June 10, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Jeevan Ravindran and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 8:01 PM ET, Fri June 10, 2022
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7:54 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Why are politicians calling for the foreign volunteers sentenced to death in the DPR to be treated as prisoners of war?

Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, on June 9.
Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, on June 9. (AP)

The death sentences handed down Thursday by a court in the pro-Russian, self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) to three British and Moroccan volunteers in the Ukrainian armed forces have drawn condemnation from politicians who insist they must be treated as prisoners of war.

British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune -- were foreign fighters who had been captured in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by Russian forces in April, according to DPR authorities.

The court in the DPR accused them of being "mercenaries" for Ukraine, according to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti.

However, 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.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also said "they are prisoners of war," and that the ruling was "a sham judgement with absolutely no legitimacy."

A spokesperson for British leader Boris Johnson said Friday that the Prime Minister was was "appalled" at the sentencing.

“We completely condemn the sham sentencing of these men to death. There’s no justification at all for this breach of the protection they’re entitled to," the spokesperson said.

According to the 1949 Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are "members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps," or "members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps" who meet certain conditions, including: carrying arms openly; acting within the laws and customs of war; "being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;" and having "a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance."

Some context: Russia is the only country that considers the DPR independent. The DPR government is not an internationally recognized government; therefore, the court's decisions are not considered legitimate by the international community. Independent watchdog groups have long accused the separatists of a dismal human rights record and ill-treatment of prisoners.

5:32 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Battle for Severodonetsk not substantially changed, street fighting continues, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Julia Presniakova, Olga Voitovych, and Mick Krever

Black smoke and dirt rise above city of Severodonetsk during the battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas on June 9.
Black smoke and dirt rise above city of Severodonetsk during the battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas on June 9. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Intense fighting is ongoing for control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, with no major changes reported in the past day, according to Ukrainian officials.

“The situation in Severodonetsk is very tense,” Roman Vlasenko, head of the Severodonetsk district military administration, told Ukrainian national television.

“Fighting continues, street fighting continues. The dynamics are very great. The Russians are heavily using artillery. They have a certain advantage in terms of artillery, in terms of personnel. But they have no real success. They can't beat the guys out of Severodonetsk.”

Vlasenko said that the Ukrainian military in Severodonetsk was “confident” in their defense.

On Wednesday, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Serhiy Hayday, said most of the city was now controlled by Russian forces, although Ukrainians had retained control of Severodonetsk's industrial zone.

Hayday told Ukrainian television Friday that those fighting for Severodonetsk faced difficulty, “but they clearly understand that they are not threatened by encirclement.

“They clearly hold their positions and understand how things are developing,” he said.

In an address on Thursday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and other cities in Donbas, which the occupiers now consider key targets, are holding on."

3:58 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

UK report says Russia is struggling to provide basic services in occupied territories of Ukraine

From CNN's Teele Rebane and Irene Nasser

A woman cooks in the yard of a house in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on June 4.
A woman cooks in the yard of a house in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on June 4. (AFP/Getty Images)

Russia is struggling to provide basic public services to civilian populations in Russian occupied territories of Ukraine, according to a British intelligence report published on Friday.

The report claims that access to drinking water, internet connection and phone services remain inconsistent, while Kherson “likely faces a critical shortage of medicines” and Mariupol runs the risk of a cholera outbreak. 

Damage and disease: On Tuesday, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, Petro Andrushenko, warned of a potential cholera outbreak amid deteriorating sanitary conditions in the city. Last week he said that damage done to Mariupol over two months of bombardment was so severe that most basic services including electricity, gas and water were cut off and yet to be restored by Russian-backed authorities. 

Last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that many occupied areas remained without electricity, water or sewerage services. 

In late May, Ukrainians in Kherson told CNN about critical shortages of medicine. Deputy head of the Kherson regional council, Yurii Sobolevskyi, said the Russians are "driving the Kherson region into a deeper humanitarian crisis."

2:30 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Putin likens himself to Peter the Great, suggests Russia is justified in invading Ukraine

From CNN's Jonny Hallam, Mariya Knight and Irene Nasser

Russian President Vladimir Putin tours the Peter the Great: Birth of the Empire multimedia exhibition in the Russia – My History historic park at VDNKh on June 9. Ivan Yesin, chair of the Russia – My History Association of Historic Parks, left, and Alexander Myasnikov, chief editor of the project, explain the exhibits.
Russian President Vladimir Putin tours the Peter the Great: Birth of the Empire multimedia exhibition in the Russia – My History historic park at VDNKh on June 9. Ivan Yesin, chair of the Russia – My History Association of Historic Parks, left, and Alexander Myasnikov, chief editor of the project, explain the exhibits. (President of Russia)

Russian President Vladimir Putin compared himself favorably to Peter the Great, a Russian monarch from the late 17th century, using the likening to justify Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

During a visit Thursday to an exhibition dedicated to the first Russian Emperor, Putin attempted to liken Peter the Great's conquest of Sweden in the 18th century to his own modern day military invasion of Ukraine. 

In his comments, Putin argued that Peter the Great was not conquering, but rather fighting over territory that rightfully belonged to Russia. 

He went on to draw a parallel to today's war in Ukraine, suggesting Russia's recent military actions — where his troops have destroyed Ukrainian cities, and killed thousands of innocent men, women and children — are justified, because Ukraine is not a legitimate sovereign nation, but in fact Russian territory.

"Why did he [Peter the Great] go there?" Putin asked, "He took back and fortified. And it looks like our fate is to “take back and fortify” too, if we are going to assume that these basic values form the basis of our existence then we will succeed in the solution of the tasks that lie ahead," Putin said.  

Putin continued, adding that European countries didn't recognize St. Petersburg as Russian at first, equating it to the current situation in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, including Crimea, that the US and European allies don't acknowledge as Russian. 

2:26 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Ukraine is "holding on" to key frontline cities in Donbas, says Zelensky

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from his office in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 9.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from his office in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 9. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the situation in key frontline cities in the Donbas region is the same "without significant changes."

"Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and other cities in Donbas, which the occupiers now consider key targets, are holding on," He said in a nightly address on Thursday.

"We have a certain positive in the Zaporizhzhia region, where we manage to thwart the plans of the occupiers. We are gradually moving forward in the Kharkiv region, liberating our land. We are keeping defense in the Mykolaiv direction."

2:23 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Ukraine imposes sanctions on Putin and high-ranking Russian officials

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Jonny Hallam

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia, on April 26.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia, on April 26. (Kremlin Press Service/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday signed a decree imposing personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a presidential decree.

Zelensky also announced sanctions targeting Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his deputies, all ministers, and Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev.

The newly introduced restrictions include blocking assets, banning entry to Ukraine, and the cancellation or suspension of licenses and permits, according to the decree. The sanctions are being imposed indefinitely.

12:32 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Ukrainian officials report dozens of civilians killed in Russian shelling

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Valentyn Reznichenko, head of Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region military administration, says the city of Kryvyi Rih, located in the central part of the country, is now under constant fire from Russian forces.

“The communities of Zelenodolsk and Shyrokiv suffer the most. Unfortunately, six people died there — 179 houses, two schools, a kindergarten and a hospital were destroyed or damaged,” Reznichenko said.

Reznichenko said villages and towns in Kryvyi Rih are "littered with cluster munitions due to shelling” and there is a problem with gas, electricity and water supply.

In Kharkiv: Five people were killed and 14 were injured in Russian attacks, according to Oleh Syniehubov, the head of Khakiv's regional military administration.

“Today the enemy attacked Kharkiv region, in particular settlements in the northern and northeastern directions," Syniehubov said, adding that attacks hit residential buildings in Zolochiv.

"Five houses were destroyed. The enemy also struck at Chuhuiv district today,’’ Syniehubov said Thursday in a live question and answer broadcast on Ukrainian national television.

Syniehubov said Ukraine's armed forces “hold their positions in the northern and northeastern directions.”

Terror on civilians: When asked why the Russian military is shelling civilian infrastructure, even though there are no visible confrontations between Russian and Ukrainian armies in the Kharkiv region at the moment, Syniehubov replied that the Russian forces “concentrated their attention on the terror of the civilian population.” 

12:31 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Fierce fighting continues in critical city of Severodonetsk, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Jonny Hallam

A damaged building is pictured in Lysychansk as black smoke and dirt rise from the nearby city of Severodonetsk during battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas, on Thursday.
A damaged building is pictured in Lysychansk as black smoke and dirt rise from the nearby city of Severodonetsk during battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas, on Thursday. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces said late Thursday that the battle for the city of Severodonetsk continues to rage.

"The situation is consistently difficult. Our defenders are holding the line of defense, leveling the line of defense," Serhiy Hayday, head of Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region military administration, said on national television.

"The fiercest fighting continues in Severodonetsk," Hayday said. The city has seen intense battles in recent days.

Hayday accused the Russians of using "lies and propaganda" in claiming victory in Severodonetsk. 

While "the Russians had already reported that they had taken the city," the official said, Russian forces had withdrawn some of their units.

Oleksandr Striuk, head of Severodonetsk's military administration, said on television on Thursday that there is "constant street fighting."

"The humanitarian situation in the city is critical. The bridge is under fire, so it is impossible to deliver goods. There is no water supply," Striuk said.

"The Ukrainian Armed Forces controls approximately one-third of the city now," he added, saying it will be "very difficult to liberate Severodonetsk [if it falls]." 

Hayday said there are no direct battles in the neighboring city of Lysychansk, but he accused Russian forces of heavily shelling the area. If Russian troops took control of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, it would place all of the Luhansk region under Moscow's control.

Here's a look at the areas under Russian control:

12:21 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Next year’s harvest could be slashed by 40%, Ukrainian agriculture official says

From CNN's Chris Liakos

A Ukrainian army officer inspects a grain warehouse earlier shelled by Russian forces on May 6 in Novovorontsovka, Ukraine. (John Moore/Getty Images)
A Ukrainian army officer inspects a grain warehouse earlier shelled by Russian forces on May 6 in Novovorontsovka, Ukraine. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Next year’s harvest in Ukraine could be cut by up to 40% due to the ongoing Russian invasion, Ukraine’s Agrarian Policy and Food Deputy Minister Taras Vysotskyi told CNN Thursday.

“We have lost 25% of the arable area. In terms of volumes, of course, it is more. We anticipate that the harvest will be around 35% less than previous years, which means around 30 million tons less, 35-40% less, almost half of the previous year harvest,” Vysotskyi said.

The deputy minister also said that an estimated 500,000 metric tons of grain have been stolen by Russia in territories controlled by Russian forces.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said issues related to grain exports from Ukraine could be resolved, but Ukraine needs to de-mine the waters to ensure the safe passage of ships.

Vysotskyi said Lavrov’s remarks are not true.

“It’s untrue. The problem is Russian military ships, it’s not the case of Ukraine. So far, they don’t allow safely really to keep the civilian ships move in and out of Ukrainian ports,” he said, noting that until safety guarantees on behalf of international partners are received by Ukraine, “we can’t talk about letting these ships out.”

The mines could be cleared quickly, but for that to happen, the war needs to end or there has to be some form of ceasefire, he added.

“If we receive the victory and the war is ended, of course we can clear it quite quickly,” he said, adding that the process physically is not complicated but it depends on other obstacles including the ongoing war.

“Ukraine is ready to fulfill all the obligations in order to supply necessary food for international food security. So the point is very clear, Russia should stop the war,” he said.

Ukraine has also accused the Russians of placing mines in the Black Sea.