Ukraine struggles to hold its ground in bloody street-to-street fighting in the eastern frontline city of Sievierodonetsk as President Zelenskyy vows to reverse Russia's gains in fighting — now in its 105th day.

The strategic Sievierodonetsk city has become the focus of Russia's offensive as it seeks to seize an eastern swathe of Ukraine.
The strategic Sievierodonetsk city has become the focus of Russia's offensive as it seeks to seize an eastern swathe of Ukraine. (AFP)

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Ukraine city of Sievierodonetsk now largely under Russian control: governor

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

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

Russian forces temporarily control 90 percent of the region, he added.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy: Sievierodonetsk defenders are inflicting big losses

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday said defenders in the city of Sievierodonetsk were inflicting major losses on Russian troops during what he called a very fierce and very difficult battle.

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

UN chief warns impact of Ukraine conflict on world is worsening

UN chief Antonio Guterres has said that the consequences for the world of Russia's offensive in Ukraine are worsening, with 1.6 billion people likely to be affect.

"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 into the repercussions of the conflict.

He added that "for people around the world, the war is threatening to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake". Guterres said that while this year's food crisis is "about lack of access", next year's "could be about lack of food".

Ukraine's Zelenskyy meets philanthropist Howard Buffett, discusses rebuilding

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he has met US philanthropist Howard Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, in Kiev and discussed ways to help rebuild the country.

"We discussed assistance that would be valuable for our state. I offered him the chance to join projects restoring irrigation systems in the Odessa region, supporting our people, (and) mine clearance", Zelenskyy said in a tweet.

Buffett is a director of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, the conglomerate founded by his father, and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which had assets of $529 million at the end of 2020, said on its website that its priorities are global food security, conflict mitigation and public safety.

Finance body: Russia economy to shrink by 15%

Hard hit by sanctions since the February 24 offensive in Ukraine, Russia’s economy will shrink by 15 percent this year and another 3 percent in 2023, wiping out 15 years of economic gains, according to the Institute of International Finance, a global banking trade group.

The finance institute argued that the sanctions, partly by encouraging foreign companies to abandon Russia, “are unraveling its economy, wiping out more than a decade of economic growth, and some of the most meaningful consequences have yet to be felt’’.

'Russian aggression', not sanctions, fuels grain crisis - Kiev

Ukraine has said that Moscow's aggression was responsible for a global grain crisis, dismissing Russian claims that Western sanctions on Moscow had sent prices soaring. 

"We have been actively communicating, the president and myself, about the true cause of this crisis: it is Russian aggression, not sanctions," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said during a briefing with Ukrainian journalists released on social media. 

Sanctions must be lifted for Russian grain to reach markets - Kremlin 

The Kremlin said that Western sanctions against Moscow must be lifted before Russian grain could be delivered to international markets.

"President (Vladimir) Putin said that in order for Russian grain volumes to be delivered to international markets, direct and indirect sanctions against Russia must be lifted," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

He said the sanctions, which the West imposed in response to Russia's operation in Ukraine, were affecting shipping insurance, payments, and access to European ports."

He added that "no substantive discussions" about lifting them were taking place. 

Ukraine dismisses Moscow’s assurances over grain shipments as ‘empty words’

Ukraine dismissed as "empty words" assurances from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Moscow will not use the situation to its advantage if Kiev allows grain shipments to leave safely via the Black Sea. 

"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 spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeted.

Russian proxies plan vote in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region on joining Russia 

The Russian-installed administration in the occupied part of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region plans to stage a referendum later this year on joining Russia, Russian news agencies quoted one of its members as saying. 

"The people will determine the future of the Zaporizhzhia region. The referendum is scheduled for this year," the official, Vladimir Rogov, was quoted by TASS as saying, giving no further details about the timing.

Around 60 percent of the region is under Russian control, part of a swathe of southern Ukraine that Moscow seized early in the war, including most of neighbouring Kherson province where Russian-installed officials have also discussed plans for a referendum.

Microsoft cuts Russia operations 

Microsoft Corp is substantially cutting its business in Russia, in response to Moscow's attacks on Ukraine, Bloomberg News reported

The company, which suspended the sales of its products in Russia in March, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Ukraine grain silos half-full ahead of harvest, industry group says

Grain silos in Ukrainian territory controlled by the government are about half full in the run-up to this year's harvest, the head of the Ukraine Grain Association said. 

There were some 30 million tonnes of grain stored in Ukrainian-held territory out of capacity of around 55 million tonnes, Mykola Gorbachov told an International Grains Council (IGC) conference in London, adding there were 13-15 million tonnes of storage capacity in Russian-occupied areas. 

Onus on Ukraine to de-mine ports: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the onus is on Ukraine to solve the problem of resuming grain shipments by de-mining its ports, adding that no action was required on the Russian side because it had already made the necessary commitments.

After a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Lavrov also said Russia values Türkiye's efforts to resolve the situation about grain exports. He alleged that the main problem was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's refusal to discuss the clearing of sea mines.

Russian and Turkish militaries are discussing the issue of clearing mines in Ukraine's sea ports to allow grain exports, Lavrov said. He expressed readiness to provide any kind of security for ships — "hand-in-hand" with Turkish counterparts.

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

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Türkiye urges all parties to pave way for exports amid conflict

Türkiye has urged all parties concerned to jointly pave the way for the export of products from both Ukraine and Russia, which are locked in a conflict, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said at a press conference alongside Russia's Sergey Lavrov.

Cavusoglu said he held a "fruitful" meeting with the Russian foreign minister and called Russian demands for an end to sanctions to help grain onto the world market "legitimate".

Cavusoglu said dialogue was needed on measures to be taken for the safe passage of ships from Ukraine, adding that Ankara found the United Nations' plan to establish a mechanism on food corridor "reasonable and feasible".

Türkiye is involved in efforts for the establishment of a UN-led mechanism that would create a secure corridor for the shipment of the Ukrainian grain — and for Russia to export food and fertiliser.

If we need to open up the international market to Ukrainian grain, we see the removal of obstacles standing in the way of Russia's exports as a legitimate demand

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Talks need to resume before Putin-Zelenskyy meeting: Lavrov

Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine need to resume before any possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

At a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Lavrov also asserted that Russia will fulfil the goals of its "special military operation" in Ukraine. He suggested that Russia was ready for a meeting with representatives of the United Nations and Ukraine in Istanbul, according to the Anadolu Agency.

Cavusoglu suggested that there may again be grounds for Russia-Ukraine negotiations, which have hit a roadblock.  

Governor: Ukrainian forces may have to pull back in Sievierodonetsk

Ukrainian troops may have to retreat from the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, which is being shelled by Russian troops "24 hours a day", the regional governor has said.

"It is possible that we will have to retreat" to better fortified positions, Luhansk governor Sergiy Gaiday said in an interview on the TV channel 1+1. But Ukraine's forces will not give up the city, he added.

Ukraine expects Russia to step up its bombardment of Sievierodonetsk and to mount a huge offensive where Moscow is focusing all its efforts, he added.

Grain shipments may resume from Ukraine's Berdyansk port this week

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.

Ukraine is one of the world's biggest exporters of grain, and Western countries have accused Russia of creating the risk of global famine by shutting Ukraine's Black Sea ports. Moscow denies responsibility for the international food crisis, blaming Western sanctions.

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.

Ukraine launching 'Book of Executioners' to detail 'war crimes'

Ukraine is launching a "Book of Executioners", a system to collate evidence of "war crimes" that Kiev says were committed during Russia's military offensive, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have registered more than 12,000 alleged war crimes involving more than 600 suspects since the Kremlin started its offensive on February 24.

"Next week, a special publication is to be launched - 'The Book of Executioners' - an information system to collect a confirmation of data about war criminals, criminals from the Russian army," Zelenskyy said in a video address.

Zelenskyy said this would be a key element in his longstanding pledge to bring to account Russian servicemen who have committed what Ukrainian authorities have described as murders, rape and looting. "These are concrete facts about concrete individuals guilty of concrete cruel crimes against Ukrainians," he said.

For live updates from Tuesday (June 7), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies