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Ukraine updates: Russian energy grid attacks wound many

Published June 1, 2024last updated June 1, 2024

Russia launched an extensive drone and missile attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, injuring 19 people. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue. DW has more.

Explosions are visible at a distance from a massive Russian missile attack on Ukrainian infrastructure
The strikes were part of a series of sustained attacks by Russia against Ukraine's power grid, which have been ongoing since MarchImage: Artur Abramiv/Zuma/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Russia carried out a significant drone and missile assault on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure overnight into Saturday, according to Ukrainian authorities. At least 19 people were injured in the strikes.

"Civilians, infrastructure and energy facilities. This is what Russia is constantly at war with," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on social media. 

He reiterated Ukraine's need for additional air defense systems from its Western allies.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy has traveled to Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue to persuade donors to provide weapons to Ukraine and sever ties with Russia.

Here's a look at the latest developments from Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, June 1

Skip next section Statue to Russian rogue mercenary leader Prigozhin unveiled
June 1, 2024

Statue to Russian rogue mercenary leader Prigozhin unveiled

A statue of the deceased leader of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was unveiled at his grave a St. Petersburg cemetery on Saturday. 

Small crowds of people, some of them wearing Wagner insignias or uniforms, went to lay flowers. 

Citizens during the opening of the monument to Yevgeny Prigozhin at the Porokhovsky cemetery. June 1, 2024, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Yevgeny Prigozhin shot to prominence last summer with one of the shortest-lived attempted 'rebellions' on record, and died in a plane crash two months laterImage: Aleksandr Galperin/globallookpress.com/picture alliance

Prigozhin came to prominence early in the war in Ukraine as the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, which was playing a major role in the frontline fighting at the time. 

He became increasingly outspoken about lacking equipment and other perceived shortfalls, often complaining about the situation in expletive-laden videos from the front. 

In June last year, he launched an apparent attempted rebellion against the Russian military leadership, capturing the major base near Ukraine's border in Rostov-on-Don and marching troops north towards Moscow. 

The following day, the rebellion was called off, charges against Prigozin were dropped, and a deal for him to leave for Belarus without facing prosecution was announced. 

Within two months, he died along with nine other people in a plane crash just north of Moscow. The US government is one of several organizations to voice suspicion of foul play in his death. 

A man in Wagner clothing holds the hand of the new statue of Yevgeny Prigozhin at the Porokhovsky cemetery during its unveiling.  June 1, 2024, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Some of those gathered at the scene on Saturday wore Wagner insignias and other such apparelImage: Aleksandr Galperin/globallookpress.com/picture alliance
Skip next section Orban leads 'no war' European election rally in Budapest
June 1, 2024

Orban leads 'no war' European election rally in Budapest

People march during a rally in support of Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his party in Budapest, Hungary on Saturday, June 1, 2024. At the front of the crowd, a large banner in the colors of the Hungarian flag bears the slogan "No war."
Orban and his Fidesz party are portraying themselves as rare opponents of the fighting in Ukraine within EuropeImage: Denes Erdos/AP Photo/picture alliance

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban spoke at an election rally in Budapest on Saturday, as his campaign leans increasingly into his government's isolated position within the EU opposing support for Ukraine. 

Orban told the crowd, many of whom carried banners with slogans like "No war," that he had been "fighting for peace alone" in the EU. 

"We have the largest electoral army... we are Europe's largest peace-keeping force," he told the crowd, predicting a "great victory" in European Parliament elections and also Hungarian local elections that are taking place in tandem. 

Participants listen to a speech of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (not pictured) during an anti-war Peace March in Budapest, Hungary, 01 June 2024.
Hungary, a part of both NATO and the EU, has objected to several measures seeking to either sanction Russia or support Ukraine amid the invasionImage: EPA/Szilard Koszticsak

The large crowd marched along the banks of the Danube river in central Budapest.

Orban has refused to send weapons to Ukraine and has also sought to block efforts to do so on a small scale at a centralized EU level. Most military aid to Ukraine is bilateral in any case, though. 

He's also secured exemptions for Hungary to various sanctions against Russia, particularly pertaining to energy imports, and in recent weeks has accused NATO and Brussels of "dragging" Hungary into war over Ukraine. He even likened it to the pressure from Adolf Hitler for Hungary to join World War II on the side of the Nazis.

The prime minister recently said that his lawyers were already working on a plan of his to "redefine" Hungary's NATO membership, to prevent any participation in operations "outside NATO territory."

His party, Fidesz, is by far the strongest in the country, polling close to 50% and with almost double the support of any other group. A strong performance in next week's vote seems assured. 

However, with a population of less than 10 million, Hungary's influence is marginal at the European Parliament, where voting power roughly corresponds to the size of a member state.

Skip next section Zelenskyy in Singapore for Shangri-La Dialogue
June 1, 2024

Zelenskyy in Singapore for Shangri-La Dialogue

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is attending the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore to garner support for Kyiv, which is facing a renewed assault by Russia.

He is scheduled to address the security forum over the weekend, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said.

AFP reporters saw Zelenskyy entering the luxury hotel lobby where the Shangri-La Dialogue was being held.

He is hoping to persuade donors to provide weapons to Kyiv and sever ties with Russia.

In recent days, Zelenskyy has visited Spain, Sweden, Portugal, and Belgium, securing new pledges of weapons and aid for his struggling military.

The Ukrainian leader is also whipping up support for a peace summit in Switzerland next month.

Skip next section Russia pounds Ukraine's energy sector
June 1, 2024

Russia pounds Ukraine's energy sector

Russia launched an extensive attack on Ukraine's energy and critical infrastructure, injuring at least 19 people.

Ukraine's air force said it successfully shot down 35 out of 53 Russian missiles and 46 out of 47 attack drones used in the strikes, the sixth major attack since March.

The Ukrainian national grid operator, Ukrenergo, however, reported facilities in the eastern, central, and western regions were damaged. 

In response to the strikes, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a fresh plea for more air defenses.

"Our partners know exactly what is needed for this. Additional Patriot and other modern air defense systems for Ukraine. Accelerating and expanding the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine. Providing our warriors with all the necessary capabilities," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. 

Damage to Ukraine's energy infrastructure in recent weeks has led the leaders of the war-ravaged country to implement nationwide rolling blackouts.

How Europe is trying to help Ukraine fight Russian advances

lo/wmd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)