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'Fierce' fighting in Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk

June 7, 2022

The situation "worsened" for Ukrainian forces in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, the regional governor said, after Ukraine had claimed advances. Follow DW for the latest.

A local resident stands next to debris of an open market destroyed by a military strike in Sievierodonetsk
The city of Sievierodonetsk has become the latest main battlefield in eastern UkraineImage: Serhii Nuzhnenko/REUTERS
  • Heavy fighting continues in Sievierodonetsk
  • Zelenskyy addresses humanitarian concerns during front line visit
  • UK to send M270 rocket launchers to Ukraine
  • Air closures block Russian foreign minister's trip to Serbia

These live updates are now closed. For the latest from Ukraine, please head to Tuesday's blog.

Ukrainian troops 'holding positions' in Sievierodonetsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his troops are not giving up positions in Sievierodonetsk.

Ukrainian and Russian troops are fighting street by street for control of the key industrial city.

"Our heroes do not give up positions in Sievierodonetsk. In the city, fierce street fighting continues," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Monday.

"And the Ukrainian Donbas [where Sievierodonetsk is located] stands, stands strong," Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy visits troops as fighting rages

US orders seizure of two Abramovich aircraft

The US Justice Department ordered the seizure of two aircraft owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, saying it believed they had been used in violation of sanctions against Russia. 

The department said in court filings that both planes had been flown into Russian territory earlier this year in violation of export controls set for US-made aircraft. 

At issue is a Gulfstream G650ER, a comparatively modest executive jet, and a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner capable of carrying more than 200 passengers. 

US officials said the jets were not in US custody. According to the US, the planes flew into Russia after US export restrictions came into effect. 

Abramovich owns both planes through a series of shell companies and had tried to reorganize the ownership structure in February to make his children the beneficiaries of a trust that ultimately owns both planes. 

But the US Commerce Department alleges he continued to effectively own and control the planes when they flew to Moscow the next month.

Russia adds Yellen and other Americans to no-entry list

Russia imposed personal sanctions on another 61 US officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm as well as leading defense and media executives. 

The foreign ministry in Moscow announced the new sanctions on Monday, adding to an existing list of 963 individuals published in full last month. 

CEOs from companies including OneWeb, Universal Pictures and the ratings agency Fitch were among the latest people denied entry to Russia. 

"Sixty-one American citizens among the leaders of large companies in the military-industrial complex, media platforms and rating agencies, aircraft and shipbuilding companies, are included," Russia's foreign ministry said. 

Zelenskyy says Ukrainian troops fighting back in Sievierodonetsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that, although Russian forces have a numerical advantage in the battle for the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine's forces were still capable of fighting back.

Zelenskyy said the situation would become very difficult for Ukraine if Russia is able to break through in the eastern region of Donbas.

"We're holding out," but "there are more of them and they are stronger," Zelenskyy told journalists in Kyiv in relation to Sievierodonetsk, which is at the epicenter of the Russian offensive in the east. However, he said: "We have every chance to continue fighting in this direction."

The Ukrainian president added that Sievierodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk were both "dead cities now" after relentless bombardment by Russian artillery.

Earlier Luhansk's regional governor Serhiy Haidai said fierce fighting continued in Sievierodonetsk. He described the combat situation as "quite dynamic."

He said the shelling of Sievierodonetsk had intensified, with the Russians "destroying everything in line with their scorched-earth tactics."

Russian forces had been making a string of advances in the city. Ukrainian fighters have pushed back more recently, but were understood to have lost some ground at the weekend.

Germany's Roth arrives in Odesa

Germany's government minister for culture and the media, Claudia Roth of the Greens, has arrived in Odesa for a two-day visit.

"We want to show that we are here," Roth said. "We want to show how culture is being attacked."

She's the first German government official to visit the city and she intends to remain there overnight. 

Odesa is seen as a cultural center within Ukraine. The Black Sea port is also in range of Russian attacks, with local authorities reporting a strike on an agricultural storage unit over the weekend. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also sought to highlight attacks on cultural centers in the city over the weekend, saying that artillery fire destroyed a monastery in the city. He called the strike "proof" that Russia had no place within UNESCO, the UN's cultural agency. 

Claudia Roth waves to camera, stood next to Ukraine's Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko. June 6, 2022.
Roth was welcomed by her opposite number in Ukraine's government, Oleksandr TkachenkoImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

IAEA planning mission to Russia-held nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafafel Grossi has said that the UN nuclear watchdog hopes to send a delegation to the Russian-held nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine. 

The site is Europe's largest nuclear power plant

"We are developing the modalities to dispatch such a mission; other considerations should not prevent this essential international mission from taking place," Grossi said in a statement.

Grossi also voiced concern about the reported difficulty of getting spare parts to Zaporizhzhia and the "hurdles" barring international experts from visiting the site.

Moscow decries 'hostile' airspace closures for Lavrov

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced several countries closing their airspace to a plane carrying Russia's top diplomat Sergey Lavrov, forcing him to nix a trip to Serbia the day before.

Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Macedonia refused to let the foreign minister fly over their territory to meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

"Such hostile actions against our country can cause certain problems," Peskov said.

For his own part, Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow that "this was a deprivation of a sovereign state of the right to carry out foreign policy." 

Russian newspaper: Moscow to allow grain supplies to leave Odesa

Pro-government newspaper Izvestia has reported that the Russian government is planning to allow shipments of grain to leave the Ukranian port city of Odesa, where a blockade has prompted fears of widespread famine.

Citing government insiders, the report said that the Kremlin discussed easing the blockade with both Ukrainian and Turkish authorities. The Turkish navy will be responsible for removing mines from the area and escorting the ships to "neutral waters." Russian warships will then follow the vessels carrying the grain to the Bosporus.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to travel to Ankara on Wednesday to finalize the compromise.

The step comes as food prices soar after Moscow's war on Ukraine led to massive turbulence on world markets. Ukraine is one of the world's largest grain exporters, and the collapse in its deliveries following Russia's invasion has led to dire food shortages in several countries that rely on Ukrainian supplies.

Ukraine war leads world toward food crisis

Ukraine's situation 'worsened' in Sievierodonetsk

Luhansk regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, told Ukranian television that "the fiercest fighting is in Sievierodonetsk. Fast-moving fighting is happening right now," and that the situation for the Ukranian military had "worsened a bit" overnight.

Ukrainian forces have been trying to hold their ground after saying they had retaken half of the embattled city in Luhansk province, where Russian forces have concentrated their assault on Ukraine's eastern Donbas heartland.

A map illustrating where fighting is raging in eastern Ukraine

DW correspondent Mathias Bölinger said that "the two armies are meeting each other in the streets. We had heard yesterday about some successes by the Ukrainians but it is very hard to confirm anything except that both armies are inside the city."

One aspect of the fighting that could be confirmed was that Sievierodonetsk is "a center of Ukranian Christian Orthodoxy and we’ve seen a very historic church burning."

Ukraine had said earlier that it regained control over "half" of the city. 


Ukraine's president visits troops

Russian governor says border town hit by shelling

Roman Starovoit, governor of Kursk Oblast, claimed that the village of Tyotkino near the Ukrainian border came under fire early on Monday morning. He said that a few local businesses and a bridge had been hit.

The bridge is believed to have been a rail passageway used by the Russian military to ferry troops into Ukraine. Tyotkino has been hit several times in recent weeks, as Russian reports of attacks on its territory increase.

Opposition leader: 1,500 Belarusians fighting for Ukraine

Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of the opposition movement against Belarusian strongman  Alexander Lukashenko told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that some 1,500 Belarusians had joined units fighting for the Ukrainian military.

She added that even more people were currently training "in other countries" in order to assist Ukraine.

Tikhanovskaya also warned against Western countries lifting certain sanctions after Putin promised that he would let grain stocks leave their ports if they did so.

"Lifting sanctions against Putin and Lukashenko would give them financial relief and a false sense of victory. It would reinforce their belief that violence pays. It would lead them to escalate repression in Belarus and aggression against Ukraine. The Russian blockade on ports should be lifted immediately and the pressure should be put on Moscow: not on the Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples, at the cost of their security and their future," she said.

Russian ministry website hacked; pro-Ukraine message posted

The Russian Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities website appeared to be hacked early Monday, with internet searches for the site instead leading browsers to a sign that says "Glory to Ukraine" in the Ukrainian language.

A ministry representative said that while the site had been hacked and vandalized, user data remain protected, according to Russian state-run RIA news agency.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, many Russian state-run companies and news organizations have faced hacking attempts and attacks.

Russian diplomacy potentially curtailed by airspace closures

Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, told Italy's La7 television that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "was scheduled to hold talks in Belgrade, while the EU and NATO member-countries have closed their airspace."

Serbian media reported earlier that several countries including Bulgaria, Montenegro and North Macedonia had all closed their airspace to Lavrov's plane.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not say what course Lavrov would take and whether the airspace closures could be circumvented in an effort to deliver him to Belgrade for talks with Serbian leader Aleksandar Vucic. 

Missiles from US, UK are medium-range, and though important, there are only few, says military analyst Frank Ledwidge

UK to provide Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems

The UK said it will provide Ukraine with M270 multiple-launch rocket systems capable of hitting targets as far away as 80 kilometers (50 miles). The effort to supply Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems was coordinated with the US.

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain's support for Ukraine would evolve with Russia's changing tactics. Wallace added the new systems will "enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery."

Last week, the US said it would give Ukraine M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems known as HIMARS after Kyiv reassured the weapons would not strike targets inside Russia.

Zelenskyy addresses humanitarian matters during front line visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the Zaporizhzhia region and two towns near the front lines, Lysychansk and Soledar, he said in his nightly video address.

During his visit to Zaporizhzhia, he met with the head of the regional military administration, Oleksander Starukh, and national police in the region.

"I am proud of everybody I met, everyone I shook hands with, everyone with whom I connected with and had expressed my support," Zelenskyy said.

Starukh reportedly told Zelenskyy that nearly 60% of the territory in Zaporizhzhia region has been occupied by Russian troops as fighting continues. Seventy-seven villages in the region have seen their electricity cut, Starukh said.

Temporary shelters for those fleeing from nearby Kherson and Mariupol have also been set up. Zelenskyy urged local leaders to continue the flow of aid to those fleeing from elsewhere.

What happened in Russia's war on Ukraine on Sunday

Early Sunday explosions were heard in the capital Kyiv and videos showing cruise missiles soaring above the capital appeared on social media.

Russia's Defense Ministry said tanks and other armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine by Eastern European countries had been destroyed by Russian forces in a barrage of missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital.

The ministry said high-precision, long-range air-launched missiles were used in the strikes on the outskirts of Kyiv, with T-72 tanks among the weaponry hit in the attacks. The damage was not immediately confirmed by Ukraine's military.

Ukraine's state nuclear power operator Energoatom did say though that one Russian cruise missile that was possibly aimed at the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, flew over the South Ukraine Nuclear Plant at a dangerously low altitude.

In April 1986, Ukraine, then a Soviet republic, was the site of a major nuclear catastrophe when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant went into meltdown. The disaster is considered the worst-ever such incident in the world in terms of costs and casualties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Russia will respond to the West delivering long-range missiles to Ukraine.

His remarks come after the US pledged to supply Kyiv with M142 systems armed with precisions-guided missiles. The range of the missiles, according to media reports, would be between 70 to 80 kilometers (43.5 to 50 miles).

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov believes the war in Ukraine could end before the end of 2022.

His comments come a day after presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak also said it was hard to talk about deadlines for ending the war, but judging by the "stockpiled weapons, this could drag on for a period of two to six months." 

In an intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defense said counterattacks carried out by Ukrainian forces in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk might be negating some of the advances made by attacking Russian troops. 

You can revisit our live updates from June 5 here.

ar,es/wd, fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)