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June 6, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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What we covered

  • Heavy fighting is underway in the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. In Donetsk, Russian troops have resumed an offensive on the northern approaches to the key city of Sloviansk.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday visited frontline troops in Donetsk and Luhansk as well as in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia.
  • Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russia fired five cruise missiles toward the capital Kyiv on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian military.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that his forces will strike new targets if the United States supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine.
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30 Posts

Biden declassified Russia intel due to allied "skepticism," US spy chief says

US President Joe Biden.

US President Joe Biden gave the order to declassify intelligence in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 because US officials’ claims about the impending attack were being met with “skepticism” by American partners and allies, according to the nation’s top spymaster. 

“When we explained to our policymakers and our policymakers went to their interlocutors, they found that there was a fair amount of skepticism about it,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said at a cybersecurity conference on Monday. 
“As a consequence, the President came back to us and said, ‘you need to go out and share as much as you possibly can and ensure that folks see what it is that you’re seeing, so that we can engage again and perhaps have more productive conversations about how to plan for essentially the potential of a Russian invasion’.”

Some context: Dating back to the early days of the Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border, the Biden administration has been selectively declassifying and releasing intelligence surrounding Russia’s war in Ukraine, both to media organizations and to other friendly nations. The approach has been aimed at combating Russian propaganda globally and to ensure the US partners and allies are sharing a unified picture. 

Haines said Monday the US “did a lot of sharing in this space with partners and allies,” ultimately developing “mechanisms for sharing” that can be used in the future.

EU foreign policy chief condemns Russian missile strike on Ukrainian grain terminal

Josep Borrell, the European Union's High Representative, talks to the press before a meeting at the European Council, in Brussels, on May 30.

The European Union’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, condemned a Russian missile strike this weekend that destroyed a large grain storage terminal in the southern port city of Mykolaiv.

“Another Russian missile strike contributing to the global food crisis. Russian forces have destroyed the second biggest grain terminal in #Ukraine, in #Mykolaiv,” Borrell said in a tweet Monday.

Images on social media Sunday showed the terminal engulfed in flames. Mykolaiv is close to some of Ukraine’s most fertile grain-producing regions.

Borrell said the strike was at odds with recent pledges by Russian President Vladimir Putin to offer safe passage through the Black Sea from Ukrainian ports for merchant shipping.

“The disinformation spread by Putin deflecting blame becomes ever more cynical,” he tweeted.

Zelensky: More than 2,500 prisoners from Mariupol's Azovstal plant may be held in Donetsk and Luhansk regions 

A view of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on June 2.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says there may be more than 2,500 prisoners from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol now detained in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

In a wide-ranging media availability in Kyiv, Zelensky said that regarding the treatment of these prisoners — including the intention to hold a so-called public tribunal — the Russian plans were changing constantly. Officials in the Donetsk People’s Republic have spoken of putting some of the Azovstal defenders on trial where they are alleged to have carried out human rights abuses in Ukraine.

Asked whether he thought the prisoners were being tortured, Zelensky said he was convinced that it was not in the interests of the Russian side because they are “public prisoners” whose condition is monitored by the world community.

Zelensky said the first phase of the operation — getting the soldiers out of Azovstal alive — had been achieved.

“Today there is the second part — to bring them home alive,” he said. 

“We know what can be agreed on with the Russians, we know this price. We know they can’t be trusted,” he added.

Turning to the situation in eastern Ukraine, Zelensky said the situation was difficult. The president visited forward positions on Sunday in Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia.

“We are holding positions in the Severodonetsk direction. There are more of them [the Russians], they are more powerful, but we have every chance to fight in this direction,” Zelensky said.

Asked whether it would be more appropriate to withdraw Ukrainian forces from Severodonetsk to better positions, the Zelensky said that returning to these positions could be more expensive in terms of losses. 

“As for Zaporizhzhia, the situation there is the most threatening because part of the region is occupied and the enemy constantly wants to occupy Zaporizhzhia,” Zelensky said.

While front lines in Zaporizhzhia have moved little in the last two months, settlements beyond the front lines are shelled almost daily.

Earlier Monday, Zelensky presented awards to media workers and the families of journalists who had been killed since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s president thanked journalists for the work they did.

“You bring the truth and important information — very powerful, important meanings that can be a great advantage for our country in this fight, in which we will definitely win,” he said.

More than 30 Ukrainian and foreign media workers have been killed since Russia’s invasion began.

It's Monday night in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

A Ukrainian soldier climbs out of an underground bunker after shelling in the Donbas region of Ukraine on June 6.

Heavy fighting is underway in the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. In Donetsk, Russian troops have resumed an offensive on the northern approaches to the key city of Sloviansk.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russia fired five cruise missiles toward the capital Kyiv on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian military.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that his forces will strike new targets if the United States supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine.

Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:

  • Situation changing “every hour” as heavy fighting continues in Severodonetsk: Heavy fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, with the situation “changing every hour,” according to Ukrainian officials. Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the city’s military administration, said “there are enough [Ukrainian] forces and means to recapture the city. There are fierce battles and street fights.” Striuk said Russian forces had a substantial numerical advantage.
  • Ukrainian Navy says Russian ships withdrew from coastal waters in Black Sea: The Ukrainian Navy says ships of the Russian Black Sea fleet have withdrawn to more than 100 kilometers (about 65 miles) from Ukrainian shores as a result of its attacks with missiles and drones. In an operational update Monday, the Navy said that in an effort to regain control of north-western parts of the Black Sea, the Russians had deployed coastal missile systems in the Crimea and Kherson regions.
  • Ukraine Ministry of Defense: Russian missile and air attacks increase on several fronts: Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense says that Russian forces have launched missiles and air strikes against a number of targets across Ukraine, as they try to break down Ukrainian defenses and hit key infrastructure. Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, the Defense Ministry spokesperson, said Russia was carrying out “intense fire and assault operations along the entire line of combat confrontation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.” Seven aircraft had launched guided missiles from above the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, while coastal missile systems in Crimea were also active. On the ground, Motuzyanyk said the Russians had made some advances, including north of Sloviansk, where they were advancing in the Sviatohirsk area toward the Siverskiy Donets River.
  • At least one dead after shelling of residential area of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine: At least one person is dead and several more injured after Russia shelled a residential area of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, according to the regional council. “This morning Mykolaiv was being shelled chaotically again,” Hanna Zamazieieva, head of Mykolaiv regional council, said on Telegram. “Civil residential houses in different districts of the city with no military objects were shelled.” Over the past week, Ukrainian forces have been pressing an offensive on Russian-occupied Kherson, to the southeast of Mykolaiv, reportedly retaking some previously occupied villages.
  • Russia loses another general in Donbas: A Russian general has died in Donbas, Russian state media said, citing the Telegram channel of a war correspondent Sunday. The Russian general was identified as Roman Kutuzov by Russian state media and Ukrainian Armed Forces. “According to military correspondent Alexander Sladkov’s Telegram channel, Kutuzov, a native of the Airborne Forces, led people into the attack and died in battle,” Russia 24 said. Ukrainian Armed Forces also said Kutuzov had died.
  • More civilians now ready to flee Donetsk with casualties suffered “almost every day,” says official: An increasing number of civilians are now ready to evacuate from the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, the top regional official said on Monday. “People who didn’t try, and didn’t want, to leave in the beginning when it was safer are leaving now,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, said on Ukrainian television. “We evacuate them both from frontline settlements and from the cities of Bakhmut, Soledar, and Slovyansk. Now the pace has increased,” he said.
  • UN watchdog warns of “clear and present risk” at nuclear power plant in Russian-controlled Ukraine: There is a “clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards” at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is currently controlled by Russia, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Monday. Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that “at least five of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised at the site.”
  • UK intelligence: Russia’s attack on Kyiv likely an attempt to disrupt supply of Western arms: A Russian missile attack on Kyiv on Sunday was likely an attempt to disrupt the supply of Western military equipment to frontline Ukrainian units, the UK’s Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence assessment on Monday. One of the missiles was intercepted by Ukraine’s air defense unit, but the rest hit “infrastructure facilities in the north of the Ukrainian capital,” the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Sunday. Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, said one military target was hit, and one civilian target.
  •  Zelensky’s adviser praises UK’s Prime Minister: Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, praised Prime Minister Boris Johnson, underlining what he described as his firm stance supporting Ukraine and how he stood by Zelensky “to protect the free world from barbaric invasion.” Johnson survived a confidence vote Monday by members of his own party — but the final count of lawmakers who rebelled against him was far higher than his supporters expected. “The world needs such leaders. The UK is a Great friend of Ukraine,” Podolyak tweeted on Monday.

US takes action against 2 private planes owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich

A US judge approved the seizure of two of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s private planes valued at over $400 million for violating US export and sanctions laws. 

The planes, a Gulfstream and Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which is believed to be one of the most expensive private planes in the world, are currently in Russia and Dubai, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit to support the seizure warrant.

The US Department of Commerce also announced administrative charges against Abramovich. If found liable the maximum penalty could be as much as the value of the planes, an administration official said. 

The actions taken by the US are part of an effort to punish Russians known to be close to the Kremlin and apply pressure to Moscow’s economy to try to end the invasion in Ukraine. 

While Abramovich has not been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, a US Justice Department official said the seizure warrant indicates that “no one is above the law and not being on OFAC’s list doesn’t give you a license to evade sanctions or export controls.”

Authorities say the American-made planes were flown in and out of Russia without obtaining licenses from the US Commerce Department. Airplanes and aircraft parts are subject to export rules because of their potential military use and national security implications. 

More background: After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the US Department of Commerce tightened sanctions and began requiring licenses for the export of planes, which didn’t previously need approval. By early March, the department also prohibited an American plane owned by a Russian national from being exported to Russia.

In an unusual move, the seizure warrant was made public and not filed under seal. The US Justice Department official said the filing was public to reveal the names of shell companies the US believes were used to shield the actual ownership and to encourage dialogue with banks, insurance companies, and others to cooperate.

The official said it was also intended to send a message to anyone who helps those sanctioned or accused of violating US laws that they run “the risk of being viewed as obstructionists.” 

In the affidavit, the FBI agent outlined four layers of shell companies he unraveled to trace the aircraft to Abramovich. The filing indicated that the FBI located documents used to set up the companies offshore, in jurisdictions outside of the US’s control and beyond their subpoena power.

Those documents indicated that Abramovich was the owner of the companies that purchased the jets.

Authorities say in mid-March the Gulfstream jet flew into Russia twice, where it remains. In early March the Boeing aircraft flew from Dubai to Russia and back to Dubai, where it remains. The Boeing, which was originally bought for $93.6 million was customized and is now valued at about $350 million, according to the FBI affidavit.

Andrew Adams, the head of the US’s KleptoCapture task force, which has seized two luxury yachts and bank accounts, previously told CNN that they are taking a broad look at the laws they can apply and the types of assets they can seize, no matter where they are located.

“These seizures are, are going to continue apace, and people recognize that where the seizures are happening around the world are in pockets of the world that might not have been expected,” he previously said, adding, “There are no safe havens.”

Situation changing "every hour" as heavy fighting continues in Severodonetsk, Ukrainian officials say

Smoke rises from Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on June 5.

Heavy fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, with the situation “changing every hour,” according to Ukrainian officials.

Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the city’s military administration, said “there are enough [Ukrainian] forces and means to recapture the city. There are fierce battles and street fights.”

Striuk said Russian forces had a substantial numerical advantage. “They tried to attack the city, and it is happening now. They are throwing away more and more human resources, which of course complicates the situation,” the official said.

“Now Severodonetsk is being leveled, because they can’t capture it in one to two days. The city is being destroyed. It is impossible to say about the preservation of infrastructure because even before the acute phase of the attack on the city and its assault, the infrastructure was almost destroyed. Both gas and water supply will need almost complete reconstruction,” he added.

The highway from the west along which supplies for the Ukrainian front lines travel is under increasing attack from Russian artillery, with Russian units getting closer to it. Striuk said that it “remains under the control of the Armed Forces, but it is still dangerous to move as enemy artillery is reaching [it.]”.

The General Staff said that Ukrainian units were thwarting the enemy’s attempts to take control of the highway.

The Russians have intensified artillery attacks on areas north of the city of Sloviansk and are shelling Ukrainian positions on the southern side of the Siverskiy Donets river. Russian forces appear to be close to the town of Sviatohirsk on the north side of the river — the site of a historic Russian Orthodox monastery. But there is no evidence that they have been able to cross the river in this area.

UN envoy on sexual violence in Ukraine says she thinks situation "is turning into a human trafficking crisis"

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten addresses the UN Security Council in New York on June 6.

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten said Monday that she believes the humanitarian situation in Ukraine 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.

She said addressing the issue will require “a coherent and coordinated response at the level of European institutions” and “a concerted, integrated and holistic cross-border response humanitarian partners, law enforcement agencies, border forces, immigration officials and political leaders.”

The UN special representative added that she visited reception centers at Ukrainian borders in Poland and Moldova. While there has been an outpouring of financial and moral support for Ukrainians from neighboring countries, there have also been a number of “credible anecdotal accounts from humanitarian staff” regarding suspected attempts of human trafficking, Patten said. She called the protection challenges related to the displacement of Ukrainians “unprecedented.” 

“The lack of consistent vetting of accommodation offers and transportation arrangements is a serious concern, as well as the limited capacity of protection services to address the velocity and volume of displacement. There are also concerns regarding the multiplicity of volunteers, with limited vetting, and little or no training or experience,” Patten said.

Per Patten, the “credible anecdotal accounts from humanitarian staff” at a reception center for Ukrainian refugees in Przemysl, Poland, regarding suspected, attempts at human trafficking include:

  • A male volunteer made contact with a 19-year-old woman, whom he later woke up in the sleeping hall at 2 am local time, offering a ride to France. Another volunteer became suspicious of the male volunteer roaming the sleeping quarters in the early morning hours, and intervened. 
  • Another male wearing a volunteer vest and standing with a sign at the train station hall, was seen offering free transport from Poland to Germany. Other volunteers became suspicious and informed local law enforcement when they noticed that the man was selecting only young women for transportation in his minivan.

“The prevalence of sexual violence in conflicts throughout history teaches us that reinforcing prevention, protection, and service-delivery is critical from the onset of any armed conflict,” Patten said. “To address this challenge, it is crucial to ensure that the level of political focus as well as the allocation of resources for a comprehensive response, is commensurate with the scale and complexity of the problem.”

CNN’s Richard Roth contributed reporting to this post.

Ukrainian Navy says Russian ships withdrew from coastal waters in Black Sea

The Ukrainian Navy says ships of the Russian Black Sea fleet have withdrawn to more than 100 kilometers (about 65 miles) from Ukrainian shores as a result of its attacks with missiles and drones.

In an operational update Monday, the Navy said that in an effort to regain control of north-western parts of the Black Sea, the Russians had deployed coastal missile systems in the Crimea and Kherson regions.

It said that the threat of missile strikes from the sea remains. “Since the beginning of the invasion, enemy ships and submarines have launched more than 300 cruise missiles on Ukrainian territory. Currently, the intensity of strikes with Caliber cruise missiles has decreased, while the enemy began to hit ground targets with anti-ship missiles….Probably, this indicates that Russia has used a significant amount of modern missile weapons and is forced to use out-dated types of missiles.”

The Navy said that approximately 30 Russian ships and submarines continued the blockade of civilian shipping. “Currently, there are up to 12 large landing ships in the Black Sea, but more than a third of them are under repair,” the Navy said.

“We deprived the Russian Black Sea Fleet of complete control over the north-western 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. But it added there was still the risk of the Russians’ landing tactical troops and sabotage and reconnaissance groups on the Odesa coast, especially in favorable weather conditions in summer.

Ukraine Ministry of Defense: Russian missile and air attacks increase on several fronts

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense says that Russian forces have launched missiles and air strikes against a number of targets across Ukraine, as they try to break down Ukrainian defenses and hit key infrastructure.

Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, the Defense Ministry spokesperson, said Russia was carrying out “intense fire and assault operations along the entire line of combat confrontation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

Seven aircraft had launched guided missiles from above the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, while coastal missile systems in Crimea were also active.

On the ground, Motuzyanyk said the Russians had made some advances, including north of Sloviansk, where they were advancing in the Sviatohirsk area toward the Siverskiy Donets River. He said the Russians were carrying out “engineering reconnaissance of the area, preparing for the possible forcing of a water barrier.” But in other districts on this front they had been repulsed, he said.

Sloviansk is a key target of the Russian operation, and Russian forces have been edging closer to the city in recent weeks.

Further east in Severodonetsk, Motuzyanyk said Ukrainian units were holding back “the offensive of the Russian aggressor, who seeks to surround our troops in the area of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, as well as to block the main logistics routes…..Units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are fighting hard against the occupiers in the eastern and central parts of the city. The enemy spares neither people nor equipment. With the support of artillery, the enemy conducts assault operations to achieve its goal of taking control of the city,” he said.

The Russians are also continuing efforts to break through Ukrainian lines defending the route between Lysychansk and Bakhmut, but had been repulsed, Motuzyanyk said.

Further south, an attempt to break through towards the border of Donetsk region had been thwarted. Ukrainian forces had “inflicted heavy losses and forced several enemy sabotage groups to retreat” as they tried to reach the settlements of Rivnopol and Novosilka, close to the regional border with Zaporizhzhia.

In the northern region of Kharkiv, Motuzyanyk said that enemy fire continued against settlements to the north and east of the capital city in an effort to prevent Ukrainian forces reaching the border with Russia.

In the south, the Russians appear to be trying to win back ground that had been lost to a Ukrainian offensive over the last week. Motuzyanyk said that Ukrainian troops were holding off a Russian counter-attack near the settlements of Lozove and Bila Krynytsia. In the same region, Russian troops were firing on Ukrainian positions along the entire line of contact between Mykolaiv and Kherson, he said.

At least 1 dead after shelling of residential area of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine

At least one person is dead and several more injured after Russia shelled a residential area of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, according to the regional council.

“This morning Mykolaiv was being shelled chaotically again,” Hanna Zamazieieva, head of Mykolaiv regional council, said on Telegram. “Civil residential houses in different districts of the city with no military objects were shelled.”

Over the past week, Ukrainian forces have been pressing an offensive on Russian-occupied Kherson, to the southeast of Mykolaiv, reportedly retaking some previously occupied villages.

On Sunday, a Russian missile destroyed a large grain storage facility in Mykolaiv, according to the spokesperson for the Ukraine’s Operational Command South.

Russia loses another general in Donbas

A Russian general has died in Donbas, Russian state media said, citing the Telegram channel of a war correspondent Sunday. 

The Russian general was identified as Roman Kutuzov by Russian state media and Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“According to military correspondent Alexander Sladkov’s Telegram channel, Kutuzov, a native of the Airborne Forces, led people into the attack and died in battle,” Russia 24 said. 

Ukrainian Armed Forces also said Kutuzov had died.

“Major General Roman Kutuzov, Commander of the 1st Army Corps (Orcs) of the [DPR], has been officially denazified and demilitarized,” the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Sunday in a Facebook post.

Prior to being sent to the Donetsk People’s Republic, Kutuzov served as chief of staff of the 29th combined-arms army of the Eastern Military District of Russia, according to Ukrainian independent news agency UNIAN journalist Roman Tsymbalyuk.

First Russian strikes on Kyiv in weeks among key developments from this weekend

Smoke rises after several missiles hit Kyiv, Ukraine on June 5.

This weekend saw continued heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, as well as the first Russian strikes on Kyiv in weeks.

Russian forces launched five cruise missiles toward the Ukrainian capital from the Caspian Sea at 6 a.m. local time Sunday.

One missile was destroyed by Ukraine’s air defense unit, and the rest hit “infrastructure facilities in the north of the Ukrainian capital,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement.

Several of the missiles hit the Darnytsia Carriage Repair Plant, injuring one railroad worker, according to Oleksandr Kamyshin, CEO of the Ukrainian state railroad enterprise Ukrzaliznytsia. Passenger trains were not delayed by the attacks, he said.

“I officially declare that there is no military equipment on the plant’s territory. This plant repaired cargo carriages, including those we use for grain export,” Kamyshin said.

“Their real target is the economy of Ukraine and the civilian population,” he said. “They also want to block our opportunity to export Ukrainian products to the West.”

On Monday, the UK defense ministry’s latest intelligence assessment said the missile attack was probably an attempt to disrupt the supply of Western military equipment to frontline Ukrainian units.

In addition, the ministry said, Russian forces have probably moved multiple air defense assets to Snake Island in the Black Sea, and it is likely that these weapons are intended to provide air defense for Russian naval vessels operating around Snake Island.

“Russia’s activity on Snake Island contributes to its blockade of the Ukrainian coast and hinders the resumption of maritime trade, including exports of Ukrainian grain,” it added.

Heavy fighting continued over the weekend in eastern Ukraine, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he visited troops in some of the most heavily bombarded front-line positions in the Luhansk region on Sunday.

In his nightly address, Zelensky said: “We were in Lysychansk, and we were in Soledar.”

Both places have been under heavy Russian attack for weeks, suffering missile, rocket and aerial bombardment.

Elsewhere in the east of the country, Ukrainian forces regained some territory in the city of Severodonetsk through a series of counterattacks, but, by Monday, Russian forces had turned the tide.

“The fiercest battles continue here,” Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said on Monday morning. “Our defenders managed to counterattack for a while – they liberated almost half of the city. However, now the situation has worsened for us again.”

UN watchdog warns of "clear and present risk" at nuclear power plant in Russian-controlled Ukraine

There is a “clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards” at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is currently controlled by Russia, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Monday.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that “at least five of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised at the site.”

In remarks to the IAEA’s Board of Governors, Grossi reiterated that he was “working actively to agree, organize and head an IAEA-led International Mission” to the facility, in order to “carry out essential nuclear safety, security and safeguards work at the site.”

Some background: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since early March. Grossi visited the now-defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kyiv, which was briefly occupied by Russian forces, at the end of April.

“Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia 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,” Grossi said.

“The situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP has not only raised serious and pressing humanitarian concerns but is also a clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards at the nuclear power plant.”

“There are indications from Ukraine regarding their concern about interruptions in the supply chain of spare parts to Zaporizhzhia NPP. This means now at least five of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised at the site. The Ukrainian regulator has informed us that they have ‘lost control over’ the facility’s nuclear material that is subject to the Safeguards Agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA,” he added.

He concluded by saying that “the urgent need for us to be there is clear to all.”

Ukraine's military intelligence head visited an embattled eastern city

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief has visited the embattled city of Severodonetsk amid reports that the Ukrainian position there has worsened.

The country’s defense ministry said Monday that Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov has been to the eastern city, though it is unclear when the visit took place.

Some background: After reclaiming territory from Russia over the weekend, the Ukrainian position in Severodonetsk has deteriorated on Monday, the region’s top official said on Ukrainian television Monday.

“The fiercest battles continue here,” Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said on Monday morning. “Our defenders managed to counterattack for a while ­– they liberated almost half of the city. However, now the situation has worsened for us again.”

Hayday said that the Russians are using “standard scorched-earth tactics,” and that evacuation of the approximately 15,000 civilians remaining in the city is impossible because of intense fighting.

Budanov “inspected the work of the Intelligence units in the city of Severodonetsk,” the Intelligence Directorate said on its official Telegram channel.

“Budanov got acquainted with the operational situation on this section of the front and determined the further actions of the units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.”

The statement added that that Russia is targeting most of its shelling at the neighboring city of Lysychansk, which sits on strategic high ground across the Siverskyi Donets River from Severodonetsk.

More civilians now ready to flee Donetsk with casualties suffered "almost every day," says official

An increasing number of civilians are now ready to evacuate from the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, the top regional official said on Monday.

“People who didn’t try, and didn’t want, to leave in the beginning when it was safer are leaving now,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, said on Ukrainian television.

“We evacuate them both from frontline settlements and from the cities of Bakhmut, Soledar, and Slovyansk. Now the pace has increased,” he said.

Some background: Fighting in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions has intensified in recent weeks, with stepped-up Russian attacks on the city of Sloviansk, and an intense urban battle for Severodonetsk, the eastern-most city controlled by the Ukrainian government.

A CNN team in eastern Ukraine on Monday saw long lines of civilian cars driving west from the Ukrainian-controlled portion of the Donetsk region.

Civilian casualties almost daily: Kyrylenko said that the evacuations are “extremely dangerous.”

“Every day we evacuate people, even from the frontline. This is much more difficult to do under or between shelling, because the movement of an evacuation bus or a small car does not mean that the occupiers will not shoot at it,” he said.

He said that the front line in the Donetsk region “has remained unchanged over the past day,” and that “almost every day we have civilian casualties.”

"Fiercest battles" as Ukrainian position in Severodonetsk worsens: regional official

After reclaiming territory from Russia over the weekend, Ukrainian forces in the eastern city of Severodonetsk are under renewed attack, the region’s top official said on Monday. 

“Our defenders managed to counterattack for a while ­– they liberated almost half of the city. However, now the situation has worsened for us again.”

Hayday said the Russians are using “standard scorched-earth tactics,” and that evacuation of the approximately 15,000 civilians remaining in Severodonetsk is impossible because of intense fighting.

He said Russia is targeting most of its shelling at the neighboring city of Lysychansk, which sits on strategic high ground across the Siverskyi Donets River from Severodonetsk.

“From there, it is much easier to defend and maintain a defensive line,” Hayday said. “They are still destroying houses and humanitarian aid centers.”

He said a further 15,000 civilians remained in Lysychansk and that police are managing to evacuate a small number of them

Finally, he said that Russia has devoted a “simply incredible” number of troops and equipment to bombarding the main access road to Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, which runs between Bakhmut and Lysychansk.

“The Russians do not control this road, but the entire route is being shelled,” he said. “The Russians have amassed huge reserves. Time will tell whether they will have enough strength to take this route.”

Russia’s attack on Kyiv likely an attempt to disrupt supply of Western arms: UK intelligence

A fireman stands near the production shop of the Darnytsia Carriage Repair Plant in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 5.

A Russian missile attack on Kyiv on Sunday was likely an attempt to disrupt the supply of Western military equipment to frontline Ukrainian units, the UK’s Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence assessment on Monday.

One of the missiles was intercepted by Ukraine’s air defense unit, but the rest hit “infrastructure facilities in the north of the Ukrainian capital,” the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Sunday.  

Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, said one military target was hit, and one civilian target.

Several of the missiles hit the Darnytsia Carriage Repair Plant, injuring one railway worker, according to Oleksandr Kamyshin, CEO of the Ukrainian state railway enterprise Ukrzaliznytsia.

But passenger trains were not delayed by the attacks, he said.

Kamyshin denied Russian reports that his company was housing military equipment, and invited journalists to verify that by visiting the plant.

The UK Ministry of Defense also said that heavy fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk and that Russian forces continue to push towards the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region. 

Russian forces have likely moved multiple air defense assets to Snake Island in the Black Sea, including SA-15 and SA-22 systems and it is likely that these weapons are intended to provide air defense for Russian naval vessels operating around Snake Island, the ministry said. 

CNN team sees long lines of civilian cars headed west from Donetsk region

A CNN team driving east from Dnipro on Monday morning saw long lines of civilian cars driving west from the Ukrainian-controlled part of the Donetsk region. 

Fighting in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions has intensified in recent weeks, with stepped-up Russian attacks on the city of Sloviansk, and an intense urban battle for Severodonetsk, the eastern-most city controlled by the Ukrainian government.

Witnesses say Russian troops killed Hostomel mayor and two volunteers

As Russian forces closed in on Hostomel in late February, the town’s mayor Yurii Prylypko urged local residents to take care of each other.

Days later, Prylypko was dead. He and another civilian, Ivan Zorya, were killed by Russian soldiers, eyewitnesses say, as they tried to deliver medicines and other supplies to people in the community. Another civilian, Oleksandr Karpenko, was killed while trying to save them.

Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians during its invasion of Ukraine.

But photos of the scene taken in its aftermath and images captured by security cameras on the day of the attack make it clear the mayor was traveling in a civilian car when Russian troops opened fire. There were no other cars or military vehicles nearby at the time, according to the eyewitnesses.

As part of an investigation into the three men’s deaths, CNN spoke to three eyewitnesses to the attack on March 3 and to several other local residents who saw Prylypko’s and Zorya’s bodies lying on the street in the days following the shooting.

Read more:

A picture from a security camera shows Russian soldiers in the courtyard of Pokrovsky residential complex in Hostomel on Thursday, March 3, 2022.

Gunned down on a mercy mission: Witnesses say Russian troops killed Hostomel mayor and two volunteers

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met frontline troops in Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia on Sunday June 5.

Russia is intensifying its efforts to gain control of eastern Ukraine, with heavy fighting in the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Moscow will strike new targets if the United States supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine.

  • In Donetsk: Russian troops are targeting the northern approaches to the key city of Sloviansk. Russian troops have resumed their offensive near Sviatohirsk, some 12 miles (20 km) north of Sloviansk, and have suffered losses, according to the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces. There have also been further air strikes against Sloviansk, which is more than 300 miles east of the capital Kyiv.
  • In Luhansk: Russian forces have tried to storm two districts – Bilohorivka and Mykolaivka – that, if lost by the Ukrainians, would put the city of Severodonetsk at risk of encirclement.
  • Ukrainian fightback: Severodonetsk has been under Russian bombardment for weeks, but remains fiercely contested. Last week, Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said Russian forces held about 80% of the city – now he says Ukraine has regained control of half of the city. He expects Russia to redouble efforts to take the city in the next few days by using heavy artillery.
  • In the south: Fighting continues, with territory changing hands since a Ukrainian counter-offensive began a week ago. Russian forces are on the offensive in Bila Krynytsia, in the Kherson region, a district recently retaken by Ukrainian forces. Meanwhile, a gain storage silo has been destroyed in the city of Mykolaiv. Ukraine says Russia has hit the region with air-based cruise missiles.
  • In Kyiv: Russia fired five cruise missiles toward the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian military. Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power station operator Energoatom said on Sunday one cruise missile had flown “critically low” over the South Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant. Energoatom labeled the action “another act of nuclear terrorism” and said Russian forces “still do not understand that even the smallest fragment of a missile that can hit a working power unit can cause a nuclear catastrophe and radiation leak.”
  • Zelensky visits front line: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday met frontline troops in Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia. In Donetsk and Luhansk, Zelensky visited the cities of Soledar and Lysychansk, both of which have been under heavy Russian attack for weeks, suffering missile, rocket and aerial bombardment. In the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, Zelensky met the mayors of some occupied towns as well as “Mariupol residents who managed to leave the city alive and with children.”
  • Putin’s warning: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that Moscow would strike new targets if the United States supplied long-range missiles to Ukraine. Delivering new arms to Kyiv would only “drag out the armed conflict for as long as possible,” he told the Rossiya-1 TV channel. Putin said that if American multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) were supplied to Ukraine, “we will draw appropriate conclusions from this and use our own weapons, of which we have enough, in order to strike at those facilities we are not targeting yet.” 
  • Food crisis: Meanwhile, Putin also claimed Moscow’s actions in Ukraine “have nothing to do” with the looming global energy and food crisis and has instead blamed Western economic policies. In an interview with state TV channel Rossiya-1, aired on Sunday, the Russian leader blamed the United States for “injecting large sums of money” into its economy to counter the coronavirus pandemic, saying this led to inflation. He also blamed European countries for not listening “to our urgent requests to preserve long-term contracts for the supply [of natural gas]” – another factor that he said led to inflation.

Zelensky says he visited troops on Luhansk-Donetsk frontline Sunday

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he visited troops in some of the most heavily bombarded frontline positions Sunday.

In his nightly address, Zelensky said: “We were in Lysychansk and we were in Soledar.”

Both places have been under heavy Russian attack for weeks, suffering missile, rocket and aerial bombardment.

“I am proud of everyone I met, shook hands with, communicated with and supported. Something was brought for the military, but I will not detail it,” he said. “And I brought something from them – to you. It is important: confidence and strength.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met frontline troops in Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia on Sunday June 5.

Earlier Sunday, Zelensky was in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, where he said he’d met the mayors of some occupied towns.

“I met with Mariupol residents who managed to leave the city alive and with children. I met them in Khortytsia. Conditions are temporary but not bad,” he said. “Each family had its own story, most without men. Someone’s husband went to war, someone in captivity, and someone, unfortunately, died.”

Russians suffer losses in renewed offensive against Sloviansk, Ukrainian military says

Residents look for belongings in the rubble of their home after a strike destroyed three houses in the city of Sloviansk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 1.

The Ukrainian military has reported another day of heavy fighting in the Donetsk region, especially on the northern approaches to the key city of Sloviansk.

The armed forces’ General Staff did not acknowledge losing any territory but said Russian troops had resumed their offensive near Sviatohirsk, some 12 miles (20 km) north of Sloviansk, and had suffered losses. It said there had been further air strikes against Sloviansk. The city is located more than 300 miles east of the capital Kyiv.

Further east, the General Staff said Russian forces had tried to storm two districts (Bilohorivka and Mykolaivka), that, if lost by the Ukrainians, would put the city of Severodonetsk at risk of encirclement.

Local authorities reported the town of Bakhmut – a lynchpin in Ukraine’s defense of Donetsk and Luhansk – had been shelled again. An agricultural machinery plant had been set on fire, they said.

Fighting in the south continues, with territory changing hands since a Ukrainian counter-offensive began a week ago.

The General Staff said the Russians were conducting an offensive in the area of ​​Bila Krynytsia in the north of the Kherson region, a district recently retaken by Ukrainian forces. The head of the regional military administration, Oleksandr Vilkul, said Russian units had “retreated to previously occupied positions.”

A grain storage silo was destroyed in the city of Mykolaiv, according to images from the area geolocated by CNN. The Operational Command South of the Ukrainian forces said “from the direction of the Black Sea and from the territory of Russia, the Black Sea coast of Mykolaiv region, ports and granaries were attacked by air-based cruise missiles.”

Putin blames the West for international food and energy crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin seen during the Summit of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the Grand Kremlin Palace, on May 16, in Moscow, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Moscow’s actions have nothing to do with the looming energy and food crisis in the world and again blamed economic and financial policies of the West for creating such a scenario.

Current and former energy officials tell CNN they worry that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the wake of years of underinvestment in the energy sector have sent the world careening into a crisis that will rival, or even exceed, the oil crises of the 1970s and early 1980s.

US President Joe Biden has blamed Russia’s invasion for domestic price hikes and global food supply shortages.

In an interview with state TV channel Rossiya-1, conducted Friday and aired in full Sunday, the Russian leader blamed the United States for “injecting large sums of money” into its economy as a means of combating the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to inflation and an “unfavorable situation in the food market, because first of all, food prices went up.”

Putin also blamed “the short-sighted policy of European countries, and above all the European Commission, in the energy sector” as another reason for the crisis in food and energy market. 

“Among other things, the Europeans did not listen to our urgent requests to preserve long-term contracts for the supply of the same natural gas to European countries, and they also began to (terminate the contracts) … This had a negative impact on the European energy market: Prices crept up. Russia has absolutely nothing to do with it,” he said. 

As soon as gas prices went up, fertilizer prices “immediately increased, because some of these fertilizers are produced, including at the expense of gas. Everything is interconnected,” Putin added. 

“But we warned about this, and this has nothing to do with any military operation of Russia,” Putin said. 

The Kremlin said last week that Moscow is ready to make a “significant contribution” to avoid the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, if the West lifts “politically motivated restrictions” on Russia.  

Zelensky meets with soldiers and displaced Ukrainians during trip to Zaporizhzhia region

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with soldiers on the frontline and internally displaced Ukrainians during a trip to Zaporizhzhia region on Sunday. 

Zelensky “visited the frontline positions of the Ukrainian military,” taking the opportunity to acquaint himself “with the operational situation on the frontline of defense,” a statement from the Ukrainian Presidency said. 

The president spoke with the soldiers, presenting them with state awards and thanking them for their service, according to the statement. 

“I want to thank you for your great work, for your service, for protecting all of us, our state. I am grateful to everyone. I want to wish you and your families good health. Take care of yourselves,” Zelensky told the frontline soldiers. 

He also paid a trip to a sanatorium where internally displaced Ukrainians, forced to flee their homes, have been receiving shelter and medical care, according to a separate statement from the Ukrainian Presidency. 

Some more context: Almost 12 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky told lawmakers in Luxembourg on Thursday. 

IDPs who had traveled from the southern city of Mariupol recounted to the president the “tragic events they had to endure due to the Russian invasion, “appealing to him for help with recovering lost documents and issuing death certificates of relatives who died in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the statement. 

Zelensky invited them to put forward suggestions for “legislative changes” that could be made to simplify the procedures for obtaining these documents. 

He assured the IDPs that all those who have lost their homes will be provided with “comfortable housing,” according to the statement. 

Finally, Zelensky gave a gift to 8-year-old boy, Yehor Kravtsov, who kept a diary while living under shelling in Mariupol. Yehor, whose “Mariupol Diary” writings were published on social networks, shared his experiences of the city’s bombing with Zelensky.

Ukraine claims it controls half of Severodonetsk

A photograph shows an explosion in the city of Severodonetsk during heavy fightings between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on May 30.

Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, says there is “good news” from the city of Severodonetsk, which has been under Russian bombardment for weeks.

In a post on his Telegram channel, Hayday says: “Our Armed Forces have cleared up half of the city. Half of the city is really controlled by our defenders.” Last week, Hayday said that Russian forces held about 80% of Severodonetsk, but Ukrainian forces have clawed back parts of the city in street fighting since then. 

Hayday says he expects Russian forces to redouble their efforts to take the city in the next few days by using heavy artillery. 

“They have no other tactics,” he said “They cannot fight in another way.”

Hayday said there are approximately 15,000 civilians still in Severodonetsk. “Now evacuation is impossible because of constant fighting,” he said.

“Even though we officially stopped the evacuation, today, we managed to evacuate 98 people from Lysychansk together with the help of volunteers, the State Emergency Service and the National Police,” he said. 

Lysychansk is across the Siverskyi Donets river from Severodonetsk and is heavily defended by Ukrainian troops.

West "must understand" giving heavy weapons isn't one-time situation, says Ukrainian deputy defense minister

Western allies “must understand” that providing heavy weaponry to Ukraine “is not a one-time aid” but has to be continued until “victory,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Sunday.

“Weapons have already begun to arrive, but it is not enough to give a very strong rebuff to the Russian army,” Maliar said. “We will always need support, given that we have already entered a protracted war. The West must understand that this is not a one-time aid, but to a victory.”

“Our fighters are really prepared, our army is really prepared. But this motivation and training are not enough to overcome Russia without weapons,” she said. “Therefore, we openly ask the question that we need the help of the Western world, especially in weapons. And first of all, we are talking about air defense and heavy weapons.”

The scene in Severodonetsk: Maliar said that the situation on the ground is “hot” and changing constantly, so it’s difficult to give updates on how much of the city Ukraine controls.

“No one can say for sure because, during the fighting, some part of the city may now be under the control of Russian troops, but in 30 minutes, the situation could change radically,” Maliar said. “The only thing we can say for sure is that the (Ukrainian) armed forces are strongly resisting. Otherwise, the city would have fallen.”

The threat to Kyiv: “Kyiv is constantly under threat,” Maliar said. “We need to understand that the war is in a hot phase, and Kyiv remains the main goal of the Russian Federation.”

Maliar also spoke about the fighters from around the world who have signed up for the International Legion, which she said is legally part of the Ukrainian armed forces.

“The International Legion proved itself in battle,” Maliar said, including in the liberation of Kyiv, and now the international fighters “are also in the hottest spots.”

She said they have applications “from almost all over the world,” with some people signing up as “professional fighters who can perform very high-level military tasks” and others who join after being motivated by “the injustice” of the conflict.

Ukrainian military says Russia launched 5 cruise missiles toward Kyiv

Russia “launched 5 X-22 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea in the direction of Kyiv” at 6 a.m. local time on Sunday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

One missile was destroyed by Ukraine’s air defense unit, and the rest hit “infrastructure facilities in the north of the Ukrainian capital,” the military said.

Earlier, Vadym Denysenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said one military target and one civilian target were hit.

Several of the missiles hit the Darnytsia Carriage Repair Plant, injuring one railway worker, according to Oleksandr Kamyshin, CEO of the Ukrainian state railway enterprise Ukrzaliznytsia. Passenger trains were not delayed by the attacks, he said.

Kamyshin denied the Russian reports that his company was housing any military equipment, and he invited journalists to visit the plant and verify that.

“I officially declare that there is no military equipment on the plant’s territory. This plant repaired cargo carriages, including those we use for grain export,” Kamyshin said.

“Their real target is the economy of Ukraine and the civilian population,” he said. “They also want to block our opportunity to export Ukrainian products to the West.”

Ukraine shot down four missiles aimed at Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, officials say

Ukrainian air defenses shot down four Russian missiles aimed at Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, an update from Operational Command South said on Sunday.

“During a night attack from the sea by missiles across the south of Ukraine, two missiles were shot down by forces of our divisions over the sea, on approach to the Mykolaiv region,” the statement said.

At dawn, the Mykolaiv region was “again subjected to a massive missile strike using aircraft” and two missiles were shot down by air defenses, the statement said.

“From the direction of the Black Sea and from the territory of Russia, the Black Sea coast of Mykolaiv region, ports and granaries were attacked by air-based cruise missiles.”

“Such audacious actions again reveal the real intentions of the terrorist country — pseudo-care of humanitarian corridors and unblocking ports — this is just an excuse to gain access to Ukraine’s maritime infrastructure,” the statement said.

Russia also tried to regain lost positions in two areas of Mykolaiv but “suffered heavy losses and retreated,” a separate update from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Sunday.

In nearby Kherson, the military said there has been no mobile or internet connection for six days, and the Russian troops controlling the city have opened a branch of a party called ‘United Russia’ where they “collect data from