Russia-Ukraine live news: ‘10,000’ trapped in Severodonetsk | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Ten thousand civilians remain in the eastern city of Severodonetsk as heavy battles continue, according to the region’s mayor.
  • Luhansk’s governor says Russian forces control most of Severodonetsk, the city where Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the fate of the Donbas is being decided.
  • Two British nationals and a Moroccan captured while fighting for Ukraine could face the death penalty in one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s RIA state news agency reports.
  • Russia and Turkey have voiced support for a safe corridor in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian grain exports, but Kyiv has rejected the proposal, saying it is not credible.

INTERACTIVE- Which countries have sanctioned Russia - June 8

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Ukraine sees threat of pollution to water basins after Russian invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said said Russia’s invasion of 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 invasion on February 24.

Evacuation impossible, 10,000 trapped in Severodonetsk: Mayor

Ukrainian forces still hold the industrial zone and adjacent areas in the city of Severodonetsk, and the situation is “difficult but manageable”, according to Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk.

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

Russia shells Severodonetsk, street fighting rages: governor

Fighting has raged on the streets of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine and Russian forces have been destroying “everything that can be used for defence”, according to the regional governor.

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

Russia resumes Izyum offensive: UK

Russian forces have resumed their efforts to advance to the south of the town of Izyum, an offensive that has been stalled since April, the UK’s defence ministry says.

The ministry says Russia likely tried to reconstitute its eastern ground forces from the Izyum operation after they “suffered very heavy casualties in the failed advance on Kyiv, but its units likely remain understrength.”

“Russia likely seeks to regain momentum in this area … to put further pressure on Severodonetsk, and to give it the option of advancing deeper into the Donetsk Oblast,” the ministry says.

British American Tobacco says talks to transfer Russia business ongoing

British American Tobacco says it is still working towards transferring its Russian business and that it is confident in delivering its financial targets irrespective of how long it takes to offload the unit.

The maker of Lucky Strike and Newport cigarettes, which stuck to its 2022 revenue and earnings forecast, says annual global tobacco industry volume is seen down 3 percent due to the uncertainty over the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Russia’s deputy PM says economy growing despite sanctions: Tass

Russia’s deputy prime minister says the country’s economy has been growing despite sanctions, Tass news reports.

“Thanks to the measures taken by the President of the Russian Federation, the government and the Bank of Russia, the economic war against our country did not go according to the plan of those who unleashed it,” Alexei Overchuk said at a conference on cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan in the latter’s capital Nur-Sultan.

He said Russia’s economy grew by about 1.7 percent over the last four months and that, “in May, inflation practically stopped, the last week of May its level was 0 percent, last week we went into deflation,” Overchuk said.

No legal obligation for Russia to help export Ukraine’s grain: Official

Russia has no legal obligation to facilitate the export of grain from Ukraine, a top official from Russia’s committee on constitutional legislation and state-building says.

“Russia simply has no legal obligations to build logistics chains for the export of grain from Ukraine or somehow facilitate this export,” Andrey Klishas wrote on Telegram.

Four killed, 11 injured in Donetsk: Governor

Russian forces have killed four civilians and injured another 11 in Donetsk on Wednesday, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Kyrylenko said on Telegram that three civilians died in the town of Kurakhove and one in Avdiivka and that there had been “four victims in Mariupol, including two children”, without specifying whether they were killed or injured.

He added that the exact number of victims in occupied Mariupol and Volnovakha was currently unknown.

Drawings by Ukrainian children decorate a sleeping area in a trench near the front lines in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Drawings by Ukrainian children decorate a sleeping area in a trench near the front lines in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, June 8, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Four killed, at least six injured in Luhansk: Governor

Russian attacks have killed at least four people in the Luhansk region, the governor said.

Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram that Russians fired on the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, where he has previously said many civilians have been sheltering.

Haidai said one man in Severodonetsk died on Wednesday after having been injured on Monday and that three people died in Lysychansk after Russia fired “mortars, artillery, and rocket-propelled grenades” on the town and its surrounds. He added that at least six people were injured in the attacks.

China’s Huawei closing retail stores in Russia: RIA

China’s telecommunications giant Huawei has begun closing retail outlets in Russia in part due to a drop in demand, Moscow’s state news agency RIA reported, citing a source close to the company.

According to RIA, four out of Russia’s 19 stores have now closed and RIA says it is likely the rest will soon follow.

A shortage of products in warehouses was another reason given by the source.

US, China to clash on Ukraine at Shangri-La Dialogue: Reuters

The US and China are expected to use the upcoming Shangri-La Dialogue – which attracts the world’s top-level military officials, diplomats and weapons makers – to spar over everything from Taiwan’s sovereignty to the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

On the sidelines of the summit, to take place June 10-12 in Singapore, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe are expected to hold their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office more than two years ago.

Although the summit is focused on Asian security issues, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be central to discussions. Ukraine will send a delegation to the meeting but Russia will not be attending, a source familiar with the list of attendees told Reuters.

Russian troops trying to lower Ukrainian soldiers’ morale: ISW

Russian forces are using psychological tactics to damage the morale of Ukrainian soldiers, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says.

ISW cited several sources, including Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), which said Russian forces were sending threatening messages to Kyiv’s soldiers, “calling on them to … surrender, or defect to Russia”.

According to the GUR, the messages were being sent on a number of platforms including SMS, Telegram, Viber, Signal, and WhatsApp.

The ISW also cited Ukrainian military expert Dmytro Snegirov who noted that Russian propagandists were disseminating information that the battle for Severodonetsk would become the “next Mariupol.”

Russia ‘pounding’ Severodonetsk: Adviser

An adviser to Zelenskyy’s office says Russian troops changed tactics in the battle for Severodonetsk.

Oleksiy Arestovych said Wednesday that Russian soldiers had retreated from the city and were now pounding it with artillery and air attacks. As a result, he said, the city centre is deserted.

In his daily online interview, Arestovych said: “They retreated, our troops retreated, so the artillery hits an empty place. They are hitting hard without any particular success.”

Arctic Council decisions without Russia ‘illegitimate’: Ambassador

Decisions taken by the Arctic Council without the participation of Russia will be illegitimate and violate the principle of consensus, Russia’s ambassador to the US says, according to state-owned Tass news agency.

Antonov was speaking in relation to Wednesday’s statement from the council that it was resuming “limited” activities without Russia’s participation.

On March 3, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States – the “Arctic 7” – suspended their work in the council due to Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

Russia still feels too strong to negotiate: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says that Russia will not join negotiations to end the war now “because Russia can still feel its power”.

Speaking via video link to US corporate leaders Wednesday through a translator, he added: “We need to weaken Russia and the world is supposed to do it.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine is doing its part on the battlefield and called for even tougher sanctions to weaken Russia economically.

Russia, Turkey support safe corridor for grains shipments

Russia and Turkey say they support a safe corridor in the Black Sea for Ukrainian grain exports, but Kyiv rejected the proposal, saying it was not credible.

This came after a meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara. Lavrov repeated earlier promises by Putin that Moscow would not use the safe corridors to launch an attack, but Ukrainian and EU officials cast doubt on Putin’s pledge.

Turkey said it would facilitate and protect the movement of grain in the Black Sea, but the head of Ukraine’s grain traders group responded with: “Turkey doesn’t have enough power in the Black Sea to guarantee security of cargo and Ukrainian ports.”

Ukrainian Grain Union Chief Serhiy Ivashchenko said Wednesday it would take three to four months to remove sea mines and also alleged that, contrary to their claims, it was Russia that mined the area.

 Scattered grain sits inside a warehouse damaged by Russian attacks.
Scattered grain in a warehouse damaged by Russian attacks in Cherkaska Lozova, outskirts of Kharkiv, May 28 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Volkswagen offers pay-offs to employees who quit Russia plant: Reports

Volkswagen is offering pay-offs to employees at one of the company’s two plants in Russia if they agree to quit voluntarily, the Kommersant newspaper has said, citing union sources.

The paper said the offer – which in some cases would amount to six months’ salary – was aimed at the 200 people working at the Nizhny Novgorod plant.

Volkswagen announced in March that production at its Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod sites would be suspended until further notice because of Western sanctions, and vehicle exports to Russia will stop with immediate effect.

Ukraine’s PM thanks EU for vote in favour of candidate status

Ukraine’s prime minister has thanked Europe’s parliament for voting in favour of making his country a candidate for EU membership.

“Deputies approved the resolution also calling for providing weapons to #Ukraine to fight the aggressor. Grateful to @EP_President & @Europarl_EN for solidarity with Ukrainian people. We will win together!,” Denys Shmyhal wrote on Twitter.

Some 438 members voted in favour of the resolution to make Ukraine a candidate, 65 voted against and 94 abstained.

Ukraine parliament speaker pleads for EU candidate status

The speaker of Ukraine’s parliament has made a plea for his country to become a candidate for EU membership, which would bring his nation closer to the EU without guaranteeing membership.

Ruslan Stefanchuk, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, told EU legislators on Wednesday that not giving Ukraine a sign of an open door would indicate to Putin that “he can be totally going forward without any punishment”.

European heads of state and governments are expected to consider Ukraine’s bid for EU candidate status at the end of June. The European Parliament already passed a resolution in favour of making Ukraine a membership candidate.

Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) Ruslan Stefanchuk delivers a speech at the European Parliament.
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk delivers a speech at the European Parliament, June 8, in Strasbourg, France [Jean-Francois Badias/AP]

Millions hurting as Ukraine war hikes prices

A UN report says the war in Ukraine is increasing the suffering of millions by escalating food and energy prices, coming on top of ills from a growing financial crisis, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

The UN Global Crisis Response Group report said the war “has exacerbated a global cost-of-living crisis unseen in at least a generation” and is undermining the UN goal of ending extreme poverty around the world by 2030.

The group was appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to assess the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia launched at least 2100 missiles at Ukraine: Visegrad

Russia has launched at least 2,100 missiles against Ukraine since the start of the invasion, according to information collected by Visegrad. More than 600 were launched from Belarus.

Visegrad, a cultural and political alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, published a timeline video with a map of Ukraine showing where the missiles landed.

Two Britons, Moroccan risk death penalty in Donetsk court

Two British nationals and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine could face the death penalty after pleading guilty in court in one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s RIA state news agency reported.

Video published by RIA showed Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun in a courtroom cage. RIA said Pinner and Saadoun had pleaded guilty to actions aimed at the violent seizure of power.

The video appeared to show Aslin pleading guilty to a lesser charge involving weapons and explosives. He was seen standing in the cage and leafing through a sheaf of legal documents as the charge was translated to him.

Severodonetsk largely under Russian control: Governor

The eastern Ukraine city of Severodonetsk is now “largely” under Russian control after fierce fighting, while its twin city of Lysychansk suffers enormous destruction, the region’s governor says.

Moscow’s forces “control a large part of Severodonetsk. The industrial zone is still ours … The fighting is only going on in the streets inside the city”, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram.

Severodonetsk, which had a prewar population of 100,000, and Lysychansk are wedged between Russian forces in Luhansk province.

Read more here

‘Endless caravan of death’ in Mariupol, says local official

Workers are removing bodies from the ruins of high-rise buildings in the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, transporting them in an “endless caravan of death”, a mayoral aide said.

Petro Andryushchenko said on Telegram that the searchers have found 50 to 100 bodies in about two-fifths of the buildings. They are taking the bodies to morgues and landfills.

Ukrainian authorities estimate at least 21,000 civilians were killed and hundreds of buildings destroyed during a weeks-long Russian siege of Mariupol. Reports have surfaced of mass graves holding thousands of bodies.

Russia claimed full control of Mariupol last month.

Severodonetsk defenders are inflicting big losses, Zelenskyy says

Zelenskyy says defenders in the city of Severodonetsk are inflicting major losses on Russian troops during what he called a “fierce and difficult” battle.

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

Russian economy to shrink by 15 percent: Trade group

Hit by sanctions, Russia’s economy will shrink by 15 percent this year and 3 percent in 2023, wiping out 10 years of economic gains, the Institute of International Finance, a global banking trade group, said in an analysis.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin said unemployment and inflation are decreasing, backing up his frequent claims that Russia is succeeding despite Western sanctions.

Still, the institute argued, the sanctions “are unravelling its economy, wiping out more than a decade of economic growth, and some of the most meaningful consequences have yet to be felt”.

UN pursuing deal on Ukraine grain, Russian fertilisers

The UN says it is pursuing a deal that would allow grain exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea and unimpeded access to world markets for Russian food and fertilisers.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told UN correspondents that hundreds of millions of people in developing countries face the threat of an unprecedented wave of hunger without the deal.

“Ukraine’s food production and the food and fertiliser produced by Russia must be brought into world markets despite the war,” Guterres said.

Russia escalates pressure on domestic opponents

Russia has stepped up its campaign against domestic opponents of its invasion, extending the detention of Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr, a journalist accused of spreading “false information” about the military.

Russia previously adopted a law criminalising “false information” about the war, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Some public figures, pressured to support the war, have fled Russia. Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief rabbi of Moscow, fled to Israel after pressure to make public statements in support of the invasion.

Read more here

Ukraine files eight more war crime cases

Ukraine has filed eight more war crimes cases in court in addition to three sentences already handed down to Russian soldiers.

To date, Ukraine has opened more than 16,000 investigations into possible war crimes during Russia’s invasion, Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova said in televised remarks.

“Every day we see an increase [in investigations],” she added. “We are talking about people who didn’t just come as military combatants … but also came to rape, kill civilians, loot, humiliate.”

Moscow denies allegations its troops have committed war crimes.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Wednesday, June 8, here.