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LIVE — US pledges additional $1 billion for Ukraine

June 15, 2022

Washington's latest boost of aid will include howitzers and anti-ship missiles, which Ukraine's government say are needed to hold off Russia in the eastern Donbas region. DW has the latest.

Ukrainian service members prepare shells for a M777 Howitzer near a frontline in the Donetsk region
The US will send Ukraine more heavy weapons systems, including howitzersImage: REUTERS
  • US pledges more military aid to Ukraine
  • Xi assures Putin of China's support for Russia's 'security'
  • Ex-President Poroshenko tells DW Germany must stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with Kyiv
  • UN panel says it is too early in probe to confirm Russian war crimes
  • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg calls for more heavy weapons for Ukraine

These updates are now closed

Turkey ready to host four-way meeting to unblock export of grain

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country is ready to host four-way talks with the UN, Russia and Ukraine in order to unblock the passage of grain through the Black Sea.

Millions of tons of wheat have been held up in Ukrainian ports due to Russia's maritime blockade and mines placed by Ukraine to prevent an amphibious assault. 

Cavusoglu said the UN has submitted a plan to permit exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports. 

Stephane Dujarric, the UN Secretary-General spokesman, said Turkey was playing a significant role in the situation, which will cause worldwide food shortages should the impasse be left unresolved.

"I think the role of the Turkish military will be critical in that regard," Dujarric said.

Russian companies using Georgian entities to bypass sanctions

David Arakhamia, Ukraine's chief negotiator with Russia, said Russian people and companies are circumventing Western sanctions by making use of Georgian entities to do so.

He told a German Marshall Fund event in Washington that Russians are "heavily" using "Georgian banks, Georgian financial system, Georgian companies and so on," to dodge the West's sanctions regime.

"If you are a sanctioned Russian person, you go to the Internet, you open up a Georgian company, open up remotely the bank account and start processing," Arakhamia added.

He also urged Washington to take action to close the loophole. 

US advises against Ukraine travel after reports of two captured

The White House Wednesday urged Americans against travel to Ukraine after two Americans were reportedly taken hostage by Russian forces.

The US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said if reports emerge that two Americans are indeed missing in action, the US " will do everything we can" to see the return of captured US citizens.

Germany to deliver one less rocket launcher, Bundeswehr 'at its limits'

Germany will only be able to deliver three instead of four planned rocket launchers to Ukraine, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Wednesday.

The announcement came on the sidelines of a US-headed meeting in Brussels on offering military support to Ukraine.

Lambrecht said delivering the three MARS II multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine is already putting the German military "at its limits," as the weapons must come from the Bundeswehr's supplies.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz previously told lawmakers Germany would send four of the rocket launchers.

The United States plans on sending four of the systems, while the UK will send an additional three. Combined with the three launchers from Germany, Ukraine would have a total of ten MARS II.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had called on Western partners to provide 300 of the systems in order to defend against Russia's offensive in eastern Ukraine.

For peace we need weapons, Ukraine's ex-President Poroshenko tells DW

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was in office from 2014 until 2019, called on Germany and other countries in Europe to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Ukraine.

"For the peace, we need three things: weapons, weapons and weapons," Poroshenko told DW from Kyiv.

He added that securing an end to Russia's invasion in Ukraine was "vital for the future of Europe."

Poroshenko also defended his decision to sign the Minsk agreement with Russia, saying the 2015 peace accord won Ukraine "eight years to create [an] army" and rebuild its economy.

"We win eight years to continue the reforms and to move to the European Union," he said.

The agreement was aimed at ending fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbas region — where fighting with Russian troops is currently concentrated.

US announces additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine

The United States will provide Ukraine with another $1 billion (€963 million) to help the country amid Russia's assault in the eastern Donbas region.

US President Joe Biden said Washington remains committed "to supporting the Ukrainian people whose lives have been ripped apart by this war."

The latest boost of aid will include major weapons systems that the Ukrainian government has repeatedly appealed for. The weapons will include howitzers, anti-ship missile launchers and rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

The US will also send an additional $225 million in humanitarian aid to provide assistance for drinking water, food, shelter and other essential items.

The announcement came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin kicked off a meeting in Brussels with over 45 countries to discuss further support for Ukraine.

Later on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, after speaking with US President Joe Biden, that he was "grateful" for the new arms package. 

UN panel says too early in probe to confirm Russian war crimes

A UN panel investigating possible human rights violations said they are collecting evidence, but that it is too early to say whether the allegations constitute war crimes.

Commission chairman Erik Mose said the UN panel is "not in a position at this stage" to make that legal assessment. He confirmed, however, that the panel has collected reports and information about "arbitrary killings of civilians" in Bucha and Irpin. Mose also said the panel observed the destruction on civilian sites in the Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

The evidence currently being collected could support war crimes allegations, if these are "confirmed later."

The UN panel collected testimonies from civilians and met with authorities and civil society organizations. Their first information-gathering mission in Ukraine is due to end on Thursday.

'We will never forgive them for this,' survivors tell DW

As Russian forces continue their assault in eastern Ukraine, towns that were formerly occupied are grappling with the devastation left behind. DW's Rebecca Ritters spoke with survivors in the town of Trostyanets, where war crimes are alleged to have taken place.

Olyksander Faizov, an auto mechanic, told DW he was one of several men tortured by Russian troops in the basement of the town's main train station.

"I was sitting right in this corner, I was beaten there," he said from an area of the train station.

He pointed to a wall stained with blood, saying troops beat another man there. "His head was smashed by the butt of a gun, and his hands were tied behind his back. He tried to get up and left blood marks," Faizov said.

DW also spoke with Anna Shevtsova, medical director at the Trostyanets Hospital, who said the building was targeted. Patients and medical staff were forced to seek shelter in the basement amid the bombardment.

"I think there is good in this world. There is justice. Kindness will prevail some day," she said, but added that many in the town "will never forgive them for this."

"You have to pay for everything in this life. They will pay too," Shevtsova added. 

Russian occupation leaves scars on Trostyanet

UN panel probing reports of children missing from Russian-occupied areas

There are growing reports of children disappearing from areas of Ukraine that are occupied by Russia, a UN panel said on Wednesday.

The panel is investigating possible human rights violations during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It is necessary to "investigate further reports about the alleged transfer of children placed in institutions in the temporarily occupied territories to the Russian Federation," said panel member Jasminka Dzumhur.

She added that the panel is also probing "information about expedited citizenship and adoption processes for some of these children."

Dzumhur said the panel could not verify the reports themselves as they cannot travel to the occupied territories, but said that a significant number of children may be involved.

China's Xi tells Putin Beijing backs Russia's 'sovereignty,' urges 'responsible' solution

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke over the phone on Wednesday, according to Chinese state media.

Xi told Putin that China would continue to support Russia's "sovereignty and security," state media said. 

"China is willing to continue to support Russia on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security," a state broadcaster quoted Xi as saying.

The Chinese leader also urged that all parties work toward resolving the situation in Ukraine "in a responsible manner."

China, a key Putin ally, has been reluctant to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Germany says Gazprom's move to cut gas deliveries a 'political decision'

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said an announcement by Russian energy giant Gazprom to reduce supplies of natural gas to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline was a "political decision."

Gazprom blamed the 40% reduction on "repair" works by the German company Siemens, but Habeck said it was "not a technically justifiable decision." 

Ikea says will 'further scale down' operations in Russia, Belarus

Ikea said it has decided to "further scale down" its business in Russia and Belarus, where it had put operations on hold since the start of the war in Ukraine. 

Ingka Group, which manages most of Ikea's stores, cited the impact of the war on businesses and supply chains across the world. 

Russian media reported that the Swedish furniture giant was laying off employees and that it planned to sell its facilities

Ukraine 'waiting for a decision' on weapons from West

Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak called for weapon deliveries from Western allies to the frontline, saying: "Brussels, we are waiting for a decision."

According to Podolyak, the ratio of Russia's to Ukraine's artillery along the frontline in some areas is 10 to 1.

"Daily, I receive a message from the defenders: 'We are holding on, just say: when to expect the weapons?'" 

NATO defense ministers are meeting on Wednesday in Brussels, where NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said members of the alliance will continue to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons.

"We are extremely focused on stepping up support," Stoltenberg told a news conference.

Stoltenberg also said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was invited to the NATO leaders summit later this month in Madrid. 

"Zelenksyy is, of course, welcome to come in person. If that's not possible for him, he will address us by video conference," Stoltenberg said.

Macron urges new talks with Ukraine 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for "new in-depth discussions" with Kyiv.

"At the gates of our European Union, an unprecedented geopolitical situation is playing out," he said after meeting French troops stationed in Romania.

"We, the European Union, need to send clear political signals to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, who have been resisting heroically for several months," he added, speaking alongside Romania's President Klaus Iohannis.

Macron has been criticized for maintaining communication with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some French media reported that he would travel to Kyiv this week, but he has not confirmed the reports. 

Romanian president calls for Ukraine's EU candidate status 'as soon as possible' 

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said a decision on granting Ukraine a candidate status for the European Union could come by the end of June. 

"In my opinion, the candidate status must be granted as soon as possible, it is a correct solution from a moral, economic and security perspective," he said after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Fighting around Sievierodonetsk getting 'more difficult': Ukrainian official 

A top Ukrainian official said that the fighting around the contested city of Sievierodonetsk and other places in eastern Ukraine "is getting more difficult."

Serhii Haidai, the governor of Luhansk province said Ukrainian soldiers were holding back Russian forces. "Our soldiers are holding the enemy on three sides at once. They are protecting Sievierodonetsk and not allowing any advance to Lysychansk," he said on Telegram. 

He said many were injured in Lysychansk, which is located across a river from Sievierodonetsk.

Russian Defense Ministry says NATO warehouse destroyed

Russia's Defense Ministry said its missiles had destroyed a warehouse in the Lviv region, which was being used to store ammunition for weapons donated by NATO members.

UK Defense Ministry says Russia now controls Sievierodonetsk

Britain's Ministry of Defense said Wednesday on Twitter that Russian forces were now in control of the city of Sievierodonetsk.

Elements of Ukraine's Armed Forces and several hundred civilians are sheltering in underground bunkers in Azot Chemical Plant in the city, the report added. Russia told Ukrainian forces holed up in the chemical plant to lay down their arms by early Wednesday.

Russia tells Ukrainian forces to 'lay down arms' in Sievierodonetsk

Russia told Ukrainian forces deployed at a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk to "stop their senseless resistance and lay down arms" from 8 a.m. Moscow time (0500 GMT)," on Wednesday, Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia's National Defense Management Center told the Interfax news agency.

Civilians would be allowed to leave through a humanitarian corridor, he added.

Ukraine says more than 500 civilians are currently trapped alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory where its forces have defied weeks of Russian bombardment and assaults that have reduced much of the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk to ruins.

EASA 'worried' about Russia flying 'unsafe' Western-made airplanes

The European Union's top aviation safety regulator has said it is "very worried" about the safety of Western-made aircraft which are continuing to fly in Russia without access to spare parts and proper maintenance.

The European Union and the United States have moved to curb Russia's access to flying equipment following its invasion of Ukraine, meaning its aircraft have become "very unsafe," according to Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

US extends energy payments to Russia until December

The US Department of Treasury has announced it will allow some energy-related transactions with Sberbank, VTB Bank, Alfa-Bank and several other Russian entities to continue until December 5, extending a previous exemption deadline set for June 24.

The payments to Russia for energy products will give European countries time to prepare for a near-total oil embargo.

Washington has banned imports of Russian fossil fuels and imposed punitive sanctions due to its invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

NATO chief urges 'more heavy weapons' for Ukraine

The West needs to send Ukraine "more heavy weapons" as it battles Russia's "brutal invasion," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. 

NATO was already "stepping up" deliveries and officials would be meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to coordinate further support, Stoltenberg said at a news conference.

On Tuesday, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said the country had only received a fraction of the arms it had requested and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the West was "not doing enough" to support Kyiv.

Meanwhile, seven NATO nations pledged their support for Sweden and Finland's bids to join the military alliance.

The support was voiced after a gathering at Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's official residence in The Hague, co-hosted by his Danish counterpart, Mette Frederiksen. The other leaders in attendance were Romania's president and the prime ministers of Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Latvia. 

Latvia's Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Karins, Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attend a press conference in front of the Catshuis in The Hague
The leaders of several NATO nations met in The HagueImage: Sem van der Wal/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

Zelenskyy: Outcome of Donbas fighting will be significant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said defending the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine was "vital" as the outcome would indicate "who will dominate in the coming weeks" of the war.

"Hanging in there in Donbas is crucial," Zelenskyy said on Telegram in his daily address to the Ukrainian people.

Russian forces have made recent advances in the Donbas and control most of the Luhansk region, with fighting especially intense in the city of Severodonetsk. 

EU 'wants to boost energy cooperation with Israel' as it reduces Russia dependence

The European Union is looking toward Israel as it seeks to reduce its reliance on Russia for energy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

"We want to boost our energy cooperation with Israel," Von der Leyen said in a press briefing in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The EU was Russia's "biggest, most important client" in energy supplies, she said, but the war had spurred the bloc to move away from Russian fossil fuels.

Nicaragua gives green light for joint military exercises with Russia

Nicaragua's parliament has granted approval for Russian troops to be allowed into the country for joint military exercises.

The chamber, dominated by allies of President Daniel Ortega, voted to allow troops and military hardware from Russia, the United States, and seven Latin American countries into Nicaragua.

What happened in Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said the country had only received 10% of the arms it had requested from Western allies to fend off Russian troops.

Russia's Foreign Ministry blacklisted a total of 49 British citizens, including 29 journalists and members of British news organizations.

Pope Francis said the war was "perhaps in some way provoked," adding that there were no "good guys and bad guys" in the conflict.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would work on assuring the release of two British nationals who have been sentenced to death by pro-Moscow separatists in the Donbas region.

The British Defense Ministry said in its regular intelligence report that Russian forces probably made "small advances" in the northeastern Kharkiv for the first time in weeks. 

Ukrainian Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotsky said that the number of fields tilled in Ukraine has dropped by a quarter since Russia invaded on February 24.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany will continue to supply state-of-the art weapons to Ukraine.

Yuri Sak, an advisor for Ukraine's defense minister, told DW that "Donbas is not lost. The fighting continues" but Russian forces have "superiority when it comes to heavy artillery."

You can revisit our updates from Tuesday, June 14, here.

ar, rs, fb, jsi/dj, aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)