Ukraine latest updates: ‘All Severodonetsk bridges destroyed’

Ukraine news from June 13: Destruction of bridges makes it impossible to evacuate civilians remaining in the city, governor of Luhansk says.

A man walks next to a building damaged by a military attack in Luhansk, Ukraine.
A local man walks next to a building damaged by a military raid, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine [Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters]
  • Ukraine’s national police chief says criminal proceedings have been opened in connection with the deaths of more than 12,000 civilians during Russia’s invasion.
  • Separatist leader warns Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk must “surrender or die” as Moscow’s troops continue to press for total control of the key eastern city.
  • Amnesty International accuses Moscow’s troops of war crimes in northeastern Kharkiv, saying hundreds of civilians have been killed there by the indiscriminate bombardment of residential areas.
  • An aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asks Kyiv’s allies to send additional “heavy weaponry”, arguing parity with Russia is needed to “end the war”.

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These were the latest updates on Monday, June 13:

Human cost of Severodonetsk fight ‘terrifying’: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the battle for Severodonetsk was taking a “terrifying” toll as Russian forces threaten to take the strategic eastern city.

“The human cost of this battle is very high for us. It is simply terrifying,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram in his daily address to the Ukrainian people.

“The battle for the Donbas will without doubt be remembered in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe,” he added.

“We are dealing with absolute evil. And we have no choice but to move forward and free our territory,” Zelenskyy added, calling on the West to supply more weapons to the Ukrainian army.

Russia’s key goal of operation in Ukraine to protect Moscow-backed republics: Peskov

Russia’s main goal of its military operation in Ukraine is to protect the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, Russia’s RIA state news agency cited Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying.

“In general, the protection of the republics is the main goal of the special military operation,” Peskov said.

Zelenskyy tells Germany to give Ukraine support, worry less about Russia

Zelenskyy has asked Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz to show full-throated support for Kyiv, charging the German leader with being too concerned about the repercussions this would have for Berlin’s ties with Moscow.

Zelenskyy’s comments, made in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF, come amid speculation that Scholz could make his first trip to Kyiv since the start of the war on Thursday.

“We need from Chancellor Scholz the certainty that Germany supports Ukraine,” he said. “He and his government must decide: there can’t be a trade-off between Ukraine and relations with Russia.”

Britain’s Truss says she discussed Russia’s blockade on Ukraine grain exports with Blinken

Britain’s Foreign Minister Liz Truss has said she spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about Russia’s blockade on grain exports from Ukraine, as well as new legislation to govern post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland.

“Spoke to @SecBlinken. We agreed that Russia must release those subjected to abhorrent show trials & end their blockade on grain exports,” Truss said in a tweet.

“Also discussed our Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.”

All bridges to Severodonetsk destroyed but ‘access’ remains: Governor

All bridges to Ukraine’s embattled eastern front-line city of Severodonetsk have been destroyed, rendering impossible the evacuation of civilians remaining there, the local governor has said, adding that some “access” to the city remained.

Governor Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram app that Russia had not taken full control of the city, and that “a part” of it remained under Ukrainian control.

Russian shopping malls lose up to 30 percent of footfall, developer’s son says

Russian shopping malls are “de-energised” and have lost up to 30 percent of their footfall following the exodus of Western brands, the son of one of Russia’s most prominent property developers was quoted as saying.

Emin Agalarov, a pop star and first vice president at the Crocus Group founded by his billionaire father Aras Agalarov, was quoted by the RBC media outlet as saying the loss of key tenants could spell the end for shopping malls altogether.

“If you have a luxury shopping centre, you need Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton; if it’s the middle category – Zara, H&M, Reebok, Adidas,” RBC quoted Emin Agalarov as saying in an interview. “And if you don’t have them, then the venue becomes depersonalised.”

Mexican president slams NATO policy in Ukraine

Mexico’s president has slammed NATO’s policy on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, calling it “immoral.”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not mention NATO or the United States by name, but his comments were the latest example of his party’s ambiguous stance on the invasion.

Mexico has voted at the United Nations to condemn the invasion, but refused to impose sanctions on Russia.

López Obrador said that the allies’ current policy was equivalent to saying “’I’ll supply the weapons, and you supply the dead.’ It is immoral.”

“How easy it is to say, ‘Here, I’ll send you this much money for weapons’,” he said. “Couldn’t the war in Ukraine have been avoided? Of course, it could.”

Seven bodies found in grave near Bucha: Police

Seven bodies of killed Ukrainian civilians, several with their hands and legs tied, have been found in a grave near Bucha, a town near Kyiv where Russian forces are accused of having carried out war crimes, according to regional police.

“Seven civilians were tortured by the Russians then executed in a cowardly manner with a bullet to the head,” Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebytov said on Facebook.

“This grave was discovered today in an area where Russian troops were stationed near the village of Myrotske” which lies some 10km (six miles) northwest of Bucha, he added.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify Nebytov’s claim.

Sweden has taken ‘important steps’ to meet Turkey’s NATO demands: NATO chief

Sweden has taken important steps to meet Turkey’s demands for approving Stockholm’s NATO membership application, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says.

“I welcome that Sweden has already started to change its counter-terrorism legislation and that Sweden will ensure that the legal framework for arms export will reflect the future status as a NATO member with new commitments to allies,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson during a visit to the Nordic country.

“These are two important steps to address concerns that Turkey has raised.”

Ankara has accused Sweden and fellow NATO aspirant Finland of harbouring individuals linked to groups it deems to be “terrorists”, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and has taken issue with their decisions to halt arms exports to Turkey in 2019.

INTERACTIVE- NATO history and expansions Fin
(Al Jazeera)

Kyiv suspends exports of Ukrainian gas, coal and fuel oil

Ukraine’s government has approved the suspension of any exports of the country’s gas, coal and fuel oil because of Russia’s invasion.

Kyiv said the move was connected to “the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the imposition of martial law in Ukraine.”

Russia threatens to strip anti-war protester of citizenship

The case of Armenia-born Arshak Makichyan could set a new precedent with activists warning of a new tactic to silence dissent in Russia.

Read more here.

Climate activist Arshak Makichyan takes part in a single-person demonstration in central Moscow, Russia
Makichyan has critcised Russia’s offensive despite a widespread crackdown on dissent by the Kremlin [File: Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

Up to 1,200 bodies remain unidentified in Ukraine, police chief says

Ukraine’s top police officer says that up to 1,200 bodies, including some found in mass graves, are yet to be identified and that criminal proceedings have been opened in connection with the deaths of more than 12,000 civilians overall.

National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko told the Interfax Ukraine news agency that about 75 percent of the dead were men, about two percent were children and the rest were women.

“These are civilians, these people had absolutely no connection to the military or law enforcement agencies,” Klymenko was quoted as saying.

More than 1,500 civilians died in the region surrounding Kyiv alone, he added, with116 people found buried in a single mass grave in Bucha.

Klymenko also noted that the identification process of some of the bodies was lengthy, with efforts complicated by many corpses being in a “state of decay”.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Lithuania seeking to decouple from Russian power grid in 2024: President

Lithuania’s president says his country is seeking to decouple from the Russian power grid in 2024, a year ahead of schedule.

“Let’s not leave any opportunities for the aggressor to use energy as a tool of political manipulation,” Gitanas Nauseda was quoted as saying in a statement released after his meeting with Kadri Simson, the European Union’s energy commissioner, in Vilnius.

“The fastest possible coupling to the European electricity grid would increase the energy security of the Baltic States and the European Union as a whole”, Nauseda said.

INTERACTIVE - Russian gas imports into the EU - Europe's reliance on Russian gas

Moroccan sentenced to death in DPR has Ukrainian nationality, father says

The father of a Moroccan national sentenced to death by a court in eastern Ukraine’s self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) after being captured while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces says his son should be treated as a prisoner of war as he has Ukrainian nationality.

Morocco-born Brahim Saadoun’s father, Tahar Saadoun, told the Reuters news agency that his son was not a mercenary, as the Moscow-backed DPR court adjudged him to be, and that his son had surrendered voluntarily when captured in March in Volnovakha, a small town situated between Mariupol and the regional capital of Donetsk.

Brahim received Ukrainian nationality in 2020 after undergoing a year of military training as a requirement to access aerospace technology studies at a university in Kyiv, his father said.

He added that his son would appeal the death sentence verdict but said the family’s ordeal was being made more difficult by an “absence of contact” with the lawyer representing Brahim.

Separatist leader warns Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk must ‘surrender or die’

Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk must either “surrender or die”, a Russian-backed separatist leader in the DPR has warned.

“They have no other option,” Eduard Basurin, deputy head of the People’s Militia Department in the breakaway region, was quoted as saying by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.

Basurin also claimed Ukrainian forces had blocked themselves in Severodonetsk by blowing up the last bridge connecting it to the nearby city of Lysychansk, meaning they are unable to pull back. Al Jazeera could not independently verify his report.

Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are situated on the eastern and western banks of the Siverskyi Donets River, respectively.

Wikipedia fights Russian order to remove Ukraine war information

The Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, has filed an appeal against a Moscow court decision demanding that it remove information related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, arguing that people have a right to know the facts of the war.

A Moscow court fined the Wikimedia Foundation 5 million roubles ($88,000) for refusing to remove what it termed disinformation from Russian-language Wikipedia articles on the war including “The Russian Invasion of Ukraine”, “War Crimes during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine” and “Massacre in Bucha”.

“This decision implies that well-sourced, verified knowledge on Wikipedia that is inconsistent with Russian government accounts constitutes disinformation,” Stephen LaPorte, associate general counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement.

Wikipedia, which says it offers “the second draft of history”, is one of the few remaining major fact-checked Russian-language sources of information for Russians after a media crackdown by the Kremlin.

The Moscow court argued that what it cast as the disinformation on Wikipedia posed a risk to public order in Russia and that the Foundation, with its headquarters in San Francisco, California, was operating inside Russia.

Three killed by artillery attack in breakaway region: Report

At least three people, including a child, have been killed by a Ukrainian artillery attack at a market in the DPR, the separatist-affiliated Donetsk News Agency reports.

At least four others were wounded in the incident, according to the agency, which published pictures of burning stalls at the central Maisky market and at least one body on the ground.

It reported that 155mm calibre NATO-standard artillery munitions had been used in the attack.

There was no immediate reaction to the report from Kyiv. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

Both sides using heavier weapons, Finnish president says

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto says both sides in the Ukraine war are now using heavier weapons, including thermobaric bombs in Russia’s case.

“We are supporting Ukraine with increasingly heavy weaponry. And on the other hand, Russia has also begun to use very powerful weapons, thermobaric bombs that are in fact weapons of mass destruction,” Niinisto said during security policy talks at his summer residence in Naantali.

Ukraine and NATO countries have also accused Russia of using thermobaric bombs, which are also known as vacuum bombs and are much more devastating than conventional explosives.

Separatist leader ‘reappoints’ Ukrainian mayor in Sviatohirsk

The leader of a Russia-backed breakaway republic in eastern Ukraine says he has “reappointed” the mayor of the southeastern town of Sviatohirsk who switched sides and welcomed Moscow’s “liberation” of Ukraine.

Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed DPR, said in a Telegram post that Vladimir Bandura had been forced to “hide his [pro-Russian] position” but had not left his post at a “complicated time” amid Moscow’s offensive.

“Residents respect and support him, so I offered him the post of the head of administration of the town of Sviatohirsk,” Pushilin added. His post featured a picture of the pair holding talks.

Sviatohirsk, which had a pre-war population of about 4,000, is situated atop a hill near the strategically important Siverskyi Donets River. Russian forces have been trying to cross the river for weeks.

Moscow’s troops seized the Sviatohirsk last week after subjecting it to heavy shelling. The shelling damaged several of the town’s buildings, including the Sviatohirsk Lavra, a centuries-old monastery frequented by Orthodox Christians from Ukraine and Russia.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

‘Heavy weapons parity’ needed to end war, Zelenskyy’s aide says

An aide to Ukraine’s president has pleaded with Kyiv’s allies to provide it with more arms as Moscow’s offensive in the Donbas continues.

“Being straightforward – to end the war we need heavy weapons parity,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted, appealing in particular for howitzers, tanks and multiple-launch rocket systems.

He added that a decision on further weapon supplies is expected on Wednesday when NATO defence ministers meet at the transatlantic military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

Russia-appointed authorities to introduce new tax system in Zaporizhia: Report

Russia-appointed authorities in Ukraine’s mostly-occupied southeastern Zaporizhia region are reportedly set to introduce a “simplified” system of taxation as they consolidate their hold on the area.

As of July 1, all businesses will be required to pay a 5 percent overall tax, while those selling alcohol or tobacco will pay 10 percent tax, Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the Moscow-installed military-civilian administration in the region, told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Russia controls more than half of the region, including the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest facility of its kind in Europe.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia says it destroyed US, European weapons in eastern Ukraine

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have destroyed a large number of weapons and military equipment in Ukraine’s Donbas region, including some that had been sent by the United States and European nations.

The ministry said its military had used high-precision air-based missiles to conduct strikes near the Udachne railway station, hitting equipment that had been delivered to Ukrainian forces.

Kyiv’s international allies, including the US, the United Kingdom and several European Union member states, have supplied Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of military aid amid Russia’s offensive.

There was no immediate reaction to the Russian defence ministry’s claims from Kyiv, or any of its Western allies. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the ministry’s report.

Mariupol’s ‘occupying authorities’ treating residents as ‘slaves’: Official

A Ukrainian official has accused Russian forces of treating the residents of Ukraine’s occupied southeastern port city of Mariupol as “slaves and a human shield”.

Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, who is based outside of the city, said in a Telegram post that its “occupying authorities” had informed residents that as of June 1, humanitarian aid supplies will only be provided to those who are disabled.

All other residents left in the war-torn city will be forced to “survive any way they can”, he said.

Andryushchenko claimed that the city’s new authorities also planned to destroy all of the city’s damaged buildings by September 1. Residents will receive no compensation for any prior damage to, or the destruction of, the buildings, he said.

“Step by step, Russia and the occupying authorities will begin to announce their real plans in Mariupol … the city’s residents … are being treated as tied-up slaves and a human shield,” Andryushchenko said.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify his claims.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Mini map showing Mariupol's location within Ukraine

Ukrainian troops pushed back from centre of Severodonetsk

Ukraine’s army says Russian troops have had partial success in Severodonetsk and have pushed Ukrainian forces out of the city’s centre.

Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military, said Moscow’s forces were continuing their assault on the city, supported by the use of artillery.

“In the Donetsk direction, the grouping of occupying troops are concentrating their main efforts on conducting offensive operations in order to encircle our troops in the areas of the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, blocking the logistics supply routes from the settlement of Bakhmut,” he said.

Severodonetsk, a city in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, has emerged as a central front in Russia’s campaign to capture the wider Donbas region.

Russia ‘earned’ $98bn in fuel exports in 100 days of Ukraine war

Russia has earned $98bn from fossil fuel exports during the first 100 days of its war in Ukraine, with the EU being the top importer, according to new research.

Read more here.

Gazprom’s reports steady gas exports to Europe via Ukraine

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen at 41.9 million cubic metres (mcm) on Monday, unchanged from the day before.

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

Nearly 300 children killed amid war: Ukrainian prosecutors

Some 288 children have been killed since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, Ukrainian prosecutors say.

Another 527 children have been wounded, they added on social media. They also said most of the victims were in the southeastern Donetsk region (218), the northeastern Kharkiv region (166) and around Kyiv (116).

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures provided.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia controls 70 percent of Severodonetsk: Governor

Russian forces now control 70 percent of the eastern city of Severodonetsk, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region says.

Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post that evacuation efforts were proving impossible due to heavy shelling.

Ukraine’s Odesa region starts grain harvest

Farmers in Ukraine’s southwestern Odesa region have started the 2022 grain harvest, taking advantage of favourable weather, regional officials have said.

Ukraine has already completed its sowing season but the agriculture ministry has provided no crop outlook for the current year.

The ministry had said farmers planned to sow 14.2 million hectares (35 million acres) of spring grains this year, down from 16.9 million hectares in 2021 due to the Russian invasion.

The Odesa regional administration said local farmers had started winter barley threshing and producers would harvest a total of 1.06 million hectares of early grain crops, including 244,000 hectares of winter barley. Farmers also will harvest 551,000 hectares of winter wheat.

Miner Ferrexpo cuts production due to Ukraine conflict

Ferrexpo, a London-listed miner with operations in Ukraine, is in advanced talks with additional port operators in central Europe for seaborne exports, it has said, adding that it has lowered output amid the conflict with Russia.

Ferrexpo also said damages to transportation infrastructure had reduced its ability to use its barging operations that serve European customers, according to the Reuters news agency.

Amnesty accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Amnesty International has accused Russia of carrying out war crimes in Ukraine, saying attacks on the second largest city Kharkiv, many using banned cluster bombs, had killed hundreds of civilians.

“The repeated bombardments of residential neighbourhoods in Kharkiv are indiscriminate attacks which killed and injured hundreds of civilians, and as such constitute war crimes,” the rights group said on Monday in a report titled “Anyone can die at any time”.

“This is true both for the strikes carried out using cluster [munitions] as well as those conducted using other types of unguided rockets and unguided artillery shells,” it said.

Amnesty said it had uncovered proof in Kharkiv of the repeated use by Russian forces of 9N210 and 9N235 cluster bombs and scatterable landmines, all of which are banned under international conventions.

River crossings to become key in determining course of war: UK

River crossings will be among the most important determining factors in the course of the war in the coming months, the UK’s defence ministry says.

The ministry said Russia’s 90km (56 miles) key front line in the Donbas lay to the west of the Siverskyi Donets River, which Russian forces have previously been unable to cross. Ukrainian officials said on Sunday that Russian troops had damaged the bridge over the river which linked Severodonetsk with its twin city of Lysychansk.

“To achieve success in the current operational phase of its Donbas offensive, Russia is either going to have to complete ambitious flanking actions, or conduct assault river crossings,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

“Ukrainian forces have often managed to demolish bridges before they withdraw, while Russia has struggled to put in place the complex coordination necessary to conduct successful, large scale river crossings under fire,” it added.

Three dead, one injured in Lysychansk: Governor

Three people were killed in Lysychansk on Sunday, including a six-year-old boy, and one person was injured, the governor of Luhansk has said.

Russian forces continue to storm the city of Severodonetsk, and have pushed the Ukrainian army back “due to a significant advantage in artillery”, Haidai wrote on Telegram. He said Russians were destroying the city “quarter by quarter”.

A spokesman for the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian forces had pushed Ukraine’s units out of the Severodonetsk city centre.

“Several shells hit the Severodonetsk sewage treatment plant, the area of Azot was shelled three times, where people still remain in bomb shelters,” Haidai said.

Russian cluster bombs kill one, injure five in Kryvyi Rih

Russian forces dropped cluster bombs on a residential area in the Kryvyi Rih region of Dnipropetrovsk, killing one woman and wounding five people, the head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration has said.

Russians also fired on the Zelenodolsk community which caused a house fire, but no victims, Oleksandr Vilkul wrote on Telegram.

About 500 civilians hiding at Severodonetsk Azot plant: Governor

The governor of Luhansk has said nearly 500 civilians remain in hiding at the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk.

“About 500 civilians remain on the territory of the Azot plant … 40 of them are children. Sometimes the military manages to evacuate someone,” Haidai said on Sunday.

Canada’s FM decries official’s visit to Russian embassy event

It was “unacceptable” for a Canadian official to have attended Russia Day celebrations at the country’s embassy in Ottawa, Canada’s foreign affairs minister has said.

A deputy protocol chief in Canada’s global affairs department, Yasemin Heinbecker, attended Friday’s event, along with representatives of Egypt, Pakistan and some African nations, the Globe and Mail newspaper said in a report.

“No Canadian representative should have attended the event hosted at the Russian embassy and no Canadian representative will attend this kind of event again,” Melanie Joly said in a Twitter post.

Joly also reiterated Canada’s support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

Russian forces should be seizing bridges rather than destroying them: ISW

Russian forces should, in principle, be seeking to seize bridges rather than destroy them, since Russian troops have struggled to get across the Siverskyi Donetsk River in the past, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said.

Ukrainian officials recently said that Russia had destroyed the bridge over the river, which links Severodonetsk with Lysychansk, cutting off evacuation routes for civilians. The ISW said this move was likely an attempt to cut Ukrainian ground lines of communication that run from Bakhmut to Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

“They could hope to trap Ukrainian defenders in Severodonetsk by cutting off their retreat, but it seems unlikely that the benefit of catching a relatively small number of defenders would be worth the cost of imposing a contested river crossing on Russian troops,” the institute said in its latest offensive assessment on June 12.

The ISW said Russian forces likely expected to break out of their positions around Toshkivna or from Popasna, and to encircle Lysychansk or attack it from the west bank of the river, “thereby obviating the need to seize the bridges or conduct an opposed crossing”.

Ukraine uncovers 50 Russian agents in Lysychansk: Governor

Ukraine has uncovered sabotage activities among 50 people in Lysychansk who were leaking Ukraine’s operational information to Russian forces to help Moscow with its offensive, the governor of Luhansk has said.

Haidai said Ukraine’s security services and police searched through shared network data and found the mobile devices of people who “shared information too vividly with Russian Telegram channels”.

“Traitors. They went to our humanitarian headquarters to use the Internet to leak information to the Russians, and then the cities burned,” Haidai wrote on Facebook.

“It is noteworthy that Russian agents transmitted data through the Starlink satellite network… They cheated on Ukraine. They knew that they were killing and destroying by their actions. Why did you betray your own?” Haidai wrote without saying what the consequences were for such actions.

Russian mountaineer hoists Ukrainian flag on Mt Everest

A Russian mountain climber and blogger has made a stand against her country’s invasion of Ukraine by unfurling the Ukrainian flag when she reached the top of Mount Everest.

Ekaterina Lipka’s photo on the summit of Everest has gone viral after being shared by Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria, Olexander Scherba, on Twitter last Sunday.

The climber also posted a photo of herself on the mountain with a sign that said “Free Navalny”, in support of Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and opposition leader in Russia who in March was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony.

Russian-owned successor of McDonald’s opens in Moscow

Three months after McDonald’s suspended operations in Russia, hundreds of people streamed into its famous former outlet on Moscow’s Pushkin Square as the restaurant reopened Sunday under a Russian owner and a new name.

The logo is different, but still evokes the golden arches: a circle and two yellow oblongs — representing a beef patty and french fries. It was not until a couple of hours before the Pushkin Square restaurant opened that the Russian chain’s new name was announced: Vkusno-i Tochka (Tasty-period).

Fifteen of the former McDonald’s locations were set to reopen in Moscow on Sunday. Oleg Paroev, the chain’s general director, said he aims to have 200 open by the end of the month.

McDonald’s sold its 850 restaurants to businessman Alexander Govor, who held licences for 25 franchises in Siberia.

Kyiv exhibition showcases remnants of Russia’s war on Ukraine

An exhibition has opened in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv showcasing the paraphernalia of the war under way in the country.

From captured vehicles and collected remnants of missiles, all the way to slippers, toothbrushes and burner phones that the Russian military used and left behind, have been put on display at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War.

Head of Educational Department Dmytro Hainetdinov said that many of the objects were collected by the museum’s staff while visiting newly liberated areas in order to “highlight some particular facets of the war waged by Russia on Ukraine”.

“The purpose of this exhibition is to raise the awareness of people of this war with the help of authentic artefacts,” Hainetdinov said.

Russian boots are displayed at an exhibition in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Russian boots are displayed at an exhibition in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, June 12, 2022. Objects discarded by the Russian military are part of an exhibition focusing on the devastation of the ongoing war [Natacha Pisarenko/AP]

Arms research institute says global nuclear arsenals expected to grow

The global stockpile of nuclear weapons could soon rise again for the first time since the Cold War due to global tensions, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has said.

“Russia has even made open threats about possible nuclear weapon use in the context of the war in Ukraine,” SIPRI said in a summary launching its yearbook 2022.

“Although there were some significant gains in both nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament in the past year, the risk of nuclear weapons being used seems higher now than at any time since the height of the cold war,” SIPRI Director Dan Smith said.

The past year saw a slight reduction in the total number of nuclear warheads to an estimated 12,705 worldwide. About 90 percent of all nuclear weapons are held by the US and Russia.

Zelenskyy accuses Russian generals of using soldiers as ‘cannon fodder’

Zelenskyy has said Moscow’s tactics had not changed in the war and that poorly-trained Russian reserves were now being deployed in the battle for Donbas, where “every metre” is being fought over.

“The Russian army is trying to deploy reserve forces in Donbas. But what reserves can they have now?” Zelenskyy asked in his daily address to the nation.

“It seems that they will try to throw into battle poorly trained conscripts and those who were gathered by covert mobilisation,” he said.

“Russian generals see their people simply as the cannon fodder they need to gain an advantage in numbers,” he added.

Russian war casualties may top 40,000 this month: Ukraine president

Zelenskyy has said that Russian casualties since the start of the war may pass 40,000 in June.

Speaking to the nation on Sunday in his 109th daily address since the start of the Russian invasion, Zelenskyy also reiterated Ukraine’s call for advanced air defence systems from the West.

He said that such defences could have averted many tragedies, including an air attack on Ternopil on Sunday after which 10 people remain in hospital, including a 12-year-old girl.

Zelenskyy said that such incidents were replacing Peter the Great and novelist Leo Tolstoy as how the world now thought of Russia.

Russia destroys bridge over Ukrainian river, cutting escape route

Russian forces have blown up a bridge linking the embattled Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk to another city across the river, cutting off a possible evacuation route for civilians, local officials have said.

Russian forces have taken most of the city, but Ukrainian troops remain in control of an industrial area and the Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering.

But the Russians had destroyed a bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River linking Severodonetsk with its twin city of Lysychansk, Luhansk Governor Haidai said.

“If after new shelling the bridge collapses, the city will truly be cut off. There will be no way of leaving Severodonetsk in a vehicle,” Haidai said, noting the lack of a ceasefire agreement and no agreed evacuation corridors.

Russian flags seen at entrance to Mariupol

A new city sign painted in the colours of the Russian flag was unveiled on the outskirts of Mariupol, replacing a monument which had been in the blue and gold of Ukraine.

Russian flags were also being flown on a highway into the port city, which is now entirely under the control of Moscow-backed forces.

According to Kremlin-installed authorities, the seaport is now ready to operate as usual and was being used to ship goods to and from Russia.

People stand near the name of the city of Mariupol written in Russian and painted in the colours of the Russian national flag during celebration of Russia Day in Mariupol, June 12, 2022
People stand near the name of the city of Mariupol written in Russian and painted in the colours of the Russian national flag during celebration of Russia Day in Mariupol, June 12, 2022 [AP Photo]

For the news updates on June 12, please see here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies