Russian forces are now largely in control of the key eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk amid fierce fighting, now in its 106th day, as UN warns that the global impact of the Russian offensive is worsening.

Russian foreign ministry said Washington was
Russian foreign ministry said Washington was "deliberately lowering the threshold for the combat use" of IT. (Reuters)

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Russia: Cyber attacks increase threat of direct military clash with West

Russia has warned the West that cyber attacks against its infrastructure risk leading to direct military confrontation, and that attempts to challenge Moscow in the cyber sphere will be met with targeted countermeasures.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said that Russia's critical infrastructure and state institutions were being hit by cyberattacks and pointed to figures in the United States and Ukraine as being responsible. The statement, issued by the ministry's head of international information security, said Washington was "deliberately lowering the threshold for the combat use" of IT.

"The militarisation of the information space by the West, and attempts to turn it into an arena of interstate confrontation, have greatly increased the threat of a direct military clash with unpredictable consequences", it said.

Kiev in 'no danger' but prepared: Ukraine minister

Ukraine's interior minister has said there is no imminent risk of Russians marching on Kiev, more than 100 days after Russia's offensive began, but the capital will not let its guard down.

"There is no danger of an attack on Kiev today", Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said.

"There is no concentration of troops near the Belarusian border, but we understand that any scenarios are possible tomorrow," he said. "Therefore, serious training is under way – preparation of the line of defence, training of troops who will remain" in Kiev and around the city.

Putin says 'Made in Russia' no remedy for sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that producing goods locally to circumvent Western sanctions over Moscow's military operation in Ukraine is not a cure-all and that Russia is looking for new trading partners.

"The substitution of imports is not a panacea," Putin told a group of young entrepreneurs who complained of a lack of hitherto imported goods in their quest to develop vaccines.

"We are not trying to completely replace imports," Putin said. Russia "must collaborate with those it is possible to collaborate with". "But for critically important technologies, we have to have our own know-how", he said. "We are developing them".

Ukraine condemns 'show trial' of foreigners

The death sentences handed by a pro-Russian separatist court to British and Moroccan nationals fighting for Ukraine should be considered null and void, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson has said.

“The so-called ‘trial’ of the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the occupied Ukrainian territories is of no significance”, Oleh Nikolenko told the Interfax Ukraine agency.

“Such show trials put the interests of propaganda above the law and morality; they undermine the mechanisms for the return of prisoners of war. The Ukrainian government will continue to make every effort to release all the defenders of Ukraine,” Nikolenko added.

Zelenskyy sanctions Putin, Russian leadership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a decree imposing personal sanctions on Russian leaders, including President Vladimir Putin and all sitting ministers.

The sanctions, approved by Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, target all members of Russia’s government and security council, as well as the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov. They ban entry to Ukraine, revoke visas and permits, and block financial assets.

The decree came into force on Thursday, according to a copy published on the website of the Ukrainian presidency. Zelenskyy also signed a directive sanctioning 236 Russian universities and their leaders.

Russian forces appear headed for Zaporizhzhia

Russian troops are trying to resume their offensive on Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region in order to capture it completely, a top Ukrainian military official has said.

Oleksei Gromov, deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ General Staff, said Russian forces are likely to strike out from the southern Kherson region, which is majority-controlled by Moscow, towards neighbouring Zaporizhzhia.

“The enemy has focused on holding the lines, but at the same time does not cease (its) attempts to resume the offensive in these areas, probably in order to reach the administrative borders of the Zaporizhzhia region,” Gromov said in a briefing hosted by Ukraine’s state Ukrinform agency.

Moscow-backed Luhansk region in Ukraine to send 'liberated' grain to Russia -Tass

One of two breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions backed by Moscow has said it will soon start rail shipments to Russia of grain that its troops have "liberated", Tass news agency has reported.

Yuri Pronko, agricultural minister of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic, said that until now, the grain had been sent by truck in relatively small amounts.

"Tomorrow is a historical moment - the first wagons of grain will go Russia, 50 wagons, more than 3,000 tonnes," Tass cited him as saying.

Ukraine: Russia still attacking eastern city

The Ukrainian army has said Kiev’s forces continue to frustrate Russian attempts to take the fiercely contested eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.

“The occupiers, with the help of motorised rifle units and artillery, conducted assault operations in the city of Sievierodonetsk. They were not successful; the fighting continues,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a regular operational update.

It added that Ukrainian forces had successfully repelled a Russian attack on the village of Toshkivka, on the northwestern outskirts of Sievierodonetsk.

Ukrainian commander: Battle for Sievierodonetsk devolves into house-to-house fighting

The battle for Sievierodonetsk is being waged house to house as Ukrainian fighters hope for the delivery of heavy weapons that might "turn the tide," a Ukrainian commander has said. 

Petro Kuzyk, commander of the Svoboda (Freedom) National Guard battalion, said street fighting in the small industrial city in eastern Ukraine was at times raging under heavy Russian artillery barrages that endangered troops on both sides. 

"We fight for every house and every street", Kuzyk told national television, describing fighting in which Ukrainian fighters had gone from "blind defence to small counter-offensives in some areas. 

Russia does not expect to cut gas to more European customers

Russia has said it does not expect Gazprom to cut gas supplies to any more European customers and said its scheme to make buyers pay for gas in roubles is working as planned. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said everyone who was to be cut off from supplies was now not receiving Russian gas. 

"The system is functioning ... and whose who receive the gas are working under the new system," Peskov told his daily conference call with reporters. Asked whether new gas cuts should be expected, he said: "No."

British, Moroccan fighters captured in Ukraine sentenced to death: Russian media

Pro-Moscow separatists have sentenced to death two British fighters and a third from Morocco, who have been captured by Russian troops while fighting for Ukraine, Russian news agencies have reported. 

The "supreme court of the Donetsk People's Republic" ordered the death penalty for Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Saaudun Brahim after the three were accused of acting as mercenaries for Ukraine.

UK "deeply concerned" by sentencing of Brits by Russia-backed court, PM's spokesperson

Britain is deeply concerned by the death sentences passed down to two British men by a court of the Russian-backed so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and will work to try to secure their release, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

"We're obviously deeply concerned by this. We've said continually that prisoners of war shouldn't be exploited for political purposes", the spokesperson told reporters.

"Under the Geneva convention, prisoners of war are entitled to combatant immunity, and they should not be prosecuted for participation in hostilities. So we will continue to work with Ukrainian authorities to try and secure the release of any British national who was serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and who are being held as prisoners of war."

Ukraine conflict to hit foreign direct investment: UN

Foreign direct investment is expected to fall this year, with the food, fuel and financial crises triggered by Russia's offensive in Ukraine dampening the business climate, the UN has said.

Global FDI recovered to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, reaching nearly $1.6 trillion, but this is unlikely to be sustained in 2022, said the United Nations' trade and development agency UNCTAD.

"The global environment for international investment changed dramatically with the onset of the war in Ukraine," said UNCTAD chief Rebeca Grynspan. "The war is having effects well beyond its immediate vicinity, causing a cost-of-living crisis affecting billions of people."

Euro lawmakers want EU candidacy for Ukraine

Senior members of the European Union's parliament are urging EU leaders to make Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova official candidates for joining the 27-nation bloc.

Political group leaders in the European Parliament said that the EU “must be a reliable partner and a credible geopolitical actor that lives up to its principles and values by showing solidarity with those who stand up for the same ideals.”

The parliamentary group leaders say that giving Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status would mark “the start to a merit-based process” for joining. They also urged EU leaders “to work towards granting the same status to Georgia.”

Russia says it hit base for 'mercenaries'

Russia’s defence ministry has said it has used air-launched missiles to destroy a Ukrainian military base where foreign fighters allegedly were being trained.

Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said that the training centre was in the Zhytomyr region of central Ukraine, about 125 kilometres (75 miles) west of Kiev.

Russia refers to foreign fighters who joined Ukrainian troops in the conflict as ‘mercenaries.’ Konashenkov said Russian missiles also destroyed an ammunition depot and an anti-aircraft system elsewhere in Ukraine.

Most important help Ukraine needs is military equipment: Dutch FM

The most important thing for helping embattled Ukraine is providing military equipment, the Dutch foreign minister has said in an interview.

"What many of the governments in Europe and North America do is seeking to help out Ukraine. The one most important thing we can currently help Ukraine with is military equipment," Wopke Hoekstra said in the Turkish capital Ankara, on a visit for the 9th Wittenburg Conference between Türkiye and the Netherlands.

"Because a country that is strong on the battlefields to defend itself will also be strong at the negotiating table," Hoekstra said. "Every single time we get a request from the Ukrainians, we diligently look into it. We typically do that and look at what we have in stock."

The one most important thing we can currently help Ukraine with is military equipment.

Dutch FM Wopke Hoekstra

Nearly 5M Ukrainians registered as refugees in Europe: UN

Nearly five million Ukrainians have been registered as refugees across Europe since Russia launched its offensive less than four months ago. "The Ukraine war has caused one of the largest human displacement crises in the world," said UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

An update of the agency's data portal on the Ukraine situation showed that a total of 4,816,923 Ukrainians had been registered as refugees across 44 European countries since February 24.

Far more will have actually left, with data showing more than 7.3 million border crossings out of Ukraine by June 7. Another 2.3 million crossings had been registered back into the country. The UN says women and children account for 90 percent of those who have fled abroad.

Ukraine sees threat of pollution to water basins

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia's offensive against his country posed a huge threat of pollution to water basins, including the Sea of Azov.

In an address to a ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), he also underlined the need for green energy to replace Russian natural gas supplies following Russia's military campaign that started on February 24.

Sievierodonetsk mayor: Evacuation impossible, 10,000 civilians remain

Ukrainian forces still hold the industrial zone and adjacent areas in the city of Sievierodonetsk, and the situation is "difficult but manageable", Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk has said.

He said defence lines were holding despite intense Russian artillery fire but that it was now impossible to evacuate people from Sievierodonetsk. He said about 10,000 civilians remained in the city, which is now the main focus of Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

Western arms would end Severodonetsk fight 'in 2-3 days': Ukraine

Western long-range artillery would enable Ukraine to beat back Russian forces and capture Sievierodonetsk within days, a regional Ukrainian official has said.

"As soon as we have long-range artillery to be able to conduct duels with Russian artillery, our special forces can clean up the city in two to three days," Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in an interview distributed on his official social media channels.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the battle as "one of the most difficult" since the start of the conflict. Gaiday said on Thursday that Ukrainian forces in the city remained "highly motivated" and "everyone is holding their positions".

Ukraine needs assurances on ports to ship grains: Italy's Draghi

Global efforts to avoid a food crisis start at Ukraine's Black Sea ports and Kiev needs assurances that they will not be attacked to resume grain shipments, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

Grain shipments from Ukraine, a major exporter, have fallen sharply since Russia's operation, sparking fears of food shortages in the most vulnerable countries.

"We need to unblock the millions of tonnes of cereals that are stuck there because of the conflict. The United Nations' and Türkiye's mediation efforts are significant steps," Draghi said in a speech at an OECD ministerial meeting in Paris.

We have to offer President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy the assurances he needs that the ports will not be attacked

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi

Zelenskyy: Millions could starve because Russia is blockading ports

Millions of people could starve because of Russia's blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. Warning that the world was on the brink of a "terrible food crisis", he said in a televised statement that Ukraine was unable to export wheat, corn, oil and other products.

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

Russia also blames Ukraine for the situation over grain exports and cites sea mines planted by Kiev's forces. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was ready to ensure the safe passage of vessels from Ukraine, amid concerns over grain stuck in Ukrainian ports.  

Millions of people may starve if the Russian blockade of the Black Sea continues

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

UK defence update: Russian forces targeting south of Izium

Russian forces have increased their efforts to advance to the south of the town of Izium in eastern Ukraine, likely wanting to secure further options in the region, a British military update has said.

"Russia's progress on the Izium axis had remained stalled since April, after Ukrainian forces made good use of the terrain to slow Russia's advance," Britain's Ministry of Defence said.

"Russia likely seeks to regain momentum in this area in order to put further pressure on Sieverodonetsk, and to give it the option of advancing deeper into the Donetsk Oblast."

Russian forces shell Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk, street fighting rages

Fighting is raging on the streets of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine and Russian forces are destroying "everything that can be used for defence", the regional governor has said.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russia was shelling areas of the city that are still controlled by Ukraine but that Ukrainian forces would be able to "clean up" in the city once they received long-range artillery.

Ukraine fighters hold out in eastern city as Russia presses assault 

Ukrainian fighters were holding out in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk despite relentless Russian shelling, the regional governor said, as Moscow presses an assault that both sides believe could help shape the course of the offensive.

Russia has concentrated its troops and firepower on the small industrial city to secure the surrounding province on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists.

Ukraine's forces pulled back to the city's outskirts on Wednesday but have vowed to fight there for as long as possible. Artillery shelling has turned the city in Ukraine's Luhansk province into a bombed-out wasteland. 

READ MORE: US sees no signals of diplomacy ending Russia-Ukraine conflict soon

For live updates from Wednesday (June 8), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies