War in Ukraine: Latest developments June 15th UPDATE 3PM

Jun. 15, 2022

Russia's defence ministry calls on Ukrainian fighters holding out at a chemical plant in the war-torn eastern city of Severodonetsk to halt their "senseless resistance" and surrender.

War in Ukraine: Latest developments

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- Russia urges Severodonetsk surrender -

Russia's defence ministry calls on Ukrainian fighters holding out at a chemical plant in the war-torn eastern city of Severodonetsk to halt their "senseless resistance" and surrender. The Russian army also announces plans to organise evacuations on Wednesday for hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children, believed to sheltering inside the Azot plant. It says the evacuees will be taken to a part of the Lugansk region held by pro-Moscow separatists. Ukraine had yet to publicly respond to the announcement, which comes after Russian forces destroyed the last bridge linking the city to the neighbouring city of Lysychansk in a bid to encircle it.

- No UK request on death row fighters, says Moscow -

The Kremlin says that London has not asked Russia to intervene and help save two Britons sentenced to death by pro-Moscow separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine. "They have not asked," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters, saying any request should be lodged with the separatist authorities of the breakaway region of Donetsk which tried Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner for fighting with Ukrainian troops. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is "appalled" at the death sentences. London has been pressing their case with Kyiv.

- Bodies of 64 Mariupol defenders returned -

Ukraine confirms Russia has returned the bodies of 64 soldiers who died defending the fallen city of Mariupol in an exchange that saw Ukraine return the remains of Russian troops. The 64 fighters died in the Azovstal steelworks, where Ukrainian troops held out under siege for weeks before finally surrendering to Russian forces last month. The ministry said the swap took place in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region and did not specify how many Russian soldiers' bodies had been returned.

- Russia blacklists top UK journalists -

Russia says it is blacklisting 49 UK citizens, including several top reporters whom it accuses of the "deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia and the events in Ukraine and Donbas". Among the journalists who have been banned from entry to the country are Shaun Walker of The Guardian and Gideon Rachman of The Financial Times.

- Ukraine grain circumvents blockade -

A Ukrainian grain shipment has arrived in Spain after successfully circumventing Russia's blockade of the country's Black Sea ports, a Spanish food association says. The grain was transported overland to Poland, from where it was shipped to Spain via the Baltic Sea, the first time the northern sea passage has been used for Ukrainian grain, the Agafac food manufacturers association claims. Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world's top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped in silos and ports because of the blockade.

- Gazprom cuts Nord Stream deliveries -

Russia's energy giant Gazprom says it will reduce daily gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany due to the "repair" of compressor units by German company Siemens. The deliveries from the Portovaya compression station near the northwestern city of Vyborg are set to be reduced by around one third. Along with many Western companies, German conglomerate Siemens announced its exit from the Russian market over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

06/15/2022 - 03:11 - PM UPDATE

- US gives Ukraine $1 bn more arms -

US President Joe Biden announces a new $1 billion-worth of arms and ammunition for Ukraine after reaffirming Washington's support for Kyiv against Russia's invasion in a call with President Volodymyr Zelensky. The package includes more artillery, coastal anti-ship defence systems and ammunition for artillery and advanced rocket systems that Ukraine is already using, Biden says. He made his announcement after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged allies to step up arms deliveries to Ukraine as Kyiv said it is outgunned and appealed to Western allies for greater military aid. "We can't afford to let up and we can't lose steam. The stakes are too high. Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield," Austin says at a meeting in Brussels with some 50 countries backing Ukraine.

- Xi assures Russia of Chinese support -

Chinese President Xi Jinping assures his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of Beijing's support for Moscow on "sovereignty and security" during a call, according to state media.

China is "willing to continue to offer mutual support (to Russia) on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security," Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reports Xi as saying. China has refused to condemn Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Russia by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv. The Kremlin says that in the call Xi and Putin agreed to ramp up economic cooperation in the face of "unlawful" Western sanctions. The United States expresses concern about China's alignment with Russia, warning that nations which side with Putin over his invasion of Ukraine will be "on the wrong side of history".

- Russia says Ukraine blocked evacuations-

Moscow says Ukraine on Wednesday blocked its planned civilian evacuations from a chemical plant in the war-torn eastern city of Severodonetsk. Russia created a corridor to evacuate civilians from the Azot chemical factory, but "the Kyiv authorities cynically scuppered the humanitarian operation", the Russian defence ministry says in a statement. About 500 civilians are holed up in the Azot chemical plant, alongside Ukrainian fighters defending one of the last pockets of resistance in the city to Russian forces. The evacuation plan came after Russian forces destroyed the last bridge over the Donets river into Severodonetsk in a bid to encircle it. Britain's defence ministry says in an intelligence note that the fight for the Azot plant, like the weeks-long battle for a steelworks in the port of Mariupol, will likely prevent Russia from redeploying forces from there to other battles.

- UK rocket launcher delivery soon -

Britain will soon deliver multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine in response to its request for heavy arms to repel the Russian invasion, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says. "I think it's imminent, their delivery, and the munition has to go alongside", Wallace tells reporters in Oslo on the sidelines of a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force grouping 10 Northern European countries.

- Ikea scales down Russian activities -

Swedish furniture giant Ikea says it will "scale down" its activities in Russia and Belarus, after putting them on hold following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. "Businesses and supply chains across the world have been heavily impacted and we do not see that it is possible to resume operations any time soon," Ingka Group, which manages the majority of Ikea's stores, says in a statement.



© Agence France-Presse