Russia-Ukraine war: Moscow using ‘weapons of mass destruction’, says Finland; 1,200 bodies remain unidentified, say police – live

River crossing operations likely to determine course of war, UK MoD says

Over the coming months, river crossing operations are likely to be amongst the most important determining factors in the course of the war, the UK Ministry of Defence has said in its latest report.

The key, 90km long central sector of Russia’s frontline in the Donbas lies to the west of the Siverskyy Donets River and in order to achieve success in the current operational phase of its Donbas offensive, Russia is “either going to have to complete ambitious flanking actions, or conduct assault river crossings”.

Ukrainian forces have often managed to demolish bridges before they withdraw, while Russia has struggled to put in place the complex coordination necessary to conduct successful, large scale river crossings under fire, the report added.

Richard Partington

The UK has drastically increased the volume of natural gas being pumped to the EU amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, powering a record monthly rise in goods exports to the continent despite Brexit.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show EU goods exports rose for the third consecutive month to £16.4bn in April, the highest monthly level in current prices since comparable records began in 1997.

Reflecting the impact of the war in Ukraine as EU nations seek to diversify energy supplies away from Russia, the data suggests the UK is acting as a hub for liquified natural gas (LNG) imports from the rest of the world before pumping it through pipelines to the continent.

Britain is home to three of the largest terminals in Europe for converting liquified natural gas back into gas, including two at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.
Britain is home to three of the largest terminals in Europe for converting liquified natural gas back into gas, including two at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Reuters

UK fuel exports rose by £500m on the month, driven by gas and crude oil to the Netherlands and Ireland, in a sign of heightened demand on the continent to refill gas storage sites in the run-up to winter.

Much of the rise in total goods exports was driven by the rising value of fuel prices rather than volumes of other products. After adjusting for inflation, goods exports were the highest since December 2020, the last month before the Brexit transition ended.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has contributed to a dramatic rise in global energy prices amid concern over the security of supply, fuelling the highest rates of inflation for decades in several countries including the UK. EU nations reliant on Russia for much of their energy have sought alternative supplies while reducing imports in response to the war.

A picture shows the remains of a rocket in the street, after a night airstrike, in the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast.
A picture shows the remains of a rocket in the street, after a night airstrike, in the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast. Photograph: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

1,200 bodies remain unidentified in Ukraine, says police chief

About 1,200 bodies, including those found in mass graves, have not yet been identified, according to the head of the national police in Ukraine, Ihor Klymenko.

Ukrainian police have opened criminal proceedings over the deaths of more than 12,000 Ukrainians, Klymenko said in an interview with Interfax news agency.

More than 1,500 civilians died in Kyiv alone, he said.

Klymenko said:

In Bucha, Irpen, Gostomel, Borodyanka there were a lot of killed people lying right on the streets – snipers shot them from tanks, from armoured personnel carriers, despite the white armbands that the Russian military forced people to wear.

About 75% of the dead are men, about 2% are children and the rest are women, he said.

In Bucha, 116 people were buried in one mass grave, according to Klymenko. Other graves contained between five and seven bodies, he said:

Residents collected the bodies of the dead and buried them in parks.

He added:

About 1,200 bodies have not been identified so far. This is a long process, quite laborious because many bodies are in a state of decay. who were buried, shot, who could not be identified. Relatives should be only direct – father-mother-children. This is the only way we work.

The UN’s rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, described the “arbitrary arrests” of a “large number” of anti-war protesters in Russia as “worrying”.

Speaking at the UN’s human rights council in Geneva, Bachelet also expressed concern about the “increase of censorship and restrictions on independent media” in Russia.

The war in Ukraine continues to “destroy the lives of many, causing havoc and destruction”, she said, with the “horrors inflicted on the civilian population will leave their indelible mark, including on generations to come”.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Bachelet added:

Its social, economic and political ramifications ripple across the region and globally, with no end in sight.

During the council session today, Bachelet also announced she would not seek a new four-year term after the end of the current one, following criticism of her response to China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in western Xinjiang.

Russia using ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Ukraine, says Finland

Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, has said both Ukraine and Russia are using heavier weapons – including, in Russia’s case, thermobaric bombs.

Speaking to reporters during security policy talks at his summer residence in Naantali, Niinistö said:

We are supporting Ukraine with increasingly heavy weaponry. And on the other hand Russia has also begun to use very powerful weapons, thermobaric bombs that are in fact weapons of mass destruction.

Kyiv and Nato countries, including the UK, have accused Russia of using thermobaric weapons, which are more devastating than conventional explosives.

Ukrainian troops in the besieged eastern city of Sievierodonetsk must “surrender or die”, a Russian-backed separatist leader in the self-proclaimed republic in Donetsk has warned.

Eduard Basurin, deputy head of the People’s Militia Department, was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying:

They have two options: either follow the example of their fellow soldiers and surrender, or die.

He added:

They have no other option.

A German government spokesperson has declined to confirm whether the country’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, will travel to Kyiv on Thursday with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi.

The three European leaders are believed to be scheduled to travel to the Ukrainian capital before a G7 summit at the end of June, according to several media reports.

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

Our colleague Pjotr Sauer has the full report on the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, where the destruction of a bridge has left stranded civilians with only one route out:

Russian artillery is hitting an industrial zone where 500 civilians are sheltering in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, the regional governor has said, and a bridge out of the city has been blown up, as fears grow for those who have not yet managed to leave.

“Russians continue to storm the city, having a significant advantage in artillery they have somewhat pushed back the Ukrainian soldiers,” said Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, in a morning report on his Telegram channel. “The Russians are destroying quarter after quarter,” Haidai said, adding that the Russian army had been “partially successful at night” and controlled 70% of the city.

Smoke rises after a military strike on a compound of Sievierodonetsk’s Azot Chemical Plant.
Smoke rises after a military strike on a compound of Sievierodonetsk’s Azot Chemical Plant. Photograph: Reuters

The destruction by Russian forces of a bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River leaves stranded civilians with just one remaining bridge to escape west to the neighbouring city of Lysychansk, which is also being shelled but remains in Ukrainian hands.

“If after new shelling the bridge collapses, the city will truly be cut off. There will be no way of leaving Sievierodonetsk in a vehicle,” Haidai said.

There are fears that a scenario similar to the one seen in the southern port city of Mariupol, where hundreds of people were trapped for weeks in the Azovstal steelworks, could play out in Sievierodonetsk’s Azot chemical plant, where Haidai said 500 civilians were sheltering, 40 of them children.

Haidai said the Ukrainian side was negotiating the evacuation of civilians from Azot with Moscow but so far failed to reach an agreement. “We are trying to agree, with the help of [Ukrainian deputy prime minister] Irina Vereshchuk, to organise a corridor, so far it has been unsuccessful,” the official said. “Azot’s shelters are not as strong as in Mariupol’s Azovstal, so we need to take people out with security guarantees.”

Sievierodonetsk has become the focal point of Moscow’s efforts to advance in eastern Ukraine, where Russia wants to capture the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which are collectively known as Donbas, after its failure to quickly seize Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, at the beginning of the war.

Read Pjotr’s full report: Russian forces pound Sievierodonetsk as fears grow for stranded civilians

Philip Oltermann

Philip Oltermann

Russia earned €93bn in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the war, according to research by Finland’s Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea).

With 61% of these exports, worth €56bn (£48bn), going to the member states of the European Union, the bloc of countries remains Russia’s largest export market.

After China, Germany remains its largest customer, with exports between 14 February and 3 June amounting to €12.1bn.

Other large importers of Russian fossil fuels are Italy (€7.8bn), the Netherlands (€7.8bn), Turkey (€6.7bn) and Poland (€4.4bn).

While the volume of exports fell by around 15% in May, the increase in fossil demand has also created a windfall for the country: Russia’s average export prices were on average 60% higher than last year.

A student poses for a high school graduation photoshoot, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Chernihiv, Ukraine.
A student poses for a high school graduation photoshoot, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Photograph: INSTAGRAM/@SENYKSTAS/Reuters
Students pose at a damaged building for a high school graduation photoshoot in Chernihiv, Ukraine.
Students pose at a damaged building for a high school graduation photoshoot in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Photograph: INSTAGRAM/@SENYKSTAS/Reuters
Photographer creates graduation album with Chernihiv ruins as backdrop.
Photographer creates graduation album with Chernihiv ruins as backdrop. Photograph: INSTAGRAM/@SENYKSTAS/Reuters

Russia’s defence ministry has said its missiles destroyed a large quantity of weapons and military equipment in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, including some that were sent from the US and Europe.

It said high-precision air-based missiles had struck near the Udachne railway station, hitting equipment that had been delivered to Ukrainian forces.

It has not been possible to independently verify this claim.

Hello everyone. It’s Léonie Chao-Fong here, taking over the live blog from Jamie Grierson to bring you all the latest developments in Ukraine. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.

Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont

The world’s nuclear arsenal is expected to increase in the coming years for the first time since the end of cold war at a time that the risk of such weapons being used is the greatest in decades, a leading conflict and weapons thinktank has said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and western support for Kyiv have heightened tensions among the world’s nine nuclear-armed states, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday.

Countries increasing their stockpiles of nuclear warheads included the UK, which in 2021 announced its decision to increase the ceiling on its total warhead stockpile, in a reversal of decades of gradual disarmament.

The increase comes despite a statement from the UN’s five permanent members of the security council in 2021 – the US, Russia, China, the UK and France – stating that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. All P5 members continue to expand or modernise their nuclear arsenals.

The launching of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile at Plesetsk testing field, Russia.
The launching of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile at Plesetsk testing field, Russia. Photograph: Russian Defence Ministry/AFP/Getty Images

The UK has about 195 nuclear warheads, of which 120 are operational, according to an estimate by researchers at the Federation of American Scientists.

While the UK has criticised China and Russia for lack of nuclear transparency, the UK also announced it would no longer publicly disclose figures for the country’s operational nuclear weapon stockpile, deployed warheads or deployed missiles.

In early 2021, France officially launched a programme to develop a third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) while India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals, and both countries introduced and continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery system in 2021.

Israel – which does not publicly acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons – is also believed to be modernising its arsenal.

While the number of nuclear weapons fell slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, Sipri said that unless immediate action was taken by the nuclear powers, global inventories of warheads could soon begin rising for the first time in decades.

Read the full article: Global nuclear arsenal expected to grow for first time in decades

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has described the situation in Sievierodonetsk as ‘severe’. Sievierodonetsk has become the epicentre of the battle for control of the eastern Donbas region.

Zelenskiy: ‘severe’ fighting in ‘literally every metre’ of Sievierodonetsk – video

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, has said on Twitter that to end the war his country need “heavy weapons parity”.

Being straightforward – to end the war we need heavy weapons parity:

1000 howitzers caliber 155 mm;
300 MLRS;
500 tanks;
2000 armored vehicles;
1000 drones.

Contact Group of Defense Ministers meeting is held in #Brussels on June 15. We are waiting for a decision.

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) June 13, 2022

Reuters have this full report on fighting in Sievierodonetsk:

Russian forces swarmed into the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk and pounded a zone where hundreds of civilians were sheltering, a Ukrainian official said on Monday – a scene that mirrored Moscow’s brutal capture of Mariupol last month.

Ukraine has issued increasingly urgent calls for more western weapons to help defend Sievierodonetsk, which Kyiv says could hold the key to the outcome of the battle for control of the eastern Donbas region and the future course of the war.

In a report that was not confirmed by the Ukrainian side, a Russian-backed separatist said the last bridge into the city had been destroyed on Sunday, effectively blockading its Ukrainian defenders inside.

“They have two options: either follow the example of their fellow soldiers and surrender, or die,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted separatist spokesperson Eduard Basurin as saying. “They have no other option.”

Regional governor Serhiy Haidai said on Sunday evening the last crossing over the Siverskyi Donets River was still standing after another bridge was destroyed earlier in the day.

“The third bridge is working. But the condition of the bridge is threatening: it is half-destroyed, it is impossible for trucks to move on it,” he said.

On Monday, Haidai said fighting was raging in the city, where Ukrainian forces were defending building by building.

“The battles are so fierce that fighting for not just a street but for a single high-rise building can last for days,” he said on social media.

Russian artillery fire also rained down on the Azot chemical plant, where hundred of civilians were sheltering, Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region which includes Sievierodonetsk, said.

Before Mariupol fell to Russia last month, hundreds of civilians and badly wounded Ukrainian soldiers were trapped for weeks in the Azovstal steelworks. Ukrainian officials say cholera is now spreading among remaining residents due to bodies buried in rubble from destroyed residential buildings.

Haidai estimated that Russian forces now controlled about 70% of Sievierodonetsk, and said they were destroying it “quarter by quarter” in one of the bloodiest assaults since the invasion was launched on 24 Febuary.

“Russians continue to storm the city, having a significant advantage in artillery they have somewhat pushed back the Ukrainian soldiers,” Haidai said on Monday.

My colleague Pjotr Sauer has interviewed Russian stage and screen director Kirill Serebrennikov, whose stage work has been produced across Europe.

Despite frequent run-ins with the authorities, the director never fled Russia. But after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Serebrennikov decided to leave for Berlin at the end of March. He has since become a vocal critic of the war.

“How can I not get enraged over what happens when Ukrainians are dying because of the Russian bombs? When cities get wiped off the map? When civilians get killed?” he said.

“How the hell can one not speak out. How? How can I call this murder a special military operation?”



Source link

Latest

Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes agrees to two-year extension

LOS ANGELES -- Catcher Austin Barnes agreed Sunday to...

Big Zuu on breaking the mould for cookery shows

TV cook Big Zuu reflects on his Dave show's...

Chennai power cut today: These areas will face a power disruption in Chennai

The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) has...

World’s 500 richest people lost $2 trillion in first half of year

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart was one of the few...

Big Zuu on breaking the mould for cookery shows

TV cook Big Zuu reflects on his Dave show's double Bafta win and the importance of representation. Source link

Matt Hancock’s blase attitude to the rise in Covid cases is alarming | Letters

Matt Hancock’s views show a worrying lack of understanding from a former health secretary (Yes, the number of Covid cases in the UK is...