- Russia is renewing its efforts to advance south of Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium, Britain’s defense ministry says.
- The United Nations estimates more than 10,000 civilians, including hundreds of children, have now been killed or injured in the war in Ukraine.
- A Russian vessel that was delivering arms to the strategically important Snake Island has sunk after being hit with Western-supplied anti-ship weapons, according to a Ukrainian military official.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country has weathered economic sanctions imposed as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
Here are the latest updates:
‘Fierce battles’ outside Ukraine’s Severodonetsk: Governor
Ukrainian authorities say that “fierce battles” with Russia are raging in villages outside the eastern city of Severodonetsk, which Moscow’s forces have been trying to seize control of for weeks.
“Now the most fierce battles are near Severodonetsk. They [Russia] do not control the city entirely,” the governor of the eastern Lugansk region, Sergiy Haiday, said on Telegram.
“In nearby villages there are very difficult fights, in Toshkivska, Zolote. They are trying to break through but failing,” he said. “Our defenders are fighting Russians in all directions. Recently, they shot down a plane and took captives.”
He added that Lysychansk, a Ukrainian-controlled city across a river from battered Severodonetsk, was being “heavily shelled”.
Britain must keep up support for Kyiv amid ‘Ukraine fatigue’: UK
It is important Britain continues to show it is supporting Ukraine for the long haul, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, warning of a risk of “Ukraine fatigue” as the war drags on.
“The Russians are grinding forward inch by inch and it is vital for us to show what we know to be true which is that Ukraine can win and will win,” Johnson told reporters on his arrival back in Britain from a visit to Kyiv.
Some members of his Conservative Party had criticized him for making the trip instead of attending a conference in northern England.
“When Ukraine fatigue is setting in, it is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and we are giving them the strategic resilience that they need,” Johnson said.
Ukraine planning to resume peace talks with Russia in August
Ukraine plans to resume peace talks with Russia by the end of August, when counter-attack operations have been carried out.
The country will be in a better position to negotiate, kyiv’s chief negotiator David Arakhamia told an interview with US broadcasters Voice of America. He believes Ukraine will conduct an operation with counter-attacks in different places, he said without giving details.
Shelling traps 77 miners in Donetsk region: RIA
Shelling has trapped 77 miners in a coal mine in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine after power to the mine was cut off, Russia’s state RIA news agency has reported.
“As a result of shelling by [Ukrainian forces]power to the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk was cut off, 77 miners remain underground,” RIA said, citing the Russian-backed separatist region’s territorial defense.
There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv. Ukraine routinely denies carrying out any attacks on the two regions that comprise the Donbas, the self-styled Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, where separatists seized large swaths of land in 2014.
Russian state TV airs videos of two missing Americans in Ukraine
A Russian state TV channel has aired videos on social media of two Americans who went missing last week while fighting alongside the Ukrainian army, stating they had been captured by Russian forces.
United States President Joe Biden had said on Friday he did not know the whereabouts of Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both US military veterans.
“Mom, I just want to let you know that I’m alive and I hope to be back home as soon as I can be,” Drueke said in a video posted by Russian journalist Roman Kosarev, who works with RT channel, on messaging platform Telegram.
The missing Americans, including a third identified as a former US Marines captain, are believed to be part of an unknown number of mostly military veterans who have joined other foreigners to volunteer alongside Ukrainian troops.
Russian vessel en route to Snake Island sinks: Ukraine
A Russian vessel that was delivering weapons to the strategically important Snake Island has sunk after being hit by Ukrainian missiles, a military official has said.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s tug, named Vasily Bech, was damaged on Friday by anti-ship missiles provided to Ukraine by Denmark.
“Later it became known that it sank,” Odessa military governor Maxym Marchenko said in a video statement on his Telegram channel.
Russian officials have not confirmed the incident. Moscow had confirmed the loss of the landing ship Saratov and the flagship missile cruiser Moskva.
Russian forces renew bid to advance south of Ukraine’s Izium
Russia has likely renewed its efforts to advance south of Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in the last 48 hours, Britain’s defense ministry has said.
Its goal is to penetrate deeper into the Donetsk region and envelope the pocket around the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk from the north, it said in an intelligence update on Twitter.
If trapped Ukrainian civilians do not take up an offer of leaving via a corridor, Russia is likely to claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area, the ministry added.
Latest Defense Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 18 June 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/811YhLUVp2
— Ministry of Defense 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 18, 2022
China’s Xi addressed St. Petersburg economic forum
Russia invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to address the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.
Speaking by video link, Xi told the forum that it was necessary to “build an open world economy and reject attempts at decoupling, supply disruption, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure”, state media reported on Saturday.
China has urged talks to end the war in Ukraine and has not condemned Russia for the invasion.
Ukrainian defense remains ‘strong’ around Severodonetsk, Lysychansk: ISW
Russia is deploying more forces to support its offensive in the Severodonetsk and Lysychansk area, but Ukraine’s defenses remain “strong”, according to the latest update from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
“The Russian military has concentrated the vast majority of its available combat power to capture Severodonetsk and Lysychansk at the expense of other axes of advance and is suffering heavy casualties to do so,” the US-based think tank said.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) June 18, 2022
‘Milestone achievement’: Save the Children welcomes declaration on urban attacks
Save the Children has welcomed a political declaration designed to protect civilians in cities and towns with a commitment to avoid explosive attacks on urban areas.
After three years of negotiations, Ireland presented the final draft of the declaration in Geneva on Friday.
“This is a milestone achievement in recognizing a trend in modern conflict that is having a devastating impact on the lives of children,” James Denselow, head of the conflict team at Save the Children UK, said in a statement. “It recognizes the unique vulnerabilities children have to the weapons of modern war and their proximity to too many front lines. It could be a significant step forward in the push to stop the war on children”.
The gavel falls on the final negotiations!
This Political Declaration is a major milestone in strengthening the protection of civilians from the devastating effects of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas #EWIPA
🇮🇪 thanks all delegates for their strong engagement in the process pic.twitter.com/N5KTbROYma
— Ireland UN Geneva (@IrelandUNGeneva) June 17, 2022
Russia frees medic who filmed horror of Mariupol siege
Russia has freed a Ukrainian medic whose footage was smuggled out of the besieged city of Mariupol by an Associated Press team, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced.
Yuliia Paievska, known in Ukraine as Taira, used a body camera to film her team’s efforts over two weeks to save the wounded, including both Russian and Ukrainian soldiers.
She transferred the clips to the AP journalists, one of whom fled with it embedded in a tampon on March 15. Taira and a colleague were prisoner taken by Russian forces the next day.
US high-tech drone goes out to Ukraine hits snag: Reuters
The Reuters news agency is reporting that the United States’ plans to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones to Ukraine have been put on hold because of concerns the sophisticated surveillance equipment could fall into enemy hands.
The technical objection to the sale of the armable drones was raised during a deeper review by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration, which is charged with keeping high-value technology safe from enemy hands, Reuters said, citing two people familiar with the plan.
TikTok pressed on whether it allows ‘pro-war’ propaganda
Republican senators in the United States have written to TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew about reports the social media site had allowed Russian state-approved media content but barred other videos.
“Recent reports indicate TikTok… has allowed Russian state media to flood the platform with dangerous pro-war propaganda. No company should find itself in the position of amplifying the Kremlin’s lies, which fuel public support for Russia’s war of choice in Ukraine,” the letter said.
The senators wrote they were “deeply concerned” that TikTok “is enabling the spread of pro-war propaganda to the Russian public, which risks adding to an already devastating human toll for both Ukrainians and Russians.”
UN says civilian casualties exceed 10,000
The United Nations says more than 10,000 civilians, including hundreds of children, have now been killed or injured in the war in Ukraine.
Some 4,509 people had been killed and 5,585 injured as of midnight in Kyiv (21:00 GMT) on June 16, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in its daily update. The dead include 294 children, the OHCHR said.
“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the statement said, adding that the actual figures were probably much higher.
Read all the updates from June 17, here.