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Russia-Ukraine live updates | Group of NATO leaders pledge support for Ukraine

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Russia told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant in embattled Severodonetsk to lay down their arms by early Wednesday as it fights to maintain momentum in its battle for control of eastern Ukraine. Ukraine is calling for an increase in Western heavy weapons after Russia committed the bulk of its firepower to the eastern Donbas region, a topic expected to feature prominently at a meeting of NATO defence ministers on Wednesday in Brussels.

Russian forces cut off the last routes for evacuating citizens from the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, a Ukrainian official said, as the Kremlin pushed for victory in the Donbas region. The last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, said regional governor Sergei Gaidai, adding that some 70% of the city was under Russian control.

U.K.

U.K. says hundreds of civilians sheltered in Ukraine’s Azot Chemical Plant

Elements of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and several hundred civilians are sheltering in underground bunkers in Azot Chemical Plant in the embattled city of Severodonetsk, Britain’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Russian forces now control the majority of the Ukrainian city, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter update. Russia told Ukrainian forces who were holed up in the chemical plant to lay down their arms by early Wednesday, pressing its advantage in the battle for control of eastern Ukraine. – Reuters

Russia

Russia plans evacuations from chemical plant in battleground Ukraine city

Russia said it would establish a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from a chemical plant in Severodonetsk starting Wednesday as Ukrainian forces wage a desperate battle for control of the city.

Moscow’s forces have intensified efforts to cut off Ukrainian troops remaining in the city, destroying all three bridges which connect it across a river to the twin city of Lysychansk.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg meanwhile urged allies to send more heavy weapons to Ukraine, and said officials from the alliance would be discussing the subject at talks Wednesday. – AFP

Ukraine

Ukraine’s need for more weapons major focus as defence ministers meet

Dozens of defence ministers from NATO and other parts of the world are expected to discuss weapon deliveries to Ukraine on June 15 in Brussels, U.S. officials said, as Kyiv calls for a significant increase in arms to help hold off Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

The battle for Severodonetsk — a city of barely more than 1,00,000 people before the war — is now the biggest fight in Ukraine as the conflict has shifted into a punishing war of attrition. Ukraine needs 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones among other heavy weapons, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Monday. – Reuters

U.S.A.

U.S. allows some Russian energy-related transactions until December 5

The United States will allow certain energy-related transactions with Sberbank, VTB Bank, Alfa-Bank and several other Russian entities to continue through December 5, the U.S. Department of Treasury said on June 14.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control said it was extending the general license authorising the transactions with entities including Russia’s Central Bank, Sovcombank, Vnesheconombank, and others.

The United States has banned imports of Russian fossil fuels and imposed punitive sanctions on the country for its invasion of Ukraine. But Washington has allowed bank transactions on Russian oil and gas sent to European countries to continue, allowing those nations time to transition to different sources of fossil fuels and into alternative energy. – Reuters

Russia

European official concerned about Russia flying Western-made airplanes

European’s top aviation safety regulator said on June 14 that he is “very worried” about the safety of Western-made aircraft continuing to fly in Russia without access to spare parts and proper maintenance.

The European Union and the United States have moved to restrict Russia’s access to spare parts following its invasion of Ukraine.

“This is very unsafe,” Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), told reporters on the sidelines of a conference, adding that regulators do not have good data on many of the planes flying in Russia. – Reuters

Opinion

The ‘C’ factor in the Russia-Ukraine war

Well into the second 100 days of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the world is awash with speculation about reasons for the so-called failure of the Russian armed forces to deal a decisive blow against a much smaller Ukrainian army. This may appear to be a one-sided viewpoint, but Russia is yet to achieve what can be termed as a decisive victory in any sector of the current conflict.

NATO

Group of NATO leaders pledge support for Ukraine

The leaders of seven NATO nations from across Europe pledged their support on June 14 for Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the alliance and for providing more heavy weapons to help Ukraine battle Russia.

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

“My message on Swedish and Finnish membership is that I strongly welcome that,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who also attended. “It’s an historic decision. It will strengthen them, it will strengthen us.” – AP

Ukraine

Russians control 80% of key Ukraine city, cut escape routes

Russian troops control about 80% of the fiercely contested eastern city of Severodonetsk and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of it, but Ukrainians were still trying to evacuate the wounded, a regional official said on June 15.

Serhiy Haidai, governor of the eastern Luhansk region, acknowledged that a mass evacuation of civilians from Severodonetsk now was “simply not possible” due to the relentless shelling and fighting. Ukrainian forces have been pushed to the industrial outskirts of the city because of “the scorched earth method and heavy artillery the Russians are using,” he said.

“There is still an opportunity for the evacuation of the wounded, communication with the Ukrainian military and local residents,” he told AP by telephone, adding that Russian soldiers have not yet completely blocked off the strategic city. – AP

Editorial

End the war: On Russia-Ukraine conflict

The battle for Severodonetsk, the easternmost part of the Donbas where the Ukrainian forces still have defensive positions, has entered the final phase with Russian troops destroying all bridges over the Donets river linking the city with its sister city, Lysychansk. The Russians now have more than 80% control of the industrial city, with the remaining Ukrainian troops trapped without supplies. If Russia takes control of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the entire Luhansk Oblast will be in its hands, allowing it to march towards Kramatorsk, the last industrial city in the Donbas still with Ukraine. In recent weeks, Ukrainian troops have taken heavy losses with Russian forces blasting their way into Severodonetsk using artillery fire. 

India

Health Minister Mandaviya to visit Russia for economic meet

India will participate in the biggest Russian trade meet that is expected to be launched by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. 

The Indian delegation for St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is to be led by Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Chemical and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya and the focus will be on fertiliser and potash supplies as India rushes to ensure uninterrupted fertiliser supply in the kharif season.

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