Live: US sending medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine

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A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) produced by Lockheed Martin, during combat training at the Yakima Training Centre, Washington. May 23, 2011.

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(Tony Overman/The Olympian via AP)

The Biden administration is getting ready to send Ukraine a small number of high-tech, medium-range rocket systems, a critical weapon that Ukrainian leaders have been pleading for as they struggle to stall Russian progress. The rocket systems are part of a new $700 million tranche of security assistance for Ukraine from the US that will include helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems and tactical vehicles. 

Meanwhile, Russian forces have now seized half of Sievierodonetsk, a key city in eastern Ukraine, as heavy fighting between Russians and Ukrainians continues.

Follow Wednesday’s developments in Ukraine as they unfolded in our blog below:

06:52

    Russia claims to have completed testing of a hypersonic cruise missile.Russian forces now control 70% of the strategic city of Sievierodonetsk, according to the regional governor.Germany is to send Ukraine anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems, amid criticism that it’s not doing enough to help Kyiv.Russian gas exports plunged 27.6 per cent in 2022, according to Gazprom.Denmark is holding a referendum today on whether to join the EU common defence policy.Russia is cutting off natural gas supply to Denmark, adding the country to a list that includes Finland, Poland, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.Russia has criticised the US over its plans to send advanced arms shipments to Ukraine, including medium-range rocket systems.Ukrainian counter-offensives in Kherson are critical terrain, says US think tank.

13:23

Portuguese marines sent to strengthen NATO’s defences in Lithuania

Portugal has sent more than 100 marines to join a NATO force in stationed in Lithuania, in a bid to reinforce the alliance’s defences on its eastern flank. 

The aim of the deployment is to “support high levels of readiness and discourage direct of indirect threats against NATO member states, especially in the Baltics, said Portugal’s defence ministry Wednesday. 

146 marines will be deployed, including divers specialising in deactivating mines and other explosive devices. 

They will remain in Lithuania for three months, having left for the country on Wednesday. 

NATO countries have sent troops, tanks, aircraft and other military equipment to Lithuania and the wider Baltic region, since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 Feburary.

(AP)

13:02

Fuel partially made from Russian crude allegedly in US – despite ban 

Fuel allegedly made, in part, with Russian crude has been imported to the United States (US), in spite of a ban on Russian oil, gas and energy, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The US newspaper reported that traders are attempting to evade sanctions on Russian oil imports by blending the oil in refined products, such as petrol, diesel and chemicals. 

Arriving in New York and New Jersey last month, the cargoes were transported through the Suez Canal and across the Atlantic from Indian refineries, which are big buyers of Russian oil. 

“It does look like there’s a trade where Russian crude is refined in India and then some of it is sold to the US,” one analyst, who has been monitoring Russian fossil fuel exports, told the paper.

Oil is also being transferred between ships in the Mediterranean, off the coast of West Africa and the Black Sea, and then moved to China, India and Western Europe, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports,” said US president Joe Biden in March. 

12:47A boy runs in front of a building destroyed by attacks in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko).12:44

Russian gas exports plunge in 2022

Russia gas exports fell by 27.6 per cent between January and May 2022 compared to the same period last year, Russian gas giant Gazprom announced Wednesday. 

The figures come against a backdrop of Russian-European tensions over the war in Ukraine, although Gazprom did not explain the reasons for this drop. 

“Exports to countries far abroad (not including the CIS countries, editor’s note) amounted to 61 billion cubic meters, or 27.6 per cent (23.2 billion cubic meters) less than for the same period of 2021,” Russia’s largest energy company wrote on Telegram. 

It specified to deliver gas “in accordance with confirmed orders,” adding that “gas exports to China through the Power of Siberia pipeline are increasing, under a long-term contract between Gazprom and CNPC.”

No sanctions on Russia gas exports to the EU have been put in place, although plans to open a new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany have been frozen.

However, faced with the Russian offensive in Ukraine, the European Union (EU) is trying to reduce its dependence on Russia gas and find alternative suppliers, such as the United States (US). 

Russia, which has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, previously provided 40 per cent of the EU’s gas. 

(AFP)

12:26

The Ukraine war and the cost of living crisis

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to record-breaking inflation.

But how is the war affecting the current cost of living crisis?

Read more below. 

How is the Ukraine war affecting the cost of living crisis?

12:19

Russian troops retreating, claims Mykolayiv regional governor

Russian troops are retreating and blowing up bridges to obstruct a possible Ukrainian advance, according to a regional governor in southern Ukraine.

Mykolayiv region governor Vitaliy Kim claimed Wednesday that Russia was on the defensive.

“They are afraid of a breakthrough by the (Ukrainian Armed Forces), but we are not afraid and we support our troops,” Kim wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

He didn’t specify exactly where the retreat he described was happening. The parts of the Mykolayiv region which have been held by Russian forces in recent days are close to the large Russia-occupied city of Kherson.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Tuesday that Ukrainian fighters had seen “some success in the Kherson direction.”

Russia is concentrating most of its military power on trying to capture all of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

(AP)

12:09

Ukraine losing 60-100 soldiers a day, says President Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president says his country is losing between 60 and 100 soldiers a day in the fighting with Russian forces.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told American TV channel Newsmax that “the most difficult situation is in the east of Ukraine,” including Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

“The situation is very difficult. We’re losing 60-100 soldiers per day as killed in action and something around 500 people as wounded in action. So we are holding our defensive perimeters,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine has largely refrained from disclosing its military losses since the beginning of the Russian invasion, but Zelenskyy previously said the country was losing between 50 and 100 soldiers a day.

(AP)

11:21

Russia claims to have completed testing of hypersonic cruise missile

Russia has completed testing of its hypersonic Zircon cruise missile and will deploy it before the end of the year on a new frigate of its Northern Fleet, a senior military official said on Wednesday.

Alexander Moiseyev, commander of the Northern Fleet, said the Admiral Golovko frigate would become the first to be armed full-time with the Zircon, TASS news agency reported.

President Vladimir Putin has described the Zircon as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems, travelling at nine times the speed of sound.

Russia has suffered heavy losses during its three-month war in Ukraine, but has continued to stage high-profile tests of its newest missiles.

The defence ministry said last week it had successfully test-fired a Zircon cruise missile from a vessel in the Barents Sea to a target some 1,000 kilometres away in the White Sea.

(Reuters)

11:19

Russian forces now control 70% of Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces now controls around 70% of Sievierodonetsk, according to Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk.

“The Russians control 70% of Sievierodonetsk. Ukrainian troops retreated to more advantageous, pre-prepared positions. Another part continues fighting inside the city,” Haidai wrote on Telegram. 

The city has become the main battleground in Ukraine, and a key objective for Russian forces as they look to control the whole of the Donbas region.

Haidai added that while “Lysychansk is completely under Ukrainian control. All free settlements of Luhansk region are constantly under fire. Evacuation is suspended.”

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