Devastation in Privillya in eastern Ukraine after Russian strikes (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1735 GMT:
US President Joe Biden, in a call with Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has committed another $1 billion in security assistance.
The package includes “additional artillery and coastal defence weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems” being delivered by the US, Biden said after the call.
The Pentagon added that there are 18 additional howitzers with tactical vehicles to tow them and 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition; two Harpoon coastal defence systems, thousands of “secure radios”; and thousands of night vision devices, thermal sights, and “other optics”.
The US has pledged $5.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine during the Russian invasion.
UPDATE 1731 GMT:
Polish Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk says construction of grain silos at the Polish-Ukrainian border requires three to four months.
US President Joe Biden proposed the temporary silos on Tuesday, to ease the 2/3rds reduction in Ukraine’s grain exports because of a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.
Kowalczyk wrote on Facebook:
President Biden’s proposal is an interesting idea but it requires working out several details, including location, infrastructure, financing, ownership. We also have to realise that finalising this type of investment takes three to four months.
UPDATE 1723 GMT:
Igor Denisov, the former captain of the Russian national football team, has denounced Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine:
Igor Denisov, the former captain of Russia’s football team has spoken out against the war. “These events are catastrophic. It’s horrific. I am not sure if I will be jailed or killed for this, but I am saying it as it is”https://t.co/C0THoYbHRG
— Pjotr Sauer (@PjotrSauer) June 15, 2022
UPDATE 1720 GMT:
Sievierodonetsk’s mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, says Ukrainian forces still control the industrial district and perimeter of the city in eastern Ukraine in a “difficult but stable” situation.
He said it is still “possible to connect” with the neighboring city of Lysychansk.
Efforts are being made to push the enemy back towards the city center. It’s a permanent situation with partial success and tactical retreat in places….
The fact the bridges have been blown up has made things rather complicated, but at the same time there are routes to pull back, even if they are rather dangerous. You can’t say that the city has been completely cut off.
UPDATE 1713 GMT:
Vladimir Putin has spoken by phone with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The Kremlin said, “It was agreed to expand cooperation in energy, finance, industry, transport and other spheres, taking into account the global economic situation that has become more complicated due to the west’s illegitimate sanctions policy.”
Xi said all parties should work towards resolving the crisis in Ukraine “in a responsible manner”, according to the Chinese readout.
China has been pursuing a cautious approach in recent weeks. Beijing refuses to officially criticize the Russian invasion. However, the Chinese Defense Minister referred to “war” on several occasions in a question-and-answer session this week, and Chinese companies such as the telecommunications giant Huawei have been reducing business in Russia.
UPDATE 1708 GMT:
Russia’s Gazprom says it will cut the daily flow of natural gas to Germany via Nord Stream 1 by 40%.
Gazprom cited the delayed return of repaired compressor units by German company Siemens.
But German Economy Minister Robert Habeck questioned the explanation, “I have the impression that what happened yesterday is a political decision and not a decision that can be justified in technical terms.”
He noted that the maintenance work on the pipeline was not due to be carried out by Siemens until the autumn, and would not affect 40% of deliveries.
The German government said there will not be any supply shortages from Gazprom’s reduction.
UPDATE 1700 GMT:
The UN has warned that thousands of civilians, including women, children and the elderly, face a diminishing supply of food, clean water, sanitation, and electricity in the devastated city of Sieiverodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.
A spokesperson for the UN’s humanitarian affairs office, Saviano Abreu, told the BBC, referred to the Azot chemical plant where about 500 civilians are sheltering amid the ongoing assault by Russian forces.
Both parties of the conflict have an obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, so it is not an option — they have to assure the people who want to leave the city that they can do it safely.
The head of Sievierodonetsk’s military administration, Roman Vlasenko, said of the civilians in Azot, “There are food stocks, but they have not been resupplied for two weeks. So stocks won’t last long. If there is a humanitarian corridor, I believe people are ready to leave.”
UPDATE 0730 GMT:
Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian President and current deputy head of the Security Council, has called for the elimination of Ukraine as an independent country.
Commenting on a purported Ukrainian request that it receive energy imports this winter with an option to delay payment for two years, Medvedev wrote on Telegram, “Just a question. Who said that in two years Ukraine will even exist on the world map?
Medvedev wrote last week about Ukrainians:
I hate them. They are bastards and scum. They want death for us, Russia. And while I’m alive, I will do everything to make them disappear.
Mykhaylo Podolyak, an aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, responded to Medvedev’s latest message:
If 🇷🇺 imperialism had a face, it would be #Medvedev. A small man with huge insecurities, who sprinkles poison towards Ukraine or threatens the world as the only way to assert oneself. 🇺🇦 was, is and will be. The question is where would Dmitry Medvedev be in two years.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) June 15, 2022
UPDATE 0715 GMT:
A Russian court has extended the pre-trial detention of US basketball star Brittney Griner, on drug smuggling charges, to July 2.
Griner was seized at a Moscow airport on February 17, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, en route to play for UNMC Yekaterinburg. She allegedly carried vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.
If convicted, Griner could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
UPDATE 0650 GMT:
The office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General says it has confirmed the killing of 313 children and injuring of 579 during the Russian invasion.
The office adds the usual caveat that the actual figure is higher, as casualties in areas of conflict and occupied territory cannot be established.
UPDATE 0641 GMT:
Citing Pentagon officials, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius writes that Russian forces have lost 1,000 tanks and 1,600 armored personnel carriers, about 30% of their inventory, in the invasion of Ukraine.
The officials say the Russians have fired nearly 70% of their precision-guided munitions.
The US has delivered four medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine, with eight more scheduled.
But echoing Ukrainian officials, retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who commanded US Army troops in Europe, says, “Twelve is not enough. Not even close.”
UPDATE 0629 GMT:
The UN has warned Russia against the forced adoption of Ukrainian children.
“We’re reiterating, including to the Russian Federation, that adoption should never occur during or immediately after emergencies,” Afshan Khan, the UN Children’s Fund regional director for Europe and Central Asia, said.
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have forcibly deported tens of thousands of civilians, including thousands of children, from occupied areas of Ukraine.
Khan, having just returned from a visit to Ukraine, said, “Any decision to move any child must be grounded in their best interests and any movement must be voluntary. Parents need to provide informed consent.”
She said, “We’re working closely to see with ombudspersons and networks how best we can document those cases,” but she said UNICEF has no access to the children.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed to the US and Europe to provide more anti-missiles to Ukraine, for its defense against Russia’s invasion.
In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy noted that anti-air defense had “cut the wings” of the Russian attacks by downing some of the missiles. However, he added:
We managed to shoot down only part of them. Unfortunately, there are victims, there is destruction. Today, the Lviv and Ternopil regions were hit.
And we keep telling our partners that Ukraine needs modern anti-missile weapons. Our country does not have it at a sufficient level yet…Delay with its provision cannot be justified.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar added to Zelenskiy’s appeal, “From what we said we need [regarding military assistance], we got about 10%. No matter how hard Ukraine tries, no matter how professional our army is, without the help of western partners we will not be able to win this war.”
Defense officials from NATO and partner countries meet in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday to discuss the situation.
“No Drastic Changes” in Eastern Ukraine
Zelesnkiy said, “No drastic changes have taken place in the battle in Donbas,” with Russian forces pressing their offensive in eastern Ukraine.
He noted that “the fiercest fighting is in Sievierodonetsk and in all cities and communities nearby — as before”.
The losses, unfortunately, are painful. But we have to hold on. This is our state. It is vital to hold on there, in Donbas. The more losses the enemy suffers there, the less power they will have to continue the aggression.
After withdrawing from northern Ukraine in early April, Russian forces have tried to overrun Sievierodonetsk, one of the last two cities held by the Ukrainians in the Luhansk oblast. They have levelled the area and destroyed all infrastructure, as about 10,000 civilians — of a pre-invasion population of 100,000 — remain.
Frustrated that defenders are still holding out after more than two months, the head of Russia’s National Defense Management Centre, Mikhail Mizintsev demanded that fighters “stop their senseless resistance and lay down arms” from 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
Repeating a Russian propaganda tactic from their siege and bombardment of Syrian cities — and of Mariupol in southern Ukraine — Mizintsev declared that a “humanitarian corridor” would be opened from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Russia has destroyed all three bridges connecting Sievierodonetsk to its sister city Lysychansk across the Siverskyi Donets River, but the head of the Sievierodonetsk military administration, Oleksandr Struik, said that the city was still not surrounded:
Russian troops are trying to storm the city, but the military is holding firm….The ways to connect with the city are quite difficult, but they exist.
Struik added that evacuations are being carried out “every minute when it is quiet there, or there is a possibility of transportation”.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Ukrainian TV that Russia has deployed two more battalion tactical groups in another push to seize the 30% of the city held by defenders.