Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
Ukraine remains in control of the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk where hundreds of civilians are sheltering amid bitter fighting, the region's governor said on Saturday, after a Russia-backed separatist claimed 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were also trapped there.
Ukraine remains in control of the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk where hundreds of civilians are sheltering amid bitter fighting, the region's governor said on Saturday, after a Russia-backed separatist claimed 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were also trapped there. FIGHTING * In a video address late on Saturday, President Volodomyr Zelenskiy said that while "fierce street fights continue in Sievierodonetsk," Ukraine's military was gradually liberating territory further west in the Kherson region and had had some successes in Zaporizhzhia too. * Zelenskiy earlier insisted his country would prevail in its almost four-month-long war with Russia, which has become focussed on a grinding artillery slugging match over Sievierodonetsk. * The regional governor, Serhiy Gadai, said the claim about the blockade of the Azot plant in Luhansk province "is a lie. Our forces are holding an industrial zone of Sievierodonetsk and are destroying the Russian army in the town." * Earlier, Gadai said that Russian shelling of the plant had ignited a big fire after a leak of tonnes of oil. * In addition to saying 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were blockaded in the plant, the separatist, Rodion Miroshnik, said some civilians had started to leave and that Ukrainian forces may be holding several hundred civilians "hostage." * In neighbouring Donetsk province, Russian news agency RIA reported a huge cloud of smoke could be seen after an explosion in Avdiivka, a city which houses another chemical plant. Reuters was unable to immediately to confirm the RIA report. * The Ukrainian armed forces' general staff said in a Facebook post that Ukrainian forces pushed back a Russian attack on three small towns to the northwest of Sloviansk in Donetsk province, while fighting was continuing in a fourth settlement in the area, as well as to the east of the city. * "Intense street to street fighting is ongoing and both sides are likely suffering high numbers of casualties," Britain's Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Twitter. * The Russian Defence Ministry said its air defence forces had shot down two MiG-29 planes in the Mikolayiv region and one Su-25 fighter jet in the Kharkiv region. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. * The office of Ukraine's prosecutor general said it has learned about the deaths of 24 more children in Mariupol, the southeastern port that was besieged for weeks before Russian forces captured it in mid-May.
PRISONER * The family of British man Shaun Pinner who has been sentenced to death by a court by Russian proxy authorities in Donbas have spoken of their devastation at the news and asked that he be exchanged or released. ECONOMY, DIPLOMACY * Zelenskiy said his country was unable to export enough food because of a Russian blockade, and that the world would face "an acute and severe food crisis and famine." * Up to 300,000 tonnes of grain may have been stored in warehouses in the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv that Kyiv says were destroyed by Russian shelling last weekend, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskyi said. * German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kyiv with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi before the Group of Seven summit at the end of June, Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported, citing French and Ukrainian government sources. * European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Zelenskiy during a visit to Kyiv that the EU executive's opinion on Ukraine's request to join the European Union would be ready by the end of next week.
QUOTES "Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is what happens when oppressors trample the rules that protect us all," U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told an Asian security forum. "It's a preview of a possible world of chaos and turmoil that none of us would want to live in." (Compiled by Kim Coghill, Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)