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UKRAINE WRAP | Fifteen killed as Russia rains rockets on Kharkiv

22 June 2022 - 06:15 By TimesLIVE
Ukrainian service members speak to each other in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022.
Ukrainian service members speak to each other in the industrial area of the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

June 22 - 2022 - 15:36

Germany's upgraded army will also defend allies - Scholz

 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday NATO partners in eastern Europe could rely on Germany as it was re-equipping its army such that it could defend allies as well as itself against all future attacks.

"In Europe's biggest security crisis for decades, Germany - the EU's biggest economy and most populous country - is taking on a very special responsibility," Scholz said in a speech to parliament about the upcoming European Union, G7 and NATO summits.

"And not just for its own security but also for the security of its allies." 

-Reuters

June 22 - 2022 - 14:17

Russian missiles hit Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, one killed

 A Russian missile strike killed at least one person and damaged buildings including a school in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Wednesday, the local mayor said.

The attacks caused several fires, damaged a number of residential and business buildings and left smoke hanging over the port city, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said.

"I keep saying it's still dangerous in the city. Before, people were going out in droves but they go out less now," he said on national television.

Regional Governor Vitaliy Kim said earlier on Wednesday that seven missiles had hit Mykolaiv. Grain handler Viterra said its Everi terminal in Mykolaiv was on fire after being hit in an attack but that no one had been killed there.

Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in Mykolaiv.Moscow says it is engaged in a "special military operation" to demilitarise Ukraine and rid it of dangerous nationalists. Ukraine and its allies dismiss this as a baseless pretext to launch an unprovoked war of aggression.

Reuters 

June 22 - 2022 - 14:10

Fifteen killed as Russia rains rockets on Kharkiv

Russian forces pounded Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv and surrounding countryside with rockets, killing at least 15 people, in what Kyiv called a bid to force it to pull resources from the main battlefield to protect civilians from attack.

Inside Russia, a fire tore through an oil refinery just 8 km (5 miles) from the Ukrainian border, after what the refinery described as a cross border attack by two drones.

In the main battlefield city of Sievierodonetsk, where Russia has claimed to have Ukrainian forces surrounded since last week, pictures filmed by a freelance journalist made clear the battle was not over, with Ukrainian troops able to resupply their garrison by crossing a river in inflatable rafts.

The Russian strikes on Kharkiv, throughout Tuesday and continuing on Wednesday morning, were the worst for weeks in the area where normal life had been returning since Ukraine pushed Russian forces back in a major counter-offensive last month.

“It was shelling by Russian troops. It was probably multiple rocket launchers. And it's the missile impact, it's all the missile impact," Kharkiv prosecutor Mikhailo Martosh told Reuters amid the ruins of cottages struck on Tuesday in a rural area on the city's outskirts.

Medical workers carried the body of an elderly woman out of the rubble of a burnt-out garage and into a nearby van."

She was 85 years old. A child of the war (World War Two). She survived one war, but didn't make it through this one," said her grandson Mykyta. "There is nowhere to flee to. Especially grandmother herself, she didn't want to go anywhere from here."

Ukrainian authorities said there were reports of more casualties overnight and on Wednesday morning after 15 people were killed and 16 wounded on Tuesday in the Kharkiv region."

Russian forces are now hitting the city of Kharkiv in the same way that they previously were hitting Mariupol - with the aim of terrorising the population," Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video address.

"And if they keep doing that we will have to react -- and that is one way to make us move our artillery," he said. "The idea is to create one big problem to distract us and force us to divert troops. I think there will be an escalation."

The main battlefield is now to the south of Kharkiv in the Donbas region, which Moscow has been trying to seize on behalf of its separatist proxies, with the worst fighting concentrated in the devastated city of Sievierodonetsk.

Ukrainian forces have largely been withstanding the Russian assault so far despite taking punishing losses, with Moscow making only slow progress using overwhelming artillery in some of the heaviest ground fighting in Europe since World War Two.

Russia says Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk are trapped. After the last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river was destroyed last week, Moscow ordered the Ukrainians to surrender or die.

But Oleksandr Ratushniak, a freelance photographer who reached Sievierodonetsk with Ukrainian forces in recent days, filmed soldiers crossing the river in an inflatable raft, evidence that the garrison is not yet cut off.

Inside the ruins of the frontline industrial zone, the Ukrainian troops fired from a tank's main gun. They smoked cigarettes as they hid from Russian artillery exploding outside. A dachshund scampered through the rubble.

"For us, this like digging up potatoes," said one, describing the bombardment as a typical day of work.

DRONE STRIKE

There was no immediate Ukrainian comment about the apparent drone strike which suspended production at Russia's Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, on the Russian side of the frontier with Donbas territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Video footage posted on social media appeared to show a drone flying towards the refinery, before a large ball of flame and black smoke billowed up into the summer sky. The local emergency service, cited by Interfax, said no one was hurt and the blaze was put out.

Ukraine generally does not comment on reports of attacks on Russian infrastructure near the border. In the past it has called such incidents "karma" for Russian attacks on Ukraine.

In a separate incident, Russian authorities said four people were killed after a shell exploded at an ammunition depot deep inside Russia.

Wednesday is marked in both Russia and Ukraine as the "Day of Remembrance and Sorrow", anniversary of the day when Hitler's Germany attacked the Soviet Union. An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens died in World War Two.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin laid flowers at a memorial flame for the dead. World War Two plays a prominent role in Russian propaganda over the Ukraine invasion, which Putin calls a "special operation" to root out "Nazis".

Kyiv and the West view that as a baseless justification for a war to restore Moscow's rule over Ukraine and wipe out its identity as a separate nation.

"Bombed at 4:30 am. Banned the word 'war'. Blamed other countries for aggression. Psychiatrists of the future will examine: how after building the WWII cult for years, Russia began to recreate bloody pages of the history and Nazis’ each step," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted."

The last chapter’s name is known – tribunal.

"Moscow repeated threats on Wednesday to take unspecified retaliation for a decision by Lithuania to block rail shipments of some goods to Russia's Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea. Lithuania says it was required to block the shipments under EU sanctions that took effect on Saturday.

"We are convinced that the illegal sanctions adopted by the European Union are absolutely unacceptable in this situation," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters, adding that countermeasures were being prepared.

Reuters 

June 22 - 2022 - 13:50

Putin: Russia is rerouting trade to BRICS countries

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia was in the process of rerouting its trade towards countries from the BRICS group of emerging economies in the wake of Western sanctions over Ukraine.

Putin said that Russia was discussing increasing the presence of Chinese cars on the Russian market as well as the opening of Indian supermarket chains.

The BRICS countries comprise Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Reuters 

June 22 - 2022 - 13:42

Russian refinery says it was struck by drones from direction of Ukraine

Two drones flying from the direction of Ukraine hit a major Russian oil refinery near the border on Wednesday, the plant said, sending a ball of flame and black smoke billowing into the sky and prompting the plant to suspend production.

Russian regions bordering Ukraine have reported numerous attacks and shelling after Moscow sent its troops into its former Soviet neighbour on Feb. 24 for what it calls a "special military operation".

The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia's Rostov region said the first drone struck at 8.40 a.m. (0540 GMT) hitting a crude distillation unit, triggering a blast and ball of fire.

The second strike at 0623 GMT was aimed at crude oil reservoirs at the refinery, the largest supplier of oil products in southern Russia, but caused no fire, the plant said. No one was injured.

"As a result of terrorist actions from the Western border of the Rostov region, two unmanned aerial vehicles struck at the technological facilities of Novoshakhtinsk," the plant said.

"Staff have been evacuated and technological equipment has been stopped to assess the damage."

Rostov's regional governor, Vasily Golubev, said the oil refinery suspended operations. He said fragments of two drones had been found at the refinery.

Social media footage showed a drone flying towards the refinery, located just 8 km (5 miles) from the border with Ukraine, before a large ball of flame rose up, prompting exclamations from those near the camera.

The refinery has an annual capacity of up to 7.5 million tonnes, and started operations in 2009.

Russia's energy ministry said the fire had not affected gasoline and diesel supplies to consumers in southern Russia.

Russia is also investigating the cause of a large fire that erupted at an oil storage facility in the city of Bryansk, 154 km (96 miles) northeast of the border with Ukraine, in late April.

Reuters 

June 22 - 2022 - 12:45

Russia, Turkey to continue talks on Ukraine grain exports

 Russia and Turkey agreed to continue discussing a potential safe corridor in the Black Sea to export grain from Ukraine after talks in Moscow, the Russian defence ministry and Turkey's state broadcaster said on Wednesday.

Ukraine is one of the top wheat suppliers globally, but its shipments have been halted by Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, causing global food shortages. The United Nations has appealed to both sides, as well as maritime neighbour Turkey to agree a corridor.

NATO member Turkey has held direct talks with Russia and the U.N. on the corridor but said more were needed for a deal.

To agree the U.N.-led plan, Moscow wants some Western sanctions lifted to help facilitate its grain and fertiliser exports, and Kyiv seeks security guarantees for its ports. Ankara, which has good ties with both, has said the demands are reasonable.

On Tuesday, sources in the Turkish presidency said a meeting between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN would be held in Istanbul in coming weeks.

Turkey's TRT Haber broadcaster said talks between the Turkish and Russian military officials on Tuesday were lengthy, "positive and constructive". A Turkish dry cargo ship stuck at the Ukrainian port of Mariupol - under Russian control - had safely departed from the port as a result, it said.

The Azov Concord vessel left Mariupol port hours after the meeting finished, TRT said. Talks were led by generals assigned to operate a "hotline" between Ankara, Moscow and Kyiv to seek a solution to the crisis, it added.

Without citing a source, TRT said "an understanding emerged for meetings to be held between Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations to resolve the problem".

Ankara has said it was ready to take an "observation mechanism" role to be formed in Istanbul to monitor the implementation of the sea corridor plan.

Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis and blames Western sanctions for the shortage.

Reuters 

June 22 - 2022 - 12:04

G20 chair Indonesia to push for peace with Ukraine, Russia visits

Indonesian President and G20 chairman Joko Widodo will visit counterparts in Ukraine and Russia next week and press for a peaceful resolution to their conflict, his foreign minister said on Wednesday, the first such trip by an Asian leader.

The Ukraine war has overshadowed meetings of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies this year, with Indonesia struggling to unify its members while resisting pressure from Western states threatening to boycott a November leaders' summit and pushing for Russia's exclusion.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the visits by Jokowi, as the Indonesian president is known, to both Kyiv and Moscow would be conducted in a “not normal” situation.

June 22 - 2022 - 08:39

Russia pounds eastern Ukraine, Putin to mark World War 2 anniversary

Ukrainian and Russian forces were entrenched in eastern Ukrainian battlegrounds on Wednesday, a day of commemoration in both countries to mark the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. 

Fighting in the months-long war has favoured Russia in recent weeks because of its huge edge in artillery firepower, a fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged in an address on Tuesday.

“Thanks to tactical manoeuvres the Ukrainian army is strengthening its defences in the Luhansk region,” he said.

June 22 - 2022 - 07:20

Britain says casualty rate nears 55% among forces of Donetsk Republic

Casualties have amounted to about 55% of the original strength of the forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), one of Russia's proxies in eastern Ukraine, Britain said on Wednesday.

Figures published by the DPR showed that by June 16, 2,128 military personnel had been killed in action, with 8,897 wounded since the beginning of 2022, the British defence ministry said in a daily Twitter update.

Russian authorities have not released the tally of military casualties in Ukraine since 25 March, it added.

Reuters 

June 22 - 2022 - 06:30

Indonesia president to push for peace with Ukraine, Russia visits -minister

Indonesian President Joko Widodo will visit both Ukraine and Russia next week to meet his counterparts and push for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict, his foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Retno Marsudi confirmed during a news conference the intention of Jokowi, as the Indonesian president is known, to visit Kyiv in addition to Moscow, which had been reported in Indonesian and Russian state media.

Retno did not elaborate on what Jokowi, as president of the G20 this year, would discuss with the two leaders. 

Reuters 

June 22 - 2022 - 06:00

Moscow fumes over Lithuanian ban: 'Your citizens will feel the pain,' says Russia

Amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania has imposed a transit ban to Kaliningrad. In a recent update, Russia told to Lithuania that your citizens will feel the pain.

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