Russia pushes Ukrainians back from centre of key industrial city Sievierodonetsk, where President Zelenskyy says the fighting is taking a "terrifying" toll as casualties soar in Moscow's offensive – now in its 111th day.

The ministry said the step was taken in response to sanctions against Russia's media figures and chiefs of defence companies.
The ministry said the step was taken in response to sanctions against Russia's media figures and chiefs of defence companies. (AFP)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Russia bans 29 British journalists, along with defence figures

Russia has banned dozens of British media and defence figures from entering the country, the Russian foreign ministry has announced.

In an online statement on its website, the ministry described the ban on 29 journalists and commentators as a response to what it alleged was the British media’s skewed portrayal of Moscow and its actions in Ukraine.

“The British journalists included in the list are involved in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia and events in Ukraine and the Donbass,” it said, referencing Ukraine’s industrial east, parts of which have been controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

Ukraine suffering painful losses in Sievierodonetsk, Kharkiv region - Zelenskyy

Ukrainian forces are suffering painful losses in fighting against Russian troops in both the city of Sievierodonetsk and the Kharkiv region, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

In a late night address, he also said Ukraine needed modern anti-missile weapons now, adding there could be no justification for partner countries to delay their delivery.

Russia restricts publication of budget figures

Russia's Finance Ministry has announced that the publication of budget data has been restricted to protect the country from new Western sanctions.

It said Western countries continue to create pressure by imposing sanctions on Russia and the decision would reduce the risks of new sanctions.

After the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24, Western countries, especially EU members and the US, have imposed several sanctions on Russia.

Russia lowers gas flows to Europe with part stuck in Canada

Russian natural gas deliveries through a key pipeline to Europe will drop by around 40 percent this year, state-controlled energy giant Gazprom has said after Canadian sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine prevented German partner Siemens Energy from delivering overhauled equipment.

Germany's utility network agency said it did not see gas supplies as endangered and that reduced flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic Sea aligned with commercial behavior and Russia's previously announced cutoff of gas to Denmark and the Netherlands, the German news agency dpa reported. 

US allows some Russian energy-related transactions until December 5

The United States 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 Treasury has said in an online notice.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control said it was extending the general license authorising the transactions with entities including Russia's Central Bank, Sovcombank, Vnesheconombank and others.

The United States has banned imports of Russian fossil fuels and imposed punitive sanctions on the country for its offensive in Ukraine.

West building grain silos to help export blockaded Ukraine wheat

US President Joe Biden has disclosed a Western plan to build silos on the borders of Ukraine to facilitate export of grain caught in a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports that has triggered a global food supply crisis.

Biden blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for high food prices in the United States and warned that the plan for new infrastructure to help get more Ukrainian wheat to world markets was "taking time."

"I'm working closely with our European partners to get 20 million tonnes of grain locked in Ukraine out onto the market to help bring down food prices," Biden said in a speech to a trade union convention in Philadelphia.

Sievierodonetsk plant evacuations planned for Wednesday: Russia

The Russian army has said it will establish a humanitarian corridor on Wednesday to evacuate hundreds of civilians from the Azot chemical plant in the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk.

"Guided by the principles of humanity, the Russian armed forces and the formations of the Luhansk People's Republic are ready to organise a humanitarian operation to evacuate civilians," the Russian defence ministry said.

The humanitarian corridor will be in place between 0500 GMT and 17GMT on Wednesday, the defence ministry said, adding the evacuees would be transported to the city of Svatovo in the Russia-backed separatist-held region of Luhansk.

Russians control 80 percent of key city in eastern Ukraine

Russian troops control about 80 percent of the fiercely contested eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of the city but Ukrainian authorities are still trying to evacuate some wounded residents, a regional official has said.

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the eastern Luhansk region, acknowledged that a mass evacuation of civilians from Sievierodonetsk is currently “simply not possible” due to the relentless shelling and fighting in the city. 

“There is still an opportunity for the evacuation of the wounded, communication with the Ukrainian military and local residents,” he said, adding that Russian forces have not yet completely blocked off the strategic city.

Ukraine needs long-range weapons - Zelenskyy

Ukraine's military has enough ammunition and weapons, but needs more long-range weapons, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told Danish journalists.

"We have enough weapons. What we don't have enough of are the weapons that really hits the range that we need to reduce the advantage of the Russian Federation's equipment," Zelenskyy said at an online press briefing organised by Danish publishing house Berlingske Media. 

Russia's 'foreign agents' law violates rights convention: European court

Europe's top rights court has condemned Russia over a 2012 law that allows authorities to crack down on NGOs, media outlets and others deemed "foreign agents," saying it violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

The controversial law, which was expanded by Russian lawmakers in 2020, has been used to quash opposition to President Vladimir Putin by forcing dozens of groups that receive foreign funding to disband.

Russia had long been a signatory to the 1953 rights convention, but since its exit from the Council of Europe in March following Moscow's offensive in Ukraine, it will cease being a so-called "contracting party" to the convention in September.

Kiev recovers Azovstal fighters' bodies in swap with Moscow

Kiev has said it has received the bodies of 64 soldiers who died defending Mariupol's steelworks in an exchange with Moscow that saw Ukraine returning the remains of Russian troops.

"Ukraine has recovered the bodies of 64 heroic Azovstal defenders for their dignified burial," the Ukrainian reintegration ministry, which is responsible for the territory under Russia's control, said in a statement.

Azovstal, the last point of resistance in the southern port city of Mariupol, was captured by Russia at the end of May after a months-long operation.

Kremlin says separatists would listen to UK appeal on condemned fighters

The Kremlin has said it was "sure" that Russian-backed separatist leaders in the Donbass region would be willing to listen to an appeal from Britain over the fate of two Britons sentenced to death for fighting for Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call that London had not contacted Moscow about the issue.

A court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine last week sentenced Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun to death, saying they were guilty of "mercenary activities".

Four injured in shelling of Russian town bordering Ukraine: official

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

The incident occurred in the town of Klintsy, some 50 kilometres (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.

Pope criticises Russia over cruelty

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 and published on Tuesday, he also said the situation was not black and white and that the conflict was "perhaps in some way provoked".

While condemning "the ferocity, the cruelty of Russian troops, we must not forget the real problems if we want them to be solved," Francis said. "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.

Russian forces lay siege to Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces have cut off all routes for evacuating citizens from the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk by destroying the last bridge linking it to a Ukrainian held city on the other side of the river, a Ukrainian official said.

Regional governor Sergei Gaidai said on social media that some 70 percent of Sievierodonetsk was under enemy control, as the Russian offensive in the eastern Donbass region moved closer securing a breakthrough victory.

Gaidai described the situation of Ukrainian soldiers holding out in the city as "difficult, but under control". But he said the destruction of the last bridge across the river to the twin city of Lysychansk meant any civilians still in Sievierodonetsk were trapped, and it was impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies.

Zelenskyy: Donbass battle would go down as one of most brutal in European history

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the battle for the eastern Donbass would go down as one of the most brutal in European history. 

The region,  comprising the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, is claimed by Russian separatists.

"For us, the price of this battle is very high. It is just scary," he said, adding, "we draw the attention of our partners daily to the fact that only a sufficient number of modern artillery for Ukraine will ensure our advantage."

For live updates from Monday (June 13), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies