Ukraine-Russia live: Ukrainian forces ‘almost left’ key city | Russo-Ukrainian War

  • Dozens of Russian missiles simultaneously hit military installations in western and northern Ukraine, according to local officials.
  • The Ukrainian military said strikes on the Chernihiv border region were launched from the territory of Russia’s ally Belarus.
  • The Luhansk regional governor said there was an artillery attack on the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Ukraine may face pressure to agree to a peace deal with Russia that may not be in its interest due to the economic consequences of war in Europe.

Here are the latest updates:

Street clashes in Lysychansk: pro-Russian separatists

Russian troops and their allies have entered Lysychansk and street fighting is underway in the eastern Ukrainian city, which neighbors its strategic twin Severodonetsk, pro-Moscow separatists said.

“People’s militia of the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Russian army have entered the city of Lysychansk,” a representative of the pro-Russian separatists, Andrei Marochko, said on Telegram. “Street fights are taking place now,” he added.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the separatists’ claims.

Troops board a military vehicle on June 16, 2022 near Lysychansk,
Troops ride on a military vehicle near Lysychansk, Ukraine [File: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Biden leaves for G7, NATO summits focused on Ukraine

President Joe Biden has left the White House for a week of diplomacy in which he hopes to reinforce the Western alliance against Russia and look to challenges from China.

Biden was headed first to a luxurious castle in Germany’s Alps for a G7 summit with leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Next week he flies to Madrid for a NATO summit.

Both sessions will take place in the shadow of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, but also a global surge in inflation, fears of recession, and the ever-growing challenge of containing China while avoiding open conflict.

Kyiv mayor demands investigation into deep fake videos

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has issued a demand for clarification after a slew of deep fake videos fooled mayors in European capitals into thinking they were talking with him.

“This is criminal energy. It must be urgently investigated who is behind it,” Klitschko said in a video shared by Germany’s Bild newspaper.

“Several mayors in Europe have been contacted by a fake Klitschko who has said absurd things,” Klitschko said, adding that official talks would be organised only through official channels in Kyiv.

Mayor says Ukrainian troops have ‘almost left’ Severodonetsk

The mayor of Ukraine’s Severodonetsk says Ukrainian troops have “almost left” the strategic front-line city after holding out for weeks against advancing Russian forces.

Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk did not confirm whether a full withdrawal was under way. On Friday, regional authorities said Ukraine was set to pull back its troops there.

“Unfortunately, they have almost left the city,” Stryuk said on national television.

Kuleba says Ukraine stands with Moldova against threats from Russia

Ukraine stands with Moldova in response to renewed threats from Russia, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said after Moscow warned of negative consequences over the two countries becoming candidates for European Union membership.

“We stand with the people and the government of friendly Moldova amid renewed threats coming from Moscow,” Kuleba said on Twitter.

Ukraine using US-supplied rocket systems: Top general

US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems are already working and hitting targets in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, the country’s top general has said.

“Artillerymen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine skilfully hit certain targets – military targets of the enemy on our, Ukrainian, territory,” chief of Ukraine’s General Staff, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, wrote on Telegram.

Ukraine says Russia aiming to drag Belarus into war

Ukraine’s intelligence service says Russia is aiming to drag Belarus into the war after missiles were fired from Belarusian territory into the border region of Chernihiv.

“Today’s strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine,” the intelligence service, which is part of the defence ministry, said on Telegram.

Russian troops killed ‘up to 80’ Polish fighters in Ukraine: Kremlin

Russia says its troops have killed “up to 80” Polish fighters in “precision strikes” in eastern Ukraine.

“Up to 80 Polish mercenaries, 20 armoured combat vehicles and eight Grad multiple rocket launchers were destroyed in precision strikes on the Megatex zinc factory in Konstantinovka” in the Donetsk region, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

Russia pushes to block second city in eastern Ukraine

Russian forces are attempting to blockade the city of Lysychansk from the south, Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, has said on Facebook.

Russian moves to cut off Lysychansk will give Ukrainian troops retreating from nearby Severodonetsk little respite as Moscow focuses all efforts on capturing all of the eastern Donbas region, comprising Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.

Russia removes Polish flag from Soviet massacre memorial

Russian authorities have removed a Polish flag from a memorial commemorating the thousands of Poles killed by the Soviet Union, amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Warsaw over the Ukraine conflict.

The mayor of Smolensk city confirmed the removal of the flag from the Katyn memorial in western Russia. “There cannot be Polish flags on Russian monuments. Even less so after the frankly anti-Russian comments by Polish political leaders,” Andrei Borisov said on social media platform VKontakte.

“The culture ministry of the Russian Federation made the right decision by removing the Polish flag. Katyn is a Russian memorial.”

A Polish flag is seen on a wall inscribed with the names of Polish officers at the 1940 massacre memorial complex in Katyn.
A Polish flag is seen on a wall inscribed with the names of Polish officers at the 1940 massacre memorial complex in Katyn [File: Filip Klimaszewski/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters]

“Massive” bombardment on Chernihiv came from Belarus: Ukrainian army

Ukraine’s northern border region, Chernihiv, came under “massive shelling” fired from the territory of Russia’s ally Belarus, the Ukrainian military said in a statement.

“Around 5:00 a.m. (02:00 GMT), the Chernigiv region came under massive missile bombardment. Twenty rockets, fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air, targeted the village of Desna,” the military command of northern Ukraine wrote on Facebook, adding that no casualties had been reported until here.

Russian bombardment hits Severodonetsk chemical plant

Russia launched artillery and airstrikes on the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, hitting a chemical plant where hundreds of civilians are trapped, a Ukrainian official said.

“There was an airstrike in Lysytchansk. Severodonetsk was hit by artillery,” Serhiy Haidai said on the Telegram messaging app, adding that the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk and the villages of Synetsky and Pavlograd and others were shelled on Friday.

He made no mention of casualties in the industrial zone, where around 300 civilians are sheltering.

Dozens of Russian missiles hit military installations across Ukraine

Dozens of Russian missiles hit military installations in western and northern Ukraine, local officials said.

Six missiles were fired from the Black Sea at the Yavoriv base in the Lviv region of western Ukraine, Governor Maksym Kozytskyy said in a video posted online.

Vitaliy Bunechko, governor of Zhytomyr region in the north of the country, said strikes on a military target killed at least one soldier. “Almost 30 missiles were launched at military infrastructure very close to the city of Zhytomyr,” Bunechko said, adding that almost 10 missiles were intercepted and destroyed.

In the Chernihiv region, also to the north, Governor Vyacheslav Chaus said the small town of Desna, home to a training center for Ukrainian infantry forces, had come under fire. Chaus did not specify what was affected, but said there was “damage to infrastructure”. There were no casualties, he added.

Russian missiles hit Yavoriv military base near Lviv, governor says

A Russian strike on the Yavoriv military facility in western Ukraine left four injured, Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskyy said in a video message.

Six missiles were fired from the Black Sea, four of which hit the base and two were intercepted and destroyed before reaching the target, according to Kozytskyy.

An attack on the military training center in March killed 35 people and injured at least 130, according to Ukrainian officials.

The 360 ​​square km (140 square mile) complex, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, has long been used to train Ukrainian military personnel, often with instructors from the United States and other NATO countries.

UK intelligence says Russia sacked key generals from Ukraine

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia likely removed several generals from key command posts in the Ukraine conflict this month.

“Since the beginning of June, the Russian high command has most likely removed several generals from key operational command positions in the war in Ukraine,” the ministry said in its daily Twitter update.

Among them is the commander of the airborne forces, General-Colonel Andrei Serdyukov, whose 30 years of service have been “marred by allegations of corruption and brutality”.

UK fears Ukraine may be forced into ‘bad peace’: PM

The British prime minister said he feared Ukraine was being pressured into agreeing to a peace deal with Russia that was not in its interest, due to the economic consequences of the war in Europe.

“Too many countries are saying this is a European war that is not needed…and so the pressure will increase to encourage – coerce, perhaps – the Ukrainians into a bad peace,” Johnson told broadcasters in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where he was attending. a Commonwealth summit.

He said that if Russian President Vladimir Putin could manage in Ukraine, the consequences would be dangerous for international security and “a long-term economic disaster”.

Ukrainian forces ordered to withdraw from Severodonetsk

Ukrainian forces were ordered to withdraw from the key battlefield town of Severodonetsk after weeks of heavy street fighting, to limit further casualties and regroup.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said: “It is now a situation where it makes no sense to stand in beaten positions.

“That is why our defenders there have already been ordered to withdraw to new positions and carry out normal full-fledged military operations from there,” he said.

Severodonetsk was already mostly under the control of Russian troops, although they still encountered resistance. This decision will be seen by Russia as an important victory.

Read all of the June 24 updates here.

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