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Latest Developments in Ukraine: June 2

A view shows a destroyed school in a military strike on the previous night, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, June 2, 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.

10:17 p.m.: On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury took steps against a Kremlin-aligned yacht brokerage, several prominent Russian government officials, and a custodian of President Vladimir Putin’s offshore wealth.

This action further identifies yachts and aircraft in which sanctioned Russian elites maintain interests.

9:10 p.m.: While the fighting is still brutal in the eastern Donbas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy but there has been “some progress” in the city of Sievierodonetsk.

It’s too early to give specifics, he said late Thursday in his nightly video address to the nation.

Zelenskyy said he was thankful to the United States for agreeing to send advanced rocket systems.

“These weapons really can save the lives of our people and defend our land,” he said.

8:48 p.m.: Brittney Griner can’t play with her WNBA colleagues. She can’t call them, either. But she can write, The Associated Press reported.

In one small bit of normalcy, Griner has been able to receive emails and letters from WNBA players while she is detained in Russia. Hundreds of emails have been sent by players to an account Griner’s agent set up to allow them to communicate with her.

It’s not easy: The emails are printed out and delivered sporadically in bunches to Griner by her lawyer after they are vetted by Russian officials. Griner either writes a response on paper and her lawyers will take a photo of it or she dictates a response if she doesn’t have any paper.

Griner has been detained for 105 days after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.

8:14 p.m.: About 60% of the infrastructure and residential buildings in Lysychansk, one of only two cities in the east still under at least partial Ukrainian control, have been destroyed by attacks, a local official said Thursday.

Oleksandr Zaika, head of Lysychansk City Military-Civil Administration, said on an “information telemarathon” cited by the Unian news agency that non-stop shelling had knocked out electricity, natural gas, telephone and internet service.

Lysychansk is separated by a river from the other city in the region that’s still under at least partial Ukrainian control, Sievierodonetsk. It, too, is under Russian siege.

7:27 p.m.: A funeral was held Thursday for a retired Russian Air Force major-general whose plane was shot down while flying a combat mission in his country’s invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

The Russian state news agency Tass said Kanamat Botashev, a 63-year-old major-general who volunteered to return to service, had been shot down last month while flying over the eastern Donbass region.

On May 22, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said a Russian Su-25 attack plane was shot down over the Luhansk region and that the pilot did not have time to eject. News reports at the time tied that incident to Botashev’s death, which the Russian government had not confirmed until Thursday.

6:55 p.m.: Two temporary bridges arrive in Ukraine from The Czech State Material Reserve Administration.

6:30 p.m.: Officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations will meet in Istanbul soon to discuss plans for the establishment of a corridor that would allow the export of Ukrainian agricultural products, Turkey’s state-run news agency said Thursday.

The Anadolu Agency said the sides are set to discuss a possible route for the corridor, insurance issues and security for the corridor. They are also slated to take up the need to clear the route of mines as well as the creation of a command center that would oversee the mechanism.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the need for a corridor for the export of agricultural products during telephone calls with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week.

5:45 p.m.: Ukraine's state-run nuclear power operator, Energoatom, on Thursday denied it might shut down a major nuclear power plant if Kyiv loses control of operations at the site, Reuters reported.

The Zaporizhzhia facility in southeast Ukraine is Europe's largest nuclear power plant. Russian troops have taken over the plant, but Ukrainian specialists are still running it.

The plant "cannot be turned off from a technical, security, economic or political point of view," Energoatom said in a statement.

Last week, Ukraine's state-owned grid operator dismissed as "physically impossible" the suggestion by a Russian official that the plant would supply Russia with electricity.

4:25 p.m.: The European Parliament has banned Russian lobbyists from its premises, its speaker said Thursday according to Agence France-Presse.

"We must not allow them any space to spread their propaganda & false, toxic narratives about the invasion of Ukraine," Roberta Metsola said on Twitter.

Metsola urged all other EU institutions, including the European Commission and the European Council, to follow suit.

3:30 p.m.: The death of a French journalist in Ukraine this week is serving as a stark reminder of the risks for media covering the Russian invasion. His colleague Maxime Brandstaetter was injured in the same attack. VOA’s Sirwan Kajjo has this story.

3:10 p.m.: Oil prices edged higher Thursday after U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected amid high demand for fuel and OPEC agreed to boost crude output to compensate for a drop in Russian production, Reuters reports.

3:00 p.m.: Yelena Sleptsova, a grammar school teacher who managed to escape Sievierodonetsk, a city under heavy shelling in Ukraine's east, recounts getting herself and her mother onto a packed train in Kharkiv. In an interview in Lviv with VOA’s Current Time, she said passengers were ordered to sit in darkness while soldiers fired into the air to quell panicking mobs at the train station.

2:45 p.m.: In discussing the state of the conflict nearly 100 days after Russia invaded her country, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska told the ABC TV network Thursday in an exclusive interview that conceding territory to Russia won't stop the war. "You just can't concede ... parts of your territory. It's like conceding freedom," she said.

2:25 p.m.: Matthew Parker is a U.S. veteran who served in Iraq alongside a Ukrainian American soldier. When Parker heard Russian invaded Ukraine, he decided he wanted to help Ukrainians defend their homeland. He is among thousands of Americans that Ukraine says have joined its new international legion to help protect the country. VOA’s Myroslava Gongadze caught up with Parker when he arrived in Poland.

American War Veteran Joins Fight for Peace in Ukraine
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2:05 p.m.: The new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine on Thursday said her top mission “is to help Ukraine prevail against Russian aggression,” and she said the delivery of military aid is being accelerated, according to The Associated Press. “There is no place on the planet I would rather be,” Bridget Brink told reporters Thursday after meeting and presenting her credentials to Ukraine’s president. “President Biden has said that we’re going to be here, helping Ukraine, for as long as it takes. And that’s what we’ll do.”

1:52 p.m.: President Putin may have wanted "less" NATO when he invaded Ukraine but instead got "more NATO presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, and also with more members,” says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after meeting Thursday with President Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington on Thursday, VOA’s Chief White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara reports. Stoltenberg commended the US. for its “great leadership, both in providing support to Ukraine … but also in support to our transatlantic alliance.” As far as an assessment on when the war will possibly end, he says that “wars are by nature unpredictable. And therefore, we just have to be prepared for the long haul.”

He reiterated that NATO also has “a responsibility to prevent this war from escalating to become a full-fledged war between Russia and NATO, that will cause even more death, even more destruction, even more damage."

1:20 p.m.: Citing Interfax news agency, Reuters says Russia's defense ministry assured on Thursday that vessels carrying grain can leave Ukraine's ports in the Black Sea via "humanitarian corridors" and Russia is ready to guarantee their safety.

1:00 p.m.: Inspired by an act of generosity by Lithuanians, a Turkish manufacturer is donating a drone that will go to the war-torn country of Ukraine, Lithuania's defense minister said Thursday, according to the AP. This comes after Lithuanians raised 5.9 million euros in several days last week, to buy a drone for Ukraine. Lithuanian officials had traveled to Turkey to sign a contract with the producer to acquire it.

12:30 p.m.: The European Union has dropped a move to impose sanctions against Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill to secure Hungary's acceptance of the bloc's latest package of measures against Russia. Diplomatic sources told RFE/RL on Thursday that EU ambassadors agreed to remove Kirill from the sanctions list, which Budapest had insisted upon. All of the bloc's 27 members had to agree to the package in order for it to be approved and officially published on June 3.

12:00 p.m.: As the war in Ukraine approaches 100 days, AP photographers have captured the playfulness of a soldier, lightheartedly kicking a ball amid the carnage; a chilling view of a car driving down a highway, through the sight of a Ukrainian sniper and a landscape littered with buildings in ruins and the carcasses of Russian tanks.

11:40 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia did not plan to close "the window" to Europe, Reuters reports. President Vladimir Putin says the West wants to destroy Russia, that the economic sanctions are akin to a declaration of economic war and that now Russia will turn towards building ties with other powers in Asia and Middle East.

11:15 a.m.: Ukraine’s soccer team will play against Wales on Sunday in a decisive World Cup qualifying playoff after beating Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday. The Associated Press reports that players were lifted by messages before and after the win in Glasgow from people facing daily risks to defend Ukraine from the Russian invasion.

11:00 a.m.: The U.S. Department of Treasury unveiled new Russia-related sanctions. More from VOA Chief National Correspondent Steve Herman.

10:50 a.m.: The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that over 5 million children need humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.

10:15 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin was treated for advanced cancer in April, a classified U.S. intelligence report says, according to U.S. based magazine Newsweek. U.S. officials have not commented publicly on the report.

“Reports that any such intelligence community assessments exist or that they have been briefed to the President are not true,” a Defense Intelligence Agency spokesperson told VOA.

9:55 a.m.: The Minnesota Zoo has scrapped plans to send a group of Asian wild horses back to their native Russia in light of the war in Ukraine. Citing The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Associated Press says that eight of the endangered horses were supposed to return to a nature reserve in Russia this fall following delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoo officials say they can’t afford to take care of the horses any longer and are looking for options, including shipping the horses to another zoo in North America.

9:15 a.m.: Over the past few days, the intensity of shelling on the main road connecting the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has increased significantly. Moscow aims to capture a vital route leading northeast to the twin towns of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk where Ukrainian and Russian troops are engaged in close-quarter combat. Russian forces are also shelling hangars where grain and seeds are stored. RFE/RL's Maryan Kushnir reports from the front line in eastern Ukraine.

9:00 a.m.: The Kremlin has again denounced Western plans to supply more weapons to Ukraine, The Associated Press reports. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that “the pumping" of weapons “will bring more suffering to Ukraine, which is merely a tool in the hands of those countries that supply it with weapons.”

8:30 a.m.: The head of the African Union, Senegal's president Macky Sall, will meet with President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Friday, Agence France-Presse reports. Sall’s office says the two leaders hope to discuss "freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilizers."

8:05 a.m.: Russia is currently occupying about 20% of Ukraine's territory, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Luxembourg's parliament in a video address on Thursday. "We have to defend ourselves against almost the entire Russian army. All combat-ready Russian military formations are involved in this aggression," he said, adding that the front lines of battle stretched across more than 1,000 kilometers.

8:00 a.m.: Britain says it is sending sophisticated medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine, The Associated Press reports. The pledge comes a day after the United States and Germany said they would send advanced weapons for shooting down aircraft and knocking out artillery as well to Ukraine. Kyiv is also set to get a diplomatic boost with the formal installation of a new U.S. ambassador on Thursday.

7:30 a.m.: Sweden will provide Ukraine with more economic aid and military equipment that will include anti-ship missiles, rifles and more anti-tank weapons, the Nordic country's defense and finance ministers said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

7:15 a.m.: Fires were still burning as residents surveyed the damage after Russian shelling hit a school and several apartment blocks in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine. The city was held by Moscow-backed separatists for nearly three months in 2014 before being retaken by Ukrainian forces. RFE/RL reports that the Russian Army is now pushing toward the city from three directions.

6:30 a.m.: The editor in chief of the independent Moscow-based newspaper Novaya gazeta, Dmitry Muratov, will be selling his Nobel Prize medal later this month to help Ukrainian refugees, Dallas, Texas-based Heritage Auctions said.

The current bid for the medal that will be auctioned on June 20 is $260,000. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

5:45 a.m.: Ukraine’s Donetsk region governor says around 340,000 residents out of pre-war 1.67 million remain in the region, according to Reuters. Russian forces are trying to advance to Kramatorsk from Lyman and Izyum directions, the governor added.

4:56 a.m.: The Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday that the European Union’s decision to partially phase out Russian oil was likely to destabilize global energy markets, Reuters reported.

“Brussels and its political sponsors in Washington bear full responsibility for the risk of an exacerbation in global food and energy issues caused the illegitimate actions of the European Union,” the ministry said in a statement.

3:45 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia’s National Settlement Depository will service the country’s Eurobonds after Citibank stopped acting as a fiscal, transfer and payment agent, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

The finance ministry also said that a delay in payments on its Russia-2022 Eurobond that were due on April 4 was caused by “unlawful actions” of foreign financial intermediaries.

3:00 a.m.: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC+, said it is working on compensating for a drop in Russian oil output, two OPEC+ sources told Reuters on Thursday, as Russia’s production has fallen by around 1 million barrels per day in recent months as a result of Western sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine.

One OPEC+ source familiar with the Russian position told Reuters that Moscow could agree to other producers compensating for its lower output, but it may not happen at a Thursday meeting and might not be in full. A Gulf OPEC+ source also said a decision on the matter was “highly possible” at a meeting on Thursday, Reuters added.

2:30 a.m.: The Slovak Defense Ministry said Thursday that the country will deliver eight self-propelled Zuzana 2 howitzers to Ukraine under a commercial contract which a state-controlled producer signed.

The Zuzana 2 howitzer, a modernized version of an older model, uses 155-mm rounds and has an effective range of 40 km (25 miles) to more than 50 km (30 miles) depending on the ammunition type.

2:15 a.m.: The British defense ministry cautioned Thursday that Russian troops might turn their focus to the Donetsk region now that they have made significant gains to capture the key Luhansk city of Sievierodonetsk.

“Russia has taken control of most of Sievierodonetsk. The main road into the Sievierodonetsk pocket likely remains under Ukrainian control but Russia continues to make steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery,” the ministry said in its daily report. But the ministry said Russian gains weren’t “without cost, and Russian forces have sustained losses in the process.”

1:30 a.m.: During an interview with Newsmax, the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, praised his boss for his devotion to his country.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “brave, he’s intelligent, and he’s smart,” Yermak said. “Many people recognize him as a leader not just of Ukraine, but of all of the free world.”

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Zelenskyy has inspired his citizens by staying in Kyiv to lead the fight against Russia’s aggression, captivating much of the world with impassioned speeches. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine looks at how he has evolved into a wartime president.

Zelenskyy: Charismatic Leader in ‘Crucible Moment’
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12:04 a.m.: Russian forces continue their siege of Sievierodonetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, The New York Times reported. “A local official said on Wednesday that Russian forces controlled about 70 percent of the city, where only about 12,000 residents remain out of a prewar population of 100,000 after weeks of intense shelling.” the Times report said. “Ukrainian soldiers there are at risk of being surrounded. With bridges over the Seversky Donets River destroyed or under fire, resupply has become tenuous. Ukrainian officials have been candid about the army’s travails while arguing more rapid deliveries of Western weaponry will resolve them. Every day in the current heavy fighting, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview with Newsmax this week, 60 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed and another about 500 soldiers are wounded in combat.”

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the aftermath of artillery bombardments in Popasna, a town in Sievierodonetsk Raion, Ukraine, May 25, 2022. Russian forces continue shelling Sievierodonetsk this week.
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the aftermath of artillery bombardments in Popasna, a town in Sievierodonetsk Raion, Ukraine, May 25, 2022. Russian forces continue shelling Sievierodonetsk this week.

12:01 a.m.: When she helped launch The Kyiv Independent in November, chief editor Olga Rudenko had no idea that six months later she would be on the cover of Time magazine. But her team’s reporting on Russia’s war in Ukraine propelled their English-language site into the spotlight, with Time describing The Kyiv Independent as the “world’s primary source for reliable English-language journalism on that war.”

Rudenko says she feels she has a great responsibility to her audience, “to be the world's window into Ukraine.” In this interview with VOA, she shares her commitment to fact-based reporting and how that has been essential in a war where disinformation is high, and journalists find themselves reporting on atrocities happening so close to home.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.