This is the situation as it stands on Thursday, June 22, 2023.
- Andriy Kovalev, a spokesperson for the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said the country’s forces gained some ground towards Melitopol and Berdyansk in the Zaporizhia region, adding that the gains included areas near the settlements of Mala Tokmachka and Robotyne.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the BBC that Kyiv’s counteroffensive had been “slower than desired”. In an interview, he told the British broadcaster, “Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It’s not.” Since the counteroffensive began two weeks ago, Ukraine has reported recapturing eight villages in the south.
- Speaking on Russian state television, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had seen a “lull” in the Ukrainian counteroffensive and that Kyiv had “suffered heavy losses” in attacks in the south.
- Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the mercenary group Wagner, accused Moscow’s top military leaders of deceiving Russians about the course of Ukraine’s counteroffensive and pointed to Kyiv’s progress on the battlefield. “Huge chunks have been handed over to the enemy,” he said, adding that Ukrainian troops have already sought to cross the Dnipro river, a natural border on the front line. “All of this is being totally hidden from everyone.”
- Russia is continuing its efforts to build defensive lines to maintain its positions in Ukraine, especially in occupied Crimea, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry said. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
- Alexander Bastrykin, Russia’s top investigator, said more than 30 Ukrainian nationalists in the Russian-occupied Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine had been jailed for crimes, including murder, after fighting for Ukraine against Russian forces.
- The Russian parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, passed legislation to allow pardons to convicted criminals who volunteer to join Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.
- Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko accused opponents of waging a campaign to discredit him and force him out of office after a public outcry over the deaths of three people locked out of an air raid shelter during a Russian attack on the capital earlier this month.
- Russian air defences shot down three drones near a military base in the Moscow region, the defence ministry said, claiming it was an attempted Ukrainian attack.
- Aleksandr Kurenkov, Russia’s emergency situations minister, said the death toll in Russian-occupied territory following the Nova Kakhovka dam breach had risen to 41. Speaking during a televised government meeting chaired by Putin, he added that more than 8,000 people were evacuated from flooded areas in Russian-occupied territory.
- Paul Heslop, the head of United Nations Mine Action in Ukraine, warned mines dislodged by the Nova Kakhovka dam breach could float downstream and end up on the beaches of the Black Sea. Heslop said PFM-1 mines, also known as “butterfly” mines, were light enough to float downstream for large distances.
- Ukraine needs more than $6bn in the next 12 months to help recover from Russia’s war, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said as the two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference began in London.
- Zelenskyy thanked allies for their early pledges of support at the event, detailing a new $3bn financial support package from the United Kingdom, a proposed 50 billion euro ($55bn) facility from the European Union and a $1.3bn aid package from the United States covering energy and infrastructure needs.
- Oleksandr Kubrakov, a senior Ukrainian government official, said Kyiv was “not optimistic” about the renewal of the Black Sea grain deal allowing grain from war-torn Ukraine to reach the global market. Separately, the Kremlin reiterated that there were “no grounds” to extend the agreement.
- Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said he expected Ukraine to be invited to join NATO with an open date at the security alliance’s summit in Vilnius next month.
- The EU has agreed on an 11th package of sanctions against Russia. The sanctions will restrict the sale of sensitive dual-use goods and technology to third countries that might sell to Russia.
- Putin said Russia’s new generation of Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles will be deployed “in the near future”. The Sarmat launchers are capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg promised further help to modernise Ukraine’s military at the group’s upcoming summit.
- Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Western countries to focus on “ensuring a Ukrainian victory” and equip Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets. Ukraine needed “air superiority”, he said in a video on Twitter.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies