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Latest Developments in Ukraine: June 19


A woman stands next to a building damaged by shelling at a local market in Donetsk, Ukraine, June 19, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

10:35 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he expects Russia to intensify its attacks on his country while Kyiv awaits a European Union decision this week on granting Ukraine the status of a candidate country, Reuters reported.

"Obviously, this week we should expect from Russia an intensification of its hostile activities, as an example," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. "And not only against Ukraine, but also against other European countries. We are preparing. We are ready."

9:50 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called June 19 medical workers, father’s and farmers day, thanking them all for their contributions. "Of course, today I would like to thank all our doctors, all Ukrainian nurses, who have been literally on the frontline since February 24. ...

“Of course, I would like to thank all the fathers in Ukraine. All those who raised their children as good, decent, brave people. People who defend the state and do everything to help their neighbors live through the war. The Ukrainian courage that inspires the world so much, the Ukrainian freedom that strengthens the whole of Europe are possible only because Ukrainian parents have raised such children. Children with an understanding of values, able to be true heroes,” Zelenskyy said.

8:39 p.m.: Germany announced its latest steps to boost gas storage levels to prepare for the next winter season, when it fears Russia, which has cut deliveries in recent days, could reduce or even completely halt supplies, Reuters reported.

7:40 p.m.:

6:18 p.m.: Analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War think tank wrote that "Russian forces will likely be able to seize Sievierodonetsk in the coming weeks, but at the cost of concentrating most of their available forces in this small area,” Reuters reported.

5:25 p.m.: In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who on Saturday visited the Odesa region, said, “Both in Mykolaiv, and in Odesa I held meetings with our military, with all officials who are responsible for defense and maintenance of these two regions. Listened to the reports on the destruction of the regions caused by Russian strikes. The losses are significant. Many houses were destroyed, civilian logistics were disrupted, there are many social issues. I have commissioned to make assistance to people who have lost loved ones more systemic. We will definitely restore everything that was destroyed. Russia does not have as many missiles as our people have the desire to live.”

4:37 p.m.:

3:10 p.m.: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on his Facebook page Sunday that Ukraine was in talks with the McDonald's Corporation on resuming its operations, the Kyiv Independent reported. The company stopped operating in Ukraine when the Russian invasion began in February.

2:30 p.m.: Ukrainian troops have repelled a Russian offensive near Berestove, Donetsk Oblast, the Kyiv Independent reported, citing Ukraine’s General Staff on Sunday. Russia is preparing for an offensive toward the city of Sloviansk; the report said Russian troops also were continuing to storm Sievierodonetsk in Luhansk to try to gain full control of that city, but their efforts so far had been unsuccessful.

1:25 p.m.: The Kyiv Independent cites the Moldovan news outlet NewsMaker, reporting that Moldovan President Maia Sandu has signed a law banning the broadcast of Russian news, political television shows and war films in Moldova to counter Russian propaganda. The law will enter into force next week.

12:45 p.m.: Germany’s economy minister said Sunday that the country will limit the use of natural gas for electricity production amid concerns about possible shortages caused by a cut in supplies from Russia.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that Germany will try to compensate for the move by increasing the burning of coal, a more polluting fossil fuel.

“That’s bitter, but it’s simply necessary in this situation to lower gas usage,” said Habeck, a member of the environmentalist Green party.

Russian gas company Gazprom announced last week that it was sharply reducing supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for technical reasons, but which Habeck said appeared to be politically motivated.

The government has nevertheless insisted that Russian gas will be needed for a while until alternative sources of energy, such as LNG brought in by ship, are available. Over the past months the German government has taken measures to fill gas storage facilities to 90% capacity by November to ensure enough gas is available as a heating fuel through the winter.

12:20 p.m.: Luhansk Oblast Governor Serhiy Haidai says Russian forces have stolen 15,000 tons of sunflower and 10,000 tons of grain from Luhansk Oblast and are also harvesting grain in occupied territories, the Kyiv Independent reports.

11:50 a.m.: Ukraine’s national guard is warning beachgoers to watch out for hazardous underwater mines after the death of a man who was diving in the Odessa region moments before a device exploded and killed him instantly, the Washington Post reports. They are urging people to stay away from coastal destinations that were once places to unwind and cool off — but are now home to hidden munitions.

11:20 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed Sunday that his forces "will not give away the south to anyone" after his first visit to the southern frontline, as NATO's chief warned the war in Ukraine could last "for years," France 24 reports.

Making a rare trip outside Kyiv, where he is based for security reasons, Zelenskyy travelled to the hold-out Black Sea city of Mykolaiv and visited troops nearby and in the neighboring Odessa region for the first time since the Russian invasion.

"We will not give away the south to anyone, we will return everything that's ours and the sea will be Ukrainian and safe," he said in a video posted on Telegram as he made his way back to Kyiv.

He said he talked with troops and police during his visit: "Their mood is confident, and looking into their eyes, it is obvious that they all do not doubt our victory," he said, adding that Russian losses are significant.

"Many houses were destroyed, civilian logistics were disrupted, there are many social issues," Zelenskyy said. Zelensky vows to retake south, NATO chief warns of long war (france24.com).

11 a.m.: Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Sunday accused his own 5-Star Movement party of undermining government efforts to support Ukraine and weakening Rome's standing within the European Union.

His outburst could signal an imminent schism in the group he once led, with 5-Star officials due to meet later on Sunday to consider Di Maio's position following other recent broadsides.

The internal party feuding also creates problems for Prime Minister Mario Draghi as he faces an important vote in parliament on Tuesday over Ukraine, with some 5-Star members looking to limit Italy from sending further weapons to Kyiv.

10:30 a.m.: The Ukrainian parliament passed a law Sunday banning the playing of Russian music on media or in public spaces, the Kyiv Independent reports. The law also bans the import and distribution of books and publications from Russia and Belarus to Ukraine.

10:15 a.m.: Britain's top army general has told his troops to prepare to fight and beat Putin's armies in a European land war, the Daily Mail reports.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, who assumed overall command of the British Army this week, warned soldiers, "We are the generation that must prepare the Army to fight in Europe once again" as Russia's invasion of Ukraine rocks global stability.

"I am the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take command of the Army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power... The scale of the enduring threat from Russia shows we've entered a new era of insecurity."

Prepare to fight and beat Russia in a Third World War, Britain's top general warns | Daily Mail Online

9:30 a.m.: CNN quotes separate comments by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Stoltenberg and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who warned Sunday that the West must prepare for a long war in Ukraine as Russia makes incremental gains in its battle to control the country’s east.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that nobody knew how long the conflict would last but "we need to prepare for the fact that it could take years."

"We must not cease to support Ukraine. Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, but also because of rising energy and food prices."

Boris Johnson, writing in London’s Sunday Times after his second visit to Kyiv on Friday, said Western allies must "steel ourselves for a long war, as Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition, trying to grind down Ukraine by sheer brutality."

Johnson said that seizing all of Ukraine's Donbas, which covers much of eastern Ukraine, had been Putin's objective for the last eight years "when he ignited a separatist rebellion and launched his first invasion."

9 a.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during an interview that an “attempt at reconciliation can never be wrong, and neither can an attempt to get along peacefully (with Russia)," the Kyiv Independent reports. Yet, he acknowledged that his predecessor Angela Merkel made a mistake by relying too much on Russian energy supplies without building the necessary infrastructure to decrease its dependence on Moscow.

8:55 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent reports that the Russian state-controlled news agency Interfax quotes the Russian military as saying more than 1.9 million Ukrainians have been forcibly deported to Russia since the start of the invasion, over 307,000 of them children.

8:30 a.m.: Russia has promised to continue gas shipments to Hungary and that Gazprom will fulfil its contractual obligations to the country, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in an interview on public service radio on Sunday.

In Russia's response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine, state energy giant Gazprom has cut supplies to Denmark's Orsted and to Shell Energy for its contract to supply gas to Germany.

8:15 a.m.: RFE/RL reports that an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister Sunday cited a heightened risk north of Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, as Russian troops seek to once again make it a "frontline city."

Vadym Denysenko told Ukrainian national television that enemy forces are seeking to get closer to Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, in order to shell it.

Within hours of his warning, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed it had struck a tank-repair plant in Kharkiv with Iskander missiles. The claim could not immediately be verified.

8 a.m.: Germany’s economy minister says the country will limit the use of gas for electricity production amid concerns about possible shortages caused by a reduction in supplies from Russia. Germany has been trying to fill its gas storage facilities to capacity ahead of the winter months, when gas is more urgently needed as a heating fuel. Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that Germany will try to compensate for the move by increasing the burning of coal, a more polluting fossil fuel. He described the move as “bitter, but it's simply necessary in this situation.”

7:45 a.m.: Russia said Sunday that its offensive against Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine was proceeding successfully after it took control of a district in the city's outskirts, quoting Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, who spoke in a video statement. He added that the settlement of Metyolkine, on the eastern outskirts of the city, had been taken.

7:30 a.m.: Hanna Zamazieieva, head of the Mykolaiv Oblast Council, says the city of Mykolaiv was attacked twice on Saturday, June 18, and that 16 persons were wounded, the Kyiv Independent reports. The newspaper also reports that the Bereznehuvatska, Kutsurubska, Halitsynivska, and Pervomaiska areas of the oblast also came under fire. Overall, 297 civilians injured in Russian attacks are currently being treated in Mykolaiv hospitals.

The also reports that Ukraine’s air defense has shot down a Russian aerial target in Kyiv Oblast.

5:47 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised to take back parts of Ukraine currently controlled by Russian troops. He said Ukraine would retake "everything that belongs to us."

5:16 a.m.: The Washington Post reports that one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's top advisers sharply criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin after Putin gave a speech Friday.

Putin termed Western sanctions "reckless and insane" and defended what he said was “the decision of a sovereign country based on the right to defend its security.”

In response, the Post reports, Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called the conflict a "cannibalistic war" and said Russia has turned "into the Middle Ages."

4:45 a.m.: The latest update from the U.K. defense ministry says that both Russian and Ukrainian forces are likely experiencing "variable morale."

It's worse among the Russian troops, the update notes, saying that "[c]ases of whole Russian units refusing orders and armed stand-offs between officers and their troops continue to occur."

Russian troops are struggling with leadership issues, pay problems, heavy casualties and continued poor logistics, the update says. Additionally, many "also likely remain confused about the war’s objectives." It's enough of a problem to affect Russian success in the Ukraine conflict, the update concludes.

3:36 a.m.: Al Jazeera, citing Russia's state news agency, reports that the top commanders in charge of defending Ukraine's Azovstal steel plant have been sent to Russia for investigation.

Russian forces captured hundreds of fighters when they gained control of the city of Mariupol.

2:28 a.m.: Ukraine's defense intelligence directorate said five Ukrainian civilians had been returned in a five-for-five prisoner swap with Russia, Reuters reported. It did not say whether the exchanged Russians were combatants. The directorate said four of the five Ukrainian civilians had been taken prisoner during Russia's occupation of parts of Kyiv region, from where Russian forces withdrew at the end of March, Reuters reported.

1:30 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest assessment that Russia made minor gains near Severodonetsk and likely made it into Metolkine.

The assessment says Russia's trying to force Ukrainian troops out of artillery range of railway lines around Kharkiv City. Russia's using those lines to supply its troops.

The update also said Russian forces continue to face partisan activity in parts of south Ukraine.

12:02 a.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday the war in Ukraine could last years and Ukrainian forces faced intensified Russian assaults after the EU executive recommended that Kyiv should be granted the status of a candidate to join the bloc, Reuters reported.

Stoltenberg was cited by Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper as saying the supply of state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would increase the chance of liberating the eastern Donbas region from Russian control.

"We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine," he said, according to Reuters. "Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices."

Some information in this report came from Reuters.

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