Ukraine Daily Summary - Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Genetic code for nearly 2,000 crops at risk due to Russia’s war -- US warns against formalizing Russian control in Kherson -- Prosecutor General estimates Russians commit about 200-300 war crimes in Ukraine every day -- One more Russian offensive towards Sloviansk fails -- and more

Ukraine Daily

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

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Russia’s war against Ukraine


Civilians stand in a line to fill up water near a Metro station where they are sheltered in the residential district of Saltivka in Kharkiv on May 10, 2022. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin/The Kyiv Independent)

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Luhansk Oblast Governor: Russian forces control about 70% of Sievierodonetsk. Governor Serhiy Haidai told Sky News that Russian troops are now in control of around 70% of Sievierodonetsk, and heavy fighting is ongoing in the city. The governor added that the town is not encircled. However, he said, the city’s critical infrastructure is almost entirely destroyed, with 90% of residential buildings damaged.

Reuters: Genetic code for nearly 2,000 crops at risk due to Russia’s war. According to Crop Trust, an international nonprofit focused on crop diversity and food security, Ukraine’s seed banks are in danger of being destroyed amid ongoing hostilities. A research facility near Ukraine’s national seed bank in Kharkiv was damaged earlier in May, of which only 4% of the seeds are backed up. “Seed banks are a kind of life insurance for mankind,” said Executive Director of Crop Trust Stefan Schmitz told Reuters.

Verkhovna Rada dismisses ombudsman Denisova. 234 lawmakers voted to dismiss Lyudmyla Denisova. Earlier, Ukrainian journalists and activists had expressed concerns over Denisova’s reports of rapes by Russian soldiers, that were sometimes seen as insensitive or disrespectful towards survivors. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said on Facebook on May 31 that the Verkhovna Rada’s dismissal of Lyudmyla Denisova “undermines the independence of this important human rights institution in Ukraine.” The institution decried the “unnecessarily speedy procedure” and the lack of explanation for her dismissal.

Verkhovna Rada increases military expenditures by $8.3 billion. The Ukrainian parliament amended the state budget increasing spending on national security and defense by Hr 247.7 billion ($8.3 billion), Yaroslav Zheleznyak, first deputy head of the parliamentary finance committee said on May 31.

US warns against formalizing Russian control in Kherson. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Washington remains concerned about steps Russia is taking “to attempt to institutionalize control over sovereign Ukrainian territory,” particularly in Kherson region.

Kuleba: Ukraine working on UN-led operation to ensure grain export. According to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine is working on an international United Nations-led operation alongside partners to provide a safe corridor for exporting grain. Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports prevents the export of about 22 million tons of grain, creating a threat of famine in countries dependent on the grain, according to Ukrainian officials.

Prosecutor General estimates Russians commit about 200-300 war crimes in Ukraine every day. The estimated number includes the crimes committed in the territories occupied by Russia, according to Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia have joined Ukraine’s Joint Investigation Group to investigate Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine.

Court seizes Russian company Tatneft assets in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian authorities, Tatneft supplies oil products for the Russian Ministry of Defense. 115 real estate objects were seized, including oil depots and gas stations, as well as 118 fuel trucks. Authorities estimate that the value of the seized assets can reach up to $67 million.

General Staff: One more Russian offensive towards Sloviansk fails. Ukraine’s General Staff said that Russian troops had unsuccessfully tried to storm the village of Dovhenke near Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast. Russian troops are also trying to storm Zolote, Komyshuvakha, Nyrkove, Berestove, Pokrovske and Dolomitne near Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, the General Staff said.

Ukrainian court jails 2 Russian soldiers charged with war crimes. The court sentenced the two Russians, Alexander Bobykin and Alexander Ivanov, to 11.5 years in prison for shelling residential areas in Kharkiv Oblast.

UK Defense Ministry: Russia achieves local successes by massing forces. The ministry said that the strategy of massing forces and fires in a relatively small area had enabled Russian troops to achieve local successes. In contrast, during the first month of the large-scale invasion, Russia suffered military setbacks after scattering its forces over a huge area. The ministry said that Russia’s capture of Lyman in Donetsk Oblast will help it to achieve its main operational goal, which remains the encirclement of Sievierodonetsk and the closure of the pocket around Ukrainian forces in Luhansk Oblast. Russia’s political goal is likely to occupy the full territory of the Donbas, the ministry added.

Read our exclusive, on the ground stories

The European Union on May 30 finally agreed on a partial embargo on Russian oil after months of delays and disagreements. Paradoxically, the very countries that support Ukraine have enabled Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to get billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue, financing his aggression against Ukraine. Read our story here.

The human cost of Russia’s war

Zelensky: ‘Ukraine losing 60-100 soldiers per day in combat.’ In an interview with Newsmax TV Channel, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in the east of Ukraine and southern Donetsk and Luhansk remains the most tense: “We’re losing 60-100 soldiers per day killed in action and around 500 people wounded in action. So we are holding our defensive perimeters.” He added that Ukraine and her people are the “defensive perimeter” for the world.

Russian forces shell Kharkiv Oblast for 10 hours, one person killed. Local official Viktor Kovalenko told Suspline media outlet that Russian shelling of Zolochiv village in Kharkiv Oblast continued for 10 hours. One person was killed, and one was injured due to the attack. The Russians are shooting at the village with howitzers, the official added.

State Emergency Service discovers four bodies under rubble of building hit in February. A Russian missile hit a 16-story residential building in Kharkiv on Feb. 28, destroying six apartments.

Russians hit Sloviansk with Iskander missiles, killing three people and wounding six. The missile attack occurred on May 31, and damaged a school and at least seven residential buildings, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk Oblast.

Prosecutors: Russia’s war killed at least 243 children, injured 446. The figures are expected to be higher since they do not include casualties in the areas where hostilities are ongoing and in Russian-occupied areas, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

General Staff: Russia has lost 30,500 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24. Ukraine’s General Staff reported on May 31 that Russia had also lost 1,358 tanks, 3,302 armored fighting vehicles, 649 artillery pieces, 207 multiple launch rocket systems, 93 surface-to-air missiles, 174 helicopters, 207 airplanes, 515 drones, and 13 boats.

International response

Biden: US doesn’t seek war between NATO and Russia. Writing in a New York Times op-ed published on May 31, Biden said: “As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the U.S. will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow. So long as the U.S. or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces.” Biden also said that Ukraine will receive more advanced rocket systems and munitions that “will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

Macron not ruling out seventh package of EU sanctions against Russia. Following EU’s sixth sanctions package, French President Emmanuel Macron said on May 31 that “nothing could be ruled out” in terms of additional sanctions in the coming weeks. He also expressed hope that an agreement with Russia could be reached on allowing grain exports from Ukraine.

US ambassador to UN: White House approves Italian peace plan for Ukraine. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the U.S. supported a peace plan initiated by Italy to end the war in Ukraine. The four-stage plan includes a ceasefire and the demilitarization of the frontline under the United Nations supervision, negotiations on the status of Ukraine vis-a-vis NATO and the European Union, a Ukrainian-Russian agreement on Crimea and the Donbas, and a multilateral agreement on peace and security in Europe, according to earlier media reports. The ambassador also stressed that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has been “clear from day one” that they would provide Ukraine with defensive weapons, but none that would allow reaching targets inside Russia. “We’re not going to become a party to the war, but we will support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its own sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said.

Italian PM: Big EU countries except Italy against Ukraine candidate status. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on May 31 that all big European Union countries, apart from Italy, are against giving Ukraine candidate status. “However, Ukraine’s rapid move towards the EU cannot be ruled out. And it seems to me that the European Commission also agrees with this view,” he said. A decision on Ukraine’s EU candidate status is expected to be raised during the European Council meeting in late June.

Financial Times: EU, UK impose insurance ban on Russian oil cargoes. Citing unnamed U.K. and European officials, Financial Times reported on May 31 that the two actors have agreed on a concerted ban on insuring ships transporting Russian oil, sharply restricting Russia’s ability to export crude oil. The ban is part of a new EU sanctions package aimed at Russian oil exports.

Austrian chancellor: Next package of Russia sanctions won’t include gas embargo. Karl Nehammer claimed that it would be much more difficult to replace Russian gas than Russian oil. Earlier the European Union had agreed to impose an embargo on Russian oil with a “temporary exemption” for pipeline oil. European countries have faced criticism for effectively financing Russian aggression against Ukraine by paying billions of dollars for Russian oil and gas.

German defense committee chief urges Scholz to unblock supplies of armored vehicles to Ukraine. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the German parliament’s defense committee, has called on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s office to deliver 50 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine as soon as possible. German media reported earlier that Scholz had blocked Marder supplies for weeks.

Commission chief: EU to eject Sberbank from SWIFT. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union had agreed on ejecting Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT messaging system for international payments as part of the sixth package of sanctions. The package also envisages a partial embargo on Russian oil and banning three more Russian propaganda outlets.

In other news

Russia’s Gazprom halts gas supplies to Denmark’s Orsted, Germany via Shell deal. Russian state energy giant Gazprom has already turned off the taps to a top Dutch trader and halted flows to Denmark’s Orsted and to Shell Energy Europe Limited for its contract to supply gas to Germany, after both companies refused to make payments in rubles. The cuts will be effective from June 1, Gazprom said. Gazprom also left the London Stock Exchange following the Russian government’s demand that Russian companies quit Western stock markets.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Asami Terajima, Alexander Query, Thaisa Semenova, Oleksiy Sorokin, Olga Rudenko, Oleg Sukhov, Olena Goncharova, Teah Pelechaty, and Brad LaFoy.

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