Russia-Ukraine latest: Moscow able to fight war for another year

Moscow says condemned foreign fighters committed ‘crimes’ in separatist republic in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops are seen walking through a trench in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region
Russia describes the two Britons and one Moroccan, who had been captured serving with Ukrainian forces in east Ukraine, as 'mercenaries' [File: Gleb Garanich/Reuters]
  • Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate believes that Russia can continue its war for another year, warning that Kyiv is significantly outgunned on the frontlines.

  • The United Nations human rights office voices alarm over the death sentences handed to three foreign fighters in eastern Ukraine’s Russia-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

  • The United Kingdom and Germany condemn the verdicts, with Berlin saying they highlight Moscow’s “complete disregard for the basic principles of humanitarian international law”.

  • Ukraine’s defence ministry says Moscow is seeking to “completely destroy Ukrainian statehood” as Russian forces press ahead with their offensive in the country’s eastern Donbas region.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY107_June10_INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Ukraine Day 107

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Ukraine conducts 11th prisoner exchange with Russia

A Ukrainian governor said on Friday that his country has conducted the 11th prisoner swap with Russia since February, exchanging four Russians for five Ukrainians.

Mykolaiv region governor Vitaliy Kim wrote on Telegram that one of the freed Ukrainians was local village head Oleh Pylypenko, who Kim said was “kidnapped” by Russian forces on March 10.

37,000 women are in the Ukraine army: First lady Zelenska

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska has said on Telegram that 37,000 women are in the Ukrainian army and over 1,000 women have become commanders.

“Most of our doctors are women, as well as 50 percent of our entrepreneurs, who work to support the economy at war,” she added.

Serbian president appears to reject call for sanctions on Russia

Serbian president Aleksandar Vuvic appears to have rejected calls from German chancellor Olaf Scholz for his country to join the European Union in imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Scholz had previously said that Serbia, which is vying for EU membership, should join the European bloc in imposing harsh measures against Moscow.

“As far as sanctions are concerned we have different position…. We remember sanctions [against Serbia] and we do not think sanctions are efficient,” Vuvic said.

Serbia is in a complicated position given its long-standing special relationship with Russia.

France has offered to help ensure access to Odessa: report

An adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron has said France was ready to assist in an operation to allow safe access to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa, Agence France-Presse reported.

The port has been subject to a de facto blockade by Russia, and grain is waiting to be exported amid mounting fears of global food shortages, especially in developing countries.

“We are at the disposal of the parties to put in place an operation which would allow access in complete safety to the port of Odessa, in other words for boats to pass through despite the fact that the sea is mined,” said the adviser, who asked not to be named.

Macron will travel to Ukraine’s neighbours Moldova and Romania next week, but no date had been set for a visit by Macron to Kyiv, the advisor said.

France wants “victory for Ukraine”, the adviser added, after Macron sparked controversy by suggesting Russia should not be humiliated.

Biden blames Russia’s war on Ukraine for continued high inflation

United States President Joe Biden has reacted to Friday’s Consumer Price Index report, which revealed continuing high inflation in the country, by blaming the high prices on Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Even as we continue our work to defend freedom in Ukraine, we must do more—and quickly—to get prices down here in the United States,” Biden said in a statement.

“Putin’s Price Hike hit hard in May here and around the world: high gas prices at the pump, energy, and food prices accounted for around half of the monthly price increases, and gas pump prices are up by $2 a gallon in many places since Russian troops began to threaten Ukraine,” Biden added.

United States President Joe Biden Biden blames Russia’s war on Ukraine for continuing high inflation in the US. [Evan Vucci/AP]

Nine European countries ask NATO to strengthen its eastern flank

The leaders of nine central and eastern European countries have asked NATO to strengthen its eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The leaders of Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland met in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, less than three weeks ahead of a NATO summit later this month in Madrid, Agence France-Presse reported.

Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, said: “In view of the increased security risks in Romania and the Black Sea, consolidating NATO on its eastern flank, in a unified and balanced manner, becomes all the more urgent and crucial.”

Serbia must support sanctions against Russia: Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he expects sanctions against Russia to be supported by all countries applying for EU membership, including Serbia.

“It is a terrible, senseless war that has been started for an imperialist vision of Russia. That is why it is so important that the European Union, and all of us, stand in solidarity with Ukraine and help it defend itself against this attack,“ Scholz told Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during a joint news conference in Belgrade on Friday.

“The sanctions will not simply disappear when the weapons are silent,” Scholz said. “Russia must come to an understanding with Ukraine,” he added.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz receives an honour guard, while walking with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, in Belgrade, Serbia
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz receives an honour guard while walking with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, June 10, 2022 [Zorana Jevtic/Reuters]

Ukraine: Russia can continue its war for another year

Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate believes that Russia can continue its war for another year, warning that Kyiv is significantly outgunned on the front lines.

“The Kremlin leadership probably will try to freeze the war for a while in order to convince the West to lift sanctions, but then continue the aggression,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Intelligence Directorate said via Telegram. “Russia’s economic resources will allow the occupying country to continue the war at its current pace for another year.”

“Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces,” Vadym Skibitsky of the Main Intelligence Directorate said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. “Therefore everything now depends on what weapons the Western partners give us.”

Obama hails Ukrainian people’s “heroic resistance”

United States former President Barack Obama has said the human costs in Russia’s war on Ukraine will “continue to mount”.

“Make no mistake: this war is far from over. The human costs will continue to mount,” he said at the Copenhagen Democracy Forum, a town hall event in Denmark, on Friday.

He also said Ukraine needs to remain strong until the war ends.

“But we’ve also witnessed the Ukrainian peoples’ heroic resistance to Russian aggression. They’ve united to defend not just their sovereignty, but their democratic identity, and have rallied much of the world behind the values of self-determination and human dignity,” he said.

Obama in Copenhagen
United States former President Barack Obama speaks during the Copenhagen Democracy Summit at The Royal Danish Playhouse (Skuespilhuset) in Copenhagen on June 10, 2022 [Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP]

Mariupol mayor warns cholera, other diseases could kill thousands in city

Cholera and other deadly diseases could kill thousands of people in Mariupol as corpses lie uncollected and summer brings warmer weather, its mayor has warned.

Vadym Boichenko said wells had been contaminated by the corpses of people killed during weeks of Russian bombardment, and that the collection of bodies by the city’s Russian occupiers was proceeding slowly.

“There is an outbreak of dysentery and cholera. This is unfortunately the assessment of our doctors: that the war which took over 20,000 residents … unfortunately, with these infection outbreaks, will claim thousands more Mariupolites,” he told national television.

Boichenko, who is based outside Mariupol, said residents there had been forced to drink water from wells because the city had no running water or functioning sewerage system.

Mini map showing Mariupol's location within Ukraine

Russia says deputy foreign minister held talks with US ambassador

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has met US ambassador John Sullivan in Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry says in a statement on its website.

The ministry said the pair had discussed “bilateral issues”, without providing further details.

Ukraine says it has attacked Russian positions in Kherson

Ukraine’s military says it has attacked Russian positions in the southern Kherson region where Kyiv’s troops are attempting to reclaim territory captured by Moscow’s troops early in their invasion.

“Our aircraft carried out a series of strikes on enemy bases, places of accumulation of equipment and personnel, and field depots around five different settlements in the Kherson region,” Ukraine’s defence ministry said in a statement.

Kherson lies just north of the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Russian troops guard an entrance of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station, a run-of-the-river power plant on the Dnieper River in Kherson region
Kherson was the first city seized by Russian forces after Moscow launched its invasion on February 24 [File: AP]

Kyiv hails British leadership as UK defence minister visits Ukrainian capital

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed the UK’s assistance for Kyiv during talks with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the Ukrainian capital.

Wallace, for his part, praised Zelenskyy for his own leadership during a war in which the UK has provided Ukraine with weapons and financial assistance and has imposed sanctions on Russia.

“I am grateful in general to Great Britain, the government and the prime minister,” Zelenskyy told Wallace at the presidential headquarters. “The war highlights who is our friend or friends – not just strategic friends, but real friends now. And I believe Great Britain is a friend.”

“Arms, money and sanctions – these are three things in which Great Britain consistently demonstrates its leadership,” he added.

France’s Macron to visit Romania, Moldova next week

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Romania and Moldova next week to express France’s solidarity with its European allies which are most exposed to the war in Ukraine, his office has said.

Macron will visit French troops in Romania on Tuesday, and then go to Moldova on Wednesday, the Elysee Palace said.

Asked whether Macron would visit Ukraine, Macron’s office said any such visit would take place when considered to offer the most usefulness for Zelenskyy.

Macron has sought to maintain a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. His stance has been repeatedly criticised by some eastern and Baltic partners in Europe, as they see it as undermining efforts to push Putin to the negotiating table.

Russia cuts interest rates to prewar levels

Russia’s central bank has cut interest rates back to their prewar levels, saying inflation and economic activity are developing better than expected despite sweeping Western sanctions imposed in response to the war.

The bank has lowered its key rate by 1.5 percentage points to 9.5 percent. It had been as high as 20 percent in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions, which heavily restrict dealings with Russian banks, individuals and companies.

Economists say that over time the sanctions will corrode growth and productivity, but the central bank has managed to stabilise Russia’s currency and financial system through drastic measures such as high interest rates and restrictions on flows of money out of the country.

EU chief holds talks on war with Pope Francis

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has met with Pope Francis to discuss efforts to end the war and address a looming global food crisis.

“We stand with those suffering from the destruction in Ukraine. This war must end, bringing peace back to Europe,” tweeted following her talks in Rome with the head of the Catholic Church.

Von der Leyen also met with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who recently returned from Ukraine.

The Vatican said their talks focused on the “common commitment to work to bring the war in Ukraine to an end, dedicating particular attention to the humanitarian aspects and the food consequences of the continuation of the conflict.”

Russia and China open cross-border bridge amid deepening ties

Russia and China have opened a new cross-border bridge in which they hope will further boost trade as Moscow reels from sweeping Western sanctions imposed over its invasion.

The bridge linking the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk to the Chinese city of Heihe across the Amur river – known in China as Heilongjiang – is just more than one kilometre long (0.6 miles) and cost 19 billion roubles ($342m), Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Amid a firework display, freight trucks from both ends crossed the two-lane bridge that was festooned with flags in the colours of both countries, video footage of the opening showed.

Russian authorities said the bridge would bring Moscow and Beijing closer together by boosting trade after they announced a “no limits” partnership in February, shortly before Putin sent his forces into Ukraine.

A view of the bridge linking the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk to the Chinese city of Heihe across the Amur river
Russian authorities said the bridge would bring Moscow and Beijing closer together by boosting trade between the pair [Handout/Amur region government press service/AFP]

Russia says UK should speak directly to DPR authorities over death sentences

A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry says the UK should speak directly to authorities in the DPR about the sentencing of two British citizens to death in the breakaway region of eastern Ukraine.

Maria Zakharova said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website that the British nationals were “mercenaries sent by the West to help the Kyiv nationalist regime … and do not have the right to prisoner of war status”.

She also described London’s reaction to the verdicts as “hysterical”.

The UK government has argued that the British nationals are prisoners of war and therefore entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions, which afford fighters immunity from prosecution for military actions deemed to be lawful.

Among UN member states, only Russia recognises the entire Ukrainian province of Donetsk, much of which remains under Ukrainian control, as the independent DPR. The territory is internationally recognised – including by the UK – as part of Ukraine.

UK prioritising talks with Ukraine over British nationals’ death sentences

The UK is prioritising talking to Ukraine rather than Russia about the two British nationals sentenced to death in the DPR, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says.

“Our priority is working with the Ukrainian government to try and ensure their release as quickly as possible,” the spokesman said.

Asked by reporters if the UK would also talk to Russia to secure the release of Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, the spokesman added, “We don’t have regular interaction with the Russians.”

“They’re afforded protection under the Geneva Convention as members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which is why we want to continue working with them closely to try and get them freed as quickly as we can,” he said.

Brahim Saadoun, a Moroccan national, was the other foreign fighter to be handed a death sentence by authorities in the DPR.

Foreign fighters’ death sentences show Russia’s disregard for rights, Berlin says

A spokesperson for Germany’s government has described the death sentences handed to foreign fighters in eastern Ukraine’s self-proclaimed DPR as “shocking”.

The spokesperson added the verdicts show Russia’s “complete disregard for the basic principles of humanitarian international law”. Moscow, which backs the separatists, has said the three captured foreign fighters committed crimes in the DPR.

UN rights office raises alarm over death sentence verdicts

The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) has voiced concern over the death sentences handed to three foreign fighters by pro-Moscow rebels in the DPR.

“Since 2015, we have observed that the so-called judiciary in these self-proclaimed republics has not complied with essential fair trial guarantees, such as public hearings, independence, impartiality of the courts and the right not to be compelled to testify,” OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said, citing the DPR and the neighbouring separatist-controlled Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).

“Such trials against prisoners of war amount to a war crime,” she added.

Shamdasani noted that, according to the Ukrainian military, all three individuals were part of Ukraine’s armed forces. She said if that is the case they “should not be considered as mercenaries”.

Rebranded McDonald’s to reopen in Russia

The Russian fast-food chain that was formerly McDonald’s in the country has unveiled its new logo before its relaunch.

The new logo design shows a red-orange circle and two orange lines against a green background. It reportedly represents two sticks of yellow fried potatoes and a yellow-orange burger.

The company has not yet revealed a new brand name.

Read more here.

Foreign fighters sentenced to death in DPR ‘committed crimes’: Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister says the two British nationals and one Moroccan citizen sentenced to death in DPR committed crimes in the self-proclaimed republic in eastern Ukraine.

“The trials … are being held on the basis of the legislation of the Donetsk People’s Republic, because the crimes in question were committed on the DPR’s territory,” Sergey Lavrov said.

The DPR, where separatist forces began a military campaign to break away from Ukraine with Moscow’s support in 2014, is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

NATO official ‘confident’ Sweden and Finland will join alliance

NATO’s deputy secretary-general says he believes Sweden and Finland will join the transatlantic military alliance despite objections from Turkey.

“We are confident that Sweden and Finland will join our ranks,” Mircea Geoana told the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday.

Ankara has accused the Nordic countries of harbouring individuals linked to groups it deems to be “terrorists”, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and has taken issue with their decisions to halt arms exports to Turkey in 2019.

INTERACTIVE- NATO history and expansions Fin

Russia must ‘take responsibility’ over ‘sham’ trial of British nationals: UK

The UK government says Russia must take responsibility for the “sham trial” of the two British nationals sentenced to death in the DPR.

Aslin, 28, and Pinner, 48, were convicted on Thursday by a court in the Moscow-backed breakaway republic, which is not recognised internationally.

Minister Robin Walker denounced the ruling, saying it was handed out by “an illegal court in a sham government”, but promised that London would use “all diplomatic channels to make the case that these are prisoners of war who should be treated accordingly”.

He added that “Russia needs to take responsibility” for their fate, in line with Moscow’s “responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions, for the treatment of prisoners of war”.

Read more here.

‘Battles for every house and street’ raging in Severdonetsk: Governor

The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region says “battles are going on for every house and every street” in the city of Severdonetsk.

Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press news agency that Kyiv’s troops currently control an industrial area on the edge of the city, which has been the focus of Russia’s offensive in recent days.

EU Parliament ‘firmly behind’ Ukraine’s candidacy bid

The European Union’s parliament supports Ukraine’s bid to achieve candidate status to join the bloc, its president says.

“The EU parliament stands firmly behind Ukraine’s bid to receive EU candidate status,” Roberta Metsola said at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit.

‘Taking it back’: Putin likens self to Peter the Great

Russia’s president has likened himself to Peter the Great, the Russian tsar who led a conquest of the Baltic coast during the 18th-century war against Sweden.

After visiting an exhibition in Moscow dedicated to the monarch, Putin drew parallels between Peter the Great’s founding of St Petersburg and modern-day Russia’s ambitions.

Read more here.

Kyiv says Russia targeting Ukrainian defences near Siverskyi Donets River

Russian forces are looking for potential weak points in Ukrainian defences near the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine as Moscow presses for control of the entire Luhansk region, a spokesman for Ukraine’s defence ministry says.

Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told national television that Russian forces had not abandoned attempts to launch storming operations in the area.

If Russia captures the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, situated on the eastern and western bank of the Siverskyi Donets respectively, it will hold all of Luhansk, one of two provinces in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region that Moscow has focused its offensive on.

Motuzyanyk also said Russia’s wider strategic goal was the “complete destruction of Ukraine”.

“They won’t let us live in peace,” he said. “The Russian Federation wants to completely destroy Ukrainian statehood and install a government it can control here.”

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY107_June10_INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine War Who controls what in Donbas DAY 107

Sweden seeks ‘progress’ in talks with Turkey over NATO membership

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde says Sweden aims to make constructive progress in talks with Turkey over the Nordic country’s application to join NATO.

“Our application has received broad support among NATO members,” she said in a foreign policy declaration after Sweden, alongside Finland, applied last month to join the military alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

“Our ambition is to, in a constructive spirit, make progress on the questions that Turkey has raised,” she told parliament.

West exaggerating problem of grain exports: Analyst

A Russian political scientist has blamed the West for exaggerating the problem of Ukrainian grain exports, China’s state CCTV reports.

“According to data collected by our experts, autumn, from October to December, is the main export season for Ukrainian wheat. So most of the Ukrainian grain has already been shipped out,” director of the Institute for Political and Social Studies of the Black Sea-Caspian Region, Viktor Nadein-Raevsky, said.

“There’s only about three to four million tonnes left in the country, and that’s mostly reserved for seed use,” he told a roundtable symposium held by Russia’s RIA news agency, according to CCTV.

Russia counting on West ‘getting tired’ as war drags on: Analyst

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds into its fourth month, officials in Kyiv have expressed fears that the spectre of “war fatigue” could erode the West’s resolve to help the country push back Moscow’s aggression.

“The fatigue is growing, people want some kind of outcome [that is beneficial] for themselves, and we want [another] outcome for ourselves,” Zelenskyy has said in relation to suggestions Kyiv should give up some territory to end the war.

Every month of the war is costing Ukraine $5bn, Volodymyr Fesenko, a political analyst with the Penta think-tank, told The Associated Press news agency, and that “makes Kyiv dependent on the consolidated position of the Western countries”.

“It is obvious that Russia is determined to wear down the West and is now building its strategy on the assumption that Western countries will get tired and gradually begin to change their militant rhetoric to a more accommodating one,” Fesenko said.

Russian gas embargo would destroy European economy: Orban

An EU embargo on Russian gas imports would destroy the European economy, already grappling with surging inflation due to higher energy prices, Hungary’s prime minister has argued.

Viktor Orban told public radio that without price caps in place on fuels, some basic foods and retail energy, Hungarian inflation, which accelerated to 10.7 percent in May, would be running at 15 to 16 percent.

Orban said he would like to see the price cap measures extended, adding, however, that more talks were needed before a final decision is made.

Russians ‘destroying everything in their path’ around Severodonetsk: Governor

Russian forces are attacking Severodonetsk and “destroying everything in their path” with the goal of making the Luhansk region nothing but a “desert”, its governor has said.

Haidai said Severodonetsk was holding on as fighting continued in the city and surrounding towns including Popasna and Lysychansk.

Some 16 residents, including three children, were evacuated from Lysychansk on Thursday, Haidai said, adding that every evacuation risked people’s lives, but staying in these cities was even worse.

The UK’s defence ministry has said that Russian forces had regained control of most of Severodonetsk.

Mariupol at risk of major cholera outbreak: UK

The city of Mariupol is at risk of a major cholera outbreak as Russia struggles to provide basic public services to residents of regions it has occupied in Ukraine, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said.

“Ukraine suffered a major cholera epidemic in 1995, and has experienced minor outbreaks since, especially around the Azov Sea coast – which includes Mariupol,” the ministry said adding that isolated cases had been reported in the city since May.

“Medical services in Mariupol are likely already near collapse: a major cholera outbreak in Mariupol will exacerbate this further,” the ministry added.

The ministry also said the occupied Kherson region was experiencing a shortage of medicines.

Kherson ‘Kremlin’s laboratory of horrors’: OSCE ambassador

The US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has described the Russian-occupied region of Kherson as the “Kremlin’s laboratory of horrors”.

Russia’s preplanned and multi-faceted campaign to absorb Kherson into Russia and install puppet authorities “lays bare the truth of its vision of a subjugated, Russified Ukraine”, Michael Carpenter said in a speech to the OSCE council in Vienna on Thursday.

“Kherson is the Kremlin’s laboratory of horrors.  Every day Kherson remains under Russia’s control, the Kremlin works to further its plan to replace Kherson’s democratic government, free press and civil society with a Kremlin-style police state that humiliates and brutalises the local population, abuses their human rights, and abducts, tortures, and/or kills those the Kremlin deems dispensable,” Carpenter said.

He said Moscow had tried to recruit local political figures and activists using coercion and blackmail that sometimes included unlawful imprisonment, and threats of kidnappings of relatives. Meanwhile, citizens were cut off from internet access which kept them from reliable information and Ukrainian government services.

Russia’s soldiers in Severodonetsk like ‘cannon fodder’, Kyiv says

The Russian army is sending its men into Severodonetsk “like cannon fodder”, the secretary of Ukraine’s security council has said, adding the situation in the city was “extremely complicated” and Russian forces were focusing all their might on the area.

“They don’t spare their people, they’re just sending men like cannon fodder … they are shelling our military day and night,” Oleksiy Danilov told the Reuters news agency in an interview on Thursday.

Finland to build barriers on border with Russia

Finland’s government plans to amend border legislation to allow the building of barriers on its eastern frontier with Russia, it has said, in a move to strengthen preparedness against hybrid threats amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland, which is currently applying for membership in the Western military alliance NATO, has a history of wars with Russia, although currently the forest-covered border zone between the two countries is marked merely with signs and plastic lines for most of its 1,300km (808 miles) length.

The Finnish government has rushed to strengthen border security as it fears Russia could attempt to put pressure on Finland by sending asylum seekers to its borders – as the EU accused Belarus of doing at the end of last year when hundreds of migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa got stuck at the Polish border.

Under existing EU rules, migrants have the right to ask for asylum at any given entry point to an EU member country. The amendments would also allow the building of barriers, such as fences, as well as new roads to facilitate border patrolling on the Finnish side.

Canada cracks down on more than $314m in Russian assets, transactions

Canadian police have said that they cracked down on more than 400 million Canadian dollars ($314.8m) in Russian assets and transactions involving people sanctioned as a result of Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement on Thursday that from February 24 to June 7, 123 million Canadian dollars ($98.2m) of Russian assets in Canada had been effectively frozen and a further 289 million Canadian dollars ($230.7m) in transactions had been blocked. It gave no details.

In April, Ottawa said it would change its sanctions law to allow for seized and sanctioned foreign assets to be redistributed as compensation to victims or to help in rebuilding a foreign state from war.

Ukraine forces continue to frustrate Russia’s Severodonetsk offensive

The Ukrainian army says Kyiv’s forces continue to frustrate Russian attempts to take Severodonetsk.

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

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

Haidai, Luhansk’s governor, said Russian forces were continuing to shell the neighbouring city of Lysychansk using large-calibre weapons which “pierce even concrete,” adding that it was “extremely dangerous” for civilians to remain in the city, “even in shelters”.

A symbol of Severodonetsk destroyed: Governor

Russian forces destroyed a large sports complex, the Ice Palace, in Severodonetsk, Luhansk’s governor has said.

“One of the symbols of Severodonetsk was destroyed. The Ice Palace burned down,” Haidai wrote on Telegram.

“Ice, figure skating, hockey, volleyball, sports school, concerts, graduation – almost 50 years of history of sports and cultural development of our Severodonetsk …” is now gone, he added.

Nicaragua authorises entry of Russian troops, planes, ships

The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has authorised Russian troops, planes and ships to deploy to Nicaragua for purposes of training, law enforcement or emergency response.

In a decree published this week, and confirmed by Russia on Thursday, Ortega will allow Russian troops to carry out law enforcement duties, “humanitarian aid, rescue and search missions in emergencies or natural disasters”.

The Nicaraguan government also authorised the presence of small contingents of Russian troops for “exchange of experiences and training”.

Ortega has been a staunch ally of Russia since his days in the leadership of the 1979 revolution that removed dictator Anastasio Somoza.

World’s poorest countries ‘paying more for less food’: FAO

With Ukraine’s next grain harvest due within weeks, and no imminent sign of a let-up in the war, the food security of import-dependent countries in Africa and the Middle East could worsen, the UN’s food agency has said in a new report.

Food import bills will reach a record high this year and food markets are likely to tighten around the world, according to the Food Outlook report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which also found that “many vulnerable countries are paying more but receiving less food” in imports.

The forecast points to a “likely tightening of food markets and import bills reaching a new record high”, said Upali Galketi Aratchilage, an FAO economist and lead editor of the report.

Zelenskyy calls on EU leaders to support Ukraine’s membership

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy appealed to EU leaders to support Ukraine’s membership in the bloc.

“Most Europeans support the integration of Ukraine. And if the Europeans support it, then politicians who still have doubts in some countries should not set themselves against people, society and the very course of European history,” he said.

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

Zelenskyy cites ‘positive’ military news in Zaporizhia region

Zelenskyy has reported “positive” news from the southeastern Zaporizhia region, where he said Ukraine’s forces were managing to thwart Russian troops.

In a video address, Zelenskyy also said Ukrainian forces were gradually advancing in the Kharkiv region, east of Kyiv, and “liberating our land”.

Residential area destroyed by a Russian bombing in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 15, 2022
A residential area destroyed by a Russian bombing in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 15, 2022 [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

Ukrainian official responds to Putin’s remarks

A senior adviser to Ukraine’s president has responded to Putin’s earlier remarks likening himself to Peter the Great, calling them an attempt to legalise the theft of land.

“The West must draw a clear red line so the Kremlin understands the price of each next bloody step … we will brutally liberate our territories,” Mykhailo Podolyak said in an online post.

Zelenskyy speaks to French counterpart Macron

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he spoke to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and provided him with an update on the situation on the war’s front lines.

Zelenskyy said the two leaders also discussed additional defence support for Ukraine.

“Special attention was paid to Ukraine’s path to the #EU, we are coordinating steps,” the Ukrainian president said on Twitter.

Moscow-backed separatists to send ‘liberated’ grain to Russia: TASS

Self-declared leaders of one of two occupied eastern Ukrainian regions backed by Moscow have said they would soon start rail shipments to Russia of grain that its troops had “liberated”, the TASS news agency reported.

Yuri Pronko, Moscow-installed agricultural minister of the self-declared 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 blasts ‘show trial’ of foreign nationals

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

Street battles rage in eastern Ukraine’s Severodonetsk

Ukrainian forces are holding their positions in intense street fighting in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, where Russians were “dying like flies”, the regional governor has said, but they faced a “catastrophic” lack of artillery.

The battle amid the ruins of Severodonetsk, a small industrial city, has become one of the war’s bloodiest, with Russia concentrating its invasion force there. Both sides say they have inflicted enormous casualties.

“They [the Russians] are dying like flies,” Haidai said in an online post. “Fierce fighting continues inside Severodonetsk.”

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

Read all the updates from Thursday, June 9 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies