Separatists in eastern Ukraine claim that most of Sievierodonetsk is controlled by Russia amid President Zelenskyy’s visit in show of support for Mykolaiv as fierce fighting enters 116th day.

A view of Russia's Iskander M missile.
A view of Russia's Iskander M missile. (AFP Archive)

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Russia strikes Kharkiv tank repair plant with Iskander missiles

Russia's Iskander missiles struck a Kharkiv tank repair plant in Ukraine, the Russian defence ministry said.

The ministry also said it had destroyed 10 howitzers and up to 20 military vehicles in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv that had been supplied by Western countries over the past 10 days. 

Rabat urges 'fair trial' for Moroccan facing Ukraine war death penalty

Morocco's national human rights body has urged Russian authorities to guarantee a "fair trial" for a young national appealing a death sentence imposed by a pro-Russian court in Ukraine.

Brahim Saadoun, a Moroccan citizen born in 2000, was sentenced to death on June 9 along with two British men by a court in Donetsk, a self-proclaimed statelet in eastern Ukraine.

The trio have been accused of acting as mercenaries for Ukraine following Russia's offensive against its neighbour.  

Ukraine to restrict Russian books, music in latest cultural break from Moscow

Ukraine’s parliament voted through two laws which will place severe restrictions on Russian books and music as Kiev seeks to break many remaining cultural ties between the two countries following Moscow’s offensive.

One law will forbid the printing of books by Russian citizens, unless they renounce their Russian passport and take Ukrainian citizenship. The ban will only apply to those who held Russian citizenship after the 1991 collapse of Soviet rule.

It will also ban the commercial import of books printed in Russia, Belarus, and occupied Ukrainian territory, while also requiring special permission for the import of books in Russian from any other country. 

Russia proceeds attacks in eastern Ukraine

Russia said that its offensive against Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine was proceeding successfully after it took control of a district in the outskirts of the city.

"The offensive in the Sievierodonetsk direction is developing successfully," Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a video statement. He said the settlement of Metyolkine, on the eastern outskirts of the city, had been taken.

"The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue to strike military targets on the territory of Ukraine," he said. 

EU foreign ministers to discuss food, energy security in Brussels

Foreign ministers of the EU are expected to discuss the effects of Russia-Ukraine conflict on food and energy security in Brussels on June 23-24 before the EU leaders' summit

According to the Council of the EU, the Foreign Affairs Council will be informed about current affairs and ministers will be able to exchange views on recent events and on recent developments in external relations.

The Council will exchange views on Russia's offensive on Ukraine, in the light of the special meeting of the European Council on 30-31 May 2022 and the adoption of a sixth package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia.  

UK must have military capable of fighting in Europe, says army head

Britain must have a military capable of fighting in Europe and defeating Russia, the new head of the British army was quoted as telling troops by local media.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a vocal supporter of Ukraine since the start of Russia's offensive in February, has ruled out sending British troops to help Kiev, but warned this weekend that London would have to show support for "the long haul".

Patrick Sanders, who took command of the British army this month, told British troops, according to the i newspaper: "I am the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take command of the Army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power." 

Russia assures Hungary of continued gas shipments

Russia has promised to continue gas shipments to Hungary and that Gazprom will fulfil its contractual obligations to the country, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in an interview on public service radio.

In Russia's response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow since its offensive of Ukraine, state energy giant Gazprom has cut supplies to Denmark's Orsted and to Shell Energy for its contract to supply gas to Germany.

It also cut supplies to Dutch gas trader GasTerra along with Bulgaria, Poland and Finland for refusing to make payments for Russian gas in roubles under a new rouble scheme.

Ukraine 'repulsed' Russian attacks near Sievierodonetsk

Ukrainian troops have repulsed Russian attacks on villages near the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, where the two armies have fought bloody battles for weeks, Kiev's armed forces said.

"Our units repulsed the assault in the area of Toshkivka," the Ukrainian army said on Facebook. "The enemy has retreated and is regrouping."

It said Russian forces were "storming" towards the village of Orikhove, but that it had "successfully repulsed" an assault near the village.

Ukraine: Russian troops to advance towards Kharkiv

The situation north of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, is quite difficult as Russian forces have been trying to get closer to shell the city again, an official at Ukraine's interior ministry said.

"Russia is trying to make Kharkiv a frontline city," Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to the interior minister, told Ukraine's national television. 

Zelenskyy vows to retake south after visiting frontlines

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that his forces "will not give away the south to anyone" after his first visit to the southern frontline.

Making a rare trip outside Kiev, where he is based for security reasons, Zelenskyy travelled to the hold-out Black Sea city of Mykolaiv and visited troops nearby and in the neighbouring Odessa region for the first time since Russia's attacks began.

"We will not give away the south to anyone, we will return everything that's ours and the sea will be Ukrainian and safe," he said in a video posted on Telegram as he made his way back to Kiev.

Gazprom's gas exports to Europe via Ukraine slightly up 

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen up at 41.7 million cubic metres (mcm) on Sunday from 41.4 mcm on Saturday.

An application to supply gas via another major entry point, Sokhranovka, was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.

NATO: Conflict between Russia, Ukraine could last years

Russia's attacks in Ukraine could last years, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a German weekly newspaper, adding that the supply of state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would increase the chance of liberating the Donbass region from Russian control.

"We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine," Stoltenberg told Bild am Sonntag. "Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices."

A NATO summit in Madrid later this month is expected to agree on an assistance package for Ukraine that will help the country with the move from old Soviet-era weaponry to NATO standard gear, Stoltenberg said earlier this week.

For live updates from Saturday (June 18), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies