June 4, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Adrienne Vogt and Joe Ruiz, CNN

Updated 12:13 AM ET, Sun June 5, 2022
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11:20 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

Ukraine foreign minister lambasts France's Macron for saying Russia should not be "humiliated"

From CNN's Tim Lister and Oleksandra Ochman

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and French President Emmanuel Macron. (Getty Images)

Ukraine's foreign minister reacted angrily to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that "we must not humiliate Russia."

Macron has kept a line of communication open with the Kremlin and flew to Moscow in February in a failed effort to deter Russia from invading Ukraine.

In an interview published Saturday, Macron said in an interview with regional newspapers in France: "We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means. I am convinced that it is France's role to be a mediating power."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Saturday that "calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it. Because it is Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives."

Ukrainian officials have been swift to reject any proposals suggesting territory be ceded to Russia as part of peace negotiations. Russia currently occupies about one-fifth of Ukraine. 

"I think, and I told [Putin], that he is making a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history," Macron said in his interview. Macron has not been to Ukraine since the invasion but said he is open to the possibility.

10:14 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

Negotiations with Russia can continue after Ukraine's position is "strengthened," says Ukrainian negotiator

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Bex Wright

Negotiations with Russia will only continue after advanced weaponry arrives from Western allies and Ukraine’s position is “strengthened,” said David Arakhamia, a member of Ukraine’s negotiation group with Russia.

“So far, I see no reason to initiate further negotiations,” Arakhamia said Friday, “until there is really some big change at the front.”

He said the current situation is “one step forward, two steps back” as Ukraine tries to push the Russian forces out of occupied villages and Russia takes over new areas.

“Negotiations must continue when our negotiating position is strengthened,” he said.

“And it can be strengthened now," he said, when weaponry "constantly promised to us by international partners ... will eventually arrive in sufficient quantities."

“The armed forces are ready to use it, new brigades have already been trained and formed. And then we can initiate a new round of negotiations with an intensified negotiating position,” he added.

11:26 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

Why capturing the eastern city of Sloviansk has been a key goal for Russian forces

From CNN's Tim Lister

Residents look for belongings after a strike destroyed homes in Sloviansk, Ukraine on June 1.
Residents look for belongings after a strike destroyed homes in Sloviansk, Ukraine on June 1. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

The eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region is one of the few major areas in Donbas beyond the Russians' grasp.

Hundreds of people are fleeing the city as the Ukrainian military says Russian units are being reinforced on the approaches to Sloviansk in preparation to resume an offensive.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Friday the Russians are concentrating a force of up to 20 battalion tactical groups in the area. The Russians had tried to launch an attack on two towns north and northwest of Sloviansk — Barvinkove and Sviatohirsk — but had been unsuccessful, the military said. It's unclear whether the Russians have taken further territory to the east of Sloviansk after winning control of the town of Lyman late last month. The Ukrainian side said Russian forces have used artillery in two areas closer to Sloviansk, Shchurove and Brusivka.

Evacuation numbers have nearly doubled this week in Sloviansk, the head of the city's military administration, Vadym Lyakh, said on Saturday. There are currently around 22,000 people left in Sloviansk, around a fifth of the pre-war population of approximately 110,000, according to Lyakh.

Ever since Russia refocused its "special military operation" on the region, it has been a key goal to capture the city, along with the nearby city of Kramatorsk. Both are significant transport hubs with substantial heavy industry and manufacturing, even if much of it has fallen into disrepair.

Reaching and taking them would represent a significant achievement for the Russian forces — bringing them close to the border of Donetsk region and securing much of the north of it. The two cities are about 25 kilometers (about 15.5 miles) from the western border of Donetsk.

Both Sloviansk and Kramatorsk have a symbolic significance too. For several months in 2014, they were held by pro-Russian separatists who formed their own city administration. They were eventually driven out by the Ukrainian army. 

3:18 p.m. ET, June 4, 2022

Here's where fighting stands across Ukraine, according to the military and officials

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Julia Presniakova, Taras Zadorozhnyy and Bex Wright

As Russia intensifies its assault on the eastern part of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military claimed that Russian troops are making little progress, particularly in the Donetsk region.

"The rate of advance of enemy units during hostilities in the Donetsk direction is low, due to the physical exhaustion of personnel and low morale and psychological condition,” Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Saturday.

Russia’s air activity “remains high” over eastern Ukraine and has contributed to Russia’s “recent tactical successes,” but has “failed to have a meaningful impact on the conflict,” the latest intelligence assessment from the UK’s defense ministry said on Saturday. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this week that one-fifth of the country's territory is under Russian control, with Donbas "almost entirely destroyed."

Here's the status of battles across the country, according to the Ukrainian military.

The east

In the Bakhmut area of the Donetsk region, Russian forces were forced to retreat after “suffering the results of the fire damage from Ukrainian units.”

In the Sloviansk area of Donetsk, Russia failed in “assault operations” in two areas and “suffered losses,” the Ukrainian military said. Russia also “carried out artillery shelling” in three other areas.

The Ukrainian military has said that Russian units are being bolstered on the approaches to Sloviansk as they gear up for renewed assaults toward the city. Hundreds of people are fleeing Sloviansk every day, with evacuation numbers almost doubling this week, said the head of the city's military administration, Vadym Lyakh, on Saturday. There are currently around 22,000 people left in the city, around a fifth of the pre-war population of approximately 110,000, according to Lyakh.

In total, Ukraine repelled nine attacks by the Russians in the Donbas region in the past 24 hours, the military said.

But Russia has “not stopped offensive operations” and “continue to launch missile and air strikes on military and civilian infrastructure,” the statement said.

In the Luhansk region, four people were killed and one person was injured after Russian attacks in six areas, regional officials said. In the battle for the city of Severodonetsk, street fights continue, and there were “assault actions in the industrial zone” of the city, which is still held by the Ukrainian forces.

Ukraine now controls around half of Severodonetsk after reclaiming some ground from the Russians, according to Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration.

The UK defense ministry on Friday said it expects Russia to take control of the whole of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine within the next two weeks, according to its latest intelligence assessment.

The northeast

In Sumy, the Russians fired six air-to-ground missiles on Saturday morning, and missiles were fired from a Russian plane overnight, according to Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, head of the Sumy regional military administration. Houses were damaged but there were no casualties in the attacks.

In the Kharkiv region, one person died and eight people were injured after shelling in Balaklia, including an 11-year-old girl, regional officials said. The military statement added that “intense fire continues” against Ukrainian troop positions.

The south

In Odesa, two people were injured after a cruise missile deployed by a Russian plane struck an agricultural warehouse on Saturday morning, said Serhii Bratchuk, spokesperson of the Odesa military administration.

Further east, the city of Mykolaiv was “fired upon with heavy artillery and multiple rocket launchers” on Saturday morning. No one was injured, regional officials said.

In the Kherson area, the situation remains “stably difficult,” regional officials said. Russian troops continued shelling the area of Novovorontsovka. Phone and internet communications remain limited for “the vast majority” of the population of the region, and “urgent humanitarian aid” is needed in the Kakhovka and Beryslav districts along the Dnipro river, the statement said. 

9:23 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

3 killed after Russians open fire at residential areas of Mykolaiv, according to Ukrainian official

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Bex Wright

Three people were killed and four others were injured after Russian forces fired at residential areas of Mykolaiv on Saturday, Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych said.

Two of the victims died at the scene, and one died on the way to the hospital. 

“Doctors are fighting for their lives,” Sienkevych said of the four others injured.

Three high-rise buildings were damaged in the attacks on the southern city.

9:19 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

Fire engulfs main temple of monastery in eastern Ukrainian town of Sviatohirsk

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Bex Wright

Fire engulfed the main temple of the All Saints wooden monastery in Sviatohirsk in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said in a statement.

“As a result of hostilities, a large-scale fire broke out on the territory of All Saints skete of Sviatohirsk Lavra,” the statement said. “The flames engulfed the main temple.”

No casualties have been reported so far.

The original temple dates back to 1526, according to the official website for the church.

In a separate statement, the Donetsk diocese said the bigger temple was rebuilt in 2005, using the traditions of Russian wooden architecture of the 16th to 17th centuries.

9:06 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Smoke rises above Severodonetsk on June 2 in the Donbas region.
Smoke rises above Severodonetsk on June 2 in the Donbas region. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

A Ukrainian military official has said its forces have reclaimed some ground in the key city of Severodonetsk, as Russia intensifies its assault and ramps up its air raids in the eastern part of the country.

Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine:

Air activity remains key for Russian military: Russia’s air activity “remains high” over eastern Ukraine and has contributed to Russia’s “recent tactical successes,” but has “failed to have a meaningful impact on the conflict,” the latest intelligence assessment from the UK’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday. “The increased use of unguided munitions has led to the widespread destruction of built-up areas in the Donbas and has almost certainly caused substantial collateral damage and civilian casualties,” the update added.

Ukraine regains territory in the east: Ukraine now controls about half of Severodonetsk, said Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration.

Hayday was responding to a question about the UK's intelligence assessment, which also predicted Russia would control all of the Luhansk region within two weeks. The Russians “had previously managed to capture most of the city, but now our military has pushed them back. They are really suffering huge losses,” he said in further comments on Saturday.

Zelensky urges US mayors to cut Russian ties: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on US mayors to cut “brotherhood” ties with Russian cities and to take part in “the largest economic project of our time” by helping to rebuild Ukraine after the war, during a video address to the 90th Annual Conference of US Mayors.

Civilians flee Sloviansk: Hundreds of people are fleeing the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine every day, with evacuation numbers almost doubling this week, said the head of the city's military administration, Vadym Lyakh, on Saturday. “The number of people leaving (the city) has almost doubled, both by evacuation buses and their own vehicles, people are actively leaving,” Lyakh said. He said a missile strike that killed three people in the city on Tuesday had “pushed the citizens to leave.”

UN renews call for an end to violence: United Nations Secretary General António Guterres made a call for an end to violence as Ukraine marked 100 days of Russia's war on Friday. "I renew my call for an immediate halt to violence, for unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need, for safe evacuation of civilians trapped in areas of fighting and for urgent protection of civilians and respect for human rights in accordance with international norms," Guterres said. "The sooner the parties engage in good-faith diplomatic efforts to end this war, the better for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the world."

7:14 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

Zelensky urges US mayors to cut ties with Russian cities and help rebuild Ukraine after the war

From CNN's Victoria Butenko and Bex Wright

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 3.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 3. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged US mayors to cut “brotherhood” ties with Russian cities and to take part in “the largest economic project of our time” by helping to rebuild Ukraine after the war, during a video address to the 90th Annual Conference of US Mayors.

“Dozens of American cities maintain the so-called 'brotherhood' with the cities of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky said, including Chicago and Moscow. “What do these connections give you? Probably nothing. But they give Russia the opportunity to say that it is not isolated, even after beginning such a war.”

“Therefore, call for even more pressure on Russia. Don’t help it justify itself. Don’t maintain ties with it. And please do not allow those who have become murderers to call you their brothers and sisters,” Zelensky said.

Since the war began, 3,620 settlements have “faced Russian occupation” and Russia has aimed almost 2,500 missiles at Ukraine, Zelensky said. He urged the mayors to take part in the vast reconstruction effort that will be needed after the war.

“I invite you -- your cities, your companies, your business and professionals -- to take part in this project. You can also become the people who choose to defend freedom and thus put an end to the history of tyranny,” Zelensky said.

“Take patronage over a city, region, or industry that has been destroyed by Russian strikes. And rebuild them with the latest technology,” he added. “This may be the largest economic project of our time, which will strengthen Ukraine, each country and each company that will participate in the post-war reconstruction.”

9:16 a.m. ET, June 4, 2022

Hundreds fleeing Sloviansk daily and evacuations "almost doubled," says Ukrainian official

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Bex Wright

Residents prepare to evacuate the city of Sloviansk, Ukrainian on June 2.
Residents prepare to evacuate the city of Sloviansk, Ukrainian on June 2. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of people are fleeing the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine every day, with evacuation numbers almost doubling this week, said the head of the city's military administration, Vadym Lyakh, on Saturday.

“The number of people leaving (the city) has almost doubled, both by evacuation buses and their own vehicles, people are actively leaving,” Lyakh said. He said a missile strike that killed three people in the city on Tuesday had “pushed the citizens to leave.”

There are currently around 22,000 people left in Sloviansk, around a fifth of the pre-war population of approximately 110,000, according to Lyakh.

Around 70 to 100 people are evacuating to the city of Dnipro every day, and 100 to 200 people are leaving for other parts of Ukraine on a daily basis, Lyakh said. The flow of traffic leaving the city is “increasing," he added.

The increased demand means they are adding more evacuation buses, which people can sign up for in advance, Lyakh said. Evacuees are provided with free food and accommodation by local volunteers.

So far, the evacuations have been carried out safely, with “no cases of shelling or any complications,” he said.

Some background: The Ukrainian military has said that Russian units are being bolstered on the approaches to Sloviansk as they gear up for renewed assaults toward the city.

Neighboring Kramatorsk is the largest urban area in Donetsk still under Ukrainian control. 

The general staff of Ukraine's military said Friday that Russia is concentrating a force of up to 20 battalion tactical groups in the area. The Russians had tried to launch an attack on two towns north and northwest of Sloviansk — Barvinkove and Sviatohirsk — but had been unsuccessful.

It's unclear whether the Russians have taken further territory to the east of Sloviansk after winning control of the town of Lyman late last month. The Ukrainian side says Russian forces have used artillery in two areas closer to Sloviansk — Shchurove and Brusivka.

CNN's Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.