UKRAINE WRAP | At least 15 civilians killed in Kharkiv region by Russian shelling - governor

21 June 2022 - 05:30
By TimesLIVE
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a meeting with local authorities during a visit to the southern city of Mykolaiv, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, on June 18 2022.
Image: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a meeting with local authorities during a visit to the southern city of Mykolaiv, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, on June 18 2022.

June 21 2022 - 20:50

At least 15 civilians killed in Kharkiv region by Russian shelling - governor

At least 15 civilians were killed in Ukraine's Kharkiv region by Russian shelling on Tuesday, regional governor Oleh Synegubov said in an online posting.

After weeks of relative calm, Russians have intensified shelling of the region. Synegubov said six people had died in and around Kharkiv and another six in Chuhuiv, some 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, while three had died in Zolochiv, 40 km to the northwest of the city.

-Reuters

June 21 2022 - 19:30

Russian forces capture a settlement near Lysychansk, regional governor says

Russian forces captured the settlement of Toshkivka southeast of the embattled city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region, its governor said on Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, the enemy threw at it huge amounts of armament and soldiers, and captured Thskivka," governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukraine's national broadcaster.

Russian heavy artillery is shelling Lysychansk intensively, but Ukrainian forces are holding the ground there, he added.

-Reuters

June 21 2022 - 15:24

Germany's Scholz hopes for Baltic Sea LNG terminal within months

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was confident liquefied natural gas (LNG) could start flowing into the country via the Baltic Sea port of Lubmin within a matter of months, as Germany rushes to phase out Russian energy imports.

"Our goal is to get as much as possible there by the turn of the year, or a little bit later, so we can get gas quickly from wherever," Scholz said on Tuesday in Berlin after a meeting with the regional government of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

State premier Manuela Schwesig said the federal economy ministry and local energy ministry were conducting joint audits. Authorities are also examining whether enough oil can be pumped via an existing pipeline from the port of Rostock to keep the Schwedt refinery in operation, or whether capacity can be expanded. Germany is urgently looking for ways to wrest control of the refinery, which supplies most of Berlin's fuel, from Russian oil giant Rosneft. The Bundesnetzagentur network regulator has previously backed the idea of a floating LNG terminal off Lubmin in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Reuters

June 21 2022 - 13:11

Russia says it struck Ukrainian airfield near Odesa - reports

The Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday that its missiles had struck an airfield near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, Russian news agencies reported. It said it had carried out the strikes in response to a Ukrainian attack on gas production platforms in the Black Sea. Reuters was not able to independently verify the report. The Russian-installed leader of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, said on Monday that Kyiv had struck Black Sea drilling platforms owned by a Crimean oil company. – Reuters

June 21 2022 - 13:09

EU urges Russia to refrain from 'escalatory steps' over Kaliningrad

The European Union's envoy to Moscow urged Russia on Tuesday refrain from "escalatory steps and rhetoric" over what Moscow calls "anti-Russian restrictions" on goods transiting between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia, an EU spokesperson said.

"He conveyed our position on Russia's aggression against Ukraine and explained that Lithuania is implementing EU sanctions and there is no blockade, and asked them to refrain from escalatory steps and rhetoric," spokesperson Peter Stano said.

Russia's foreign ministry, which earlier on Tuesday summoned the bloc's ambassador to Moscow, called for transit via the region to be restored "immediately" and vowed to retaliate if the situation did not improve.

EU member Lithuania has shut a rail corridor from Russia to its exclave to certain basic goods, including construction materials, metals and coal in response to new EU sanctions that came into force on Saturday.

Reuters

June 21 2022 - 12:27

Ukraine on course for EU candidacy at summit, EU says

Ukraine is set to become an official candidate for European Union membership on Thursday in a symbolic but morale-boosting decision following Russia's invasion, ministers and diplomats said on Tuesday.

EU leaders in Brussels are expected to sign off on last week's recommendation by the European Commission, the EU executive. After several days of internal EU discussions no opposition among the 27 member states has surfaced, three diplomats told Reuters.

"We are working towards the point where we tell [Russian President Vladimir] Putin that Ukraine belongs to Europe, that we will also defend the values that Ukraine defends," Luxembourg's foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn told reporters before a meeting with other EU ministers.

Moldova is also almost certain to be given candidate status, the diplomats said, although Georgia must fulfil conditions, namely that it overcome political deadlock in the country.

Despite some misgivings among northern EU countries that taking in Ukraine, which suffers from endemic corruption, is unrealistic, Denmark's foreign minister said he welcomed giving it candidacy status.

"It's very good and it's something that Denmark whole-heartedly supports; we want to help Ukraine to achieve its European dream," Jeppe Kofod told reporters in Luxembourg.

While the candidacy will mark a strategic eastward shift by the EU in the face of Russia's war in Ukraine, Kyiv would likely take years to become a member of the bloc, if at all. Ukraine already has a free trade pact with the EU but applied to join days after Russia's invasion. Moscow says its "special military operation" was partly necessitated by Western encroachment into what it characterises as its rightful geographical sphere of influence. Putin has so far played down the issue of Ukraine's EU membership.

Reuters

June 21 2022 - 11:29

There’s no ink to dry, Putin: Kazakh president takes aim at his ally

Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to justify his war in Ukraine as legal under international law at his flagship economic forum on Friday. Sitting beside him on the stage, a key ally diplomatically disagreed.

After Putin argued he was protecting Russian speakers in the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk peoples’ republics of eastern Ukraine, which Russia had recognised as independent days before the invasion, moderator Margarita Simonyan, head of the Kremlin-funded RT TV, pressed Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on whether he supported Russia’s view. 

He didn’t.

June 21 2022 - 11:22

WATCH | Nobel sold for Ukrainian kids shatters record at $103.5m

June 21 2022 - 11:20

Russian gas flows to Europe via Nord Stream and Ukraine remain steady

Flows of Russian gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and deliveries through Ukraine remained steady on Tuesday, operator data showed.

Physical flows to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline across the Baltic Sea stood at 29,451,913 kilowatt hours per hour (kWh/h) on Tuesday morning, in line with levels over 29,000,000 kWh/h seen through most of the previous day, operator company information showed.

Russian gas producer Gazprom last week said capacity through the pipeline would be cut to just 40% due to the delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany's Siemens Energy in Canada.

European leaders such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have questioned whether the cut in flows is politically motivated rather than a technical issue. Italy's ENI request for gas from Gazprom on Tuesday was only partially confirmed.

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline will undergo regular annual maintenance from July 11 to July 21, when there are usually no flows. Gazprom said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen at 41.2-million cubic metres (mcm) on Tuesday, slightly down from 41.7 mcm on Monday.

Nominations for gas flows into Slovakia from Ukraine via the Velke Kapusany border point stood at 36.8 mcm per day, unchanged from Monday, data from the Ukrainian transmission system operator showed. Eastbound gas flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Poland from Germany rose slightly, data from the Gascade pipeline operator showed. Exit flows at the Mallnow metering point on the German border with Poland stood at 1,884,534 kWh/h on Tuesday morning, up from levels of around 1,600,000 kWh/h the previous day, data showed.

Reuters

June 21 2022 - 11:00

READER LETTER | SA, like the West, has double standards on Ukraine

Some of us have often bewailed the hypocrisy and double standards of the West and SA's liberal establishment regarding Israel's occupation of Palestine and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but to no avail. To the hypocrites, these two issues are as dissimilar as day and night. Here is one more example of such hypocrisy. 

June 21 2022 - 10:47

WATCH | Africa 'hostage' in Russia war, says Zelenskyy

June 21 2022 - 10:45

Amid row with West, Putin ally arrives in Russia's Kaliningrad — RIA

One of President Vladimir Putin's top allies arrived in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on Tuesday to discuss national security amid a row with Nato member Lithuania which stopped the transit of EU-sanctioned goods to Russian territory. Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful secretary of Russia's Security Council, will chair a meeting about security in Russia's northwest in Kaliningrad, the state RIA news agency said.

RIA said the trip, which included a discussion about transport, was planned before Vilnius banned the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union through Lithuanian territory to and from the exclave, citing EU sanction rules.

Kaliningrad, formerly the port of Koenigsberg, capital of East Prussia, was captured from Nazi Germany by the Red Army in April 1945 and ceded to the Soviet Union after World War 2. It is sandwiched between Nato members Poland and Lithuania.

Lithuania said the ban on the transit of sanctioned goods across its territory was merely the implementation of EU sanctions, part of a swathe of measures intended to punish President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's foreign ministry is due to summon the EU's ambassador to Moscow over the situation which the Kremlin said on Monday was beyond serious.

Reuters

June 21 2022 - 10:41

Two Americans captured in Ukraine are in Donetsk, Interfax cites source

Two Americans who were captured in Ukraine are currently located in the Russian-backed Ukrainian region of Donetsk, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday citing a source. On Monday the Kremlin said two Americans detained in Ukraine were mercenaries not covered by the Geneva convention who should face responsibility for their actions. — Reuters

June 21 2022 - 09:00

UK says Ukraine claimed its first successful use of Western-donated missiles against Russia

Ukrainian forces last week claimed their first successful use of Western-donated Harpoon anti-ship missiles to engage Russian 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 defence ministry said in its daily Twitter update.

The war has entered a brutal attritional phase in recent weeks, with Russian forces concentrating on Ukrainian-controlled parts of the Donbas, which Russia claims on behalf of separatists.

Reuters

June 21 2022 - 08:47

Ukraine braces for Russian 'storm' in east in run-up to EU meeting

Ukraine acknowledged on Tuesday difficulties in fighting in its east as Russian forces regrouped after stepping up pressure and making advances on two cities ahead of an EU summit this week expected to welcome Kyiv's bid to join the bloc.

The governor of the Luhansk region, scene of the heaviest Russian onslaughts in recent weeks, said Russian forces had launched a massive attack and gained some territory on Monday though it was relatively quiet overnight.

"It's a calm before the storm," the governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had predicted Russia would step up attacks ahead of the EU summit on Thursday and Friday. 

Reuters

June 21 2021 - 05:30

Russia to spend $89.2bn on anti-sanctions package - agencies

Russia's finance ministry said the country's state debt would not exceed 16% of gross domestic product in 2022-24 despite an increase in spending to protect the economy from Western sanctions, Russian news agencies reported on Monday.

Moscow also said its anti-crisis spending would amount to 5-trillion roubles ($89.2bn or R1.4-trillion), and budget outlays would grow by 16.7% in 2022.

Reuters