Russia-Ukraine latest: UN says war impact on world ‘severe’

Latest updates June 8, 2022: War in Ukraine’s effect on food, energy, finance is ‘systemic, severe, and speeding up’, UN chief Antonio Guterres says.

A resident reacts in front of a destroyed school after an attack in the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine.
A resident reacts in front of a destroyed school after an attack in the city of Bakhmut, eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas [Aris Messinis/AFP]
  • The governor of eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region says Ukrainian forces have been pushed back to the outskirts of Severodonetsk, a strategically important city, by intense Russian bombardment.
  • A row between Kyiv and Moscow over grain exports deepens, with both sides trading blame as the spectre of a global food crisis looms amid a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor general announces the country has now opened more than 16,000 investigations into possible war crimes committed by Moscow’s troops.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Ukraine Day 105

The live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. Below are the updates for June 8, 2022. For the latest news please see here

Severodonetsk defenders are inflicting big losses, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says defenders in the city of Severodonetsk were inflicting major losses on Russian troops during what he called a fierce and difficult battle.

“In many respects, the fate of the Donbas is being decided there,” he said in an online address.

Ukraine eyes billions in euros from Europe electricity exports

Ukraine hopes to make 1.5 billion euros ($1.6bn) from electricity exports to the European Union by the end of the year and earn more in the future after obtaining the right to export its energy there, a Ukrainian energy ministry adviser has said.

Ukraine applied in March to join the European energy system ENTSO-E as soon as possible and on Tuesday it received the right to export its energy to Europe, the country’s electricity transmission operator Ukrenergo said.

All the required Ukrainian lines are ready to export electricity to Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, said Lana Zerkal, an adviser to the energy minister, in an interview with the Suspilne public television channel.

Russian forces control most of Severodonetsk, are shelling twin city: official

Russian forces control most of the strategic Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk and are heavily shelling the twin city of Lysychansk, causing considerable damage, the governor of Luhansk region has said.

In an online post, Serhiy Haidai also said there was no chance of Ukrainian troops in the Luhansk region being encircled.

UN chief warns effect of Ukraine war on world is worsening

UN chief Antonio Guterres says the consequences for the world of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are worsening, affecting 1.6 billion people.

“The war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe, and speeding up,” the Secretary-General said, presenting the UN’s second report on the repercussions of the conflict.

Arctic Council countries to resume limited work excluding Russia

The Arctic Council countries announced they will resume limited internal cooperation that excluded Russia.

The countries – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United States – halted all meetings in the Council on March 3 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We intend to implement a limited resumption of our work in the Arctic Council, in projects that do not involve the participation of the Russian Federation,” the countries said in a joint statement published by the Icelandic foreign ministry.

The Arctic Council brings together countries with Arctic territories, including Russia, to collaborate on matters that affect the region’s residents. It does not deal with security issues.

Canada bans export of support services for Russian industries

Canada announced new sanctions on Russia, banning the exports of 28 services, such as accounting and advertising, that are needed for the operation of Russian oil, gas and chemical industries.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said the measures would affect commerce that accounts for about 50 percent of Russia’s federal budget revenues.

Since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, Canada has imposed sanctions on more than 1,070 Russian individuals and entities.

Joly said Ottawa would “continue to relentlessly pursue accountability for Vladimir Putin’s senseless war”.

UN plan for Ukraine grain exports faces hurdles

There are big hurdles to a United Nations plan to set up a sea corridor for Ukrainian grain exports overseen by Ankara.

The difficulties include persuading Russia to ease its blockade of Ukrainian ports, convincing Kyiv to clear mines it has laid and reassuring shipping and insurance companies that the corridor is safe to use.

Read more here.

Kyiv says ‘Russian aggression’, not sanctions, fuelling grain crisis

Ukraine’s foreign minister says Russia’s invasion is responsible for a global grain crisis and dismissed Moscow’s claims that Western sanctions on Russia were responsible for prices of the foodstuff soaring.

“We have been actively communicating, the president and myself, about the true cause of this crisis: it is Russian aggression, not sanctions,” Dmytro Kuleba said during a news briefing with Ukrainian journalists.

Russia has seized large parts of Ukraine’s coast and its warships control the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, blocking Ukraine’s farm exports and driving up the cost of grain.

Ukraine and the West accuse Moscow of weaponising food supplies. Russia says Ukrainian mines laid at sea and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow are to blame.

The UN has attempted to intervene and is currently working on plans with Kyiv and Moscow to restart grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, with Turkey possibly providing naval escorts to ensure safe passage.

Seeds are seen in a destroyed grain silo in eastern Ukraine
The war between Russia and Ukraine, the world’s third and fourth largest grain exporters respectively, has added to food price inflation and put global food supplies at risk [File: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters]

Ukrainian forces pushed back to outskirts of Severodonetsk: Governor

The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region says Ukrainian forces have been pushed back to the outskirts of Severodonetsk by intense Russian bombardment on the city.

Ukrainian special forces launched a counteroffensive days ago and cleared almost half of the city, but it made no sense for them to stay when Russia started levelling the area with shelling and air raids, Serhiy Haidai told the RBC-Ukraine news agency.

“Our [forces] now again control only the outskirts of the city. But the fighting is still going on, our [forces] are defending Severodonetsk, it is impossible to say the Russians completely control the city,” he said.

Train reaches Crimea from southern Ukraine: Russia-backed official

Russia has restored railway links between the annexed Crimean Peninsula and southern Ukraine, according to a Moscow-backed official.

Oleg Kriuchkov, an adviser to the Moscow-installed head of Crimea, told Russia’s RBC news agency that a train carrying grain had arrived in Crimea from Ukraine’s Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol, marking the first such journey since the peninsula was seized by Russian forces in early 2014.

His remarks came after Russia’s defence minister said on Tuesday that its military, working with Russian Railways, had restored about 1,200km (745 miles) of railway track in southeastern Ukraine and opened roads to allow for “full-fledged traffic” to flow between Russia, eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, occupied territory in the country’s south and Crimea.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv

OECD warns of ‘hefty’ economic price of Ukraine war

The world economy will pay a “hefty price” for the war in Ukraine encompassing weaker growth, stronger inflation and potentially long-lasting damage to supply chains, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned.

In its latest economic outlook, the organisation slashed its prediction for global growth this year to 3 percent from 4.5 percent it envisaged in December and doubled its inflation projection to nearly 9 percent for its 38 member countries.

Read more here.

Ukraine and Russia hand over bodies of dead soldiers in frontline exchange

Ukraine and Russia each handed over the bodies of 50 soldiers in an exchange that included 37 Ukrainian fighters killed at Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, Ukraine’s Ministry of Reintegration says.

In a statement on its website, the ministry said the exchange took place on the front lines in the southeast Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia. It said such exchanges would continue.

Russia shipping Ukrainian wheat to Turkey, Middle East: Official

A Moscow-backed official in Ukraine’s partially occupied southeastern region of Zaporizhia says that Russia has begun shipping wheat to Turkey and Middle Eastern countries.

“We are sending the wheat via Russia, most of the contracts have been made with Turkey,” Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Moscow-installed military-civilian administration in the occupied areas, told Russia’s Rossiya 24 news channel.

He did not specify which Middle Eastern countries were allegedly being supplied with the wheat.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow, Ankara or Kyiv on Balitsky’s remarks.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv

man holds wheat grains
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but much of that flow has been halted by the war and a Russian blockade [File: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP]

‘Empty words’: Ukraine dismisses Russia’s assurances over grain shipments

Ukraine has dismissed assurances from Russia that it will not use the situation to its advantage if Kyiv allows grain shipments to leave safely via the Black Sea as “empty words”.

“Military equipment is required to protect the coastline and a navy mission to patrol the export routes in the Black Sea. Russia cannot be allowed to use grain corridors to attack southern Ukraine,” foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko tweeted.

Moscow threatens response to French ban against some Russian TV channels

Moscow will respond to France’s decision to ban some Russian television channels, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry says.

“The foreign ministry will react to such actions, and a response to this will be given,” Maria Zakharova told reporters, without specifying which measures would be taken.

Her remarks came after Russia on Monday reportedly warned US news organisations they risked being stripped of their accreditation unless the treatment of Russian journalists in the US improves.

Italy warns food crisis could kill ‘millions’

Italy’s foreign minister has warned that millions of people could die of hunger unless Russia unblocks Ukraine’s ports, with tens of millions of tonnes of grain currently sitting in silos in the country.

“The next few weeks will be crucial to resolving the situation,” Luigi Di Maio said at a conference on the food crisis held in Rome.

“I want to say clearly, we expect clear and concrete signals from Russia, because blocking grain exports means holding hostage and condemning to death millions of children, women and men.”

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but the war and a Russian blockade of its ports have halted much of that flow, endangering food supplies to many countries. Many of those ports are now also heavily mined.

Kremlin says sanctions must be lifted for grain to reach markets

Moscow says that sanctions on Russia must be lifted if it is to deliver grain to international markets.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters that “no substantive discussions” about lifting sanctions were continuing, however.

Peskov also said there are no grounds for Russia to default on its debts, as the country struggles to make interest payments to bondholders because of the measures imposed by an array of Western countries.

He blamed the sanctions, which have seen almost half of the country’s foreign currency reserves frozen, for “pushing Russia into an artificial man-made debt default”.

Ukraine seizes assets of company owned by Putin ally

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) says it has seized the assets of a major concrete company owned by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies.

The company is one of Ukraine’s largest producers of concrete construction materials, and its owners are Russian businessmen who financed separatists in the Donbas region, the SBU said in a Telegram post.

“And one of them is part of the Russian president’s inner circle and is a sponsor of the election campaign of the [ruling] United Russia party,” SBU added, without specifying the individual’s name.

It said the seized assets had been transferred to the management of the National Agency of Ukraine for finding, tracing and management of assets derived from corruption and other crimes, a special governmental body.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Zelesnkyy raises Russia’s treatment of POWs on call with Scholz

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he raised the issue of Russia’s compliance with international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) during a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The pair also discussed enhancing defence support for Ukraine and global food security, the Ukrainian leader tweeted. He did not elaborate further about the prisoners.

His remarks came after more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered in the southeastern port city of Mariupol were reportedly transferred to Russia for investigation.

Russian passports to be issued in Zaporizhia region: Report

Moscow-appointed authorities will start issuing Russian passports to the residents of Ukraine’s partially occupied, southeastern region of Zaporizhia on Sunday, Russia’s TASS news agency has reported, citing a Russia-backed official.

Balitsky, the head of the Moscow-installed military-civilian administration in the area, said the move would coincide with Russia’s Independence Day celebrations on June 12.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Ukraine files eight more war crime cases

Ukraine has filed eight more war crimes cases in court in addition to three sentences already handed down to Russian soldiers, Ukraine’s prosecutor general says.

In total, Ukraine has now opened more than 16,000 investigations into possible war crimes during Russia’s invasion, Iryna Venediktova said in televised remarks.

“Every day we see an increase (in investigations),” she added. “We are talking about people who didn’t just come as military combatants… but also came to rape, kill civilians, loot, humiliate and so on.”

Moscow denies allegations its troops have committed war crimes in what it describes as its “special operation” to demilitarise Ukraine.

Melitopol mayor accuses Russian forces of abducting hundreds of residents

The mayor of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied southern city of Melitopol has alleged that more than 500 local residents have been kidnapped for having a pro-Ukrainian stance.

“The occupants definitely want to make sure that everyone who thinks differently leaves the [occupied] areas and doesn’t interfere with their propaganda and political system,” Ivan Fyodorov said in televised remarks.

There was no immediate response to Fyodorov’s remarks from Moscow and Al Jazeera could not independently verify his claims.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Lavrov says Ukraine must de-mine ports to allow for grain exports

Russia’s foreign minister says the onus is on Ukraine to solve the problem of resuming grain shipments by de-mining its ports.

Addressing reporters in Ankara following talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, Sergey Lavrov claimed no action was required on the Russian side because it had already made the necessary commitments.

“We state daily that we’re ready to guarantee the safety of vessels leaving Ukrainian ports and heading for the [Bosphorus] gulf, we’re ready to do that in cooperation with our Turkish colleagues,” he said.

“To solve the problem, the only thing needed is for the Ukrainians to let vessels out of their ports, either by demining them or by marking out safe corridors, nothing more is required.”

Lavrov alleged the main problem was Zelenskyy had “categorically refused” to resolve the issue of the mined ports and said he appreciated Turkey’s efforts in looking for ways to resolve the situation.

Turkey says UN grain-export plan for Ukraine is reasonable

Turkey’s foreign minister has described a UN plan to open a corridor to restart Ukrainian grain exports as reasonable but said the proposal requires more talks with all sides to ensure ships would be safe.

Cavusoglu told reporters at a news conference in Ankara that he had held fruitful discussions on the issue with Lavrov, who was on a visit to the Turkish capital.

World Bank approves $1.49bn package for Ukraine

Ukraine’s prime minister says the World Bank has approved $1.49bn in financial support for his country to help pay wages for social workers and civil servants.

“Recovery & victory will be the victory of democracy & whole civilized world,” Denys Shmyhal tweeted.

Ukrainian forces may have to pull back in Severodonetsk: Governor

The governor of Luhansk has warned that Ukrainian forces may have to pull back to stronger positions in the embattled eastern city of Severodonetsk as they attempt to defend it from Russian troops, but pledged Kyiv’s forces will not surrender it to Moscow’s control.

Haidai said on national television that fierce fighting was raging in Severodonetsk and warned Ukraine expected Russia to step up its bombardment on the city as it presses ahead with its offensive in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

“Fighting is still going and no one is going to give up the city even if our military has to step back to stronger positions. This will not mean someone is giving up the city – no one will give up anything. But it’s possible [they] will be forced to pull back,” he said.

A man walks past a residential building
Severodonetsk has come under intense Russian bombardment in recent days [File: EPA]

Referendum in Zaporizhia to be held this year: Russia-backed official

A Russia-appointed official in the partially-occupied southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhia said a referendum on joining Russia will be held before the end of the year.

“The overwhelming majority of our region’s residents want to come back to the motherland and become part of big Russia,” Vladimir Rogov, a former journalist who is now part of Russia’s administration in the area, was quoted by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

“The sooner we become Russia, the faster our lives will improve,” he added.

Ukraine has said any referendums held in areas under Russian occupation will be illegal.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia says grain shipments to resume from Ukraine’s Berdyansk port

Grain shipments will resume from Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Black Sea port of Berdyansk this week after work was completed to de-mine it, Russia’s TASS news agency has cited local authorities as saying.

Western countries have accused Russia of creating the risk of global famine by shutting Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Moscow denies responsibility, blaming Western sanctions.


Square next to US embassy in Moscow to be named after Donetsk separatists

The square near the US embassy’s building in Moscow will be named after the separatist “People’s Republic of Donetsk”, according to Russian media reports.

RIA Novosti reported that 45 percent of participants in an online poll voted in favour of the name change, while 32 percent voted for it to be named after “The defenders of Donbas”, the region in eastern Ukraine partially controlled by pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia’s Navalny loses appeal on ‘terrorist, extremist’ label

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has lost an appeal contesting a decision by penitentiary officials to label him as “inclined to commit crimes of a terrorist or extremist nature”.

Navalny, who has been behind bars since January 2021, was first designated by the penitentiary authorities as a flight risk, which implied additional checks and inspections in prison. But in October last year, officials replaced that label with the “terrorist or extremist” one.

He and his defence team filed an appeal contesting the label, but a panel of judges in Russia’s Vladimir region about 100 kilometres east of Moscow on Tuesday rejected the appeal and ruled to keep the designation in place.

Russia likely to use Kherson as ‘evidence’ of improving Ukrainian living standards: UK

After forcefully aligning the self-declared administration of occupied Kherson with Russia, Moscow is “highly likely” to claim the region as “evidence” of improving Ukrainian living standards, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

“In the occupied Kherson region, Russia is forcibly aligning its administration with that of the Russian Federation by introducing the Russian rouble as legal tender and employing Russian teachers to introduce the Russian curriculum and language to schools,” the ministry said on Twitter.

“Russia will highly likely claim its occupation of Kherson as evidence of delivering improved governance and living standards to the Ukrainian people,” it added.

The ministry also said that Russia has continued to attack Severodonetsk from three directions but it was unlikely either side had gained significant ground in the last 24 hours.

Norway donates 22 howitzers to Ukraine

Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, including spare parts, ammunition and other gear, the Norwegian defence ministry has said.

“The Norwegian government has waited to publicly announce the donation for security reasons. Future donations may not be announced or commented upon,” it said in a statement.

Russian cosmonaut who set space endurance record dies

Veteran Russian cosmonaut Valery Ryumin, who set space endurance records on Soviet missions, then returned to orbit after a long absence to fly on a US space shuttle, has died at the age of 82.

Ryumin went into space four times, including to the space stations Salyut-7 and Mir after becoming a cosmonaut in 1973. He logged a total of 371 days in space in two short missions and two record-setting long-duration flights.

“We have lost a comrade and a friend,” Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Roscosmos space agency, said in a statement. “This is an irreparable loss for all of us. I express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Valery Viktorovich. The memory of him will forever remain in our hearts.”

Ryumin will be buried Thursday at a military cemetery outside Moscow, Tass reported.

The crew members of Russian space station Mir and US shuttle Discovery pose for a picture during a video link and saying "goodbye" to each other.
Front row: Charlie Precourt (US), Talgat Musabayev (Russia), Nikolai Budarin (Russia), Dominic Gorie (US), Valery Ryumin (Russia). Back row : Janet Kavandi (US), Andy Thomas (US). The crew of Russia’s orbiting Mir station prepare for the undocking of the US shuttle Discovery ending an era in US-Russian cooperation in space, on June 8, 1998 [Reuters]

US deputy secretary of state meets Ukraine counterpart in Seoul

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Ukrainian deputy foreign minister Dmytro Senik in Seoul on Tuesday.

Sherman and Senik discussed the war’s effect on global food security and how to get Ukraine’s grain to international markets, according to a statement from the US State Department.

“The deputy secretary emphasised the United States’ robust, continued support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s unprovoked aggression,” the statement said adding that Sherman updated Senik on US assistance including “budgetary support and aid for long-term efforts”.

US sails Russian-owned superyacht out of Fiji

The US has taken command of the Russian-owned superyacht in Fiji and sailed it away from the South Pacific nation after winning a legal battle on Tuesday to seize the $325m vessel.

Fiji’s Supreme Court lifted a stay order which had prevented the US from seizing the superyacht Amadea. The US removed the motorised vessel within an hour or two of the court’s ruling, possibly to ensure the yacht didn’t get entangled in any further legal action.

Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the US Justice Department, said on Twitter that the superyacht had set sail for the US under a new flag, and that American authorities were grateful to police and prosecutors in Fiji “whose perseverance and dedication to the rule of law made this action possible”.

The court ruling represents a significant victory for the US as it encounters obstacles in its attempts to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs around the world.

‘I’ll do my best to make them disappear’: Russia’s Medvedev

Russia’s former president and deputy chairman of its security council has made some strong remarks against his enemies, calling them “b*******” and saying he would do his “best to make them disappear”.

“I am often asked why my posts on Telegram are so sharp. I answer – I hate them. They are b******* and freaks. They want death for us, Russia. And while I’m alive, I’ll do my best to make them disappear,” Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Telegram.

Medvedev – whose posts often contain derisive language against Europe, the US and Ukraine – did not specify who his words were directed at.

In previous posts, Medvedev has called European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen “Europe’s auntie Ursula”, referred to NATO’s policies as “cosmic cretinism”, labelled Ukrainian officials “mongrels” and said Zelenskyy’s eyes are often “burning with stimulants”.

Russian forces made no confirmed gains in ground assaults Tuesday: ISW

Russian forces continued their offensive in several locations in eastern Ukraine but did not secure any confirmed gains in ground assaults on Tuesday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said.

Russian forces have likely captured most of Severodonetsk, but the ISW said it could not confirm the exact control of terrain within the city.

“Russian forces additionally redeployed troops east of Bakhmut to renew offensives to secure access to highways northeast of Bakhmut and threaten Ukrainian lines of communication,” the institute said, adding that Russian troops would likely seek to advance towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from positions north of the city.

The ISW added that Russian forces were reportedly deploying away from the Zaporizhia region towards Kherson, likely to support defensive positions that have been threatened by Ukrainian counterattacks along the Mykolaiv-Kherson region border.

Russia’s Aeroflot plans $3bn cash injection

Under heavy pressure from Western sanctions and airspace bans, Russian state flagship airline Aeroflot has said it plans to raise up to 185.2 billion roubles ($3bn) in an emergency share issue.

Aeroflot, controlled by the Russian state, said shareholders at its annual meeting on Tuesday had approved the issuance of 5.42 billion new shares that could be bought at a price of 34.29 roubles ($0.56) each under an open subscription.

The airline also plans to order 300 aircraft from United Aircraft Corporation, which is majority-owned by Rostec, Russia’s state aerospace and defence conglomerate, the Vedomosti business newspaper reported.

The paper, citing two sources, said Aeroflot was eyeing the Irkut MC-21 medium-range plane, also known as the MC-21, which can carry more than 200 passengers and is due to enter service this year.

Shelling kills three and injures six in Kharkiv: Governor

Russian forces shelled Kharkiv and its regional villages of Cherkaska Lozova, Slatyne and Korobochkyne on Tuesday, killing at least three people and injuring six more, the regional governor has said.

“The scale of the destruction and the final number of victims is being determined,” Oleh Synyehubov wrote on Telegram.

“The shelling may continue today. So, being on the streets now is very dangerous. I urge everyone to stay in the shelters if possible!” he added.

Ukrainian injured service members and an injured civilian wait for medical treatment in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Ukrainian injured service members and an injured civilian wait for medical treatment in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Rebranded ‘McDonald’s’ outlets to open in Moscow

The first 15 outlets of the rebranded “McDonald’s” will open in Moscow and the region on June 12, state-owned Tass news agency reports, citing a statement from the newly licensed company.

McDonald’s pulled out of Russia in May and sold the licence for all 850 restaurants across the country to local businessman Alexander Govor.

“The chain will operate under a new brand and with new menu names, and all employees will retain jobs ‘under equivalent terms’ for at least two years,” Tass cited the statement as saying without specifying the new name.

Satellite imagery shows destruction in Severodonetsk and Rubizhne

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies collected on Monday shows significant damage and destruction in the city of Severodonetsk and nearby Rubizhne.

“Russian multiple rocket launchers, self-propelled and towed artillery are deployed to the northeast and oriented in firing positions toward the cities,” the US company said in a release.

Ukrainian officials had said their forces staged a surprise counterattack last week, driving the Russians from part of the city centre.

Before that, Russia had seemed on the verge of encircling Ukraine’s garrison in Luhansk, attempting to cut off the main road to Severodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk.

Next winter will be most difficult since independence: Zelenskyy

The next winter in Ukraine will be “the most difficult” since the country gained independence in 1991, Zelenskyy has said, adding that Kyiv was setting up a headquarters to centralise the running of the next heating season.

The decision was made at a meeting the president held with government officials and representatives of Ukraine’s state-owned energy companies and regulators, Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.

“Whatever the occupiers plan for themselves, we must prepare for the next winter … In the current situation due to Russia’s aggression, this will indeed be the most difficult winter of all the years of independence,” he said, adding that in the meeting, officials discussed the purchase of gas and coal.

“At this time, we will not be selling our gas and coal abroad. All domestic production will be directed to the internal needs of our citizens,” he added. He also said that ministers were working on repairing thermal power plants, combined heat and power plants and boiler houses which were damaged in the war.

Russia using information as ‘weapon of war’: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told an online summit on digital democracy that Russia was using information as a weapon of war.

In a talk with Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, Blinken said that he believed democratisation of information was positive but that technology had also allowed the abuse and spread of misinformation in ways nobody fully anticipated.

“So we see authoritarian governments using this.  We see it, for example, right now in the Russian aggression against Ukraine. We saw it in 2014 when Russia initially went at Ukraine and was using information as a weapon of war,” he said.

“So in that particular instance and in this instance, we’ve actually reversed this on them precisely by using information, real information, to call out what we saw them preparing and working to do,” he added.

Zelenskyy says Russians had day of no gains

Zelenskyy says Russian forces have made no significant advances in the eastern Donbas region over the past day, despite the fact the Russian defence minister said that Moscow’s forces now control 90 percent of the Luhansk region.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said that “the absolutely heroic defence of the Donbas continues”.

He said the Russians clearly did not expect to meet so much resistance and are now trying to bring in additional troops and equipment. He said the same was true in the southern Kherson region, which Russian troops occupied early in the war.

Zelenskyy also said Ukraine was planning to release a special “Book of Executioners” next week with confirmed information about war crimes committed by the Russian army. He said those named would include not only those who carried out war crimes but their commanders.

More than 1,000 Ukrainian prisoners sent to Russia for investigation: Tass

More than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered in the city of Mariupol have been transferred to Russia for investigation, the Tass state news agency has cited a Russian law enforcement source as saying.

Later on, more Ukrainian prisoners will be transferred to Russia, the source told Tass. Ukraine has said it is working for all the prisoners to be returned while some Russian legislators say they should be put on trial.

Yellen says ‘impossible’ to insulate US from oil market shocks

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said it is “virtually impossible” for her country to insulate itself from oil market shocks such as those caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, so it is important to shift towards renewable energy sources.

Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee that US oil producers failed to anticipate the recovery in demand and prices following the COVID-19 pandemic, but they now have incentives to increase production.

World Bank board approves $1.49bn in new funds for Ukraine

The World Bank has said its board of executive directors approved $1.49bn of additional financing for Ukraine to help pay wages for government and social workers, expanding the bank’s total pledged support for Kyiv to more than $4bn.

The World Bank said in a statement that the latest round of funding for Ukraine is supported by financing guarantees from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Latvia. The project is also being supported by parallel financing from Italy and contributions from a new Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

‘Don’t blame myself’ for not trying hard enough for Ukraine: Merkel

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she tried hard when she was in office to prevent the situation in Ukraine from developing to the current state, adding that she does not blame herself for not trying hard enough.

“It’s a great sadness that it didn’t work out, but I don’t blame myself for not trying,” said Merkel, speaking of the 2014 Minsk agreement with Russia. She spoke in an interview with German journalist and author Alexander Osang televised by broadcaster ARD.

Merkel said there was no justification for Russia’s “brutal disregard of international law” in Ukraine, adding that she had been against a plan to let Ukraine into NATO because she wanted to prevent escalation with Russia and Ukraine was not ready for such membership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko talk in Minsk, Belarus, February 11, 2015 [Mykola Lazarenko/Pool Photo via AP]

Russia returns bodies of 210 Ukrainian fighters to Kyiv: Military

Russia has handed over to Kyiv the bodies of 210 Ukrainian fighters, most of whom died defending the city of Mariupol from Russian forces at a vast steelworks, the Ukrainian military said.

“The process of returning the bodies of the fallen defenders of Mariupol is under way. To date, 210 of our troops have been returned – most of them are heroic defenders of Azovstal,” Ukraine’s defence intelligence directorate said on Twitter.

Stalemate with Russia ‘not an option’: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has told Britain’s Financial Times newspaper that a stalemate with Russia is “not an option”.

“Victory must be achieved on the battlefield”, he said as he repeated his call for Western military support.

“We are inferior in terms of equipment and therefore we are not capable of advancing,” he told the paper. “We are going to suffer more losses and people are my priority.”

Zelenskyy said restoring the borders Ukraine controlled before Russia’s invasion on February 24 would be “a serious temporary victory”.

But he said the ultimate aim was the “full de-occupation of our entire territory”.

Ukrainian forces finding it difficult to hold Severodonestk centre: Governor

Ukrainian forces are finding it hard to stave off Russian attacks in the centre of Severodonestk, but Moscow’s forces do not control the city, the governor of Luhansk region has said.

In an online post, Serhiy Haidai also said Russian troops were constantly shelling Severodonetsk’s twin city Lysychansk, which lies across the Siverskyi Donets river.

Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Severodonetsk, during shelling in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas.
Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Severodonetsk during shelling in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas [File: Aris Messinis/AFP]

Lavrov in Turkey for talks on Ukraine grain exports

Lavrov has arrived in Ankara for a two-day visit to Turkey for talks on unblocking grain exports from Ukraine.

This is Lavrov’s second trip to Turkey after meeting his Turkish and Ukrainian counterparts Mevlut Cavusoglu and Dmytro Kuleba in Antalya on March 10.

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

Read all the updates from Tuesday, June 7, here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies