Russia-Ukraine live updates | Xi Jinping expresses readiness to help settle Ukrainian crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. File

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. File | Photo Credit: AP

Russia told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant in embattled Severodonetsk to lay down their arms by early Wednesday as it fights to maintain momentum in its battle for control of eastern Ukraine. Ukraine is calling for an increase in Western heavy weapons after Russia committed the bulk of its firepower to the eastern Donbas region, a topic expected to feature prominently at a meeting of NATO defence ministers on Wednesday in Brussels.

Russian forces cut off the last routes for evacuating citizens from the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, a Ukrainian official said, as the Kremlin pushed for victory in the Donbas region. The last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, said regional governor Sergei Gaidai, adding that some 70% of the city was under Russian control.

BEIJING

Xi Jinping expresses readiness to help settle Ukrainian crisis

In a telephonic conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinpingsaid, “All parties concerned must take a responsible stance, thus promoting the correct settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.” “China is prepared to keep playing its constructive role,” the Chinese state-TV quoted Xi as saying.

Mr. Xi asserted that Beijing was taking an independent position on the Ukrainian issue, “taking into account the facts and historical realities”.

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GENEVA

UN probes allegations Russians adopting Ukrainian children

The UN rights chief said on Wednesday her office was investigating allegations that children are being sent from war-torn Ukraine to Russia and then offered up for adoption.

Speaking before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet said her office “has been looking into allegations of children forcibly deported from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

These reportedly included children who were “taken from orphanages and subsequently offered for adoption in Russia,” she said. - AFP

BEIJING

In call with Putin, Xi says all sides should work to resolve Ukraine crisis

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Wednesday that all parties should work towards resolving the crisis in Ukraine “in a responsible manner,” Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

China has refused to condemn Russia‘s actions in Ukraine or call them an invasion, and has urged a negotiated solution.

In their call, Xi reiterated China’s willingness to help resolve the situation. - Reuters

PRAGUE

Ukraine’s President seeks tighter sanctions on Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the European Union on Wednesday to tighten sanctions on Russia, warning that Russian forces could attack other countries after invading his own country.

In a speech to both chambers of the Czech parliament via a video link, Mr. Zelenskiy reiterated calls for the EU to allow Ukraine to start on the road to membership of the 27-nation bloc by giving it candidate country status. - Reuters

KYIV

Ukraine ‘waiting for a decision’ on more Western weapons

Ukraine said on Wednesday it was outgunned and appealed to Western allies for greater military aid to fend off Russia‘s invasion ahead of a gathering of NATO officials in Belgium to discuss more supplies.

Presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak wrote on social media that Ukrainian soldiers asked when Western artillery was expected on the frontlines and added: “Brussels, we are waiting for a decision”.

Mr. Podolyak said the ratio Russian to Ukrainian artillery along the frontline in some areas was 10 to 1.- AFP

MOSCOW

Russia says Donetsk death sentences set example for ‘soldiers of fortune’ in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that the death sentences handed down to foreign fighters in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic would set a “clear example to other soldiers of fortune fighting for Ukraine“.

Two Britons and one Moroccan captured fighting with the Ukrainian army were sentenced to death as mercenaries by Russian-backed authorities in the breakaway territory in eastern Ukraine on June 9. - Reuters

CAIRO

Egypt, Israel to boost gas supply to EU amid Ukraine war

Egypt, Israel, and the European Union on Wednesday signed a deal to increase liquified natural gas sales to EU countries, who aim to reduce dependence on supply from Russia as the war in Ukraine drags on.

The deal, stamped in a five-star Cairo hotel, will see Israel sending more gas via Egypt, which has facilities to liquify it for export via sea, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said. - AP

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KYIV

Ukraine says 2.4 million hectares of winter crops won’t be harvested because of war

Some 2.4 million hectares of winter crops with a total value of $1.435 billion will remain unharvested in Ukraine because of Russia‘s invasion, the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry said on Wednesday.

It said the agriculture sector had so far suffered losses of $4.292 billion because of the invasion. It is estimated that the number of animals killed in areas affected by fighting included 42,000 sheep and goats, 92,000 cows, 258,000 pigs and more than 5.7 million birds. - Reuters

CONSTANTA

Ukraine President will have to negotiate with Russia at some point, says France’s Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that Ukraine would have to hold talks with Russia at some point, in order to try and bring an end to the war between the two countries.

“The Ukrainian President and his officials will have to negotiate with Russia,” said Mr. Macron, while on a visit to Romania and Moldova. - Reuters

MOSCOW

Russia says it has destroyed warehouse for NATO weapons in Ukraine

Russia said on Wednesday its missiles destroyed an ammunition warehouse for weapons donated by NATO alliance countries in Ukraine‘s western Lviv region.

The Defence Ministry said some of the ammunition was to be used for U.S.-produced M777 howitzers, a type of artillery weapon. - Reuters

Donbas

Donbas battle will determine course of war: Zelensky

Ukraine’s battle against Russian troops in the eastern region of the Donbas will determine the course of the war, President Zelensky said Tuesday, asking his nation to stay strong in the face of Moscow’s devastating attack against two key cities.

Russian forces have intensified efforts to cut off Ukrainian troops remaining in the industrial hub of Severodoentsk, destroying all three bridges which connect it across a river to the twin city of Lysychansk. - AFP

U.K.

U.K. says hundreds of civilians sheltered in Ukraine’s Azot Chemical Plant

Elements of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and several hundred civilians are sheltering in underground bunkers in Azot Chemical Plant in the embattled city of Severodonetsk, Britain’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Russian forces now control the majority of the Ukrainian city, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter update. Russia told Ukrainian forces who were holed up in the chemical plant to lay down their arms by early Wednesday, pressing its advantage in the battle for control of eastern Ukraine. - Reuters

Russia

Russia plans evacuations from chemical plant in battleground Ukraine city

Russia said it would establish a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from a chemical plant in Severodonetsk starting Wednesday as Ukrainian forces wage a desperate battle for control of the city.

Moscow’s forces have intensified efforts to cut off Ukrainian troops remaining in the city, destroying all three bridges which connect it across a river to the twin city of Lysychansk.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg meanwhile urged allies to send more heavy weapons to Ukraine, and said officials from the alliance would be discussing the subject at talks Wednesday. - AFP

Ukraine

Ukraine’s need for more weapons major focus as defence ministers meet

Dozens of defence ministers from NATO and other parts of the world are expected to discuss weapon deliveries to Ukraine on June 15 in Brussels, U.S. officials said, as Kyiv calls for a significant increase in arms to help hold off Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

The battle for Severodonetsk — a city of barely more than 1,00,000 people before the war — is now the biggest fight in Ukraine as the conflict has shifted into a punishing war of attrition. Ukraine needs 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones among other heavy weapons, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Monday. - Reuters

U.S.A.

U.S. 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 U.S. Department of Treasury said on June 14.

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 invasion of Ukraine. But Washington has allowed bank transactions on Russian oil and gas sent to European countries to continue, allowing those nations time to transition to different sources of fossil fuels and into alternative energy. - Reuters

Russia

European official concerned about Russia flying Western-made airplanes

European’s top aviation safety regulator said on June 14 that he is “very worried” about the safety of Western-made aircraft continuing to fly in Russia without access to spare parts and proper maintenance.

The European Union and the United States have moved to restrict Russia’s access to spare parts following its invasion of Ukraine.

“This is very unsafe,” Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), told reporters on the sidelines of a conference, adding that regulators do not have good data on many of the planes flying in Russia. - Reuters

Opinion

The ‘C’ factor in the Russia-Ukraine war

Well into the second 100 days of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the world is awash with speculation about reasons for the so-called failure of the Russian armed forces to deal a decisive blow against a much smaller Ukrainian army. This may appear to be a one-sided viewpoint, but Russia is yet to achieve what can be termed as a decisive victory in any sector of the current conflict.

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NATO

Group of NATO leaders pledge support for Ukraine

The leaders of seven NATO nations from across Europe pledged their support on June 14 for Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the alliance and for providing more heavy weapons to help Ukraine battle Russia.

The support was voiced after an informal gathering at Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official residence in The Hague co-hosted by his Danish counterpart, Mette Frederiksen. The other leaders attending were Romania’s president and the prime ministers of Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Latvia.

“My message on Swedish and Finnish membership is that I strongly welcome that,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who also attended. “It’s an historic decision. It will strengthen them, it will strengthen us.” - AP

Ukraine

Russians control 80% of key Ukraine city, cut escape routes

Russian troops control about 80% of the fiercely contested eastern city of Severodonetsk and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of it, but Ukrainians were still trying to evacuate the wounded, a regional official said on June 15.

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the eastern Luhansk region, acknowledged that a mass evacuation of civilians from Severodonetsk now was “simply not possible” due to the relentless shelling and fighting. Ukrainian forces have been pushed to the industrial outskirts of the city because of “the scorched earth method and heavy artillery the Russians are using," he said.

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

Editorial

End the war: On Russia-Ukraine conflict

The battle for Severodonetsk, the easternmost part of the Donbas where the Ukrainian forces still have defensive positions, has entered the final phase with Russian troops destroying all bridges over the Donets river linking the city with its sister city, Lysychansk. The Russians now have more than 80% control of the industrial city, with the remaining Ukrainian troops trapped without supplies. If Russia takes control of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the entire Luhansk Oblast will be in its hands, allowing it to march towards Kramatorsk, the last industrial city in the Donbas still with Ukraine. In recent weeks, Ukrainian troops have taken heavy losses with Russian forces blasting their way into Severodonetsk using artillery fire. 

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India

Health Minister Mandaviya to visit Russia for economic meet

India will participate in the biggest Russian trade meet that is expected to be launched by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. 

The Indian delegation for St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is to be led by Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Chemical and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya and the focus will be on fertiliser and potash supplies as India rushes to ensure uninterrupted fertiliser supply in the kharif season.

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