Ukraine is "holding on" to key frontline cities in Donbas, says Zelensky
From CNN's Mariya Knight
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
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
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
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.
12:10 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022
UK government is "deeply concerned" by death sentences for British citizens by pro-Russian court
From CNN's Zahid Mahmood in London
The UK government is “deeply concerned” with the sentencing of British citizens by a pro-Russian court, the British prime minister’s deputy spokesperson said Thursday in a statement to CNN.
A court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic on Thursday sentenced to death three men — British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune — that it has accused of being "mercenaries" for Ukraine, according to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti.
“We've said continually that prisoners of war shouldn't be exploited for political purposes. Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are entitled to combatant immunity, and they should not be prosecuted for participation in hostilities,” the British spokesperson said.
“We will continue to work with Ukrainian authorities to try and secure the release of any British national who was serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and who are being held as prisoners of war,” according to the spokesperson.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Thursday she “utterly condemns” the sentencing of Aslin and Pinner, calling them “prisoners of war.”
“This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy. My thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them," she said on Twitter.
12:10 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022
2 Britons and Moroccan sentenced to death by pro-Russian court in self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic
From CNN's Jonny Hallam, Uliana Pavlova and Anna Chernova
A court in the pro-Russian self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic on Thursday sentenced three men to death that it has accused of being "mercenaries" for Ukraine, according to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti.
British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune appeared in court on Thursday, where they were handed down the death penalty.
The three men — all foreign fighters for the Ukrainian military — were captured by Russian forces in mid-April in Mariupol.
Saadoune, Aslin and Pinner were sentenced to death and will be shot, according to RIA Novosti's reporting from the court in Donetsk.
The "head of the judicial board" in Donetsk said that the convicted men "can appeal the decision within a month," according to RIA Novosti.
One of the defendants' lawyers, Pavel Kosovan, said his client would appeal the verdict, Russian state media TASS reported.
On Wednesday, Pinner, Aslin and Saadoune pleaded guilty to acts of "seizing power by force," state media reported at the time.
"The relevant article of the Criminal Code of the DPR provides for the death penalty," according to RIA Novosti.
Aslin also pleaded guilty under the article "training in order to carry out terrorist activities," according to state media.
Some context: The so-called Donetsk People's Republic, a pro-Russian area in the east of Ukraine, is not an internationally recognized government; therefore, the court's decisions are not considered legitimate by the international community.