Ukraine latest updates: Moscow ‘destroys’ Western weapons depot

Ukraine news from June 12: Moscow claims it also shot down Ukrainian fighter jets in eastern region as fierce fighting continues in Severodonetsk.

A man rides his bicycle between two destroyed military trucks in the city of Lysychansk, Ukraine.
A man rides his bicycle between two destroyed military trucks in the city of Lysychansk, eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, on June 11, 2022 [Aris Messinis/AFP]
  • Russia announces its forces used Kalibr cruise missiles to destroy a large depot with US and European weapons in Ukraine’s Ternopil region.
  • An official in Ukraine’s southern region says Kyiv forces are “out of ammo” as battles rage with Russian troops.
  • Russia will respond “proportionately and appropriately” to a NATO buildup in Poland, an official declares.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy strikes a defiant note, promising “we will prevail” over Russian invaders.
  • Ukraine discloses about 800 people are hiding at the Azot plant in the besieged city of Severodonetsk.
  • Russian troops are preparing a new offensive against the city of Sloviansk, Ukraine’s military says.


INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Ukraine Day 109
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These were the updates on Sunday, June 12:

Ukraine war protesters surround European Commission building

Protesters formed a human chain outside the European Commission building in Brussels in solidarity with Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union.

Ukrainian officials have made various pleas in the past weeks for their country to be named a candidate for EU membership, a move that would bring the war-torn nation closer to the bloc without guaranteeing its admittance.

Protest organiser Yana Brovdiy told The Associated Press news agency that Ukraine had shown on “many occasions” it was a country which stood for “European values”.

“We are at the forefront, and those reluctant member states must understand that if Ukraine falls the European Union and many members states will be under threat too,” Brovdiy added.

Demonstrators gather during a rally and take part in a human chain around the headquarters of the European Commission
Demonstrators gather during a rally and take part in a human chain around the headquarters of the European Commission to support Ukraine’s application for EU candidacy status, in Brussels on June 12, 2022 [Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP]

Turkey to discuss exports of Ukrainian grain with Moscow, Kyiv

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will discuss with the presidents of Russia and Ukraine the steps to ensure exports of Ukrainian grain to the world.

Western and Russian officials are warning of a global food crisis due to the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia. The two countries, major global grain exporters, had a share of 30 percent of world wheat exports in 2021.

Moldova looking for ways to maintain ‘resilience’: PM

The prime minister of Moldova, Natalia Gavrilita, said that despite her country’s concerns about the escalation of war in Ukraine, there is little to suggest that Moldova is under immediate threat.

“Certainly, we are looking for ways to keep the situation calm and also to build the resilience of the country in various areas,” she told Al Jazeera.

“We are doing everything we can both in terms of social programmes, diversifying our markers, and finding alternative sources of energy in order to maintain social cohesion and political stability.”

Moldova, one of the poorest European nations, relies heavily on Russian gas. It is currently facing the highest inflation rate in Europe at 29 percent.

Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock address a press conference
Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita (L) and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock address a press conference after the donor conference for Moldova to assist the country with the influx of Ukrainian refugees, in Berlin, Germany, April 5, 2022 [Hannibal Hanschke/AFP]

Second Briton killed in Ukraine fighting

A former British soldier has been shot and killed in Ukraine, his family said.

Jordan Gatley is the second Briton reported to have died fighting alongside Ukrainian forces against Russian troops.

Gatley’s father Dean said his son was killed in the eastern city of Severodonetsk and described him as a “hero”.

EU blames Russia for no solution to reopening Ukrainian ports

Russia is holding up talks on finding agreement on a plan to release Ukrainian grain currently blocked from export amid Russia’s invasion, said EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.

“I think it’s clear what’s blocking it: Russia,” Dombrovskis said. “It is time for Russia to stop its aggression and to stop blocking Ukrainian food exports.”

Ukraine is a key global supplier of grain and edible oils, but much of its harvest is bottled up because Russia has occupied its ports or because free ports have been mined to fend off Russian offensives.

NATO chief Stoltenberg says Turkey’s security concerns are legitimate

Security concerns raised by Turkey in its opposition to Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership applications are legitimate, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

“These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, it’s about weapons exports,” Stoltenberg told a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto while visiting him at his summer residence in Naantali, Finland.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the Western defence alliance last month, in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. But they have faced opposition from Turkey, which has accused them of supporting and harbouring Kurdish armed fighters and other groups it deems terrorists.

Pro-Russian separatists uphold foreigners’ death sentences

Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian separatist leader in Donetsk, 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,” Pushilin told reporters.

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

He also accused the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson of ignoring their fate and failing to contact the separatist authorities.

Tens of Ukraine Azovstal fighters’ bodies still in Mariupol: Ex-commander

The former commander of Ukraine’s Azov National Guard regiment says the bodies of tens of Ukrainian fighters killed during the siege of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks are still awaiting retrieval.

Maksym Zhorin said that under the terms of a recent exchange, some 220 bodies of those killed in Azovstal had been sent to Kyiv, but “just as many bodies still remain in Mariupol”. One-third of the dead were from the Azov battalion, while the others were border patrol, navy, and police.

“Talks are continuing about further exchanges, to return home all the bodies,” Zhorin added in a video posted on his Telegram channel.

UK: Russia using its overmatch in force ratio, artillery to seize territory

Britain’s defence ministry says Russia is using its overmatch in force ratio and artillery to gradually seize territory in and around Ukraine’s Severodonetsk.

Russia has likely started preparing to deploy the third battalion from some combat formations in recent weeks, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update posted on Twitter.

Russia ‘destroyed’ a large depot of Western weapons in Ukraine

Russian forces fired Kalibr cruise missiles to destroy a large depot with US and European weapons in Ukraine’s Ternopil region, Interfax news agency reported, citing the Russian defence ministry.

Russian forces have also shot down three Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jets near Donetsk and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, Interfax quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying.

22 wounded in Russian attack in western Ukraine: Governor

At least 22 people were wounded when Russia struck the Ukrainian town of Chortkiv, according to the regional governor, marking a rare attack in the west of the country.

“Yesterday at 19:46 [16:45 GMT] Chortkiv was hit by four missiles, all fired from the Black Sea,” Volodymyr Trush said in a Facebook post, adding that all of those wounded had been hospitalised.

McDonald’s outlets in Russia open under new logo, ownership

The first 15 restaurants of formerly operated by McDonald’s Corp will reopen in Moscow on Sunday under new ownership and a new name, “Vkusno & tochka”, which means “Tasty & that’s it”, the company says.

Another 50 restaurants will be open on Monday, Vkusno & tochka said.

The new branding and renamed burgers come more than three decades after McDonald’s first opened in Moscow.

Rebranded McDonald's reopens in Russia
Former McDonalds in Russia renamed “Vkusno i tochka”  [Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

Russian gas exports to Europe via Ukraine unchanged

Russian gas producer Gazprom says its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen at 41.9 million cubic metres on Sunday, unchanged from Saturday.

An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.

German president criticises ex-chancellor Schroder for Russia ties

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has criticised former chancellor Gerhard Schroder for his business ties to Russia.

Much of what Schroder did during his time as chancellor has been eclipsed by his behaviour since then, Steinmeier told the Bild paper’s Sunday edition.

Steinmeier worked closely with SPD party colleague Schroder in the past and was head of Schroder’s chancellery office from 1999 to 2005.

Ukraine restores internet link between occupied nuclear plant and IAEA

Ukraine’s state nuclear firm Energoatom says it has helped restore an internet connection between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the servers of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces.

In a statement, Energoatom said the connection to the plant’s servers was lost on May 30 but had been restored as of June 10, allowing the IAEA to resume monitoring data on the control of nuclear material at the plant.

Scholz, Macron, Draghi to visit Kyiv before G7: Bild am Sonntag

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kyiv with his counterparts from France and Italy before the Group of Seven summit at the end of June, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported, citing French and Ukrainian government sources.

A German government spokesperson told Reuters: “We are not able to confirm this.” The Elysee palace declined to confirm the information and the Italian government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

None of the three leaders has been to Kyiv since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Sri Lankan prime minister says he’s open to buying Russian oil

Sri Lanka may be compelled to buy more oil from Russia as the island nation hunts desperately for fuel amid an unprecedented economic crisis, the newly appointed prime minister said.

Ranil Wickremesinghe told the AP news agency that he would first look to other sources, but would be open to buying more crude from Moscow. Western nations largely have cut off energy imports from Russia in line with sanctions over its war on Ukraine.

Wickremesinghe said Russia had also offered wheat to Sri Lanka.

China backs talks between Russia, Ukraine

Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe says Beijing is saddened by the events in Ukraine and said he supports peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

He also said China opposed the West’s provision of weapons to Ukraine as well as its sanctions on Russia.

“Who is the mastermind behind this? Who loses the most? And who stands to gain the most? Who is promoting peace and who is adding fuel to the fire? I think we all know the answers to these questions,” he said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

China Wei Fenghe
China’s defence minister Wei Fenghe arrives for a dinner at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, China [File: Jason Lee/ Reuters]

Japan donates water purifiers to Odesa

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky says Tokyo is donating 33 portable water purifiers to the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa.

“In the near future, 33 portable water purification devices in case of emergencies will be sent to Odesa. We ask Odesa to share [them] with Mykolaiv. I want to believe that they will not be needed, but we should have them just in case,” he wrote on Facebook.

Ukraine’s first lady opens centre for refugees in Lithuania

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska has opened a centre for Ukrainian refugees in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

“We wanted Ukrainians who were forced to come to Lithuania because of the war to have a truly native place. So that the centre will be the place where it is possible to address any matter – help or communication,” Zelenska said via video link from Kyiv.

Zelenskyy claims Russia suffered 32,000 casualties of war

Zelenskyy says fierce street battles are continuing in Severodonetsk and he is proud of the Ukrainian defenders who for weeks have held back a Russian advance.

He said the Russians have suffered heavy losses since the war began on February 24.

“Do you remember how Russia hoped to capture the entire Donbas by early May? It is now the 108th day of the war… Donbas is holding on. The losses suffered by the occupiers, including in this area, are extremely significant. In total, the Russian army today has about 32,000 dead souls. For what? What did it get you Russia?”

Pentagon chief chides Russia over ‘imperial appetite’

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “is what happens when oppressors trample the rules that protect us all”, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.

“It’s what happens when big powers decide that their imperial appetites matter more than the rights of their peaceful neighbours,” Austin said during a visit to Asia.

“And it’s a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in.”

Separatists claim Ukraine defenders holding civilians hostage

Some non-combatants managed to flee an industrial zone in the war-torn city of Severodonetsk as Russian forces battle Ukrainian defenders there.

Rodion Miroshnik, a Russian-backed representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said civilians started to leave the plant, but he did not say how many.

“There are occasional exchanges of fire… They [Ukrainian defenders] may still be holding several hundred civilians hostage,” he said online. He estimated that 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were blockaded on the grounds.

Ukraine says about 800 people were hiding at the Azot factory, including about 200 employees and 600 residents of Severodonetsk.

‘Highly inaccurate’: Russia using Soviet-era munitions

Russian forces are relying on old weapons capable of causing mass civilian casualties as they try to capture regions in eastern Ukraine, the UK’s defence ministry said.

Russian bombers have likely launched dozens of heavy, 1960s-era anti-ship missiles in ground attacks in Ukraine, the ministry added.

When such missiles are used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties”, it said.

Read more here

Ukraine forces ‘out of ammo’ as battles rage with Russian troops

In Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region near the front line in the south, the regional governor stressed the urgent need for international military assistance.

“Russia’s army is more powerful, they have a lot of artillery and ammo. For now, this is a war of artillery … and we are out of ammo,” Vitaliy Kim said. “The help of Europe and America is very, very important because we just need ammo to defend our country.”

President Zelenskyy said in his address that Ukraine must “not allow the world to divert its attention away from what is happening on the battlefield”.

Ukraine army: Russia preparing Sloviansk offensive

Russian troops are preparing a new offensive against the city of Sloviansk, Ukraine’s military said.

Ukraine’s armed forces General Staff said Moscow managed to get a foothold in the village of Bohorodychne, 24km (15 miles) northwest of Sloviansk, and was preparing to attack the city.

Spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun said Russian troops “experienced success” in fighting in the direction of the city and that Russia had six carriers in the Black Sea “readied for missile weapons”.

He also said the Ukrainian army “repelled” 14 attacks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, destroying four tanks, two artillery systems, and an ammunition depot.

Ukraine controls Severodonetsk plant sheltering hundreds: Governor

Ukraine remains in control of the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, Luhansk’s governor said after a Russia-backed separatist claimed 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were also trapped there.

“The information about the blockade of the Azot plant is a lie,” said Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai. “Our forces are holding an industrial zone of Severodonetsk and are destroying the Russian army in the town.”

Ukraine has said some 800 people were hiding in several bomb shelters below the Azot plant, including about 200 employees and 600 residents of Severodonetsk.

Who controls what in Donbas DAY 108

Russia says will respond to NATO buildup in Poland

Moscow’s response to a buildup of NATO forces in Poland will be proportionate, Russia’s foreign ministry said.

“A response, as always, will be proportionate and appropriate, intended to neutralise potential threats to the security of the Russian Federation,” Interfax quoted Oleg Tyapkin, the head of a foreign ministry department in charge of Russian relations with Europe.

Ukraine hopes to save foreign soldiers sentenced to death: Lawmaker

Ukraine is doing everything possible to save three foreign nationals sentenced to death by proxy authorities in Donbas for fighting for Ukraine, a lawmaker said.

After being captured, two Britons and a Moroccan were convicted of “mercenary activities” by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), whose separatist leaders are backed by Moscow.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says she believes the separatist authorities will act rationally: “For they are well aware of the irreparable implications for them and for the Russians if they take any wrong steps against these three”.

Russia says it shot down 3 Ukrainian warplanes

The Russian defence ministry said its air force shot down three Ukrainian war planes.

The Russian military shot down two MIG-29 planes in the Mykolayiv region and one Su-25 fighter jet in the Kharkiv region, it said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Russian shelling triggers fire in Severodonetsk

Russian shelling of the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk caused a major fire after a leak of tonnes of oil, Luhansk’s governor said.

Haidai did not say if the blaze at the plant, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering, had been extinguished. Russian forces controlled most of the city, but Ukraine fighters controlled the Azot chemical factory, he said.

The battle for Severodonetsk and its destruction recall weeks of bombardment of the southern port city of Mariupol.

‘We will prevail’ vows Ukraine leader

Zelenskyy struck a defiant note pledging to defeat the Russian invasion, telling a conference in Singapore via videolink: “We are definitely going to prevail in this war that Russia has started.”

Russian attacks knocked out power supplies in Donetsk’s two largest Ukrainian-controlled cities – Kramatorsk and Sloviansk – Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on the Telegram app.

Speaking later on national television, he said the move was part of a deliberate strategy to cut off electricity in towns in Donetsk that remain in Ukrainian hands.

For the news updates on June 11 please see here

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies