Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expecting a rise in hostilities this week as Ukraine awaits an EU decision on its candidate status.
- 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.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reveals he expects Russia to intensify attacks on Ukraine as Kyiv waits for the European Union’s decision to grant it the status of a candidate state.
- Luhansk’s Governor Serhiy Haidai says he is preparing “for the worst” as Russian forces intensify their assault on eastern cities.
- Russia claims its offensive against Severodonetsk is proceeding successfully after it took control of Metyolkine, a district on the eastern outskirts of the city.
Here are all the latest updates:
Ukraine investigating Russian soldiers for sexual violence
Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general has said Kyiv has launched 19 criminal proceedings against Russian soldiers for the rape of at least 14 women in the temporarily occupied territories.
“Every culprit must be punished,” Gyunduz Mamedov said in a tweet.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, on Saturday said that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has verified cases of sexual violence against both women and men in Ukraine.
“Due to active hostilities, mass internal displacement, the stigma associated with sexual violence and the breakdown of the referral pathways, survivors are often unable or unwilling to report to law enforcement authorities or service providers,” Lubrani said.
1/2 Today’s the @UN International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. Sexual violence is still used as a method of warfare. 19 criminal proceedings have already been launched for the rape of at least 14 women in the 🇺🇦TOT which is the case due to 🇷🇺aggression.
— Гюндуз Мамедов/Gyunduz Mamedov (@MamedovGyunduz) June 19, 2022
UK, NATO warn of long Ukraine war as Zelenskyy visits front lines
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have warned Western allies to prepare for the long haul in Ukraine.
The separate warnings from Johnson and Stoltenberg on Saturday came as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited front lines in the southern regions of Mykolaiv and Odesa, where he declared that Ukrainians “will definitely” win against invading Russian troops.
Johnson, writing in The Sunday Times newspaper, called for sustained support for Ukraine, saying the country’s foreign backers should hold their nerve to ensure it has “the strategic endurance to survive and eventually prevail”.
Read more here.
EU seeks to release Ukrainian grain stuck due to Russia’s sea blockade
EU foreign ministers will discuss ways to free millions of tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine due to Russia’s Black Sea port blockade at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
The EU supports United Nations efforts to broker a deal to resume Ukraine’s sea exports in return for facilitating Russian food and fertiliser exports, but that would need Moscow’s green light.
Turkey has good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow and has said it is ready to take up a role within an “observation mechanism” based in Istanbul if there is a deal. It is unclear if the EU would get involved in militarily securing such a deal.
“Whether there will be a need in the future for escorting these commercial ships, that’s a question mark and I don’t think we are there yet,” an EU official told the Reuters news agency.
Russia advances in battle for key eastern Ukraine city
Russia has said its forces seized a village near Ukraine’s industrial city of Severodonetsk, a prime target in Moscow’s campaign to control the country’s east.
The defence ministry said on Sunday it had won Metyolkine, a settlement of fewer than 800 people before the war began. Russian state news agency TASS reported that many Ukrainian fighters had surrendered there.
Moscow said on Sunday its offensive to win Severdonetsk itself was proceeding successfully.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai told Ukrainian TV that fighting made evacuations from the city impossible, but that “all Russian claims that they control the town are a lie. They control the main part of the town, but not the whole town”.
Read more here.
Zelenskyy expects Russia to intensify attacks on Ukraine
Zelenskyy has said that he expects Russia to intensify attacks on Ukraine as Kyiv waits for the EU’s decision to grant it the status of a candidate state.
“Obviously, this week we should expect from Russia an intensification of its hostile activities, as an example,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
“And not only against Ukraine, but also against other European countries. We are preparing. We are ready.”
Read all updates for June 19 here.