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Zelenskyy vows victory as war enters 100th day

June 3, 2022

Fighting remains heavy in eastern Ukraine as the Russian invasion enters its 100th day. In a message to Ukrainians, President Zelenskyy has said "victory will be ours."

A soldier runs between ruins in the disputed and reclaimed villages between Mykolaiv and Kherson
A soldier runs between ruins in the disputed and reclaimed villages between Mykolaiv and KhersonImage: Laine Nathan/abaca/picture alliance

This article was last updated at 00:04 UTC/GMT

This live updates article has been closed. For the most up-to-date information on the war in Ukraine, please click here. 

Switzerland blocks transfer of arms to Ukraine

Switzerland said that it would not allow Swiss war materiel to be transferred to Ukraine.

This is in line with the country's strict military neutrality. Switzerland's federal council said that Germany and Denmark had made a request for the transfer of war materiel.

Under Switzerland's War Materiel Act, export requests cannot be approved if the recipient country is in an international armed conflict.

Germany's request concerned around 12,400 rounds of 35-millimeter ammunition for self-propelled aircraft guns and Piranha II wheeled armored personnel carriers (APCs). The request made by Denmark concerns 22 Piranha III wheeled APCs.

However, the council said it will allow individual parts and assembly packages to be delivered to European defense companies even if they will be used to produce materiel that might later be transferred to Ukraine.

The council decided on two requests by Swiss firms to export parts and assembly packages to defense companies in Germany and Italy. The requests concerned components for hand-held anti-tank weapons and for anti-aircraft weapons.

"Switzerland cannot agree to two requests to transfer war material from Switzerland to Ukraine. However, the delivery of individual parts to European armaments companies remains possible," Federal Council spokesman Andre Simonazzi said.

Russian army amassing forces outside Sloviansk — Ukraine General Staff

The Russian army is amassing forces for an attack on the city of Sloviansk in the eastern Donetsk region, according to Ukraine's General Staff.

The Ukrainian military said that there were 600 to 800 Russian soldiers in up to 20 combat units with armored infantry, artillery and air defense.

UN Secretary-General Guterres calls for peace

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a renewed call for peace on the 100th day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Guterres called for urgent protection for civilians and respect for human rights.

"The conflict has already taken thousands of lives, caused untold destruction, displaced millions of people, resulted in unacceptable violations of human rights and is inflaming a three-dimensional global crisis — food, energy and finance — that is pummeling the most vulnerable people, countries and economies," Guterres said in a statement.

The secretary-general said that "resolving the conflict will require negotiations and dialogue."

"The sooner the parties engage in good-faith diplomatic efforts to end this war, the better for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the world," Guterres said.

Russian passenger jet grounded by Sri Lankan authorities

Russia on Friday summoned the Sri Lankan ambassador to demand the government in Colombo to release an Aeroflot passenger jet grounded by authorities in the Indian Ocean island country. 

Authorities in Sri Lanka say the Airbus A330 was grounded on Thursday and will remain so until at least June 16. It is not known just how many Russian citizens are now stranded in Colombo.

The plane was grounded after a court ruling on claims to the plane put forth by an Irish leasing company. Aeroflot is under international sanctions and has been largely banned from international airspace and the registration for most of its 700 foreign-leased planes have also been revoked.

Moscow has flouted the move by simply reregistering the planes in its own ledgers. This, however, has led to numerous repossessions at international airports. One workaround has been for Aeroflot to purchase planes from lessors, which is not considered a  sanctions violation. 

Macron calls Putin's invasion of Ukraine a 'historic error' 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday told journalists he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of neighboring Ukraine had been a huge mistake: "I think, and I told him, that he made a historic and fundamental error for his people, for himself and for history." 

"I think he isolated himself. To lock oneself in isolation is one thing, to know how to get out of it is a difficult path," said Macron, who traveled to Moscow in early February in an attempt to dissuade Putin from invading.

The French leader warned against openly "humiliating" Russia, saying it would only close future diplomatic avenues.

He also said he would "not rule out" a trip to Kyiv in the near future and underscored his country's commitment to Ukraine, saying: "We want to increase financial and military support to Ukraine. And finally, do everything to get grain out of Ukraine." That statement runs counter to the narrative put forth by Putin, who has claimed that grain exports "are not a problem." 

Marriott suspends Russian operations, Burger King caught in contract obligations

Marriott Hotels on Friday announced that it would suspend all operations in Russia. The Maryland-based company has operated in Russia for 25 years but said US and UK sanctions had made it impossible to continue business. Marriott said it would halt the opening of new hotels in the country as well as future development and investment in Russia. Marriott announced the closure of its Moscow offices in March.

The fast food chain Burger King has a different problem. The legal structure of its joint-venture franchise contracts makes it impossible for the company to close its roughly 800 restaurants across Russia, according to parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc (RBI). The company halted corporate support for its Russian restaurants in March, with RBI saying it wanted out of the joint venture.

With the exit of main rival McDonald's, which opened the first fast food restaurant in the country in 1990 but recently sold its restaurants to a Russian partner — albeit with a buy-back option — Burger King franchises have been thriving.

Toronto-based RBI's joint-venture set-up allows the company to profit off of sales without owning any of its Russian restaurants. A March open letter from RBI President David Shear to employees claimed the company owned a 15% stake in Burger King Russia Ltd.

Other partners are Russia's state-owned VTB bank — which is under sanctions from both the US and EU — the Ukrainian private equity company Investment Capital Ukraine (ICU), and Alexander Kolobov — Burger King Russia's main franchisee, who owns 30% of the joint venture.   

Luhansk governor claims Ukraine has recaptured 20% of lost territory in Sievierodonetsk

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai on Friday claimed that Ukrainian forces had recaptured 20% of territory previously held by occupying Russian forces in the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk in Eastern Ukraine.

"Whereas before the situation was difficult, the percentage [held by Russia] was somewhere around 70%, now we have already pushed them back by approximately 20%," said Haidai while speaking on national television.

The claim could not be independently verified.

Haidai said fierce fighting continued around the key industrial city, with tens of thousands of residents sheltering in basements amid non-stop Russian shelling.

The governor added that 60% of nearby Lysychansk's residential buildings had been destroyed and its civilian infrastructure utterly decimated. Roughly 20,000 residents have remained in the city, which is still under Ukrainian control.

Mariupol mayor says Russia holding citizens hostage

Vadym Boichenko, the displaced mayor of the captured Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, has accused Russia of holding the city's remaining 100,000 citizens hostage. He said those trapped in the city cannot safely flee to Ukrainian-held territory.

"They are being held there by Russian troops and practically used as human shields," said Boichenko while speaking in the capital Kyiv. He speculated that the approach may be a calculated move by Moscow to defend against the possibility of Ukrainian counter-offensive to retake the industrial Black Sea city.

Mariupol, a key Ukrainian port, was devastated by weeks of Russian shelling. Boichenko claims more than 20,000 citizens were killed during the onslaught. 

"This is twice as many as in World War II under German occupation. It is the biggest bloodshed in the history of Mariupol," said the politician. 

He added that those who remain face a heightened risk of infection as a result of partially buried corpses throughout the city, saying "The stench of death makes it hard to breathe." 

Journalists injured, driver killed in eastern Ukraine

Reuters news agency on Friday announced that two of its journalists were injured on Friday when the vehicle they were traveling in came under fire in eastern Ukraine. The driver of the vehicle was killed.

The attack occurred while photographer Alexander Ermochenko and cameraman Pavel Klimov were traveling in a vehicle provided by Russian-back separatists on a road between the city of Sievierodonetsk and Rubizhne — 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the north.

The identity of the driver is not known. Reuters says he, too, was provided by the separatists. 

"Reuters extends its deepest sympathies to the family of the driver for their loss," according to an agency statement. 

Photographer Ermochenko was treated for a small shrapnel wound and cameraman Klimov for an arm fracture said the agency.

Sievierodonetsk has become a key objective for Russian forces hoping to maintain control over the occupied Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.

Putin warns food crisis will worsen, blames the UK and US

The global food crisis will worsen "because the British and Americans have imposed sanctions on our fertilizers," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

He was speaking after meeting the head of the African Union (AU), Macky Sall, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the AU Commission, in the southern Russian city of Sochi.

Sall, who is also Senegal's president, told Putin that Africa was "at the mercy" of the war in Ukraine. "Our countries, even if they are far from the theatre (of action), are victims on an economic level," he said.

Russia blamed Western sanctions, which were hitting its own grain and fertilizer exports because of the impact on shipping, banking, and insurance.

But Moscow also controls much of Ukraine's access to its Black Sea ports, but it continues to blame Kyiv and the West for the resulting blockage in grain exports from the country.

Putin denied that Russia was blocking ports, saying it was a "bluff."

"If someone wants to solve the problem of exporting Ukrainian grain - please, the easiest way is through Belarus. No one is stopping it," Putin said. "But for this you have to lift sanctions from Belarus."

Belarus and Russia are allies.

French fighter killed in Ukraine

The French foreign ministry said a French volunteer fighting against Russia had been killed in combat in Ukraine.

"We received the sad news that a Frenchman was fatally injured in fighting in Ukraine," a foreign ministry spokesperson said.

She did not have more details about the person's death. Thousands of foreign nationals have signed up to fight for Ukraine.

"We remind everyone that the whole of Ukraine is a war zone. In this regard, travel to Ukraine is formally advised against, for whatever reason," the ministry said.

Ukraine police investigate Russian soldiers' sexual violence against Ukraine civilians

Ukrainian police have opened criminal investigations into allegations of sexual violence against civilians according to Deputy Interior Minister Kateryna Pavlichenko.

Pavlichenko on Friday said authorities had received more than 50 complaints of sexual violence committed by invading Russian forces, noting that police had already begun 16 separate criminal investigations.  

The deputy interior minister acknowledged the difficulty victims have coming forward with such accusations, calling it, "a topic that, as a rule, the victims do not want to talk about, because the fear and pain that they experienced ... they want to forget as soon as possible."

Ukraine, its allies and the United Nations Human Rights Office are all investigating various allegations of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers since Moscow launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24.

Thousands of Ukrainians have died and millions forced to flee since then, yet Russia denies any wrongdoing as a result of its attack and rejects accusations of war crimes.

Protestants debate end of relations with Russian Orthodox Church over support for war

Protestant theologians and allied politicians have drafted an open letter to leaders of the Protestant Church of Germany calling for the Russian Orthodox Church to be suspended from the World Council of Churches and for bilateral relations between the German and Russian Churches to be frozen.

The letter, addressed to Chair of the Council of Evangelical Churches in Germany Annette Kurschus and General-Secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Churches Ioan Sauca, condemned the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church,Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow, for his full-throated support of the invasion of Ukraine and his propagation of the concept of a neo-imperialist "Russian world."

Foreign Bishop of the Council of Evangelical Churches in Germany Petra Bosse-Huber dismissed the letter as a "signal in the wrong direction." She added that the Protestant Church vehemently rejected Kyrill's support for the invasion as a "blasphemous ideology," but warned against an overarching condemnation of all members of the Russian Church. 

Theologians say they drafted the letter for fear of giving representatives of the Russian Church a forum to spread disinformation and war propaganda at the upcoming plenary meeting of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany, from August 31 to September 8.

Signatories called on German Church leaders to be transparent about how they intend to deal with the war and the conduct of Russian Orthodox Church leadership at the upcoming event, noting that they must worry more about "the suffering of people in Ukraine, and less about the poor image of the Russian Orthodox Church."

Poland reminds citizens they can scavenge firewood as fuel prices soar

A reminder that Polish citizens can forage firewood as a way to combat rising fuel prices has piqued critics of the country's right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) government. 

Though Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki blames the country's economic skid on "Putinflation," critics say that obfuscates the fact that PiS has followed disastrous welfare spending policies — which have favored the party's base of families with children and the elderly — as well as the conservative government's confrontational course with the EU over domestic policy issues. 

"After yesterday's visit, I can say that theoretically we are billionaires, but in practice we will all be collecting brushwood,'' said Donald Tusk, leader of the pro-market Civic Platform, Poland's largest opposition party, "Because this seems to be the latest idea to prevent Polish poverty that Law and Justice has prepared for all of us." 

Tusk was referring to a visit to Poland by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Thursday. The EU leader was in Warsaw to negotiate the release of billions of euros in EU aid to Poland that have been tied up for months over controversial changes the PiS government has undertaken to reform the country's judicial system

Poland has led the EU in Ukrainian refugee acceptance

Data released by the EU statistics agency Eurostat on Friday showed that in the wake of Russia's February 24 invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Poland welcomed the most Ukrainian refugees.

The invasion has sparked the largest European refugee crisis since the end of World War II, according to a United Nations report released in May, causing more than 6 million people to flee their home country.

Eurostat says Poland granted temporary protection status to 675,085 Ukrainians in March; the Czech Republic followed with 244,650. Poland also granted similar protection to 575 Russian and 325 Belarus citizens.

More than two-thirds of those granted protection in Poland were women and children, with under-18 Ukrainians making up half of all refugees. 

Eurostat says new data indicates a steady increase in the number of Ukrainians granted protection in a total of nine EU countries, with Bulgaria and Lithuania showing the largest increases.

Map showing where Ukrainian refugees have fled

Germany approves €100-billion Bundeswehr fund; Russia accuses Berlin of 'remilitarizing'

Maria Zakharova, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, said Friday that Germany was "remilitarizing," using words evocative of Germany's Nazi past but also Moscow's official reasoning for invading Ukraine.

German lawmakers have approved a special fund of €100 billion ($107 billion) to modernize its military, known as the Bundeswehr. Parliament agreed to the plan Friday shortly after Zakharova offered her critique.

Russia's war on Ukraine led the German government to reassess the state of this country's armed forces. It had long been well-known that the Bundeswehr is lacking equipment. Military experts pointed out that the country had not a single combat-ready brigade to defend German territory. 

The government and opposition parties agreed to change the constitution and allow additional debt to upgrade the military — an unprecedented occurrence in the history of the Federal Republic.

Zelenskyy releases video marking 100 days since invasion

In a video message from Kyiv marking 100 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed, "Victory will be ours."

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and presidential advisor Mykhaylo Polodlyak also appeared in the video and vowed to remain in Ukraine.

Wladimir Klitschko, the former boxer and brother of the mayor of Kyiv, also said the country did not want "another 100 days of war" and called for "pressure on Putin's regime."

After 100 days, Russia has refined its focus to eastern Ukraine after suffering early setbacks including a failed effort to seize the Hostomel air field near Kyiv, take the capital Kyiv or establish air supremacy over Ukraine's skies.

Hundreds of Ukrainian patients in European hospitals under EU scheme

The EU said that around 500 Ukrainian patients have so far been receiving urgent treatment by way of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

The initiative aims to strengthen cooperation when it comes to prevention, preparedness and response in disaster situations.

Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and Spain are among the countries receiving patients. The Russian invasion has placed medical facilities in Ukraine and neighboring countries under strain. Specific treatment needs to therefore be arranged for patients with chronic illness or those who have been injured in the fighting.

Turkey a destination of 'stolen grains' from Russia — report

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey says Turkish buyers are purchasing grain that Russia stole, the Reuters news agency reports.

According to the report, ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said that Russia was shipping stolen grain out of Crimea, but that Ankara was working alongside Kyiv and Interpol to help identify those responsible.

"Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grains and trying to get them out from the invaded Crimea. These stolen grains are being sold to foreign countries, and Turkey is one of them," Bodnar told reporters in Ankara.

Predicting future harvests via satellite

AU chief tells Putin, Africans 'are victims on an economic level'

The chair of the African Union (AU), Macky Sall urged Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow should take into account the impact the war was having on the African continent.

AFP news agency cited the AU chair as saying while on a visit to Sochi that Russia should "become aware that our countries, even if they are far from the theatre (of action), are victims on an economic level."

Sall was also reported to have told Putin that the supply of food should be "outside" of Western sanctions targeting Russia.

The AU chair is visiting Russia at the invitation of Putin amid a global food shortage.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the price of food and fuel has surged, hitting developing countries particularly hard.

Minsk ready to support transit of Ukraine grain — report

Belarusian state news agency, Belta cited leader Alexander Lukashenko saying that the country is ready to allow the transit of Ukraine grain to Baltic sea ports in return for use of these ports.

The agency reported that this was discussed during a call between Lukashenko and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday.

Risk of famine in Africa a 'consequence of the Russian war' — German foreign ministry

A spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry has stressed that Russia's war in Ukraine — and not the West — is putting African countries at risk of famine.

"We have to stress that the fact there is a risk of famine in parts of the world, that some countries are being cut off from grain exports, is a consequence of the Russian war of aggression and not of Western sanctions," said a foreign ministry spokesperson at a Friday press briefing according to Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile Ukraine's supply of grain to global markets will be part of discussions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, according to the Kremlin.

Government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin was planning on giving a “detailed explanation” of Russia’s position to Sall, who is the current chair of the African Union.

According to UN figures, African countries imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020.

Zelenskyy visit to Germany 'conceivable' — Ukraine parliamentary speaker

Ukraine’s parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk said that he could imagine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy making a visit to Germany, provided there were positive developments in the war.

"If victory is near, then I think he (Zelenskyy) will make visits to various countries and come to Germany for an official visit," Stefantschuk told German news agency DPA on Friday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was also invited to speak to Ukraine's parliament.

Ukraine’s parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk pictured at the Bundestag
Ukraine’s parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk said its not out of the realm of possibility for Zelenskyy to make a visit to GermanyImage: picture alliance/photothek

EU imposes 6th sanctions package against Russia, including oil embargo

The European Union on Friday imposed a sixth package of economic and individual sanctions, which target both Russia and Belarus.

In a statement, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell said: "With today's package, we are increasing limitations to the Kremlin’s ability to finance the war by imposing further economic sanctions."

Russia's oil and financial sectors have been targeted in the latest round of measures.

"We are banning the import of Russian oil into the EU and with this cutting a massive source of revenue for Russia," Borrell said.

"We are cutting off more of the key Russian banks from the international payment system SWIFT," the EU foreign policy chief said.

"We are also sanctioning those responsible for the atrocities that took place in Bucha and Mariupol and banning more disinformation actors actively contributing to President Putin's war propaganda," Borrell's strongly worded statement read.

War 'will have no winner' — UN assistant secretary-general

With Friday marking 100 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, the UN said it's a conflict in which no one will be victorious.

"This war has taken an unacceptable toll on people and engulfed virtually all aspects of civilian life. This war has and will have no winner," UN Assistant Secretary General Amin Awad said in a statement.

Awad highlighted the lost lives, homes and jobs and said that in a little over three months, nearly 14 million people had been forced from their homes, the majority of them women and children.

In a stark warning, Awad said that "millions of civilian lives could be in peril" in the next winter.

The assistant secretary-general said that the UN efforts to respond to the conflict will continue and concluded his statement by saying: "The war must end now."

German chancellor receives Ukraine's parliamentary speaker in Berlin

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz received Ukraine’s parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk in Berlin on Friday.

Stefantschuk arrived at the chancellor’s office in military uniform, where he was welcomed by Scholz.

At the start of his visit, Stefantschuk on Thursday called on Germany to deliver heavy weaponry, including Leopard tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles, to help in its fight against Russia.

Stefantschuk is scheduled to meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier later in the day.

Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefantschuk has called on Germany to deliver heavy weapons to his countryImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Fighting continues in Sievierodonetsk — Ukrainian military

Ukraine’s military has reported that it has managed to hold positions in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, and that fighting continues in the strategically important city.

In a post on Facebook the Ukrainian general staff said that Russian forces were continuing their bombardment of Ukrainian positions in the city.

The general staff also reported that there had been air strikes on the village of Myrna Dolyna and failed attempts to advance on two nearby settlements.

Military leadership went on to say that there had also been an attempt to cut Sievierodonetsk from supply lines, but these were also unsuccessful.

DW cannot independently verify the reports.

Russia achieved none of its initial objectives, UK says

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches 100 days, Moscow has not achieved any of its initial goals, according to a daily briefing by the British Defense Ministry.

"Russian forces failed to achieve their initial objectives to seize Kyiv and Ukrainian centers of government," the UK ministry wrote, putting the failures down to Russian "false planning and poor tactical execution."

Russian forces are having more success in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, a part of the country that has witnessed a military standoff between Russian and Ukrainian forces since 2014. However, those gains, particularly in the Luhansk Oblast of the Donbas region, have come at a "significant resource cost" that has prevented Russian forces from generating momentum on other fronts.

The war in Ukraine will continue for some time if the Kremlin is to reach its goals, the UK said.

"In order for Russia to achieve any form of success will require continued huge investment of manpower and equipment, and is likely to take considerable further time."

Zelenskyy: Ukraine waiting for more advanced weapons

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said brutal fighting continued in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, particularly around the city of Sievierodonetsk.

"It's the toughest there right now," he said. "The entire temporarily-occupied territory of our state is now a complete disaster zone, for which Russia bears full responsibility.

"The longer the war goes on, the more vile, shameful and cynical things Russia is forever inscribing in its history," he added.

Zelenskyy went on to thank the United States for agreeing to send advanced rocket systems. "These weapons really can save the lives of our people and defend our land," he said.

According to Zelenskyy, Ukraine expects to receive modern combat systems from other countries and noted that Sweden announced Thursday it was sending a new package of military assistance. Earlier this week, Germany also announced it would send additional weapons to Ukraine

Heavy weapons need to be sent 'quickly' — Ukrainian parliament speaker

The speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, called for the quick delivery of weapon systems from Germany, the Funke-Mediengruppe reported.

"Now it's also about the decisions being implemented quickly," Stefanchuk said, referring to Germany's announcement that it would send heavy weapons to Ukraine.

While visiting Berlin, Stefanchuk announced that he would invite German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Kyiv to "give a speech to the Ukrainian parliament."

"It is very important for us that the ice is broken and that Ukraine has the opportunity to get the newest and most modern weapons from Germany," Stefanchuk said.

He also urged Berlin to send more weapons than already announced, saying that Kyiv requires "heavy weapons such as self-propelled howitzers, multiple rocket launchers, air defense systems and anti-ship guns."

Stefanchuk said that if Ukraine loses the war, Russian troops will be in the Baltic states and Poland within a month.

Commenting on the possibility of a cease-fire with Moscow, Stefanchuk said that "there are red lines for us. We will not give up any of our territories — neither Donbas nor Crimea."

German Bundestag to decide on €100 billion armaments package

Germany's Bundestag is set to decide on a €100 billion ($108 billion) package to modernize and strengthen the country's military.

The special fund must be approved by both the Bundestag and Bundesrat legislative bodies to come into existence. As it represents an amendment to the constitution, to pass it needs a two-thirds majority in both legislative bodies.

The amendment is expected to succeed as it is supported by Germany's governing coalition as well as the largest opposition group, the conservative CDU/CSU bloc. Some dissenting Social Democrat (SPD) and Green MPs from within the ruling coalition could vote against the measure.

German military gets big spending boost

Russia 'will be held accountable' — Washington

US Undersecretary of State Uzra Zeya spoke at a UN Security Council meeting and underscored Washington's commitment to hold Russia accountable for crimes committed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

"We've received credible reports of Russian forces torturing and committing execution style killings of people with their hands bound behind their back," Zeya said. "We've received reports of women and girls being raped, some publicly, and children taken away into Russia and put up for adoption."

"And we know that Russian forces continue to deny safe passage to civilians fleeing violence, and to humanitarian organizations trying to reach those in need," she added.

Zeya said that the United States is working with its allies to support a broad range of international investigations into atrocities in Ukraine. She said that US President Joe Biden's administration has a message for Russia's leadership: "The world is watching you, and you will be held accountable."

Summary of Thursday's events in Ukraine-Russia crisis

Sloviansk mayor Vadym Liakh urged residents to evacuate as Russian bombing intensified, adding that Russian bombardment had damaged electricity lines and cut the water supply in the city.

The US added 71 Russian and Belarusian entities to its trade blacklist, including aircraft plants and shipbuilding and research institutes.

Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported that officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations will meet in Istanbul for talks on the establishment of a "corridor'' to allow the export of Ukrainian agricultural products.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said that an estimated 800 people were holed up in bomb shelters at a chemical factory under attack in Sievierodonetsk.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the West must prepare for a long-term war in Ukraine.

The US Department of Treasury announced a new round of sanctions targeting 17 Russian individuals linked to President Vladimir Putin.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said "Russian company representatives" are not allowed on the legislature's premises.

Diplomats of the 27 European Union member states formally approved the sixth round of sanctions against Moscow, which include a partial ban on Russian oil imports and removal of Russia's top lender Sberbank from the international platform SWIFT.

You can revisit our live updates from June 2 here.

js, ar, kb, sdi/rt, rs, sri (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)