Ukraine Daily Summary - Thursday, 2 June 2022

Russian troops dress in Ukrainian army uniform to hunt for activists in largely-occupied Kherson Oblast -- Ukraine pledges to not strike Russian territory with US rockets -- Russian ground operations concentrated in Luhansk Oblast -- Putin, Erdogan tentatively agree on unblocking Ukrainian ports -- and more

Ukraine Daily

Thursday, 2 June 2022

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Russia’s war against Ukraine


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND: Roman Yaremchuk of Ukraine’s national football team celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-2 during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Play-Off Semi-Final match between Scotland and Ukraine at Hampden Park on June 1, 2022. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

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Blinken: Ukraine pledges to not strike Russian territory with US rockets. U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken’s statement follows the announcement by President Joe Biden that the U.S. would supply advanced rocket systems to Ukraine. However, the U.S. government has repeatedly said that it did not intend to supply rockets that could target Russian territory.

Kherson Oblast Governor: Ukrainian military liberates over 20 settlements in Kherson Oblast. Hennadiy Lahuta said on June 1 that Ukraine’s Armed Forces are continuing to advance further south.

UK Defense Ministry: Russian ground operations concentrated in Luhansk Oblast. According to the latest U.K. intelligence update, fighting intensified in the streets of Sieverodonetsk, with Russian forces pushing closer to the city’s center. The ministry added that, beyond Donbas, Russia continues to launch long-range missile strikes across Ukraine.

Lavrov: Putin, Erdogan tentatively agree on unblocking Ukrainian ports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the two leaders agreed during a phone call on May 30 that, as soon as Turkey clears the Ukrainian ports of mines, cargo ships will be able to leave. 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.

Lviv Oblast Governor: Russian missile strike injures 5 people. Maksym Kozytsky said that those injured by the cruise missile strike on Lviv Oblast’s Stryisky District on June 1 are not in critical condition. Kozytsky said more information will be provided in the morning, local time.

Russian nuclear forces hold maneuver drills. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its nuclear forces had started maneuver drills in Ivanovo Oblast in western Russia, Russian news agency Interfax reported. Some 1,000 Russian service members participate in exercises using over 100 vehicles, including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers.

Institute for the Study of War: Russia’s focus on seizing Sievierodonetsk creates vulnerabilities for its forces in Kherson Oblast. The U.S. think tank reported that Russian forces in Kherson Oblast are likely feeling the pressure of the limited Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northwestern part of the region, especially as much of the Russian operational focus is currently on the capture of Sievierodonetsk. Experts say that Kherson is “critical terrain because it is the only area of Ukraine in which Russian forces hold ground on the west bank of the Dnipro River.” If Russia is able to retain a strong lodgement in Kherson, it will be a very strong position from which to launch future invasion sorties.

Ukraine’s military: Russian troops dress in Ukrainian army uniform to hunt for activists in largely-occupied Kherson Oblast. According to Ukraine’s Operational Command South, Russian troops visit Ukrainian civilians and, if they provide information about the positions of Russian forces, they kidnap them.

Stoltenberg: Russia unlikely to retaliate after US provision of advanced weapons to Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN on June 1 that he does not “foresee that because what NATO allies and NATO is doing is to provide support to Ukraine to uphold the right for self-defense, and this is a right which is enshrined in the UN treaty.”

SBU suspects local official in Chernivtsi of humanitarian aid fraud. Artem Dekhtiarenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), said that a deputy head of the Chernivtsi regional military administration had allegedly participated in the commercial use of ambulances that were sent to Ukraine from Italy as humanitarian aid. Other officials involved in the crime are being identified, he added.

Sky News: General confirms US conducts offensive hacking operation in support of Ukraine. In an interview, NSA Director Paul Nakasone said the U.S. has “conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum; offensive, defensive, [and] information operations” in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion. Nakasone said their activities are lawful and conducted with complete civilian oversight of the military.

Ukrainian troops repel 13 Russian attacks, destroy military equipment in eastern Ukraine. Operational Command “East” reported Russia has lost 20 units of military equipment, including two tanks, six artillery pieces, eight armored combat vehicles, and four other vehicles. Additionally, Ukraine’s Air Force downed seven Russian “Orlan-10” UAVs.

Mariupol Mayor: Russian troops force Mariupol residents to help them in exchange drinking water. Vadym Boichenko said citizens can get water from Russian troops in exchange for working on disassembling blockages, “helping them hide war crimes.” Mariupol residents have not had access to a regular supply of drinking water since April. Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to the Mariupol mayor, said that it’s nearly impossible to get medical treatment in occupied Mariupol, as the remaining hospitals can take only up to 50 patients per day, while 150,000 people are still in the city. Only four pharmacies are open in the city.

Wall Street Journal: Traders outsmart sanctions to supply Russian oil to US. The oil is reportedly being concealed in blended refined products such as gasoline, diesel, and chemicals, while traders obscure its origins to keep it flowing. Fuels believed to be partially made from Russian crude landed in New York and New Jersey in May, according to the newspaper. Oil is also being transferred between ships at sea, a scheme used to buy and sell sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan oil. The U.S. and U.K. imposed an embargo on Russian oil in March, while the European Union introduced a partial oil embargo in May.

Russia’s proxy in Donetsk Oblast sends over 100 Ukrainian POWs to jail. Russia’s proxy in Donetsk Oblast Yuriy Syrovatko told Russian media that over 100 Ukrainian prisoners of war are suspected of crimes and will stand trial. He didn’t specify what they are accused of. Ukraine has yet to respond to the statement.

Ukraine’s military: Russia blocks Ukrainian mobile network operators, internet in nearly all occupied territories. According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russia has blocked access to Ukrainian mobile network operators and internet in almost all Russian-controlled areas in the east and south of Ukraine. According to the State Communication Service, the mobile connection in the largely-occupied Kherson Oblast disappeared on May 30 and is difficult to restore, as the Russian forces completely control the necessary equipment.

Police: 139 Ukrainian children missing due to Russia’s war. Over 1,900 children were considered missing after Feb. 24 but 1,794 of them have been found by Ukraine’s police and returned to their relatives, National Police chief Ihor Klymenko said on June 1. Russia’s war has killed 243 children and injured 446 since Feb. 24.

Read our exclusive, on the ground stories

In 1937, Pablo Picasso, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest painters in history, said after visiting an exhibition in Paris: “I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian.” He was talking about the folk painter Maria Prymachenko and her paintings in the “naive art” genre. Eighty-five years later, on Feb. 26, a collection of 25 of her works almost burned up when the Russian military fired on a museum in the village of Ivankovo in Kyiv Oblast. Read our story here.

The human cost of Russia’s war

Russian forces kill 2, injure 2 people in Mykolaiv. Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych reported that Russian forces damaged two multi-storey residential buildings and four private houses on June 1.

Governor: Russian forces kill 4 civilians in Donetsk Oblast on June 1. According to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the civilians were killed across four different communities: Soledar, New York, Tetianivka, and Lyman. Nine civilians were reportedly injured in the region.

UNICEF: Russia’s war kills 2 Ukrainian children, injures 4 daily. UNICEF Ukraine said on June 1 that 3 million children in Ukraine and more than 2.2 million Ukrainian children in refugee-receiving countries are now in need of humanitarian assistance, adding that two out of three children were displaced due to the fighting.

Ukraine’s military: Russia has lost 30,700 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24. The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on June 1 that Russia had also lost 1,361 tanks, 3,343 armored fighting vehicles, 659 artillery pieces, 207 multiple launch rocket systems, 94 surface-to-air missiles, 175 helicopters, 208 airplanes, 519 drones, and 13 boats.

International response

Reuters: US intends to sell Ukraine armed drones in coming days. The U.S. plans to sell Ukraine four long-endurance MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, which can be armed with up to eight Hellfire missiles, undisclosed sources told Reuters. While the sale could still be blocked by Congress, it is significant because it would provide Ukraine with an advanced reusable U.S. system able to hit deep inside Russia.

CNN: UK to send Ukraine long-range rocket systems. The U.K. will send multiple-launch rocket systems, or M270 launchers, to Ukraine, U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on June 1. M270 launchers can hit targets up to 80 kilometers away, giving “a significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces,” according to a statement from the U.K. Foreign Office. The decision is “closely coordinated” with the U.S.’ provision of HIMARS to Ukraine, a variant of the M270 launchers. The U.K. will also train Ukrainian troops to use the rocket systems.

Washington Post: US defends decision to provide Ukraine with HIMARS. U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl dismissed criticism that the delayed provision of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to Ukraine comes too late, saying they will “arrive in a time frame that’s relevant.” The satellite-guided weapons are the most advanced arms sent to Ukraine by the U.S. thus far and will reportedly arrive soon. U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken also dismissed Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s comment that providing HIMARS is “pouring fuel on the fire,” saying “the best way to avoid escalation is for Russia to stop the aggression and war that it started.”

Poland to sell Ukraine additional 60 KRAB self-propelled howitzers. Polish media outlet Dziennik reported that these weapons will be delivered in the next few months. In May, Poland sent 18 KRAB self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine.

Bloomberg: Hungary blocks new sanctions against Russia. Citing unnamed officials, Bloomberg reported that Hungary is blocking the EU’s sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which includes a partial ban on Russian oil imports. Hungary’s pro-Kremlin authorities requested that Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church who supports the war in Ukraine, to be removed from the next list of sanctioned individuals.

Pope Francis urges Russia not to use grain supplies as weapon. Pope Francis indirectly urged Russia, without specifying it by name, to not use Ukrainian grain as a weapon in its war. “The blockage of grain exports from Ukraine, on which the lives of millions of people depend, is especially alarming,” he said. 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.

Scholz: Germany to send ‘most modern’ air defense systems to Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the country would send its “most modern air defense system,” the IRIS-T, to Ukraine in the coming weeks. “This will enable Ukraine to protect an entire city from Russian air attacks,” he said. However, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on June 1 that IRIS-T air-to-air missiles would be supplied by German manufacturer Diehl and not from the Bundeswehr warehouses, delaying the shipment. Germany is also reportedly planning to send four Mars II multiple rocket launchers taken from defense firm Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann’s own stocks.

German companies Uniper, RWE pay for Russian gas under Putin’s scheme. Under the scheme, buyers are obliged to deposit euros or dollars into an account at Russia’s Gazprombank, which has to convert them into rubles and transfer the payment to Russian gas giant Gazprom. In March Putin demanded that European consumers pay for gas in rubles in violation of gas supply contracts. Eventually the European Union refused to pay in rubles, and the Kremlin came up with the Gazprombank scheme. Tim McPhee, a spokesman for the European Commission, said on May 12 that the Gazprombank scheme would breach EU sanctions because it involves Russia’s central bank, which has been sanctioned by the European Union.

Switzerland blocks shipment of armored vehicles to Ukraine. The Swiss government has rejected Denmark’s request to send 20 Piranha III infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, Swiss broadcaster SRF reported. Denmark needs Switzerland’s agreement because they were produced there, and Switzerland bans the export of Swiss-made weapons to conflict zones due to its neutral status. Earlier Switzerland also rejected the supplies of weapons from Germany and Poland to Ukraine.

In other news

Ukraine gets closer to qualifying for World Cup after beating Scotland. Ukraine’s national football team won Scotland 3:1 in a play-off semi-final on June 1. Andriy Yarmolenko, Roman Yaremchuk, and Artem Dovbyk each scored a goal. The team will face Wales in the play-off final on June 5.

Erdogan: Turkey didn’t get concrete proposals from Sweden, Finland to unblock their NATO bids. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has opposed the countries’ applications to join NATO, accusing them of supporting Kurdish militias in Turkey and Syria. The talks between Sweden, Finland and Turkey have so far seen little progress. They applied for NATO membership in May to boost their security amid Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Alexander Query, Thaisa Semenova, Olga Rudenko, Oleg Sukhov, Natalia Datskevych, Toma Istomina, Sergiy Slipchenko, Olena Goncharova, and Teah Pelechaty.

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