Ukraine: Russia ramps up Luhansk attacks — as it happened | News | DW | 21.06.2022

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Ukraine: Russia ramps up Luhansk attacks — as it happened

Russian forces are pressing on with their offensive in eastern Ukraine, entering the industrial zone of Sievierodonetsk, according to Luhansk authorities.

Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Sievierodonetsk amid Russian attacks

Ukraine says Russia is deploying reinforcements in an attempt to seize the Luhansk region

  • Russian forces enter industrial part of Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai says
  • Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov sells his Nobel medal for $103.5 million, donates money to UNICEF
  • Ukrainian foreign policy advisor says Kyiv 'willing' to make reforms for EU membership
  • Ukraine has thanked Germany and the Netherlands for the delivery of howitzer arsenal

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest, please click here.

Estonia protests to Russia over airspace violation

Estonia summoned Russia's ambassador to protest the violation of its national airspace by a Russian helicopter on June 18.

"Estonia considers this an extremely serious and regrettable incident that undoubtedly causes additional tensions and is completely unacceptable," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Tallinn also expressed solidarity with fellow Baltic state Lithuania after Russia warned it of "serious" consequences after it banned the rail transfer of some goods to the Russian territory of Kaliningrad.

Google executive warns information war in Ukraine a sign of what is to come

Russia's information war against Ukraine "is essentially our crystal ball for what is likely to come,'' a Google executive warned the UN Security Council.

"States must find a way to turn the volume down and settle on some kind of deterrence doctrine for the cyber domain,'' Jared Cohen said at a council meeting on hate speech, incitement and atrocities in Ukraine.

"There is no magical algorithm or single fix for this," Cohen who heads Jigsaw, a part of Google that aims to build technology to combat disinformation, censorship and extremism online, said.

He added, "finding a solution will take a lot of experimentation."

A recent report from Mandiant, a cyber security firm, found that Russian-backed hackers launched several disinformation campaigns to demoralize Ukraine and divide its allies.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Ukrainian authorities' rhetoric has poisoned citizens against Russia and Russian-speaking populations in Ukraine, with Western encouragement.

Nobel medal auction raises huge sum for Ukrainian children

US appalled at Russia's suggestion of possible death penalty for captured Americans

The United States said it was "appalling" for the Kremlin to suggest that two US citizens captured while fighting for Ukraine against the Russian invasion could receive the death penalty.

"It's appalling that a public official in Russia would even suggest the death penalty for two American citizens that were in Ukraine," John Kirby, a White House spokesman, told reporters.

Russian-backed separatists were holding the two, Alexander John-Robert Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, in Donetsk after they were captured last week.

The Kremlin said they were subject to court decisions and did not rule out that they could face the death penalty.

Ukraine strikes Black Sea oil platforms, Russia retaliates

Ukraine admitted it had struck oil production platforms in the Black Sea off the Russian-annexed Crimea.

"On those towers, Russia had organised small garrisons and stored equipment for air defense, radar warfare and reconnaissance," Sergiy Bratchuk of Odesa's regional military administration told an online briefing.

"They were being turned into fortification points that were helping the Russians achieve full control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea," he said in remarks quoted by Interfax Ukraine. 

In retaliation, Russia's defense ministry said its missiles had struck an airfield near Odesa.

Germany minister labels reduced Russian gas supplies 'economic attack'

Germany's Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Gazprom's reduction of gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline amounts to an "economic attack on us" by Moscow.

Speaking at a conference for the German Federation of Industry in Berlin, Habeck said it constituted a "new dimension" of Russian strategy, "reducing supplies, forcing prices upwards, in order to — and this is not a coincidence — provoke a debate in Europe and in Germany" about rising prices.

"This strategy cannot be successful," he said.

The Russian energy giant last week said it was cutting supply volumes to Germany via the pipeline. Gazprom said it was due to delayed repairs, but the German government has called the decision "political."

As a result of the cut, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, decided to reactivate mothballed coal power plants in a move that went against the principles of Habeck's Green Party.

He called for the "diversification" of raw materials and energy suppliers to achieve "a bit of independence from the malign intentions of the world's dictators."

Ukraine thanks Germany, Netherlands for delivery of artillery

Ukraine's defense minister said Tuesday he "highly appreciated the efforts" of his German and Dutch counterparts.

Oleksii Reznikov tweeted his appreciation of "colleague Christine Lambrecht" and "the Netherlands Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren" as he said he "would like to thank" them after the delivery of howitzer arsenal, adding to the Ukrainian artillery.

Moscow: Councilor's hearing over criticism of invasion gets underway

A Moscow court has begun hearing the case of a city councilor who faces up to 10 years in prison for criticizing Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Alexei Gorinov was arrested in late April for spreading "knowingly false information" about the Russian military.

Gorinov is accused of acting "in a group" with another Moscow deputy Yelena Kotyonochkina, who has left Russia and was charged in absentia. 

The 60-year-old was critical of Russia's invasion during a work meeting in March that was recorded. The footage was made available on YouTube.  

Amnesty International has called for Gorinov's immediate release, saying the trial is part of a "ruthless campaign by Russian authorities to stamp out any criticism of their actions in Ukraine."

Russia: Fire spreads on Black Sea platform

A gas platform in the Black Sea which was hit by Ukrainian missiles has seen the ensuing fire spread, the Interfax news agency reported Russian Senator Olga Kovitidi as saying. 

Seven people are still missing, while three of those wounded in the incident were hospitalized, the senator said.

A total of 109 people were reportedly on the platforms when the attack occurred on Monday.

Conflict expert: 'Stopping communication with Russia would be a disaster'

Two leading institutes for peace and conflict research released their annual "peace report" on Tuesday, analyzing the war in Ukraine and offering advice to the German government on how to deal with the consequences. 

Tobias Debiel, a professor of international relations and a co-author of the report, told DW: "It's quite important that Chancellor Olaf Scholz maintains contact with [Russian] President Putin because we have to think of an end of the war that will take place at the negotiation table."

"Germany plays quite a constructive role in not stopping all communication with Russia, which would be disaster. In the end there will be no victory but an end of the war at the negotiation table."

Donbas frontline village 'controlled entirely' by Russia

Ukraine said Tuesday that Russian forces had captured the frontline village of Toshkivka near the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, in the Donbas region, after weeks of intense fighting.

"As of today, according to our information, Toshkivka is controlled entirely by the Russians," Roman Vlasenko, the head of the Sievierodonetsk district told Ukrainian television.

Toshkivka, with a pre-war population of around 5,000 people, is approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Sievierodonetsk.

"The entirety of the Luhansk region is now the epicenter of fighting between Ukraine and the Russian army," he said.

Peskov: Death penalty for US citizens 'can't be ruled out'

Russia said Tuesday that the US citizens captured in Ukraine were subject to "court decisions" and "can't rule anything out" over what penalty they might receive, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He said the Kremlin did not know where the two men are currently, after their families said they had not returned from a mission in the Kharkiv region.

On Monday, Russia said the pair were mercenaries not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

Russia vows 'serious' consequences, 'will respond' over Lithuania transit ban

The head of Russia's security council threatened Lithuania with "serious" consequences on Tuesday over restrictions imposed on the rail transit of EU-sanctioned goods to Moscow's exclave of Kaliningrad, a region bordering Lithuania and Poland. 

"Russia will certainly respond to such hostile actions," Nikolai Patrushev said at a security meeting in Kaliningrad.

He added that "appropriate measures" are in the works and they "will be taken in the near future."

"Their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania," he said in comments reported on by Russian news agencies. 

Meanwhile, Moscow's foreign ministry has summoned the EU ambassador to the Russian capital, Markus Ederer, over the "anti-Russian restrictions" on cargo moving between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia.

Baltic states want more refugee support from the EU

The Baltic states on Tuesday asked for more financial support from the European Union to help with the recent influx of Ukrainian refugees, the Lithuanian president's office said.

"We must share the financial burden, which at the moment is unproportionally assigned to national budgets. EU solidarity is very important to assure proper support to war refugees from Ukraine", President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement.

Russia blocks The Telegraph's website

British newspaper The Telegraph has been blocked online in Russia after a request from the prosecutor general, according to data from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

The newspaper's website was found to have disseminated "inaccurate information about the special military operation conducted by Russia's Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine", TASS news agency cited the regulator as saying.

Luhansk governor: Russia causing 'catastrophic destruction'

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai described the "catastrophic destruction in Lysychansk" on Tuesday.

The eastern industrial city has come under intense shelling from Russian forces, including "heavy" strikes on Monday, according to Haidai, who added that one person had been killed. 

"We are determining the final number of victims, because yesterday it was almost impossible to move inside the city safely," he said.

Russian television broadcasts in Kherson: army

Russian television has begun to air in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, the Russian army said on Tuesday in an area where Moscow has already implemented its currency — the ruble — and started handing out Russian passports.

Moscow's forces have "reconfigured the last of the seven television towers in the Kherson region to broadcast Russian television channels" for free, the army said.

Bordering the Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, the Kherson region became occupied by Russian forces shortly after the Kremlin's offensive got underway on February 24.

One of the pro-Moscow officials in the region, Kirill Stremousov, said Tuesday that the territory could join Russia "before the end of the year."

UK intelligence: Ukraine claimed first successful use of donated missiles

Ukrainian forces last week "claimed their first successful use of Western-donated Harpoon anti-ship missiles to engage Russian maritime forces," the British Military Intelligence said on Tuesday.

"The target of the attack was almost certainly the Russian naval tug Spasatel Vasily Bekh, which was delivering weapons and personnel to Snake Island in the north-western Black Sea," the UK defense ministry said in its daily update.

Denmark issues 'early warning' alert over Russian gas supply

The Danish Energy Agency issued a first level "early warning" alert over gas supplies.

The European Union has three levels of alerts to allow member states to signal energy supply issues: "early warning," "alert," and "emergency." The system allows for mutual assistance from EU countries.

Danish Energy Agency deputy director Martin Hansen said that "this is a serious situation we are facing and it has been exacerbated by the reduction in supplies." Currently Denmark's stocks are around 75% full.

Danish energy company Orsted announced at the end of May that delivery of Russian gas would be suspended after June 1, after the company refused to settle the payment in rubles as Moscow had requested.

Luhansk governor: Russian troops enter industrial part of Sievierodonetsk 

Russian troops have entered the industrial part of Sievierodonetsk, according to Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai.

Haidai acknowledged on Tuesday that there have been difficulties in fighting in its east as Russian forces regrouped after stepping up pressure and making advances on two cities.

The governor of the Luhansk region said Russian forces had launched a massive attack and gained some territory on Monday though it was still relatively quiet overnight. But this overnight lull was nothing more than a little respite, according to Haidai.

"It's a calm before the storm," he said.

The Azot chemical plant is the only part of Sievierodonetsk that remains under Ukrainian control.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that there are around 300 civilians sheltering in the plant.

Yesterday, Kyiv conceded that it had lost control of Sievierodonetsk suburb Metiolkine.

Russian journalist sells Nobel medal, raises $103.5 million dollars for Ukraine aid

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov auctioned off his Nobel Peace Prize gold medal for $103.5 million (€98.4 million).

Muratov is the editor-in-chief of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The proceeds from the auction will go to UNICEF's Humanitarian Response for Ukrainian Children Displaced by the War, according to Heritage Auctions.

Muratov won the prize in 2021 for his "efforts to safeguard freedom of expression."

Ukraine foreign policy advisor: 'We are ready to make further reforms despite the war'

Zelenskyy's foreign policy adviser: Kyiv 'willing' to make further reforms for EU membership

Foreign policy adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ihor Zhovka, told DW that Kyiv's expectations as to whether Ukraine will be conferred EU candidate status are now more positive than several days ago, following the recommendation of the European Commission.

Zhovka said that if Ukraine achieves candidate status it will have done so at "record high speed." 

"We are willing to make further reforms despite the war, and especially after we win the war," he said.

What happened in Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Monday

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her French counterpart Catherine Colonna called on member states to approve EU membership candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova at the bloc's upcoming summit on June 23-24.

Hungary proposed its territory as a possible route for Ukrainian grain exports.

The head of Russian-occupied Crimea said Ukraine had fired at oil drilling platforms off the coast of the peninsula.

Russia's blockade of Ukrainian grain is a war crime, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to take back areas of southern Ukraine that are currently under Russian occupation.

Australia sent Ukraine 14 M113AS4 armored personnel carriers (APC).

China's crude oil imports from Russia increased 55% in May compared to a year earlier.

Russia said that its forces have seized the village of Metiolkine near Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk region.

Germany seized Russian-owned properties under sanctions, in the first case of its kind. 

You can revisit our updates from Monday here.

lo, jsi, sdi/wd (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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