Ukrainian troops on patrol in Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, June 20, 2022 (Oleksandr Ratushniak)

Wednesday’s Coverage: Kremlin Fires Commander of Russia’s Airborne Forces — Overall Commander Also Removed?

Source: Institute for the Study of War


The European Union has approved the candidacies of Ukraine and Moldova for membership.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, said the approval “is a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, and also other countries from the former Soviet Union, cannot belong to the Russian spheres of influence”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reacted:


Russian attacks have killed six civilians and injured five across the Donetsk region so far on Thursday, according to Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.


The Czech Government has approved legislation for sanctions on Russia, based on the 2016 US Magnitsky Act.

If the measure is confirmed by Parliament, the Government may sanction Russian individuals and expropriate Russian-owned property based on findings of human rights violations.

The Magnitsky Act is named after Sergey Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after investigating a $230 million fraud case involving Russian tax officials.


Russian forces shelled the village of Yunakivska in Sumy oblast in northern Ukraine with phosphorus munitions on Thursday, according to regional governor Dmitry Zhivitsky.


The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees has confirmed 4,662 civilian deaths and 5,803 injuries during the Russian invasion. At least 320 children have been slain and 479 wounded.

The agency emphasized that the actual toll is likely to be far higher, given the difficulty of obtaining information from Russian-occupied areas and those where intense fighting is taking place.

Ukraine Environment and Natural Resources Minister Ruslan Strilets says that the Russian invasion has caused more than $6 billion worth of environmental damage, with the creation of more than 200,000 tons of hazardous waste and scrap metal.


The European Union and Norway, western Europe’s biggest gas producer, have agreed to bring more supplies to the EU’s 27 countries.

EU climate policy head Frans Timmermans and Norway Energy Minister Terje Aasland said after a meeting in Brussels that they will “step up cooperation in order to ensure additional short-term and long-term gas supplies”.

The EU takes about 20% of its gas from Norway, compared with 40% from Russia before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Germany, Denmark, and Sweden have issued alerts this week amid Russia’s suspension or cut of supplies to about half of the EU’s 27 countries.


US telecoms equipment maker Cisco says it will wind down its business in Russia and Belarus.

Cisco suspended business operations, including sales and services, in the two countries in March.


Three Russian cruise missiles have struck Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said.

Russia has stepped up missile strikes on the port city in the past week, including the destruction of grain warehouses.

The military said air defenses shot down another two missiles near Odesa.


Ukraine’s military has claimed further success in its attacks on Russian positions on occupied Snake Island in the western Black Sea.

Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman of the Odesa regional military administration, said Ukraine strikes had hit “another Pantsir missile system”, two anti-aircraft missile and cannon complexes,a radar station, several vehicles, and several personnel.

The military announced its latest operations earlier this week, having destroyed Russian targets on the island — seized soon after Russia’s invasion on February 24 — last month.


UK military intelligence says “Russian forces have highly likely advanced over 5 kilometers (3 miles) towards the southern approaches of the Donbas city of Lysychansk.”

The analysts added that “some Ukrainian units have withdrawn, probably to avoid being encircled” amid Russian reinforcements and heavy concentration of artiller fire.

While noting the “creeping advance”, the report says Russian “efforts to achieve a deeper encirclement to take western Donetsk Oblast remain stalled”.


UK national Aiden Aslin, condemned to death by Russian proxy authorities in eastern Ukraine, says they have told him “time is running out” to avoid his execution.

Speaking to his family by phone, Aslin said his captors told him that UK officials have made no attempt to negotiate on his behalf.

Citing the lawyer for UK national Shaun Pinner, also facing death, Russian State news agency TASS said an appeal is being prepared.

Aslin, Pinner, and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoun were captured when Russian forces overran Mariupol in southern Ukraine last month. The three were condemned on June 9 after a brief show trial in the Russia proxy area of Donetsk.

See Ukraine War, Day 107: Russian Proxies Condemn 2 UK and 1 Moroccan Man to Death in Show Trial


Germany will declare the second of three stages in an emergency gas plan on Thursday, according to “a source close to the matter”.

The alarm stage enables utilities to pass on high prices to customers; however, the German regulator will not yet trigger a clause that allows the companies to do so.

Denmark and Sweden declared “early warning”, the first of the European Union’s three levels of alert system, earlier this week.

Russia has cut off gas supplies to some EU countries, and announced a 40% reduction of delivery to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline last week.


Ukrainian officials say occupying Russian forces are detaining interrogating workers of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest facility, in southern Ukraine.

The officials said many of the 11,000 staff have left, raising questions about the safety of the plant, which has six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

Russian forces have fortified the outside of the plant with trenches and heavy artillery.

The exiled mayor of the nearby city of Enerdohar, Dmytro Orlov, cited reports from employees and residents about workers “thrown into basements” and interrogated about suspected insurgent activity. Those continuing operations are “under moral and physical pressure.”

“Even young people are leaving the city,” he said. “It is unclear who will operate the nuclear power plant.”


The Governor of Dnipropetrovsk in east-central Ukraine, Valentyn Reznichenko, says Russian forces are using cluster munitions in their attacks:

Night again with shelling. The enemy struck the Kryvyi Rih district six times, insidiously aiming at residential neighborhoods. There is the destruction of housing. The city is partially without light and water.

Cluster munitions remained in the streets and courtyards after the shelling. Rescuers took people to safety. I ask residents to be careful. And under no circumstances touch suspicious objects.

See also Ukraine War, Day 117: Russia’s Widespread Use of Banned Weapons


European Union leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday to decide if Ukraine and neighboring Moldova will have candidate status for membership.

The leaders are expected to endorse the recommendation from the European Commission’s executive last Friday.

In his nightly address to the nation on Wednesday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke of his “telephone marathon”, calling 10 EU leaders and Moldovan President Maia Sandu. He is making more calls today.

Zelenskiy told an audience in Amsterdam via video link:

[This] is a very crucial moment for us, for some people in my team are saying this is like going into the light from the darkness.

In terms of our army and society, this is a big motivator, a big motivational factor for the unity and victory of the Ukrainian people.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Russia’s forces are destroying the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, just as they devastated the port city of Mariupol in the south.

In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy said of Russia’s offensive in the east:

In Donbas there are massive air and artillery strikes. The goal of the occupiers in this direction remains the same — they want to destroy the whole Donbas step by step. Entire.

Lysychansk, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk — they aim to turn any city into Mariupol. Completely ruined.

From the start of the invasion on February 24 to the end of May, Russian forces bombarded and besieged Mariupol, a city of 400,000 on the Sea of Azov. They bombed civilian sites such as hospitals and the Drama Theater, killing up to 600 sheltering civilians, and cut off Mariupol from food, water, electricity, and heating.

Ukrainian defenders finally surrendered in the Azovstal steel works, the last site of resistance, with about 1,700 reportedly taken to the Russian proxy area in eastern Ukraine — and some then to Russia — for possible show trials.

Ukrainian officials say more than 22,000 people were killed by Russian attacks. About 100,000 civilians remain in the city. They are short of food and essential services and face an outbreak of cholera amid water and sewage fed by decaying bodies in destroyed buildings.

Slow Russian Advance in East

Russia’s offensive has advanced this week in its 2 1/2-month effort to overrun Sievierodonestk and Lysychansk, the last two Ukrainian-held cities in the Luhansk oblast in the Donbas.

Russian forces occupied the village of Toshkivka, about 15 miles to the south of Sievierodonetsk, and also edged towards Lysychansk from the south. On Wednesday, they moved into the settlements of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka.

Ukrainian forces continue the defence of Sievierodonetsk and the nearby settlements of Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai added.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai, said on Wednesday that Russian forces — having shelled Sievierodonetsk “every day” — are now targeting the buildings of police, state security, and prosecutors in Lysychansk, the sister city across the Siverskyi Donets River.

“Massive shelling significantly destroyed infrastructure and housing,” Haidai wrote on Telegram.

There are so many artillery and mortars here that the Russians are simply covering entire neighborhoods with heavy fire. Numerous casualties among civilians.

Presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian forces could soon cut off Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk from Ukrainian-held territory: “The threat of a tactical Russian victory is there, but they haven’t done it yet.”

With Russia relying on an overwhelming advantage in artillery, Zelenskiy said in his nightly address:

That is why we repeatedly emphasise the acceleration of weapons supplies to Ukraine. Parity is needed on the battlefield as soon as possible to stop this devilish armada and move it beyond the borders of Ukraine.