This is the situation as it stands on Sunday, June 18, 2023.
- Ukrainian forces advanced in southern sectors of their counteroffensive, according to Ukrainian military officials, while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said movement in the counteroffensive was “the most important thing”.
- Kharkiv regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said two people were killed after a Russian missile hit a car driving towards the village of Huriyv Kozachok, which is near the border with Russia.
- Alexander Bogomaz, the governor of Russia’s Bryansk region which borders Ukraine, said air defence units repelled a Ukrainian drone attack on a pumping station on the Druzhba oil pipeline.
- Ukrainian authorities reported 16 dead and 31 missing from the floods triggered by the destruction of the Russian-held Nova Kakhovka dam. “Sixteen people died: 14 in the Kherson region and two in the Mykolaiv region. Thirty-one people are still missing,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said. Russia previously announced 29 dead in areas it controls.
- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa – who is in Russia as part of a peace-seeking delegation – told his Moscow counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that the war in Ukraine must stop. Ramaphosa laid out the 10 points of the African peace initiative, which is seeking agreement on a series of “confidence-building measures”.
- Putin challenged the assumptions of the African plan – predicated on acceptance of internationally-recognised borders – reiterating his position that Ukraine and its allies had started the conflict long before Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February last year. Putin claimed it was the West, not Russia, that was responsible for last year’s sharp rise in global food prices and claimed it was Kyiv rather than Moscow that had refused peace talks.
- United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington had not changed its nuclear stance as Putin confirmed for the first time that Russia had positioned nuclear weapons in Belarus.
- Jens Stoltenberg is likely to be asked to remain as NATO secretary general for a further year, the Reuters news agency reported, citing a source familiar with the discussions and a US official.
- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will take into account the “behaviour” of Western media and their countries’ “attitude” towards Russian reporters abroad when deciding whether to accredit their journalists for major forums in Russia, the state-owned TASS news agency reported.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies