Ukraine Instructs Citizens to Leave Occupied South
In anticipation of Ukrainian forces attempting to retake Kherson in the Black Sea region, citizens have been instructed to leave the area. “It’s clear there will be fighting, there will be artillery shelling… and we, therefore, urge (people) to evacuate urgently,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Expected Hostilities: Without specifying when the military action would begin, she noted, “I know for sure that there should not be women and children there, and that they should not become human shields.”
More Deaths in KharkivRussian shelling of Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, resulted in at least three deaths. “Russia’s artillery, multiple rocket launchers and tanks also injured 31 people including two children in Kharkiv, the regional governor said. The Ukrainian president’s office said residential areas had been hit,” Reuters reports.
Western Artillery Having an Impact, Zelensky Says
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Western artillery given to his country is finally beginning to have an impact on Russia’s slowly advancing forces. Russia has turned its attention to capturing more of the Donetsk region of the Donbas, and heavy shelling continued along the front line Wednesday. However, Russian forces made limited gains, according to an intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense.
Raising the Flag on Snake Island Once Again
Ukrainian troops have raised the country’s flag once again on Snake Island, a strategically important outpost on the Black Sea they recaptured last week. The island was occupied by Russian troops at the start of the invasion in February, but Ukrainian forces were finally able to recapture it. Russia claims, however, to have left the island as a “gesture of goodwill.”
Ukraine’s Grain Harvest Not as Bad as Expected
Ukraine now expects to harvest at least 50 million metric tons of grain in 2022. That’s well below the 85 million it produced last year, but still above expectations, according to Taras Vysotskyi, the first deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine. “We have internal consumption of less than 20 million tonnes, meaning that at least 30 million tonne of harvest will have to be exported,” he explained. Despite the war, Ukraine’s alternative shipping methods – those that avoid the Black Sea ports – are successfully moving goods in large quantities.
Crowdfunding Buys Ukraine a Drone
A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone has been secured by Lithuania after a local crowdfunding campaign, and is expected to be shipped to Kyiv today. Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas tweeted that the drone and ammunition arrived in his country Monday. The crowdfunding campaign was launched by Lithuanian online broadcaster Laisves TV last month, and raised about six million euros. The company that built it, Baykar, donated the drone instead of taking payment other than the 1.5 million needed to arm the unmanned aircraft. “We ask that the raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine,” the company said in a statement June 27.
Ukraine PM Asks for $750 Billion
The prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyga, has said that rebuilding the nation would require around $750 billion as part of a three-stage recovery plan. Citing direct infrastructure damage totaling more than $100 billion, the politician asked, “Today, the direct infrastructure losses of Ukraine stand at over $100 billion. Who will pay for the renewal plan, which is already being valued at $750 billion?”
Shmyga also said he believes the fund should come from assets confiscated from Russian oligarchs.
Putin Claims Victory in Luhansk
With the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the Luhansk region, Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning his attention to Donetsk. Reports suggest that Russia now controls up to 60% of the Donbask region. President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address: “The armed forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day… We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative.”
Russia Claims Victory in the East
Local reports say that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the city of Lysychansk in the eastern Luhansk region, meaning Russian forces now have control over the entire area. With operational control of Luhansk, it is likely that the Kremlin will not be moving its focus to Donetsk.
Zelensky Defiant: “If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing,” Zelensky said in response. “That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons.”
Moscow Points Finger at Ukraine for Bombing
Russian leadership has publicly blamed Ukraine for bombing the city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border. At least three people are known to have been killed and a number of residential buildings have been damaged. Ukraine officials have not claimed responsibility for the attack.
Notable Quote: “I emphasize that this missile attack had been intentionally planned and was launched at the civilian population of Russian cities,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
More Aid Spending for Ukraine
President Joe Biden announced yet another security assistance package for Ukraine. This is the 14th such package, and it will cost the American taxpayers $800 million. Speaking at the end of the NATO summit in Madrid, Biden said the aid would include heavy artillery, ammunition, advanced air defense systems, counter-battery radar systems, and ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
New Prisoner Swap Biggest in the War
Ukraine secured the release of 144 captured soldiers in the biggest exchange of prisoners of war so far during the fight with Russia. The majority of these prisoners were badly wounded, suffering from gunshot and shrapnel wounds, blast traumas, burns, fractured bones, and amputated limbs, according to a report from the intelligence agencies of Ukraine, collectively known as GUR.
Russian Shelling in Kharkiv Kills Five
“Russian forces shelled central districts of the city of Kharkiv on Monday, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school and killing five people and wounding 22,” Reuters reports. This latest attack marks a push from the Russian military as it seeks to gain ground in the ongoing conflict. Five children were among the injured, Oleh Synehubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, said.
NATO Enormously Boosts Number of High-Readiness Forces
“NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday, ahead of a gathering of NATO leaders in Madrid on Tuesday, that the alliance’s high-readiness forces will significantly increase to over 300,000 from 40,000, and that more troops will be sent to the member countries bordering Russia,” Politico reports. “The nearly eightfold increase comes amid Moscow’s continuing invasion of Ukraine, where Russian forces have pushed deeper into the eastern Donbas region and are poised to make additional gains,” the news site details.
Identifying China as Threat: “Of the NATO’s priorities — set to be outlined in the Strategic Concept, a document seeing its first update since 2010 — Stoltenberg said Russia will no longer be characterized as a strategic partner, but as ‘the most significant and direct threat to our security.’ For the first time, China will be addressed as a challenger to the alliance’s security interests.”
Russian Forces Home In On Lysychansk
“Russian forces were fighting on Monday to capture Lysychansk, the last major city still held by Ukrainian troops in eastern Luhansk province, after Moscow-backed separatists said they were advancing on multiple fronts,” Reuters reports. “In a victory for the Kremlin’s campaign, Lysychansk’s twin city of Sievierodonetsk, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting, fell to pro-Russian forces on Saturday. Russian missiles also struck Kyiv for the first time in weeks on Sunday, attacks condemned by President Biden as ‘barbarism,’” the wire service states.
Breaking Through? “Tass news agency on Sunday quoted a separatist official as saying Moscow’s forces had entered Lysychansk from five directions and were isolating Ukrainian defenders.”
G7 Reaches New Agreement
The Group of Seven (G7) is expected to announce on Tuesday, June 28, that it has agreed to a new package of coordinated actions to apply pressure to Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. This news comes as Russia defaults on overdue interest payments for the first time in 40 years.
“This morning’s news around the finding of Russia’s default, for the first time in more than a century, situates just how strong the actions are that the U.S., along with allies and partners have taken, as well as how dramatic the impact has been on Russia’s economy,” a US official said.
Severodonetsk Situation Stable
“As of now, the situation is difficult, stable, the fighting is ongoing,” Oleksii Hromov, deputy head of the Main Operations Directorate of Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces, said in a briefing. Hromov conceded that Russia has damaged Ukraine’s supply routes into the city and that the invaders maintain fire advantage, but he said the troops have managed to maneuver among the fortified positions and that alternative ways of sending in supplies and bringing out the wounded have been found.