Live: Battles rage across Ukraine’s east, fierce standoff in Sievierodonetsk

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Russian soldiers walk at a captured Ukrainian checkpoint with well-fortified trenches near Schastia, Luhansk, 11 May 2022

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Fierce street-to-street fighting is ongoing in the key eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, with the Russian shelling hitting a nitrogen fertilizer plant sheltering hundreds of civilians, resulting in a large fire, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said.

Outside of the Donbas, Ukrainian officials have reported that the army has made progress in repelling the Russian forces in the Kherson region, while the Ternopil region was bombarded overnight by the Russians.

Follow the latest developments in our live blog below, or watch our live coverage in the player above.

11:48

Sunday’s key points:

    Intense fighting continued in Sievierodonetsk, according to regional governor Serhiy Haidai, while the Ukrainian forces have repelled a Russian advance on Popasna on Saturday night.Scholz, Macron and Draghi are planning to visit the Ukrainian capital and meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of the G7 summit.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, visiting Kyiv, told President Zelenskyy that Brussels would finalise its assessment on Ukraine’s eligibility for EU membership “by the end of next week”.Ukrainian and British officials warned that Russian forces are relying on Soviet-era missiles that are “highly inaccurate” and likely to cause significant civilian casualties, due to a lack of more precise modern weapons.Russia on Saturday handed out its first passports to residents of Kherson and Melitopol in southern Ukraine.Nearly 800 children have been killed or injured in Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian authorities said Saturday.Former McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow rebrand and reopen on Sunday under new domestic ownership, in a move seen as a test of Russia’s ability to fight Western sanctions. Nine eastern flank countries have met in Bucharest to demand more help from NATO to counter the Russian threat.

15:57

At least 22 people wounded in Russian missile strike against town in western Ukraine

In a rare Russian attack in the west of the country, its missiles struck the town of Chortkiv, injuring at least 22 people including children, the regional governor said on Sunday.

“Yesterday at 7:46 pm (5:46 pm CET) Chortkiv was hit by four missiles, all fired from the Black Sea,” Volodymyr Trush said in a Facebook post.

Trush, governor of the Ternopil region where Chortkiv is located, said “a military installation was partially destroyed” in the attack “and residential buildings were damaged”.

Russia’s defence ministry said the strike on Chortkiv destroyed a “large depot of anti-tank missile systems, portable air defence systems and shells provided to the Kyiv regime by the US and European countries”.

Chortkiv, which was home to nearly 30,000 people before the Russian invasion, is located 140 kilometres north of the border with Romania and 200 km southeast of Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine.

Unlike eastern and southern Ukraine, which have borne the brunt of Russian firepower since Moscow invaded on 24 February, the west of the country has only seen sporadic attacks.

15:40

Kremlin-backed separatist leader says death sentences for three foreigners ‘perfectly fair’

The leader of the separatist so-called Donetsk People’s Republic said he would not alter the death sentences handed to two Britons and a Moroccan for fighting with the Ukrainian army.

“They came to Ukraine to kill civilians for money. That’s why I don’t see any conditions for any mitigation or modification of the sentence,” Denis Pushilin, the leader of the separatist Donetsk region, which tried them, told reporters.

Pushilin said the court had “issued a perfectly fair punishment” to the three fighters.

He also accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of ignoring their fate and failing to contact the separatist authorities.

On Saturday, Johnson’s spokesman said he was “appalled” by the death sentences handed down to Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun.

14:42

Former McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow reopen under new brand

What used to be McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow opened their doors again under new Russian ownership bearing the name Vkusno i tochka, meaning “Tasty, full stop”.

Fifteen rebranded restaurants opened around the capital on Sunday after the US-based burger giant withdrew its operation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The reopening of the outlets is thought to be a test of whether Russia’s economy can become more self-sufficient and withstand Western sanctions. 

Others, however, see the move as another step toward Russia becoming more isolated from the rest of the world.

‘Tasty, full stop’: Former McDonald’s restaurants reopen in Moscow

14:18

Kremlin increasingly using Soviet-era missiles in Ukraine, say Western defence officials

Russian bombers are thought to have been launching hefty 1960s-era anti-ship missiles in Ukraine, the UK Defence Ministry said on Saturday. 

The Kh-22 missiles, with a reported range of 1,000 kilometres, were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers and can carry a nuclear warhead. 

Fierce, prolonged fighting is depleting resources on both sides, according to British and US defence officials.

Meanwhile, Luhansk governor has accused Russian troops of using flamethrowers against civilian targets in the Donbas.

Read more here:

Russia said to be increasingly relying on heavy Soviet-era missiles

13:50

Hundreds of civilians in Sievierodonetsk plant still believed to be trapped inside

Several hundred civilians are thought to still be inside a chemical plant on the outskirts of Sievierodonetsk, where they sought safety from the shelling in underground shelters.

Some of the civilians allegedly have started to come out on Saturday, an envoy for the Luhansk Moscow-backed separatists Rodion Miroshnik said via Telegram.

Meanwhile, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said the Russians shelled the plant “for hours” and a big fire broke out.

Haidai made no reference to whether any civilians mentioned by Miroshnik have made their way out.

13:33

Friends of Moroccan sentenced to death for fighting in Ukraine’s army ask UK to save him

A friend of Moroccan national Brahim Saadoun who was sentenced to death after being captured in Ukraine fighting against Russian forces called on the UK government to save him.

Zina Kotenko, a Ukrainian refugee living in the UK described her friend Saadoun, 21, as a “kind, open-minded, and joyful person”.

In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, she called on the British government to “take care of the people who take care of democracy.” “Please save him,” she said.

Read more here:

Friends of Moroccan sentenced to death in DNR call on UK to help him

12:43

Scholz, Macron and Draghi plan to visit Kyiv before end of June, German press claims

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are all planning to travel to Ukraine’s capital before the G7 meets at the end of June.

But none of the leaders has yet confirmed that the visit will go ahead, Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday.

If it does happen, it will be the first time the three have visited Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, now holding about 20% of the country under its control.

Read more here:

Scholz, Macron and Draghi plan Ukraine visit, first since start of war

12:22

IAEA receiving data from Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again, agency says

The connection between the Ukrainian nuclear power plant of Zaporizhzhia — under Russian control since early March, and the International Atomic Energy Agency — is restored almost a month and a half after the loss of transmissions, announced the Ukrainian operator, Energoatom.

The connection had been lost on 30 May, “when the Russians cut off the Ukrainian cell phone operator Vodafone at Enerhodar”, the city that hosts the plant.

“Thanks to the joint efforts of Energoatom and Vodafone … the connection between the site’s nuclear material monitoring servers and the IAEA was restored,” Energoatom added in the statement.

The IAEA said this week that it was “actively working” to organize a visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Ukraine opposes as long as the site is occupied by the Russians.

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