Ukraine latest updates: Moscow bans dozens of UK citizens

Ukraine news from June 14: Individuals have been blacklisted due to ‘dissemination of false and one-sided information’ about the war, the foreign ministry says.

An aerial view shows destroyed houses after strike in the town of Pryvillya at the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 14, 2022,
An aerial view shows destroyed houses after a strike in the town of Pryvillya in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 14, 2022 [Aris Messinis/AFP]
  • Moscow says it is blacklisting dozens of UK citizens, including defence officials and prominent journalists from the BBC, The Financial Times and The Guardian.
  • Russia’s defence ministry says it has offered Ukrainian fighters sheltering in the Azot chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonetsk the chance to surrender on Wednesday.
  • The Russian army says it will establish a humanitarian corridor on Wednesday to evacuate hundreds of civilians from the Azot chemical plant, as the two sides battle for control of the key city.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Ukraine Day 111

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These were the updates on Tuesday, June 14:

Ukraine suffering difficult losses in Severodonetsk, Kharkiv region: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Ukraine is suffering difficult losses in Severodonetsk and in the Kharkiv region.

He said the country needs modern anti-missile weapons now and there can be no justification for delaying their delivery.

INTERACTIVE -countries sending weapons to Ukraine

Civilians trapped in Ukraine’s Donbas as key bridge destroyed

Kyiv says Russian troops carrying out assaults on eastern cities

Russian troops are carrying out assault operations in several places in eastern Ukraine as fierce street fighting continues for control of the strategically important city of Severodonetsk, according to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Russia is regrouping its troops and is trying to bring in reinforcements, the Ukrainian General Staff said in its latest report.

There were Russian assaults in Rubizhne in Kharkiv and Zolote in the Luhansk region. Ukraine’s soldiers fought off one of the attacks at Berestove in Donetsk, they said.

Heavy Russian artillery fire was reported on almost all sections of the front in the east and south of Ukraine.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine War Who controls what in Donbas DAY 111

Biden: Temporary silo plan to get Ukraine grain out

US President Joe Biden says he’s working closely with European Union partners to build temporary silos along the Ukraine border and some in Poland to get much-needed grain out.

Biden made the announcement during a speech in Philadelphia.

Blockaded ports in Ukraine, caused by the ongoing war with Russia, have impeded exports of up to 25 million tonnes of grain from the key European breadbasket.

Ukraine has received 10 percent of arms requested: Defence ministry

Ukraine has received just 10 percent of the weapons it requested from the West to help fight off the Russian offensive, the deputy defence minister has said.

“From what we said we need, we got about 10 percent,” Anna Malyar said in televised remarks, saying the West should speed up its delivery schedule.

“No matter how hard Ukraine tries, no matter how professional our army is, without the help of Western partners we will not be able to win this war.”

INTERACTIVE -Types of weapons Ukraine is receiving

Russian tennis players will be allowed to compete at US Open

The US Open will allow tennis players from Russia and Belarus to compete this year despite the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which prompted Wimbledon to ban those athletes.

US Tennis Association CEO and Executive Director Lew Sherr, whose group runs the US Open, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that the USTA board decided to let Russians and Belarusians enter the tournament because of “concern about holding the individual athletes accountable for the actions and decisions of their governments”.

Sherr said athletes from Russia and Belarus will play at Flushing Meadows under a neutral flag – an arrangement that’s been used at various tennis tournaments around the world, including the French Open, which ended June 5.

Nord Stream gas capacity constrained as sanctions delay equipment

The capacity of Gazprom’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline to supply gas to Europe is partly constrained as sanctions make it impossible for equipment supplier Siemens Energy to return a turbine being maintained in Canada, the companies have said.

Gazprom said it has curbed supplies via the Nord Stream 1 undersea pipeline to Germany to up to 100 million cubic metres (mcm) per day, down from 167 mcm, citing the delayed return of equipment that had been sent for repair.

This limits Russian gas supplies via another important route to Europe at a time when Germany, the region’s biggest economy, questions Moscow’s reliability as an energy provider, prompting efforts to look for alternative sources.

“Due to the delayed return of gas compressor units from repair by Siemens … and technical engines’ malfunctions, only three gas compressor units can currently be used at the Portovaya compression station,” Gazprom said.

Finnish PM sees risk of NATO talks ‘freeze’

Finland’s prime minister has said that Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO applications could stall if an agreement with Turkey, which is currently blocking their bids, is not reached before a summit this month.

“I think it’s very important to go forward at this stage. If we don’t solve these issues before Madrid, there is a risk that the situation will freeze,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said, referring to the upcoming NATO summit in Madrid, scheduled to begin on June 28.

“We don’t know for how long but it might freeze for a while,” Marin told reporters during a visit to Sweden.

INTERACTIVE- NATO in Europe with Sweden and Finland

Ukraine eyes EU help with temporary silos to store new grain harvest

European countries will consider providing temporary granaries to Ukraine, which faces a shortage of silos for new grain crops, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry has said.

The Ukrainian agriculture minister earlier told Reuters in an interview that in autumn when the corn harvest is over, the shortage of storage capacity could reach up to 15 million tonnes.

“We have an urgent need to equip temporary grain storages – modular structures and plastic bags,” the ministry quoted Deputy Minister Markiyan Dmytrasevych as saying.

“EU governments will consider providing Ukraine with such temporary storage facilities – as a result, it should significantly help preserve the harvest and secure future grain supplies to world markets,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia blacklists 49 UK citizens, including journalists

Russia has said it is blacklisting 49 UK citizens, including defence officials and prominent journalists from the BBC, The Financial Times and The Guardian.

“The British journalists on the list are involved in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia and the events in Ukraine and Donbas,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Among the journalists who have been banned entry to Russia are Shaun Walker of The Guardian, Gideon Rachman of The Financial Times and political analyst Mark Galeotti.

Russia bans 29 British journalists from entering

Russia has banned dozens of British journalists, media representatives and defence industry figures from entering the country, the foreign ministry has said in a statement.

In a move that Moscow said was a response to Western sanctions and pressure on its state-run media outlets abroad, 29 journalists and members of British media organisations such as the BBC, the broadcaster Sky News and the Guardian and Times newspapers were personally banned.

More than a dozen British figures who Moscow said were linked to the defence industry were also banned from entering Russia.

Germany shelters Gazprom Germania with $10.4bn loan: Govt source

Germany will place Gazprom Germania into long-term administration, recapitalising it with a loan to protect it from insolvency and rename it Securing Energy for Europe GmbH, a German government spokesperson has said.

A government source said the loan, from the KfW state investment bank, would amount to between 9 and 10 billion euros ($10.4bn).

Germany placed Gazprom’s German subsidiary under temporary administration on April 4 to secure energy supplies after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The new, long-term administration allows administrators to focus on ensuring supply security rather than on preserving the assets of the original owner.

Ukraine needs $5bn monthly: Official

Ukraine needs at least $5bn a month to keep its wartime budget afloat, a top financial official has said.

“Our expenses are much larger than the amounts that we collect now from traditional sources – the customs office and taxation,” Daniil Hetmantsev, who heads the parliamentary commission on finances, taxes and customs, said in televised remarks.

“It means that without the help of our partners we won’t make it in May, as well as in June, and for at least another three or four months,” he said.

He said that Kyiv finances the war effort from the government coffers, and that Ukraine’s main backers – the United States and the European Union – fund “other parts of the budget”.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Putin likely still wants much, if not all, of Ukraine, US Pentagon official says

Putin likely still wants to capture much if not all of Ukraine but has had to narrow his tactical objectives in war, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl has said.

“I still think he has designs on a significant portion of Ukraine, if not the whole country. That said, I do not think he can achieve those objectives,” Kahl said, speaking at an event hosted by the Center for New American Security.

“They may make tactical gains here and there. The Ukrainians are holding up. I do not think the Russians have the capacity to achieve those grandiose objectives.”

Ukrainian forces advance in occupied Kherson: Official

Ukrainian armed forces are moving towards the administrative capital of the Russia-occupied southern region of Kherson, an official has said.

They are approaching the village of Tomyna Balka that lies only 20km (12 miles) west of the capital, also named Kherson, Serhiy Hlan, an adviser to the region’s head, said in televised remarks.

Russia seized the Belgium-sized region in early March, securing water and food supplies to annexed Crimea.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev from Kyiv, Ukraine.

US allows some Russian energy-related transactions until December 5

The US will allow certain energy-related transactions with Sberbank, VTB Bank, Alfa-Bank and several other Russian entities to continue through December 5, the US Department of the Treasury has said in a notice posted online.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it was extending the general license authorising the transactions with certain entities, which also included Russia’s central bank, among others.

No cholera in Mariupol: Separatist leader

A separatist leader has reportedly said that Ukraine’s claims about an outbreak of cholera in the Russia-occupied southern city of Mariupol caused by thousands of dead bodies are nothing but “panic”.

“I would call it panic promoted by Ukrainian [media] resources. The situation is under control,” Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Mariupol mayoral adviser Petro Andryushchenko said earlier this month that an outbreak of cholera and diphtheria caused by contaminated water has already begun.

Pushilin denied his claim.

“The number of bodies under the debris is not high enough to be talking about an epidemic,” he was quoted as saying.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russia to restrict budget data in response to Western sanctions

Russia will start to restrict public access to some government data in a bid to protect the country from additional sanctions, the finance ministry has said.

In a statement, the ministry said it will partially restrict the information about budget spending it makes public in response to the “negative consequences” of sanctions on the Russian economy.

Boosted by high energy prices for Russia’s vital oil and gas exports, the country’s budget surplus came in a 1.49 trillion roubles ($26bn) for the first five months of the year, finance ministry data showed.

EDF will keep UK coal-fired power station online over winter, business minister says

British business minister Kwasi Kwarteng has said EDF had agreed to keep its West Burton coal-fired power station online over the winter, and discussions are ongoing with two other plants about doing the same.

“With uncertainty in Europe following the invasion [of Ukraine], it’s right we explore all options to bolster supply,” Kwarteng said on Twitter. “If we have available backup power, let’s keep it online just in case. I’m not taking chances.”

Russia slashes gas deliveries via Nord Stream, says Gazprom

Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has said it would be reducing the daily gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany due to the “repair” of compressor units by German company Siemens.

“Gas supplies via the Nord Stream gas pipeline can currently be provided in the amount of up to 100 million cubic metres per day,” Gazprom said in a statement on Telegram, adding that the expected daily volume is 167 million cubic metres.

With the delayed return of components from Siemens, only three gas-pumping units were currently operational at the Portovaya compression station near the northwestern city of Vyborg, Gazprom added.

Russia says Ukrainian fighters at Azot plant can surrender on Wednesday

Russia’s defence ministry has said it offered Ukrainian fighters sheltering in the Azot chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonetsk the chance to surrender on June 15, the Interfax news agency reported.

The ministry said Ukraine had asked Russia to set up an evacuation corridor to help civilians leave the plant, with all the bridges linking Severodonetsk to Ukrainian-held territory now destroyed.

France says Macron’s possible visit to Ukraine is an ‘option’

A visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv is one of “several options” that are on the table at present, although no decision has been taken on this yet, government spokesperson Olivia Gregoire said.

German paper Bild am Sonntag reported earlier this month that Chancellor Olaf Scholz would travel to Kyiv on Thursday with Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Macron has sought to maintain dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the war began, but that stance has been criticised by some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe as they see it as undermining efforts to push Putin to the negotiating table.

German howitzers soon to be ready for use in Ukraine: Minister

The training of Ukrainian troops on German howitzers will soon be completed, paving the way for the use of the weapons in the war in Ukraine, German defence minister Christine Lambrecht has said.

“The training on the Panzerhaubitze 2000 will soon be completed so that it can be used in battle in Ukraine,” she told reporters during a visit to a military base in the western German town of Rheinbach.

Zelenskyy says ammunition available, long-range weapons needed

Ukraine’s military has enough ammunition and weapons, but needs more long-range weapons, Zelenskyy has told Danish journalists during a press briefing.

Governor of Luhansk says 70 people evacuated from Lysychansk

A further 70 people have been evacuated from Lysychansk and its surrounding settlements, Luhansk Governor Haidai has said.

Haidai described the conditions in the region as “real hell” in a Telegram post.

He explained that residents were facing serious threats and having to travel only when night falls.

“The shelling is so powerful that people can no longer stand in the shelters,” he wrote. “But we cannot lose as long as it is possible to save at least one life – we will save”.

Russian-backed separatists are already in control of most of the Luhansk region.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine War Who controls what in Donbas DAY 111
(Al Jazeera)

Conflict in Ukraine could aggravate drug problems: EU body

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could create “new vulnerabilities” in Europe to illegal drugs by triggering shifts in smuggling routes and potentially exposing more people to narcotics, the Lisbon-based European Union drugs agency has warned.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said in its annual report that many people who have suffered “severe psychological stress” during the conflict may be more vulnerable to substance misuse problems in the future.

Drug traffickers might switch to alternative routes to avoid areas with a heightened security presence, it said, while health services in European countries, especially those bordering Ukraine, are likely to become more strained as drug users fleeing the conflict require support.

“Continuity of treatment, language services and the provision of accommodation and social welfare support are likely to be key requirements,” it said, adding that even those who were not drug users were at risk.

Russia to reopen Mariupol theatre, says official

A Ukrainian official has criticised Russian troops in the southern city of Mariupol as Russian authorities plan to reopen the drama theatre where “hundreds” of Ukrainians were bombed.

A media investigation found evidence that the attack killed an estimated 600 people inside and outside the building.

Mariupol mayor’s adviser Petro Andriyushchenko said on Telegram that Russia’s plan was to restore and reopen the theatre on September 1.

“A dance on bones, an exhibition on a graveyard,” he said about the plan.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russian shelling kills one, wounds five in Kharkiv: Governor

Russian shelling has killed one woman and wounded her three-month-old child in the eastern Kharkiv region, Governor Oleh Synehubov said.

Synehubov said on Telegram that four more people were wounded throughout the region as Russian shelling damaged houses and apartment buildings and caused fires.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russian forces kidnap three in Zaporizhzhia, say officials

Russian servicemen abducted three Ukrainians in the occupied parts of the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, officials have said.

One was kidnapped from Enerhodar, the company town of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and the other two were taken away from the Melitopol district, the regional state administration said on Facebook.

Dozens of the plant’s employees and pro-Ukrainian sympathisers have been kidnapped since Russian forces seized more than half of the region.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Pope criticises Russian cruelty in Ukraine, but says war ‘provoked’

Pope Francis has taken a new series of swipes at Russia for its actions in Ukraine, saying its troops were brutal, cruel and ferocious, while praising “brave” Ukrainians for fighting for survival.

But in the text of a conversation he had last month with editors of Jesuit media, he also said the situation was not black and white and that the war was “perhaps in some way provoked”.

“We must not forget the real problems if we want them to be solved,” Francis said, including the armaments industry among the factors that provide incentives for war.

“It is also true that the Russians thought it would all be over in a week. But they miscalculated. They encountered a brave people, a people who are struggling to survive and who have a history of struggle,” he said.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Regina Coeli noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican.
Pope Francis said several months before President Putin sent his forces into Ukraine, the pontiff met a head of state who expressed concern that NATO was ‘barking at the gates of Russia’ in a way that could lead to war [File: Andrew Medichini/AP Photo]

Moscow Exchange suspends Swiss franc trading after new sanctions

The Moscow Exchange has said it would suspend trading of the Swiss franc against the rouble and the US dollar after Switzerland adopted new EU sanctions against Russia.

The Moscow Exchange, Russia’s largest bourse, said it was having difficulty conducting transactions in the Swiss currency as a result of new trading restrictions imposed by Switzerland last week.

“The suspension of operations is due to difficulties conducting settlements in Swiss francs faced by market participants and the financial sector in connection with the restrictive measures imposed by Switzerland on June 10,” the Moscow Exchange said in a statement.

People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of U.S. Dollar and Euro to Russian Rubles in Moscow's downtown
Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, updated its sanctions package last Friday to match the EU’s latest restrictions against businesses, banks and individuals from Russia and Belarus [File: Pavel Golovkin/AP Photo]

Four injured in shelling of Russian town bordering Ukraine

Four people have been injured by shelling in a Russian town in the Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine, the regional governor said.

The incident occurred in the town of Klintsy, some 50km (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

“A few houses were damaged and four people injured, according to preliminary information,” regional Governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Residents posted footage to social media of a Russian military helicopter hovering over the town after the shelling and reported that electricity and water had been cut off.

Severodonetsk situation ‘extremely aggravated’: Governor

Luhansk’s governor has described the situation in Severodonetsk as “extremely aggravated”.

“The storming of the city has been going on for several days in a row. The enemy destroys high-rise buildings and industrial facilities with artillery,” Haidai wrote on Telegram.

Each day people are killed, but their bodies are “difficult to reach due to the density of shelling,” he said, adding that there are “many damaged high-rise buildings … some of which the Russian army shot to demolish the foundation”.

Russia’s defence industry could struggle with demands of Ukraine war: UK

Russia’s defence industry could struggle to further meet the demands of the war in Ukraine, partly due to the effects of sanctions and lack of expertise, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry has said.

A top official in Russia’s Military Industrial Commission predicted that defence spending could increase Russia’s defence budget by 20 percent, the ministry said.

“The industry could struggle to meet many of these requirements. Russia’s production of high-quality optics and advanced electronics likely remain troubled and could undermine its efforts to replace equipment lost in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

Pope refuses distinction between ‘good and bad’: Reports

Pope Francis refuses the distinction between “good and bad” in the war in Ukraine, according to the La Stampa daily, which reported the pope’s conversation with editors of Jesuit European cultural magazines.

Asked if he was in favour of President Putin, the pope answered: “No, I am not, I am simply opposed to reducing complexity to distinction between good and bad.”

Pope Francis hopes to meet Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church in September in Kazakhstan, he added.

Russian troops pushed Kyiv’s forces out of Severodonetsk city centre: ISW

Russian troops pushed Ukrainian forces away from the Severodonetsk city centre on Monday but did not fully capture the city, the Institute for the Study of War says.

The institute also said claims by Moscow-backed separatists that Ukrainian forces had destroyed the last bridge linking Severodonetsk to Lysychansk were likely false.

“Deputy Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Militia Eduard Basurin blamed Ukrainian forces for destroying the bridge (though it is highly unlikely Ukrainian forces would willingly destroy the bridge while any of their forces remained in Severodonetsk and this claim is likely false),” the ISW said.

Death toll from attacks on Donetsk rises to 5: Russia-backed separatists

The death toll from Monday’s attacks on the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has reached five, while the number injured has risen to 33, separatist officials say, according to Moscow’s Tass news agency.

Earlier reports said four people died and 22 were injured.

Separatist officials and Russian news agencies on Monday reported several Ukrainian artillery attacks, including on a market. Russian news agencies later reported a shell had fallen on a maternity hospital in the city of Donetsk, starting a fire and prompting staff to send patients into the basement.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports and there has been no immediate reaction from Kyiv. Ukraine routinely denies carrying out any attacks on the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, where separatists seized large swaths of land in 2014.

Ukraine war and soaring costs shake Australian farmers’ confidence: Survey

About half of the Australian farmers believe the war in Ukraine will hurt farm businesses, a survey has found.

Only 28 percent of farmers expected business conditions to improve in the next 12 months, compared with 31 percent in the previous quarter. Overall, farmers expected their incomes to be stable for the coming 12 months.

Although the war in Ukraine is driving up selling prices, especially for grains, those rises are needed to offset higher input costs, according to Rabobank, which conducted the survey.

The bank pointed to spiralling costs of fertilisers, fuel, freight and machinery – some also driven by the war – plus broader inflationary pressures in the Australian economy as weighing on sentiment.

Zelenskyy promises to ‘liberate’ taken Ukrainian territory

Ukraine will “liberate” all cities, towns and regions now occupied by Russia’s forces, the president has said in an encouraging address to the nation.

“We will come to Kherson … Kherson residents will meet our army on the streets of the city … We will come to Melitopol [and] return to all Melitopol residents the opportunity to live without fear,” Zelenskyy said.

“We will come to Mariupol. And we will liberate the city for the third time,” he said, explaining that the city was first liberated from the Nazis in 1943 and then again on June 13, 2014, from Russian-backed separatists.

Satellite images show destroyed bridges around Severodonetsk

Newly released satellite images, taken on Saturday, June 11 by Maxar Technologies, show a number of destroyed and damaged bridges that link Severodonetsk to the nearby towns of Rubizhne and Lysychansk.

The last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, Luhansk Governor Haidai said on Monday.

He added that some 70 percent of the city was under Russian control.

A satellite image shows damaged railroad bridges in the northwest of Severodonetsk, Ukraine June 11, 2022. Picture taken June 11, 2022
A satellite image shows damaged railway bridges in the northwest of Severodonetsk June 11 [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

More than 1,700 residents left occupied Kharkiv areas: Local official

More than 1,700 people have managed to leave Russian-occupied parts of the Kharkiv region on Monday, the head of a regional village says, according to the Interfax news agency.

“With the help of regional and district military administrations, local government bodies and volunteers managed to help people who independently reached the village of Pechenihy and crossed the hydroelectric dam on foot,” Alexander Gusarov said.

“For people who escaped from occupation hell to the territory controlled by Ukraine, the first necessary support has been provided,” he added.

Three killed, five injured in Donetsk: Governor

Russian shelling killed three civilians and injured another five in the Donetsk region on Monday, the governor says.

It is impossible to determine the number of victims in the occupied city of Mariupol and town of Volnovakha, Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram.

One killed, two injured in Sumy region: Governor

A Russian drone dropped grenades on a small community on Monday in Ukraine’s Sumy region, which borders Russia, killing one person and injuring two, the local governor has said.

“Almost at 2pm, an enemy drone dropped ammunition (grenade launcher) on the territory of Velykopysarivska community. As a result of the explosion, two people were injured, one died,” Dmitry Zhivitsky wrote on Telegram.

“At about 5pm, the community was also shelled with mortars,” he added but did not mention any casualties from the attack.

Damaged buildings following a military strike, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Okhtyrka, Sumy region, Ukraine May 17, 2022
Damaged buildings following an attack amid Russia’s invasion, in Okhtyrka, Sumy region May 17 [Dmytro Zhyvytsky/via Reuters]

Japan philanthropic group begins fund raising for Ukrainians

A Japanese foundation has announced it is launching a fundraising drive to provide more than 1,200 Ukrainian refugees in Japan with additional financial support for language studies and other needs.

Jumpei Sasakawa, executive director of the Nippon Foundation, said it aims to raise 1 billion yen ($7.4m) through cooperation with the US and Ukrainian ambassadors.

The foundation has already pledged 5 billion yen ($37.2m) for the transportation and living costs of Ukrainian refugees. Japan has so far accepted more than 1,200 war-displaced Ukrainians.

Germany’s Scholz coy on possible Ukraine visit

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has declined to comment on reports he is planning to visit Ukraine with his counterparts from France and Italy soon.

Scholz fobbed off questions about the reported travel, saying he would not go beyond what his spokesperson had said earlier. The spokesperson had declined to discuss the reports.

Germany has contributed considerable financial and military aid to Ukraine, but Scholz’s government has been criticised both at home and abroad for being slower than the US and some smaller European countries.

Scholz pushed back against such criticism, saying “it would be good if those who express their views on this or that issue spent a moment thinking about it first.”

Colombia stepping up coal, petroleum production

Colombia is set to increase coal and petroleum production as it steps up to fill the void created by sanctions against Russia, energy minister Diego Mesa has said.

The Andean country has restarted coal exports to Ireland, Mesa said on the sidelines of Canada’s prospectors and developers conference in Toronto. Ireland stopped buying Colombian coal in 2016 on human rights concerns.

“Six years ago, Ireland had replaced Colombian coal with Russian coal … but at the beginning of the war they came knocking at our doors again,” Mesa said.

Blinken discusses Ukraine in talks with Korean counterpart in Washington

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with his South Korean counterpart Park Jin in Washington, DC, and discussed a wide range of issues, including Ukraine.

“We are standing together on global security challenges, including [Russian] President Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine,” Blinken said after the meeting. “The Republic of Korea has coordinated sanctions and export controls alongside the United States and other allies and partners.”

He said South Korea has also offered Ukraine “significant” economic and humanitarian support.

Blinken holds call with British counterpart

Blinken has held a call with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and discussed the continued coordination of support for Ukraine.

“Secretary Blinken expressed his concern regarding recent reports of a sham ‘trial’ and its judgments against lawful combatants serving in Ukraine’s Armed Forces,” the State Department said in a readout of the talks.

The battle of Donbas could prove decisive in Ukraine war

If Russia prevails in the battle of Donbas, Ukraine will lose not only land but perhaps the bulk of its most capable military forces, opening the way for Moscow to grab more territory and dictate terms to Kyiv.

A Russian failure in the battle could lay the grounds for a Ukrainian counteroffensive – and possibly lead to political upheaval for the Kremlin.

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov described the combat situation as “extremely difficult”, referencing an ancient deity of sacrifice by saying: “The Russian Moloch has plenty of means to devour human lives to satisfy its imperial ego.”

Read more here.

Battle for Severodonetsk taking ‘terrifying’ human toll: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says Ukraine is paying a very high price in the battle for the Donbas, as Russian forces threaten to take the strategic eastern city of Severodonetsk.

“The price of this battle for us is very high. It’s just scary,” Zelenskyy said 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.”

Ukraine exhumes seven bodies of people it says were killed by Russian forces

Ukrainian investigators have exhumed seven bodies from makeshift graves in a forest near Kyiv.

The bodies were found outside the village of Vorzel, less than 10km (6 miles) from the town of Bucha, where Kyiv alleges Russian forces who occupied the area carried out systematic executions in an abortive attempt to capture the capital. Russia denies that.

“This is another sadistic crime of the Russian army in the Kyiv region,” regional police chief Andriy Nyebytov said on Facebook.

Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk is not a mercenary, father says

The father of a Moroccan man sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on mercenary charges says his son should be treated as a prisoner of war.

Morocco-born fighter Brahim Saadoun received Ukrainian citizenship in 2020 after a year of military training as a requirement to access aerospace technology studies at a university in Kyiv, his father Tahar Saadoun said in an email to the Reuters news agency.

He handed himself in “voluntarily” and should be treated as a “prisoner of war”, the father said.

“We as a family suffer from the absence of contact with the lawyer to exchange legal information and this adds to our ordeal,” he said.

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

Russia’s main goal in Ukraine is to protect the Moscow-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Russia’s RIA state news agency has 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.

Donetsk and Luhansk are two breakaway Russian-backed entities in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which Russia says it is fighting to remove entirely from Kyiv’s control.

Elena Holovko is attended to as she sits outside her home, damaged by a Russian missile strike, in Druzhkivka in eastern Ukraine, Sunday, June 5, 2022
Elena Holovko is attended to as she sits outside her home, damaged by a Russian missile attack, in Druzhkivka, eastern Ukraine, June 5 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Monday, June 13, here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies