June 9, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Ed Upright, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Kathleen Magramo and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 2:54 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022
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1:11 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Most of Severodonetsk is under Russian control, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Jonny Hallam

Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk on June 7.
Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk on June 7. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Most of the eastern city of Severodonetsk is now controlled by the Russians, Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, announced on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian forces reported fierce battles taking place at several locations across the eastern city in Ukraine's Luhansk region.

"The Russians are destroying everything," Hayday said in a televised announcement, "They are firing tanks and artillery at residential buildings."

In an interview with news outlet RBC-Ukraine on Wednesday, Hayday said that earlier this week, Ukrainian special forces had managed to take control of almost half of the city.

But he said that when the Russian troops saw the Ukrainian advance, "they simply began to level it to the ground with air strikes and artillery."

Hayday explained that Ukrainian forces had no choice but to make a temporary tactical retreat from the central parts of the city due to the intense Russian bombardment.

The official said that despite the pullback, Ukraine has retained control of Serverodonetsk's industrial zone, a key area on the outskirts of the city.

1:15 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Zelensky: Fate of Ukraine's Donbas is being decided in Severodonetsk as "fierce battle" continues

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Wednesday June 8.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Wednesday June 8. (Office of President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the eastern city of Severodonetsk "remains the epicenter of the confrontation in Donbas.”

"This is a very fierce battle, very difficult," he said. "Probably one of the most difficult throughout this war. I am grateful to everyone who defends this direction. In many ways, the fate of our Donbas is being decided there."

Zelensky also said that on Wednesday "the occupiers announced the absolutely crazy news that they are preparing to unite some football clubs from all occupied territories into one pseudo-championship — from Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Melitopol, Crimea, and even part of Georgia."

He called this decision “a mockery” of the Ukrainian people. Only the return of Ukraine, Zelensky stressed, will mean “a normal life for these territories, for these cities — again... Peaceful, safe, open to the world. And of course — new matches of world-class teams at the Donbas Arena,” he added.

Zelensky also thanked Polish President Andrzej Duda and Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová for the joint initiative to start “a special trip to European countries to support the European perspective of our country.” He said all Ukrainian diplomats are working on this issue in full.

The Ukrainian President also mentioned that he addressed the representatives of the world's largest investment funds at a private event on Wednesday and urged them to invest in Ukraine.

Zelensky talked to “members of the community of leaders of major American companies.” He prompted them “to leave the Russian market and not to support this war with their taxes.” He said it is very important for him to know that these leaders support strengthening the sanctions against Russia.

10:19 p.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Foreigners shown in court video charged with being "mercenaries" by pro-Russian separatists

From Oleksandra Ochman and Ivana Kottasová

Authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine have released a propaganda video showing three foreigners in court over accusations they were mercenaries fighting for Ukraine.  

The video, released Tuesday by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, showed British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune.

The three men have been charged with “mercenarism, crimes aimed at forcible seizure and retention of power, as well as training in order to carry out terrorist activities on the territory of the DPR," said Vitalia Cherniavskaya, an official representative of general prosecutor of DPR, in a separate video released on the DPR Telegram channel.

Russia is the only country that considers the DPR independent. The international community does not recognize DPR and its institutions and considers the territory to be part of Ukraine.

DPR authorities said the three were foreign fighters who had been captured in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by Russian forces in April. Independent watchdog groups have long accused the separatists of a dismal human-rights track record and ill-treatment of prisoners. 

The Ukrainian government said in a statement on Wednesday that it considers all foreign volunteers to be members of its armed forces and to be lawful combatants entitled to treatment as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. 

The family of Aslin said Tuesday it was working with the UK Foreign Office and Ukrainian government to get him home, according to PA media. In a statement released through the UK Foreign Office, the family said Aslin was “a "much-loved man and very much missed."

Pinner was previously a member of the UK Armed Forces, according to a statement released by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in April. Several friends of Saadoune told CNN he initially came to Ukraine to study at a university and joined the Ukrainian armed forces in 2021.

9:43 p.m. ET, June 8, 2022

US Treasury bans Americans from buying Russian stocks and bonds

From CNN’s Matt Egan

US President Joe Biden's administration has issued new investment restrictions that prohibit Americans from buying Russian stocks and bonds.

The ban is the latest step by US officials to crank up the financial pressure on Russia in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.  

According to new guidance issued Monday by the Treasury Department, US investors are prohibited from buying “both new and existing debt and equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation.”

Up until now, Americans were able to buy Russian stocks and bonds that change hands in secondary markets. 

Americans will still be allowed to sell Russian stocks and bonds, although only to a “non-US person,” the Treasury said. Americans are not “required” to divest Russian securities and may continue to hold them, according to the guidance. 

And US investors can also still invest in US funds that own Russian securities, as long as those Russian holdings are not the bulk of the fund’s assets. 

9:43 p.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Economic organization slashes global growth outlook due to the war in Ukraine

From CNN's Chris Liakos

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has sharply downgraded its global growth forecasts for 2022 warning that “the world is set to pay a hefty price for Russia’s war against Ukraine.”OECD now expects global growth to be 3% in 2022 — down from 4.5% in its December forecast — and to remain at similar pace for 2023.

“Inflation projections now stand at nearly 9% in OECD countries in 2022, twice what we were previously projecting,” said OECD Chief Economist and Deputy Secretary-General Laurence Boone, adding that “the extent to which growth will be lower and inflation higher will depend on how the war evolves, but it is clear the poorest will be hit hardest.”

The forecast is in line with the World Bank, which said yesterday that it expects global growth to be 2.9% in 2022.

Among the G20 countries, OECD expects the UK to be hit the most in 2023 besides Russia, projecting that the country will post zero growth in 2023 after growing by 3.6% in 2022. 

Boone called for global cooperation to avoid a food crisis. 

“Today, the world is producing enough cereals to feed everyone, but prices are very high and the risk is that this production will not reach those who need it most. Global cooperation is needed to ensure that food reaches consumers at affordable prices, in particular in low-income and emerging market economies,” Boone said.

9:42 p.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Food is now part of Russia's "arsenal of terror," says EU chief

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy in London  

Food has become part of Russia's “arsenal of terror,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.  

In an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen stressed the urgent need to restore Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, as a remedy to the looming global food crisis.

“This is a cold, callous and calculated siege by Putin on some of the most vulnerable countries and people in the world. And therefore now, Honorable Members, food has become now part of the Kremlin's arsenal of terror, and we cannot tolerate it,” Von der Leyen told EU lawmakers.  

The EU’s sanctions against Russia “do not touch basic food commodities,” the EU Commission chief stressed.  

“They do not affect the trading of grain or other foods between Russia and third countries. And the port embargo specifically has full exemption on agricultural goods,” she added, highlighting the need to counter Russian "disinformation" about the food crisis.  

Her remarks come as Russian and Turkish foreign ministers held meetings in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss issues related to grain exports from Ukraine.

Von der Leyen thanked the United Nations for its “efforts” to help restore Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, reiterating that the “majority of Ukrainian grain can only be exported” through these routes. 

There is an expectation for the EU to show the “same solidarity” it has “shown to Ukraine when it comes to addressing the food crisis in the world,” she added, committing the bloc to this task.  

9:41 p.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Ukraine files 8 more war crimes cases, says prosecutor general

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Mick Krever

Ukraine has filed eight more war crimes cases involving Russian soldiers, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on national television on Wednesday.

“We are not just talking about combatants who came to the theater of operations, but about those who came to rape, loot, kill civilians,” Venediktova said.

On May 23, a 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison for killing an unarmed man in Ukraine's first war crimes trial since Russia's invasion.

Another two Russian soldiers were convicted for “violating the laws of war” by the Kotelevsky district court of Poltava region on May 31.

Venediktova said that prosecutors are investigating about 16,000 war crimes cases.

9:41 p.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Zelensky says he discussed "enhancing defense support" with German leader

From CNN's Mick Krever

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that he had discussed improving his country's defenses during a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“Had a phone conversation with Olaf Scholz,” Zelensky said on Twitter. “Discussed enhancing defense support for [Ukraine] & ensuring global food security. Raised the issue of RF [The Russian Federation]'s compliance with international rules of treatment of war prisoners. Stressed the importance of decisions on the integration of [Ukraine] in [The European Union].

In recent months, the German government and Chancellor Scholz have come under pressure from Ukraine and politicians at home for not doing enough to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

But at the end of April, Germany agreed to deliver Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, and last week it said it will supply Ukraine with seven self-propelled howitzers.

While relations between the two countries have improved, ''we have to make sure that the positive dynamic is maintained and we all move forward and that right decisions are being taken,'' Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on May 12.