation from border guards, the military, rescuers, and local authorities.

“Regional authorities are working very actively and selflessly" in dealing with the attacks, Peskov said.

The main focus is to provide assistance to people, including by temporarily resettling those at risk, Peskov said. "This is also what Putin is very actively engaged in today."

He also expressed disappointment over the lack of international condemnation of the attacks on residential buildings and social facilities, in which at least five people were injured, according to the region’s governor. 

9:31 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

NATO chief calls for "credible arrangements" to guarantee Ukraine's security after war ends

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy in London

NATO needs to make sure there are “credible arrangements” in place to guarantee Ukraine’s security after the war ends, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

Speaking during a news conference in Oslo, Norway, Stoltenberg said the focus of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting was “bringing Ukraine closer to NATO, where it belongs.”

However, the NATO chief has previously said that he expects Ukraine will join the alliance when the war is over — effectively ruling out the country joining in the near future.

Latest developments: On Thursday, the ministers discussed updating the NATO Ukraine Commission to council status, which Stoltenberg said would be an “important step” in ensuring that Ukraine has a seat at the table “as equals.”

“We don’t know when the war ends, but we must make sure that when it does, we have credible arrangements to guarantee Ukraine’s security in the future,” Stoltenberg said.

When asked by a journalist if changing status from a commission to a council will matter much to Ukrainians fighting a war, Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO’s focus remains on “stepping up” military aid so Ukraine can win the conflict.

“If President Putin wins in Ukraine, it will make the world more dangerous, it will send the message that when authoritarian forces use military force, they get what they want,” Stoltenberg emphasized.
9:03 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

"Ukraine can anticipate a very robust package" of support at NATO Summit, top US diplomat says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Ukraine "can anticipate a very robust package of both political and practical support” from NATO when the US-led military alliance meets in Vilnius in July, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.

“Everyone here stands behind the Bucharest commitment. That hasn't changed. We’re focused intensely on what we can do to strengthen even more the relationship between Ukraine and NATO, and to continue to bring Ukraine up to NATO standards, interoperability,” Blinken said at a press conference in Oslo after a meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers. 

Discussions in Oslo were an opportunity to "compare notes" on support for Ukraine, posturing for Russian aggression and other challenges, to ensure that allies can move forward "united, together," when they meet at the summit, the top US diplomat said.