Report of Azovstal fighters’ fate comes as Russia intensifies its assault on eastern Ukraine and NATO warns of a protracted war.
- TASS news agency says two top Ukrainian commanders who defended Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant have been transferred to Russia for investigations.
- Luhansk’s Governor Serhiy Haidai says he is preparing “for the worst” as Russian forces intensify their assault on eastern cities.
- Ukraine’s military says it has suffered a setback in Metolkine, a village southeast of the key city of Severodonetsk.
- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warns that the war in Ukraine could drag on for years and calls for the supply of more state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the front lines in Mykolaiv and Odesa, declares Ukrainian troops “will definitely” win against Russia.
Here are all the latest updates:
Top Azovstal commanders transferred to Russia for investigation: Report
Two top Ukrainian commanders who defended the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have been transferred to Russia for investigation, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS.
Citing an unnamed Russian law enforcement source, TASS said on Saturday that Svyatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of the Azov battalion, and Serhiy Volynsky, commander of the 36th Marine Brigade, had been moved to Russia.
Special forces officers transferred them from Donetsk “to conduct investigative activities with them”, TASS cited the source as saying. “Other officers of various Ukrainian units were also transported to Russia.”
Hundreds of fighters were captured by Russian forces in May after a months-long siege of Mariupol. Moscow said at the time they were moved to breakaway Russian-backed entities in eastern Ukraine.
NATO’s Stoltenberg warns of a years-long war in Ukraine
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that the war in Ukraine could last years as he called for state-of-the-art weaponry for Ukrainian troops.
“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine,” he told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices.”
Read more here.
Ukraine suffers military setback near Severodonestk
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces says Ukrainian forces have suffered a military setback in Metolkine, to the southeast of the city of Severodonetsk.
“As a result of artillery fire and an assault, the enemy has partial success in the village of Metolkine, trying to gain a foothold,” it said in a Facebook post.
But the military said Ukrainian forces had stopped the Russian advance near the village of Syrotyne.
Governor of Luhansk preparing ‘for the worst’
Serhiy Haidai, governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, has told the AFP news agency that Russian forces are “shelling our troop positions 24 hours a day”.
“There’s an expression: prepare for the worst and the best will come by itself,” Haidai said from the town of Lysychansk, where preparations for street fighting are under way: soldiers digging in, putting up barbed wire and police using burned-out vehicles to slow traffic on roads.
Haidai called for supplies of “long-range weaponry to arrive as soon as possible”, adding: “The fact that the West is helping us is good, but it’s [too] late.”
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Go here for all the key developments from Saturday, June 19.