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
19 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:53 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Ukraine is ready to join NATO, Zelensky says at European leaders' summit in Moldova

From CNN's Olga Voitovych 

Zelensky arrives at Mimi Castle in Bulboaca, Moldova, on Thursday.
Zelensky arrives at Mimi Castle in Bulboaca, Moldova, on Thursday. Vladislav Culiomza/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that his country is ready to join NATO as he arrived in Moldova for the European Political Community summit.

Dozens of leaders from across Europe are gathering for the meeting, where they will discuss security issues and areas of cooperation across the continent.

"Ukraine is ready to be in NATO," Zelensky said, standing alongside Moldovan President Maia Sandu. "We are waiting [for] when NATO will be ready. And I think security guarantees are very important not only for Ukraine, for our neighbors, for Moldova — because of Russia and of their aggression in Ukraine and potential aggression for their part of Europe."

Earlier Thursday, NATO's chief said all members of the defense alliance agree "Ukraine will become a member," as NATO foreign ministers meet in Oslo to discuss the war.

Moldovan leader Sandu also expressed support for Kyiv and for Zelensky's proposed peace formula, saying: "Ukraine keeps Moldova safe today, and we're very, very grateful for that."

She also said she supported creating a special international tribunal to handle those "committing crimes of aggression in Ukraine."

The summit: The first meeting of the European Political Community was held in October 2022, with the leaders primarily discussing the war in Ukraine and global energy crisis.

“We are developing a coalition of fighter jets and offering a coalition of Patriots. EU, NATO, peace formula. Everything to protect our future,” Zelensky said Thursday in a Telegram post.

This post has been updated with additional reporting.

3:34 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Sweden's foreign minister to send "clear message" that it has met all commitments to join NATO

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said he will send a “clear message” at Thursday’s NATO meeting that Sweden has fulfilled all the commitments needed to join the alliance, with the country's membership so far blocked by opposition from Hungary and Turkey.

Speaking to journalists on his way to the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Billström highlighted new Swedish terrorism legislation which recently came into effect as an example of the commitments met.

“It is time for Turkey and Hungary to start the ratification of the Swedish membership to NATO,” the foreign minister told journalists.

When asked if he was disappointed that his Turkish counterpart will not attend Thursday’s meeting, Billström said it was “quite natural” given the recent Turkish elections.

He stressed that the “more important” event will be the trilateral meeting between Finnish, Swedish and Turkish representatives of the joint mechanism established at last year's NATO summit in Madrid.

Billström also played down concerns over the delay in approving Sweden’s membership bid, saying: "This was never a sprint; it’s a marathon and we now see the end of it."

Also on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he would visit Turkey at an unspecified time to discuss Sweden's membership — which Billström said was "something positive."


3:33 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

NATO meetings will discuss Sweden's membership and Ukraine war, says UK foreign secretary

From CNN's Radina Gigova

The war in Ukraine and Sweden's NATO membership will be key topics during informal meetings between NATO foreign ministers this week in Oslo, said UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Thursday. 

"We will continue to focus on the issues that we've been discussing recently — how we ensure that Vladimir Putin's aggression against Ukraine is unsuccessful, how we strengthen our alliance, how we work to welcome Sweden into our numbers in the very near future, whist also ensuring that NATO remains a strong defensive alliance to support all the members within it," Cleverly said as he arrived for the meetings. 

The meeting will be chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said on Thursday that all the bloc's allies agree Ukraine will become a member — and that he would travel to Turkey to discuss Sweden's application for membership, which remains in limbo.

3:18 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

All NATO allies agree "Ukraine will become a member," says head of military alliance

From CNN’s Jake Kwon and Radina Gigova

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is seen at Oslo City Hall in Norway on Thursday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is seen at Oslo City Hall in Norway on Thursday. Hanna Johre/NTB/Reuters

All NATO allies agree that "Ukraine will become a member of the alliance," its chief Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

“All allies agree that the NATO’s door is open for new members,” Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo. “It's not for Moscow to have a veto against the NATO enlargement.”

Part of Russia’s premise for its invasion of Ukraine was to fend off NATO from expanding close to its borders.

Even though Ukraine is not a member of the alliance, and NATO has insisted that it is not a party to the conflict, the bloc has played a critical role in supporting Kyiv, donating billions in military aid and other support.

On Thursday, Stoltenberg said NATO's most important task was to ensure that Ukraine prevails in the war against Russia — and to prevent the conflict from spilling over beyond Ukraine's borders.  “That's the reason why we have increased our major presence in Eastern lines on NATO territory,” he said.

New faces at NATO: Finland’s accession to the alliance earlier this month marked a major shift in the security landscape in northeastern Europe, more than doubling NATO’s frontier with Russia.

Finnish public support for accession snowballed following the invasion of Ukraine, and also reignited calls from Kyiv to join.

Sweden also applied to join the bloc shortly after Russia's full-scale invasion began, with the support of an overwhelming majority of NATO members — but its membership has so far been held up by Turkey and Hungary.

Turkey has accused Sweden of harboring members of terrorist groups, which Stockholm denies, while Hungary has claimed Sweden behaved hostilely toward its government.

Stoltenberg said Thursday he would soon travel to the Turkish capital of Ankara to discuss Sweden's NATO membership, though did not specify the timing.

"My message is that Swedish membership, full-fledged membership of NATO, is good for Sweden, it is good for the Nordic countries, it is good for Norway, for the Baltic region, but it is also good for the whole of NATO," he said.  
3:28 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Russian dissidents claim they are "fighting on Russian territory," deny harming civilians 

 From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Sarah Dean

The Russian Volunteer Corps, a group of anti-Putin Russian nationals aligned with the Ukrainian army, has denied shelling civilians as it claimed its “second phase” inside Russia had begun on Thursday.

In a video message, a fighter from the Russian Volunteer Corps said they were “once again fighting on Russian territory.” 

“Very soon the outskirts of Shebekino will appear," the group said, referring to a village in Russia's border region of Belgorod.

The message comes amid an uptick in cross-border mortar and artillery in Shebekino and other border districts in recent days. Belgorod's governor said five people were injured by shelling early Thursday.

A day earlier, the governor said children will be evacuated from Shebekino and the nearby town of Grayvoron.

The Russian Volunteer Corps on Telegram accused “Putin's army” of hitting “Russian villages and hamlets.”

"Unfortunately, we cannot ensure the evacuation of civilians from the border areas, because the Army of the Russian Federation is shelling these areas and thus making evacuation difficult,” the Russian Volunteer Corps said. “Stay in your homes, don't worry. Soldiers of the Russian Volunteer Corps are not at war with civilians."

Anti-Putin Russians: The Russian Volunteer Corps and another anti-Putin Russian group, the Freedom for Russia Legion, last week claimed responsibility for an attack in Belgorod.

The legion also posted a video message Thursday claiming they were “near the border of our homeland.”

"Very soon we will advance again into Russian territory to bring freedom, peace, and calm," they said, adding: "We are going to liberate the whole of Russia — from Belgorod to Vladivostok."
2:35 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Russian ambassador slams new $300 million US aid package for Ukraine

From CNN's Clare Sebastian

Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, departs after a meeting at the US State Department in March.
Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, departs after a meeting at the US State Department in March. Patrick Semansky/AP/FILE

Moscow's ambassador to the United States on Wednesday accused Washington of aiming to deliver “strategic defeat on Russia” after the White House announced a new military aid package for Ukraine.

“(The US is) zombified by their efforts to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, by wearing down our economy," Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in a statement shared by Russian Embassy. "And at the same time they continue to encourage the irrational actions of their 'clients', by delivering them more and more lethal weapons.”

The Biden administration said Wednesday that it will send an estimated $300 million worth of additional weaponry and equipment to Kyiv, focusing the latest military aid package on air defense systems to help Ukraine fend off Russian aerial attacks. 

Moscow drone attack: Antonov also accused the US of being indifferent to a drone attack on the Russian capital on Tuesday, which Moscow has blamed on Kyiv. Ukraine has denied direct involvement.  

By not holding Ukraine "to account" over the strike, "Washington is clearly demonstrating its indifference to the crimes,” Antonov said. “They supposedly don’t support incursions by the Ukrainian armed forces into the heart of our motherland (but the claim is) not worth a penny.”

The White House reiterated on Wednesday that US officials have told Ukraine they do not support attacks on Russian territory, especially not with US-provided equipment. However, two US officials said there is no evidence right now that the drones used in Moscow were provided by the US. 

2:13 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Anti-Putin Russian dissident fighters say they will soon advance into their homeland

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Service members with the Freedom of Russia Legion under the Ukrainian Army are seen at their positions near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 21, 2023.
Service members with the Freedom of Russia Legion under the Ukrainian Army are seen at their positions near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 21, 2023. Alex Babenko/Reuters/FILE

The dissident Freedom for Russia Legion, an anti-Putin formation dedicated to ending the war in Ukraine and to toppling President Vladimir Putin, claim they are near the Russian border and will soon advance into the country. 

The legion, which is made up of a few hundred Russian citizens who are fighting in Ukraine under the command of the Ukrainian security forces, last week claimed responsibility for an incursion inside the Russian border region of Belgorod.

"Very soon we will advance again into Russian territory to bring freedom, peace, and calm. (Grayvoron) is just the beginning," the group said on their Telegram channel Thursday. 
"Due to the cowardice of Putin's military jackals, we have been left with many trophies. Thanks to this we will be able to arm more of our comrades-in-arms."

Belgorod attacks: When speaking to CNN last week, a spokesperson for the legion codenamed "Caesar" said the dissident fighters used US-made armored vehicles — a claim that provoked minor consternation in Washington, which has insisted that Ukraine not use weapons it receives from members of the NATO security alliance inside Russia.

After the Belgorod attack, Ukrainian officials confirmed it had been carried out "by Russian citizens," but insisted they were acting independently.

Read more here.

2:48 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

Girl, 9, among those killed in Kyiv missile strikes

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

A 9-year-old girl and her mother were among three people killed following Russian strikes on Kyiv early Thursday, Ukrainian officials said, as a clearer picture emerged of the victims and the damage.

In an update, Ukraine's national police said the girl, her mother, 34, and a 33-year-old woman died. Twelve others were injured, the police said.

Air defenses destroyed all 10 Russian missiles launched at the Ukrainian capital overnight, the General Staff of the Armed Forces said earlier

Falling debris from the missiles damaged a children's clinic, two schools and a police station, according to the Kyiv city military administration. A residential building was also damaged from the blast wave.

The administration had originally stated that two children were among the three people killed.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the girl's mother's age. She was 34.

1:12 a.m. ET, June 1, 2023

At least 5 injured in early morning strikes in Russia’s Belgorod, governor says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

At least five people were injured in the town of Shebekino in Russia's Belgorod region early Thursday morning by Ukrainian shelling, said Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov on Telegram. 

"Shebekino is under incessant fire: at 12 a.m., 3:40 a.m. and 5:15 a.m., the Ukrainian armed forces fired Grad missiles at the center and outskirts of the city," Gladkov said. 

Three people have been hospitalized, one woman was treated at the scene, and "there is information about a man who is unconscious with multiple shrapnel wounds," Gladkov said, adding the man was being taken to hospital.

Gladkov earlier reported that two people were injured in the shelling, including a man who was in critical condition after having an arm amputated. 

Residential and administrative buildings were also damaged, according to Gladkov.

Attacks inside Russian: Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, has seen a rise in shelling in recent days following an incursion last week by anti-Putin Russians aligned with the Ukrainian military. Gladkov said Wednesday that children will be evacuated out of Shebekino and the nearby town of Grayvoron. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has called the situation there "alarming."