Ukraine Russia latest news today: Putin likely still wants all of Ukraine, says US

Ukrainian soldiers describe what life is like in the trenches

Vladimir Putin likely still has designs to capture all of Ukraine for Russia but has had to narrow his objectives in the current war, a senior Pentagon official said today.

Russia abandoned its offensives on several Ukrainian cities around one month into its invasion after failing to make significant progress – Russian officials claimed it was because they had achieved their objectives.

Moscow has since focused on the eastern region of Donbas, where it has now taken swathes of land.

The two provinces comprising Donbas have been slipping into Russian hands with Mr Putin’s forces controlling around 95 per cent of Luhansk and half of Donetsk.

The city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Luhannsk has not yet been blocked off by Russian troops, but they control about 80 per cent of the area and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of it, a regional official said.

Capturing Sievierodonetsk and neighbouring Lysychansk would give Moscow full control of Luhansk.

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Russia controls 80 per cent of key Donbas city

The city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine has not yet been blocked off by Russian troops, but they control about 80 per cent of the area and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of it, an official said.

“There is still an opportunity for the evacuation of the wounded, communication with the Ukrainian military and local residents,” Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai told the Associated Press.

He acknowledged that Ukrainian forces have been pushed out to the industrial outskirts of the city because of “the scorched earth method and heavy artillery the Russians are using”.

Matt Mathers15 June 2022 03:00

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Putin still wants all of Ukraine despite setbacks, says Pentagon

Vladimir Putin likely still plans to capture all of Ukraine but has had to narrow his objectives in the current war, a senior Pentagon official said today.

Russia abandoned its offensives on several Ukrainian cities around one month into its invasion after failing to make significant progress. Russian officials claimed it was because they had achieved their objectives but western officials pointed to the huge losses of troops and equipment suffered by Russia.

Moscow has since focused on the eastern region of Donbas, where it has now taken swathes of land.

Many commentators have suggested that Mr Putin longs for Ukraine and other former parts of the Russian empire to return to Moscow’s control.

Speaking on Tuesday at an event hosted by the Centre for New American Security, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said: “I still think he has designs on a significant portion of Ukraine, if not the whole country. That said, I do not think he can achieve those objectives.

“They may make tactical gains here and there. The Ukrainians are holding up. I do not think the Russians have the capacity to achieve those grandiose objectives.”

Liam James15 June 2022 02:00

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US Open to allow Russian players

The US Open will allow tennis players from Russia and Belarus to compete this year despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, which prompted Wimbledon to ban those athletes.

US Tennis Association (USTA) CEO and executive director Lew Sherr, whose group runs the tournament, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that the USTA Board decided to let Russians and Belarusians enter the tournament because of “concern about holding the individual athletes accountable for the actions and decisions of their governments”.

Mr Sherr said athletes from Russia and Belarus will play at Flushing Meadows under a neutral flag – an arrangement that’s been used at various tennis tournaments around the world, including the French Open, which ended 5 June.

Since Russia began its attacks on Ukraine in February, Russian athletes have been prevented from taking part in many sports, including the football World Cup qualifying playoffs. Belarus has aided Russia in the war.

Liam James15 June 2022 01:00

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Top Putin critic transferred from penal colony to high security prison

Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, has been abruptly moved from the prison where he was serving an 11 and a half year sentence to a high-security penal colony farther from Moscow.

Mr Navalny, by far Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, casts Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a dystopian state run by thieves and criminals where wrong is cast as right and judges are in fact representatives of a doomed elite.

His top aide, Leonid Volkov, shared news of the transfer on the Telegram app on Tuesday.

Mr Volkov said when Mr Navalny’s lawyer visited the prison camp near Moscow where the opposition was thought to be held he was told: “There is no such convict here.”

Regional prison observer Sergey Yazhan later said Mr Navalny had been taken to the IK-6 penal colony at Melekhovo near Vladimir, about 155 miles east of Moscow.

Just last month, Mr Navalny lambasted Mr Putin via video link in a Russian court, casting the Kremlin chief as a madman who started a “stupid war” that was butchering the innocent people of both Ukraine and Russia.

Navalny in court last month

(AP)

Liam James15 June 2022 00:00

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Six injured by shelling in Russian village – governor

Six people were injured on Tuesday by shelling in a Russian town on the border with Ukraine, the regional governor said.

The incident occurred in Klintsy, some 30 miles from the Ukrainian border in Russia’s Bryansk region.

Governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on Telegram that the number of injured had risen to six from an earlier tally of four.

“Those injured have shrapnel wounds,” Mr Bogomaz wrote. “They were all admitted to a local hospital. Their condition is stable.”

The Independent was unable to verify the report.

Liam James14 June 2022 22:50

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Ukraine seeks EU help with grain surplus

European countries will consider providing temporary granaries to Ukraine, which faces a shortage of silos for new grain crop, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said today.

Ukraine has said its harvest could fall to around 65 million tonnes of grain and oilseed this year from 106 million tonnes in 2021 due to the Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s agriculture minister earlier told Reuters that in autumn when the corn harvest is over, the shortage of storage capacity could reach up to 15 million tonnes.

The ministry said in a statement: “EU governments will consider providing Ukraine with such temporary storage facilities – as a result, it should significantly help preserve the harvest and secure future grain supplies to world markets.”

The ministry did not specify how advanced the discussions were and which EU countries were involved.

Liam James14 June 2022 21:40

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Moscow bans scores of British journalists from entering Russia

Scores of British journalists and defence figures – including The Independent’s former editor, Christian Broughton – have been banned from entering Russia, Moscow’s foreign ministry said in a surprise statement on Tuesday (David Harding writes).

A total of 29 journalists have been banned, with the list also including the BBC’s Clive Myrie and Orla Guerin, Sky News’s Stuart Ramsey and Sophy Ridge and Cathy Newman of Channel 4 – who is also a columnist for The Independent. Others on the list are senior figures from The Times and The Daily Mail.

Moscow said the move was in response to western sanctions following the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the “spreading of false information about Russia”.

“The British journalists included in the list are involved in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia and events in Ukraine and Donbas,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Liam James14 June 2022 20:21

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Russia will guard data to deflect western sanctions – finance ministry

Russia will start restricting public access to some government data in an attempt to protect the country from additional sanctions, Moscow’s finance ministry said today.

In a statement, the ministry said it will partially restrict the information about budget spending it makes public in response to the “negative consequences” of sanctions on the Russian economy.

Despite a strong start to the year, the Russian economy is expected to shrink significantly in the coming months due to the isolating impact of western sanctions.

In its latest move to deter the negative effects, the Russian government has proposed to make the size of Russian gold and foreign exchange reserves – now disclosed publicly on a weekly basis – a state secret.

“The sanctions against Russia differ in the way they work and degree of the negative consequences,” the finance ministry said, explaining the move. “This will help to minimise the risk of new sanctions.”

The energy ministry had already restricted access to its monthly oil and gas output data.

Liam James14 June 2022 19:20

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‘Scorched earth’: Russian forces push back Ukrainians in battle for key city

Russia has blown up the last bridge to Sievierodonetsk, cutting off the embattled east Ukrainian city which is now largely occupied by the Kremlin’s troops (Rory Sullivan writes).

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, and Oleksandr Stryuk, the city’s mayor, confirmed the developments on Tuesday, saying Ukrainian soldiers were now fighting from its industrial outskirts.

The invading forces had pushed the Ukrainian army back through its “scorched earth method and heavy artillery”, Mr Haidai said.

Speaking to the Associated Press, the Luhansk governor added that the evacuation of local residents and the wounded remained possible.

However, Mr Stryuk, the mayor of Sievierodonetsk, explained how difficult this was in practice, given the ferocity of the fighting.

Liam James14 June 2022 18:30

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Russian-backed separatist leaders ‘willing to listen’ to appeal of Britons sentenced to death

The Kremlin has said pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine will likely consider an appeal against the death sentences they have given two British men (Rory Sullivan writes).

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were sentenced by a court in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) last week for fighting for Ukraine. The decision sparked international outrage, with British politicians condemning what they called a “show trial”.

The two Britons were convicted along with the Moroccan national Brahim Saadoun on Thursday. They were captured in April and charged with “mercenary activities”.

Liam James14 June 2022 17:40