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Civilian evacuation from Sievierodonetsk plant ‘impossible’, says governor – as it happened | World news

Evacuation from Azot plant in Sievierodonetsk now ‘impossible’, says governor

Hundreds of civilians sheltering at the Azot chemical plant in the embattled eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk are no longer able to evacuate because of the sustained Russian artillery barrages, according to Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai.

Speaking to CNN, Haidai said:

It is impossible to get out of there now. I mean, it is physically possible, but it is very dangerous due to constant shelling and fighting.

Some 568 people, including 38 children, are currently taking refuge in the Azot plant, according to Haidai.

He said authorities had tried to convince the civilians to leave last month, before major bridges out of the city were destroyed, but that many “didn’t want to go” and were convinced that they would be safer to stay in place.

There have been several cases of civilians who were killed or injured by incoming fire when trying to leave the shelter, for example to cook, he said.

Earlier today, a pro-Russian separatist leader said Russian-backed forces will reopen a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the Azot chemical plant, the Interfax news agency reported.

Leonid Pasechnik, head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said separatist forces had entered the plant but had been unable to dislodge Ukrainian fighters from the factory, the Tass news agency reported.

Haidai told CNN that an evacuation would be possible only if there were a complete ceasefire, but he was highly sceptical of any promises made by Russia.

He said:

I hear a lot of what they say, but 99% of it is just nonsense or a lie. If there is a complete ceasefire, then we can take people out. But I do not believe the Russians — as much as they lie, as much as they gave their word and did not keep it. There is a lot of such evidence.

Summary

Thank you for joining us for today’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

It is currently 3am in the capital Kyiv. We will be pausing this live blog overnight and returning in the morning.

In the meantime, you can read our comprehensive summary of the days’ events in our summary below.

  • Hundreds of civilians sheltering at the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk are no longer able to evacuate because of the sustained Russian artillery barrages, officials say. 568 people, including 38 children, are currently taking refuge in the Azot plant, Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai, told CNN. A pro-Russian separatist leader said Russian-backed forces will reopen a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the plant, the Interfax news agency reported.
  • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia is “not ashamed of showing who we are” in an interview with the BBC. “We didn’t invade Ukraine, we declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the west that dragging Ukraine into Nato was a criminal act,” he said.
  • Nato says it is committed to providing equipment to maintain Ukraine’s right to self-defence, and will be making more troop deployments on its eastern flank. Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, condemned “a relentless war of attrition against Ukraine” being waged by Russia, and said Nato continued to offer “unprecedented support so it can defend itself against Moscow’s aggression”.
  • The head of the UK’s armed forces says Russia has already “strategically lost” the war in Ukraine and is now a “more diminished power”. Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said Vladimir Putin had lost 25% of Russia’s land power for only “tiny” gains. In an interview with PA Media, he said Russia was running out of troops and advanced missiles and would never be able to take over all of Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, appeared as a hologram while referencing Star Wars in an attempt to secure more aid from big tech firms. Zelenskiy told a crowd of hundreds at the VivaTech trade show in Paris on Thursday that Ukraine was offering technology firms a unique chance to rebuild the country as a fully digital democracy.
  • At least three civilians were killed and seven injured by a Russian airstrike in the eastern city of Lysychansk, according to local officials. The strike hit a building where civilians were sheltering, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said.
  • An overnight Russian air-launched rocket strike hit a suburb of the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy, killing four and wounding six, according to officials. Regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi said another rocket strike hit the Dobropillia district, which lies next to the Russian border, at 5am on Thursday, followed by 26 mortar rounds fired from across the border.
  • A Russian spy tried and failed to secure an internship at the international criminal court (ICC) using the false identity as a Brazilian citizen that he had built up for as long as a decade, according to Dutch intelligence. Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, 36, accused of being an agent of Russia’s GRU military intelligence, was detained when he arrived and sent back to Brazil the following day.
  • The UK announced a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia aimed at people involved with the “barbaric treatment of children in Ukraine”. Those targeted by sanctions include the Russian children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, military commanders, Vladimir Mikhailovich and Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox church.
  • The UK has purchased and refurbished more than 20 long-range guns – M109s – from a Belgian arms company which it is sending to Ukraine, Britain’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said. Russia outnumbers Ukraine in artillery fire by 20 to 1 in some areas but allies are beginning to give Ukraine the long-range artillery and rocket systems that will enable its forces to win, he told Sky News.
  • Russia warned that gas flows to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline could be suspended, blaming problems with turbine repairs. Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told the state-owned news agency Ria that a complete halt in gas flows in the pipeline, which supplies gas from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, would be a “catastrophe” for Germany. Canada says it is in active discussions with Germany about a Siemens-made turbine equipment undergoing maintenance in Canada and unable to return due to sanctions.
  • Temporary silos on Ukraine’s border would prevent Russia from stealing Ukrainian grain and ensure the winter harvest is not lost due to a lack of storage, US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday. It follows comments from US President Joe Biden that temporary silos would be built along the border with Ukraine.
  • Zelenskiy accused Russia of being unwilling to look for a way to peace, claiming it will “decide for himself that the war must end”. Ukrainian peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak also dismissed Russia’s most recent comments about being willing to continue negotiations as “an attempt to deceive the world”. Russia, he said, wanted to give the impression of being ready to talk while planning to stab Ukraine in the back.

Temporary silos on Ukraine’s border would prevent Russia from stealing Ukrainian grain and ensure the winter harvest is not lost due to a lack of storage, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday.

We know of circumstances and situations where that has occurred – Russians having taken grain from Ukrainian farmers. So to the extent that we can get it out of the country, that is a plus that reduces the risk of loss,” Vilsack told reporters.

However, Vilsack stressed that reviving shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports was the most effective and efficient way to export grain.

We would like to see the ports open because that’s the most efficient, most effective way to transport that grain, but it’s still going to take time even if the port is open. So you still have to have a place to put the grain.”

US satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies said on Thursday that Russian-flagged ships have been transporting Ukrainian grain to Russian ally Syria over the last couple of months. Russia denies stealing Ukrainian grain.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that temporary silos would be built along the border with Ukraine in an effort to help export more grain and address a growing global food crisis.

Since Russia’s invasion and ports blockade, Ukrainian grain shipments have stalled, and more than 20 million tonnes are stuck in silos. The war is stoking a global food crisis with soaring prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russia of being unwilling to look for a way to peace, claiming it will “decide for himself that the war must end”.

In his latest national address, Zelenskiy said:

All leaders understand why negotiations to end the war are not under way.

Exclusively because of Russia’s position, which is only trying to intimidate everyone in Europe and continue the destruction of our state.

They do not want to look for a way to peace. This is an aggressor who must decide for himself that the war must end.

We will continue to fight until we guarantee our state full security and territorial integrity.”

Canada says it is in active discussions with Germany about Siemens-made equipment undergoing maintenance in Canada that Russia’s Gazprom has put the blame on for a gas supply cut at the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Reuters is reporting.

The capacity of Gazprom’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline to supply gas to Europe is partly constrained as sanctions make it impossible for Siemens to return a turbine being maintained in Canada, the companies said earlier this week.

“The government of Canada is in active discussions with Germany about the turbines in question, and we are working to reach a resolution,” a spokesman for Canada’s Natural Resources Minister said in a statement.

The UK will welcome representatives from Ukraine and business leaders on Friday to discuss how British companies can help rebuild key infrastructure in Kyiv.

Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will seek to promote collaboration between British companies in infrastructure, energy and transport, and Ukrainian public and private organisations to help repair damaged and destroyed infrastructure.

Trevelyan will also announce changes to trade remedy measures, including reallocating ring-fenced market access for steel imports from Russia and Belarus to other countries including Ukraine.

The support provided on Friday will form part of a UK commitment to provide a combined economic, humanitarian and military support package worth around $3bn.

The European Union has also proposed support to help Ukraine rebuild once the war with Russia ends.

Summary

It’s 1am in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

  • “We’re not ashamed of showing who we are,” said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in a new interview with the BBC. “We didn’t invade Ukraine, we declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into NATO was a criminal act,” Lavrov said.
  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for readiness checks in case of an invasion from neighboring Belarus, the Kyiv Independent reports. National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Zelenskiy hosted a meeting to evaluate threats of further invasion their neighbor.
  • The US on Thursday urged Russia to treat captured American volunteers who fought alongside Ukrainian forces as prisoners of war with guaranteed humane treatment. “The Russians have certain obligations and members of the Ukrainian armed forces – including volunteers who may be third-country nationals incorporated into the armed forces – should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
  • The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday told Russia to prevent the execution of a Moroccan man sentenced to death in a pro-Moscow separatist region of Ukraine for fighting on behalf of Ukrainian forces. Russia “should ensure that the death penalty imposed on the applicant was not carried out,” the court said its emergency ruling following a petition filed this month by a representative of Saadoun.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, pleaded among big tech firms on Thursday at a Paris conference, appearing as a hologram and referencing Star Wars in attempts to secure aid in his country’s fight against Russia’s invasion. Zelenskiy told a crowd of hundreds at the VivaTech trade show that Ukraine was offering technology firms a unique chance to rebuild the country as a fully digital democracy.
  • Ukraine should be the one to decide whether to accept any territorial concessions towards Russia in attempts of ending the war, said the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on his visit to Kyiv. “This is up to Ukraine to decide … I think it is our duty to stand by our values, by international law and thus by Ukraine,” he said.
  • Russia has announced that is is facilitating grain and oilseed exports from Ukraine via Russian-held transit points on the Azov Sea, without disclosing who is providing the sources for export. Russia’s deputy prime minister, Viktoria Abramchenko, said on Thursday that “Russia is securing a ‘green corridor’ for grains and any other foodstuff such as oilseeds … so it can be exported from Ukraine without hurdles…”
  • Ukrainian peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed Russia’s most recent comments about being willing to continue negotiations as “an attempt to deceive the world”. Russia, he said, wanted to give the impression of being ready to talk while planning to stab Ukraine in the back.

That’s it from me, Maya Yang, today as I hand the blog over to my colleague in Australia, Samantha Lock, who will bring you the latest updates. I’ll be back tomorrow, thank you.

“We’re not ashamed of showing who we are,” said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in a new interview with the BBC.

“We didn’t invade Ukraine, we declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into NATO was a criminal act,” Lavrov said.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for readiness checks in case of an invasion from neighboring Belarus, the Kyiv Independent reports.

⚡️President Zelensky calls for readiness checks in case of invasion from Belarus.

National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Zelensky held a meeting to assess threats of further invasion from Belarus and asked for readiness checks in four areas.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) June 16, 2022

The US on Thursday urged Russia to treat captured American volunteers who fought alongside Ukrainian forces as prisoners of war with guaranteed humane treatment.

The State Department additionally announced that a third American was believed to be missing in Ukraine in addition to two military veterans who were reportedly captured by the Russian military last week.

“The Russians have certain obligations and members of the Ukrainian armed forces – including volunteers who may be third-country nationals incorporated into the armed forces – should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Prisoners of war must be “afforded the treatment and protections commensurate with that status, including humane treatment and fundamental process and fair-trial guarantees,” he said.

Families and members of Congress said Wednesday that Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both US military veterans who had been living in Alabama, lost contact with their relatives last week while fighting alongside the Ukrainian military near the Russian border.

Price said the US could not confirm details on Drueke and Huynh and added that there were reports of a third American who was said to have gone missing “in recent weeks.”

President Joe Biden’s administration, argues that the US is not directly fighting Russia and has discouraged Americans from traveling to the war zone, despite sending billions of dollars worth of weapons and economic aid to Ukraine.

Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, are US military veterans living in Alabama who volunteered to go to Ukraine to assist with war efforts. Both have gone missing.
Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, are US military veterans living in Alabama who volunteered to go to Ukraine to assist with war efforts. Both have gone missing. Composite: Reuters/Associated Press

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday told Russia to prevent the execution of a Moroccan man sentenced to death in a pro-Moscow separatist region of Ukraine for fighting on behalf of Ukrainian forces.

Agence France-Presse reports:

Brahim Saadoun, a Moroccan citizen born in 2000, was sentenced to death along with two British men by the unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), following his surrender to Russian forces in the conflict sparked by Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour.

Russia “should ensure that the death penalty imposed on the applicant was not carried out,” the court said its emergency ruling following a petition filed this month by a representative of Saadoun.

The ruling issued by Europe’s rights court is an urgent interim measure, provided on an exceptional basis, when the applicants would otherwise “face a real risk of irreversible harm,” it emphasised.

Britain has expressed fury over the death sentences handed to the two Britons in the case, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner. They surrendered in April in Mariupol, a port city in southern Ukraine that was captured by Russian troops after a weeks-long siege.

Ironically, the urgent interim measure is the same format used by the ECHR on Tuesday when it triggered the cancellation of the first deportation flight of asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, angering London.

That move has sparked debate within the British government about whether Britain should continue to implement ECHR rulings.

The ECHR is part of the Council of Europe, which ejected Russia from its membership in mid-March following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia simultaneously also took steps to leave the body.

The court still insists it can issue verdicts concerning Russia although the Russian parliament has adopted legislation insisting it should no longer adhere to ECHR rulings.

A still image, taken from footage released on June 8, 2022 from of the Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, showing Britons Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun captured by Russian forces during a military conflict in Ukraine, in a courtroom cage.
A still image, taken from footage released on June 8, 2022 from of the Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, showing Britons Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun captured by Russian forces during a military conflict in Ukraine, in a courtroom cage. Photograph: Supreme Court Of Donetsk People’S Republic/Reuters

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, pleaded among big tech firms on Thursday at a Paris conference, appearing as a hologram and referencing Star Wars in attempts to secure aid in his country’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

Zelenskiy told a crowd of hundreds at the VivaTech trade show that Ukraine was offering technology firms a unique chance to rebuild the country as a fully digital democracy.

He asked for help on the terms of lend-lease, an arrangement in which aid is offered without payment but on the understanding that hardware would be returned.

It’s unusual for presidents or heads of government to use a hologram to address people but this is not the only aspect of Star Wars that we are putting into practice.

“We will defeat the Empire too,” he added, obliquely likening Russian forces to the bad guys in the Star Wars franchise.

Zelenskiy added that his government would lay out a specific plan that would establish a digital government at a conference in Switzerland in the coming weeks.

No other country in the world will offer you such a chance to use the most advanced technologies at a state level … It’s an experiment and a digital revolution, and the modernisation of the current system all at the same time

Ukraine has won praise for its use of technology during the war with Russia, utilising crypto communities to raise funds and even successfully appealing to Elon Musk to supply the infrastructure for satellite-based internet services.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a speech in a 3D hologram projection, at the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups, at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France June 16, 2022.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers a speech in a 3D hologram projection, at the VivaTech conference dedicated to innovation and startups, at Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France. Photograph: Benoît Tessier/Reuters

Ukraine should be the one to decide whether to accept any territorial concessions towards Russia in attempts of ending the war, said the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on his visit to Kyiv.

When asked what concessions, including on its territory, Ukraine should accept, Macron Macron told TF1 television:

This is up to Ukraine to decide … I think it is our duty to stand by our values, by international law and thus by Ukraine.

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy, all criticised in the past by Kyiv for support viewed as too cautious, visited Ukraine on Thursday and offered the hope of EU membership to a country pleading for weapons to fend off Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has repeatedly said Ukraine will not accept giving up any of its territory as a result of Russia’s invasion.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Frances President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are seen during a press conference on June 16, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Romania’s Klaus Iohannis, Italy’s Mario Draghi, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine Photograph: Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Russia has announced that is is facilitating grain and oilseed exports from Ukraine via Russian-held transit points on the Azov Sea, without disclosing who is providing the sources for export.

Russia’s deputy prime minister, Viktoria Abramchenko, said on Thursday that “Russia is securing a ‘green corridor’ for grains and any other foodstuff such as oilseeds … so it can be exported from Ukraine without hurdles …”

Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing grain from its territories that Russian forces have taken control of.

However, in an interview with Reuters, Abramchenko said: “Russia does not ship grains from Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s inability to use its major deep-sea port, Odesa, because of Russia’s military incursion has led to a jump in global food prices and warnings by the United Nations of hunger in poorer countries that rely heavily on imported grain.

Abramchenko restated Russia’s line that it is for Ukraine to open sea-lanes to Odesa that have been mined. Each side accuses the other of laying the mines to obstruct access to the port, which Ukraine fears that Russia may try to seize with an attack from the sea.

“We cannot provide a green corridor for Odesa as Ukraine has done everything for this port not to work,” Abramchenko said.

Russia army operation of clearing mines at the coast of the Sea of Azov near the port of Mariupol by Russian engineering units in this image released by Russia on May 24, 2022.
Russia army operation of clearing mines at the coast of the Sea of Azov near the port of Mariupol by Russian engineering units in this image released by Russia on May 24, 2022. Photograph: EyePress News/Rex/Shutterstock

Ukrainian peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed Russia’s most recent comments about being willing to continue negotiations as “an attempt to deceive the world”.

Russia, he said, wanted to give the impression of being ready to talk while planning to stab Ukraine in the back.

Kyiv would definitely return to the negotiations but only at the right time, he added.

In a separate Twitter post on Thursday, Podolyak added, “Classic ‘Russian style’: destroying cities, arranging public executions, preparing an annexation, but still pretending to negotiate.”

Classic “Russian style”: destroying cities, arranging public executions, preparing an annexation, but still pretending to negotiate. If #Patrushev wants a dialogue, the words should be backed up by actions: a ceasefire, troops withdrawal, closure of the “🇷🇺 peace” project in 🇺🇦

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) June 16, 2022

Summary

It’s 9pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • Hundreds of civilians sheltering at the Azot chemical plant in the embattled eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk are no longer able to evacuate because of the sustained Russian artillery barrages, according to Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai. 568 people, including 38 children, are currently taking refuge in the Azot plant, he told CNN. A pro-Russian separatist leader said Russian-backed forces will reopen a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the plant, the Interfax news agency reported.
  • The leaders of France, Germany and Italy have vowed to support Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union on a visit to Kyiv intended as a show of unity in the face of Russian advances and complaints from the Ukrainians about the pace of weapons supplies. Macron said all four EU leaders present supported the idea of granting an “immediate” EU candidate status to Ukraine.
  • Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, reiterated the alliance’s commitment to providing equipment to maintain Ukraine’s right to self-defence, and announced that Nato will be making more troop deployments on its eastern flank. He condemned “a relentless war of attrition against Ukraine” being waged by Russia, and said Nato continued to offer “unprecedented support so it can defend itself against Moscow’s aggression”.
  • At least three civilians were killed and seven injured by a Russian airstrike in the eastern city of Lysychansk, according to the Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai. The strike hit a building where civilians were sheltering, Haidai said. It has not been possible to independently verify this information.
  • An overnight Russian air-launched rocket strike hit a suburb of the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy, killing four and wounding six, according to officials. Regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi said another rocket strike hit the Dobropillia district, which lies next to the Russian border, at 5am on Thursday, followed by 26 mortar rounds fired from across the border.
  • The UK announced a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia aimed at people involved with the “barbaric treatment of children in Ukraine”. Those targeted by sanctions include the Russian children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, the so-called mastermind behind the shadowy abduction programme. Other sanctioned individuals included military commanders and Vladimir Mikhailovich, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox church.
  • The UK has purchased and refurbished more than 20 long-range guns – M109s – from a Belgian arms company which it is sending to Ukraine, Britain’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said. Russia outnumbers Ukraine in artillery fire by 20 to 1 in some areas but allies are beginning to give Ukraine the long-range artillery and rocket systems that will enable its forces to win, he told Sky News.
  • Russia’s foreign ministry announced new sanctions against 121 Australian citizens, including journalists and defence officials, citing what it calls a “Russophobic agenda” in the country. Among those newly sanctioned are journalists from Australia’s ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald and Sky News, as well as various defence officials, it said.
  • Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said Moscow was ready to restart peace talks with Kyiv but claimed it had yet to receive a response to its latest proposals. According to Interfax news agency, Medinsky said Kyiv was to blame for the lack of progress.
  • Two American volunteers in Ukraine have gone missing and are feared to have been taken prisoner by Russia, officials and family members said on Wednesday. Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, are both US military veterans who had been living in Alabama and went to Ukraine to assist with war efforts. The pair haven’t been heard from in days, members of the state’s congressional delegation have said.
  • Russia has warned that gas flows to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline could be suspended, blaming problems with turbine repairs. Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told the state-owned news agency Ria that a complete halt in gas flows in the pipeline, which supplies gas from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, would be a “catastrophe” for Germany.

That’s it from me, Léonie Chao-Fong, today as I hand the blog over to my colleague Maya Yang. I’ll be back tomorrow, thank you.

The White House said it is “working very hard to learn more” about two US citizens who are missing in Ukraine.

Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, were last in contact with their families on 8 June.

The pair are thought to have been involved in a mission around the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, where they had volunteered to fight, Reuters reports.

US officials have siad there is no confirmation that the two men have been captured by Russian forces.


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Post expires at 6:37am on Tuesday June 28th, 2022