Ukraine war: Situation ‘has worsened’ for Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk, says governor

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People clean the debris from their destroyed house after a missile strike, which killed an old woman, in the city of Druzhkivka, Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, June 5, 2022.

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Heavy fighting continues in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region after President Zelenskyy met with troops and commanders on the ground in his latest tour of the frontlines. 

Follow the latest developments in our live blog below, or watch Euronews bulletins in the video player above:

06:32

Key points to know for Monday:

    The situation in Sievierodonetsk has ‘worsened’ for Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian regional governor said on Monday morning. Earlier Ukraine’s forces claimed to have launched a successful counter-offensive against the Russian army.Russian forces continue to push towards Sloviansk in the Donbas, says UK military intelligence.Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled a Monday visit to Serbia after neighbouring countries closed their airspace to his plane. Moscow has criticised the move.The head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff has said Ukrainians are facing the “same horrors” as the French did in World War II, during Normandy landings commemorations.President Zelenskyy visited troops and commanders on the frontlines in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region at the weekend. He also met civilians who have been forced from their homes during Russia’s invasion. The UK will supply new rocket launcher systems to Ukraine, with a range of 80km. Earlier, Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would strike at new targets if the West supplied Kyiv with longer-range rockets.UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a key player in the West’s support for Ukraine and much praised in the country, faces an internal party challenge to his leadership following a domestic political scandal.Ukraine’s national football team lost out on a place in this year’s World Cup with a 1-0 loss to Wales on Sunday night.An historic all-wood Orthodox church, a part of a centuries-old monastic complex, has caught fire near the frontline in eastern Ukraine. Both sides blame each other for the blaze. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has been rebuked by Ukraine’s top politicians, including President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba for saying Russia “must not be humiliated” over its war against Ukraine.  

14:21

Italy rejects Russian accusations of discrimination allegations

The Italian government summoned the Russian ambassador on Monday to protest allegations made by the Russian foreign ministry that Russian citizens and officials are discriminated against in Italy. 

The ministry “firmly rejected the accusations of amorality towards certain representatives of Italian institutions and media, expressed in recent statements by the Russian Foreign Ministry” and also “rejected the insinuations about an alleged involvement of our country’s media in an anti-Russian campaign,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russian ambassador Sergei Razov posted on the embassy’s Facebook account on Saturday, with excerpts from a Russian foreign ministry report alleging discrimination against Russians in Italy.

Thus, “Russian diplomatic representations in Italy regularly receive information from their compatriots about threats received,” according to the report.

“The large-scale campaign launched in Italy against Russian culture and its representatives has led to a series of unpleasant incidents,” the report continues, referring to other problems encountered by Russians in Italy.

Italy and many of its leaders, including former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, have always had close relations with Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, but Mario Draghi’s current government immediately aligned itself with the position of the European Union and NATO, condemning the Russian invasion. 

(AFP) 

13:51

US military chief compares Ukraine war victims to WWII

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had strong words about the war in Ukraine at a ceremony Monday commemorating the 78th anniversary of D-Day.

Speaking in the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, overlooking Omaha Beach, Milley said that “Kyiv may be 2,000 kilometres away from here, they too, right now, today, are experiencing the same horrors as the French citizens experienced in World War II.”

He spoke in the presence of more than 20 World War II veterans and several thousand people who came to pay tribute to those who fell that day.

“The world has come together in support of the defense of Ukraine against a determined invader. The fight in Ukraine is about honoring these veterans of World War II,” he said.

“It’s about maintaining the so called global rules-based international order that was established by the dead who are buried here at this cemetery.”

Gen. Milley recalled the principle underlined in that order that “strong countries cannot just invade small countries. Each country is sovereign and each country has the right to territorial integrity.”

(AP)

13:13

Lavrov denounces ‘inconceivable’ airspace closure

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday described as “inconceivable” the closure by three European countries of their airspace for the plane that was to take him on a visit to Serbia.

“The inconceivable has happened,” Lavrov told a news conference, denouncing the measure as “scandalous”.

The Kremlin on Monday denounced the closure as a “hostile act”.

“Such hostile acts against our country are capable of causing certain problems (…), but they cannot prevent our diplomacy from continuing its work,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

(AFP)

12:26

Russia ‘targeting civilian infrastructure’ in north, says Ukraine army

Ukraine’s army said Monday that Russia used mortars and artillery against civilian infrastructure in settlements of the Chernihiv and Sumy regions of northern Ukraine.

“In order to demonstrate their presence in the border areas, separate enemy units are operating that fire at the civilian infrastructure of the settlements of the Chernihiv and Sumy regions of Ukraine,” the spokesperson for Ukraine’s Armed Forces Oleksandr Shtupun said during the daily briefing.

Russian forces are conducting offensive operations in Slovyansk and Lysychansk and continue to storm the city of Sievierodonetsk, he added.

“In the Donetsk direction, the units of the aggressor are engaged in fire destruction of the positions of our troops along the entire line of collision,” according to Shtupun.

(AP)

11:17

Sievierodonetsk situation has ‘worsened’, says Ukrainian governor

The situation in Sievierodonetsk has “worsened” after some Ukrainian advances, the regional governor said on Monday morning.

The key eastern city in the Donbas is the current epicentre of fighting with Russian troops.

“The fighting is very fierce in Sievierodonetsk. Our defenders managed to counterattack and liberate half the city, but the situation has worsened for us,” said Serhiy Haidai, governor of the Luhansk region, on Ukrainian television without further details.

The governor says the bombardments have also intensified on Lysychansk, a neighbouring town located on “the heights” and strategic for “holding the defence line”. 

The Russians are “destroying everything with their usual scorched earth tactics” so that “there is nothing left to defend”, he claims. 

The industrial centre is the largest remaining Ukrainian-held settlement in the Luhansk region, where Russian soldiers have been advancing step by step in recent weeks.

After being initially pushed back by a Russian offensive on Sievierodonetsk, the Ukrainians claimed to have gradually regained ground there. On Sunday Haidai said half the city was under Ukrainian control.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Saturday that Ukrainian troops were withdrawing to Lysychansk “having suffered critical losses in the fighting for Sievierodonetsk (up to 90% in several units)”.

(with AFP)

10:54

Boris Johnson faces internal challenge despite Ukraine war

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and other crises, both international and domestic, have failed to deter MPs from within the UK’s ruling Conservative Party from mounting a challenge to the prime minister’s leadership.

Boris Johnson, much admired in Ukraine for his support for the country in the face of Putin’s destructive invasion, faces a vote of confidence on Monday night. It comes amid widespread public anger over the “partygate” scandal, which has exposed the systematic flouting of Covid lockdown rules at the heart of government during the pandemic.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has tweeted her support for the PM, citing his support for “Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression”.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has said it will supply Ukraine with long-range rocket launchers, following Washington’s lead.

Read the full story on the challenge to Boris Johnson:

UK PM Boris Johnson will face a vote of confidence later today

The ballot takes place on Monday evening, after at least 15% of his own Members of Parliament submitted letters calling for a vote of confidence in his leadership.

07:55

Ukraine intel report: Fighting in the east, Russians fortifying Snake Island

The latest British military intelligence report released on Monday morning highlights the ongoing fierce fighting in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. 

The Ministry of Defence says Sieverodonetsk continues to be disputed by opposing forces: in recent days the Russians had claimed to control the city, but then Ukrainian forces staged a counter offensive and took back more ground. 

“Russian forces continue to push towards Sloviansk as part of their attempt at encirclement of Ukrainian forces” the MoD notes. 

Meanwhile the new intelligence briefing says Russia is continuing to fortify Ukraine’s Snake Island in the Black Sea by moving “multiple defence assets” including anti-aircraft systems. 

“It is likely these weapons are intended to provide air defence for Russian naval vessels operating around Snake Island” the report says, following the loss of the Russian cruiser Moskva in April to a Ukrainian attack. 

07:04

Russian foreign minister’s Serbia visit cancelled after countries close airspace

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Serbia has been cancelled after countries around Serbia closed their airspace to his aircraft, a senior foreign ministry source told the Interfax news agency on Sunday.

The source confirmed a Serbian media report that said Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro had closed their airspace to the plane that would have carried Moscow’s top diplomat to Belgrade on Monday.

“Our diplomacy has yet to master teleportation,” the source said.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian foreign ministry.

Serbia, which has close cultural ties with Russia, has fended off pressure to take sides over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has not joined western sanctions against Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic agreed last month that Russia would continue supplying natural gas to Serbia, while other countries have been cut off for refusing to pay for Russian gas in roubles.

(Reuters)

FILE: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool Photo via AP)06:38

UK to supply new rocket launcher systems to Ukraine

The United Kingdom will supply Ukraine with rocket launchers with a range of 80km, to counter the Russian offensive, the Ministry of Defence announced on Monday, following Washington’s lead.

These multiple rocket launcher systems (M270 MLRS) will “significantly increase the capabilities of Ukrainian forces,” the ministry said in a statement. 

The decision was taken in “close coordination” with the United States, which last week announced the supply of Himars systems with a range of 80km – i.e. multiple rocket launchers mounted on light armoured vehicles.  

The Ukrainians had been asking for multiple rocket launchers for some time to be able to strike Russian positions in depth while positioning their batteries further from the front.

However, US President Joe Biden has ruled out supplying Ukraine with long-range rocket launcher systems that could reach Russia, despite Kiev’s repeated requests for such weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that Moscow would strike new targets if the West supplied long-range missiles, saying current arms deliveries were aimed at “prolonging the conflict”.

“If the international community maintains its support, Ukraine can win,” commented British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. 

“Russia’s strategy is changing, and our support must change too,” he added, stressing that the new weapons would enable the Ukrainians “to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery,

(AFP)

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