Meanwhile, Kremlin-backed officials in occupied southern Ukraine begin issuing Russian passports to residents as Moscow seeks to solidify its rule over captured parts of the country amid its military offensive – now in its 110th day.

Lugansk's regional governor has said that evacuations from Sievierodonetsk and access to it are impossible as the last bridges have been blown up.
Lugansk's regional governor has said that evacuations from Sievierodonetsk and access to it are impossible as the last bridges have been blown up. (AFP)

Monday, June 13, 2022

Ukraine president: Battle for Sievierodonetsk taking 'terrifying' toll

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the battle for Sievierodonetsk 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 Donbass will without doubt be remembered in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe," he added.

Russia's goal 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 has cited Kremlin spokesman 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 Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, which Russia says it is fighting to remove entirely from Kiev's control.

"In general, the protection of the republics is the main goal of the special military operation [in Ukraine]."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Police opens criminal investigations into killings of 12,000 Ukrainians in conflict

Police have opened criminal investigations into the killings of more than 12,000 Ukrainians nationwide during Russia's offensive.

Police chief Igor Klimenko told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency that criminal investigations into the deaths of more than 12,000 Ukrainians included some found in mass graves.

He said the mass killings of people resulted from snipers firing from tanks and armored personnel carriers. Bodies were found lying on streets and in their homes, as well as in mass graves. He didn't specify how many of the more than 12,000 were civilian and military.

Russia claims destroying more Ukrainian military targets

Russia has claimed to have destroyed several Ukrainian military targets over the past 24 hours.

Presenting the latest data about Ukraine's losses in the conflict, Russian Defence Ministry's spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a press briefing in Moscow that over the past day, the Russian forces hit a point of temporary deployment for “foreign mercenaries” and two batteries of multiple rocket launchers with high-precision air-based missiles.

The aviation destroyed a command point, a radar station of Buk-M1 air defence system and 63 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment, he said.

Ukraine sees sharp drop in grain harvest after Russian offensive

A senior government official has said Ukraine's grain harvest is likely to drop to around 48.5 million tonnes this year from 86 million tonnes last year following Russia's offensive.

First Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi said the total area sown had fallen by 25 percent and the 2022/23 exportable surplus could be 30 million tonnes, meaning significant loss of revenue.

Ukraine is usually a major global grain and oilseed grower, but its exports have fallen sharply since Russia's offensive in February.

Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk has Ukrainian nationality

The father of a Moroccan man sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on mercenary charges has said his son should be treated as a prisoner of war as he is a Ukrainian national who handed himself in voluntarily.

Morocco-born Brahim Saadoun and Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were found guilty of "mercenary activities and committing actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order" of the DPR, Russian media said last week.

The three men were captured while fighting for Ukraine against Russia and Russian-backed forces.

Russia strikes hit north Ukraine, villages evacuated

Russian strikes have hit a town in northern Ukraine, with several villages evacuated due to the fire risk following the attacks, local authorities have said.

"The enemy hit Pryluky with rocket strikes," Vyacheslav Chaus, governor of the northern Chernigiv region, said on Telegram.

He did not say what infrastructure was targeted nor whether there were any casualties. Following the strikes, the authorities ordered the evacuation of four nearby villages, Sergiy Boldyrev told local news outlet Suspilne.

Lithuania seeks to decouple from Russian power grid in 2024

Lithuania seeks to decouple from the Russian power grid in 2024, a year ahead of schedule, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said.

European Union members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia's power grids are working in concert with those of Russia and Belarus and depend on Russia to ensure stable power supplies.

A $1.94 billion (1.6-billion-euro) project financed by the EU aims to disconnect the Baltic states from Russia and Belarus in 2025 and connect them to the decentralised power system of continental Europe.

Ukrainian special operations forces are on alert 24 hours

Ukrainian special operations teams deployed in the Kharkiv region on the front line in eastern Ukraine receive continuous combat training on days when they do not engage in combat.

The groups participating in the operations on the front line change frequently and the soldiers who are not in combat are given combat training, the commander of the special operations battalion, code-named "Gor,”said, adding: "No one stays idle. While some go to the special operation, the other soldiers undergo training.

The soldiers of the special operations battalion undergo training six days a week."

Ukraine has lost '25 percent of its arable land': agriculture ministry

Ukraine has lost a quarter of its arable land in certain regions since Russia's offensive, notably in the south and east, the deputy agriculture minister has said but insisted its food security is not threatened.

"Despite the loss of 25 percent of arable land, the structure of crop planting this year is more than sufficient" to ensure food for the population, Taras Vysotskiy told a news conference, saying it "does not pose a threat to Ukraine's food security".

All bridges to Ukraine’s Sievierodontesk destroyed but “access” remains

All bridges to Ukraine's embattled eastern frontline city of Sievierodonetsk have been destroyed, rendering impossible the evacuation of civilians remaining there, the local governor has said, adding that some "access" to the city remains.

Governor Serhiy Gaidai 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, but that it was no longer possible to transport humanitarian cargoes there.

Gaidai also told RFE/RL's Ukrainian service that although 70 percent of the city was now controlled by Russia, the situation for Ukrainian troops there was "difficult but under control."

Sievierodonetsk "de facto" blocked off after Russian forces blow up "last" bridge

Ukraine's key industrial city Sievierodonetsk has been "de facto" blocked off after Russian forces blew up the "last" bridge connecting it to its twin city Lysychansk, Eduard Basurin, a representative for pro-Russian separatists, has said.

"The Ukrainian units that are there, they are there forever. They have two options: to surrender or die," Basurin said. The cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river, have been targeted for weeks as the last areas still under Ukrainian control in the eastern Luhansk region. 

The capture of Sievierodonetsk would open the road for Moscow to another major city, Kramatorsk, in their steps toward conquering the whole of the Donbass region, a mainly Russian-speaking region partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

Both sides using heavier weapons in Ukraine conflict: Finnish president

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has said both sides in the Ukraine conflict are using heavier weapons, including, in Russia's case, thermobaric bombs.

"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, Finland.

UN rights chief warns of global food, fuel, financial crises

Highlighting the horrors and risks of the conflict in Ukraine, the UN human rights chief has warned of global food, fuel, and financial crises that risk plunging millions into food insecurity and poverty.

Speaking at the opening session of the 50th Human Rights Council, Michele Bachelet said: "The war in Ukraine continues to destroy the lives of many, causing havoc and destruction.

She said that the conflict's social, economic, and political ramifications ripple across the region around Ukraine and globally, "with no end in sight."

Three killed in artillery attack on Donetsk market

At least three people including a child have been killed and four injured by Ukrainian artillery at a market in the Russian-backed separatist Ukrainian region of Donetsk, the province's news agency said.

The Donetsk News Agency showed pictures of burning stalls at the central Maisky market and at least one body on the ground.

The news agency said 155-mm caliber NATO-standard artillery munitions hit parts of the region.

Ukrainian forces pushed back from centre of Sievierodonetsk: Kiev

Ukraine has said that its forces have been pushed back from the centre of the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, where fighting with Russia has raged for weeks.

"The enemy, with support of artillery, carried out assault operations in the city of Sievierodonetsk, had partial success, pushed our units away from the city centre," the Ukrainian military said on Facebook.

Ukraine-focussed miner Ferrexpo cuts output

Ukraine-focussed miner Ferrexpo Plc has said it was lowering its iron ore production after a transport route in the southwest of the country was damaged due to the ongoing conflict in the country, impacting the group's exports to European customers.

The Swiss-based company and the world's third-largest exporter of iron ore pellets also said it was in advanced talks with additional port operators in central Europe for seaborne exports amid Ukraine's Black Sea ports remaining closed.

The London-listed group added that further damages caused by the conflict had reduced its ability to use its barging operations, which accounted for 0.8 million tonnes of iron ore deliveries in 2021.

Ukraine southern Odessa region starts 2022 grain harvest

Farmers of Ukrainian southern Odessa region have started the 2022 grain harvest taking advantage of favourable weather, regional officials have said.

Ukraine has already completed the 2022 grain sowing but the agriculture ministry gave no 2022 grain crop outlook. The ministry had said farmers planned to sow 14.2 million hectares of spring grains this year, down from 16.9 million hectares in 2021 due to the conflict.

The Odessa 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.

Ukrainian, Russian forces fight for 'every metre' in Sievierodonetsk

Ukrainian and Russian forces are fighting for "literally every metre" in Sievierodonetsk, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, as fighting intensified in an eastern region where the country's top commander said the land "is covered in blood".

Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk have been targeted for weeks as the last areas in the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control.

Russia's massed artillery in that region gave it a tenfold advantage, said Valeriy Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian military. But, "despite everything, we continue to hold positions", he said.

Russia earns $98B from fuel exports in 100 days of Ukraine conflict: report

Russia has earned $98 billion (93 billion euros) from fossil fuel exports during the first 100 days of the in Ukraine, with most sent to the European Union, according to research report.

The report from the independent, Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) comes as Kiev urges the West to sever all trade with Russia in the hopes of cutting off the Kremlin's financial lifeline.

According to the report, the EU took 61 percent of Russia's fossil fuel exports during the period, worth about $60 billion (57 billion euros). The top importers were China at $13.22 (12.6 billion euros), Germany $12.7 billion (12.1 billion euros) and Italy $8.2 (7.8 billion euros).

Amnesty accuses Russia of 'war crimes' in Kharkiv, killing hundreds

Amnesty International has accused Russia of "war crimes" in Ukraine, saying attacks on 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 in a report on Ukraine's second biggest city.

"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, adding, "The continued use of such inaccurate explosive weapons in populated civilian areas, in the knowledge that they are repeatedly causing large numbers of civilian casualties, may even amount to directing attacks against the civilian population."

For live updates from Sunday (June 12), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies