Newest information on Russia and the struggle in Ukraine

Biden touts new military aid package, vows U.S. will continue to arm Ukraine against Russia

President Joe Biden touted the latest military aid package for Ukraine and vowed that the U.S. will “continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to defend itself” against Russia’s invasion.

The $700 million aid package, which includes an advanced rocket-launcher system known by the acronym HIMARS, will “provide timely and critical aid to the Ukrainian military,” Biden said in a statement.

The statement came a day after The New York Times published an opinion essay penned by Biden, who wrote that the U.S. does not want Ukraine to fire those rockets into Russia. “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” he wrote.

In Wednesday’s statement, Biden said that the U.S. “will stand with our Ukrainian partners and continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to defend itself.”

“We will continue to lead the world in providing historic assistance to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” he said.

— Kevin Breuninger

Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner will auction medal to benefit Ukrainian child refugees

2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov gives a speech at the Cartooning Award Ceremony during the World Press Freedom Day in Geneva on May 3, 2022.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

A Russian journalist will auction off the 23-karat gold Nobel Peace Prize medal that he won last fall to benefit child war refugees from Ukraine.

Dmitry Muratov, who previously said he was donating his approximately $500,000 in Nobel Prize money to other charitable causes, told The New York Times that the medal’s sale is “an act of solidarity” with Ukrainian refugees.

Muratov, the editor of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, called Russia’s war on its neighbor “a mistake, and we need to end it.”

Heritage Auctions, which is conducting the June 20 sale in New York City, told The Times it expects the auction could raise close to the $2.3 million record set in 2013 for a Nobel medal, that of Francis Crick’s award for Medicine for his role in co-discovering DNA.

The auction house will take no commission from the sale, whose proceeds are going to UNICEF’S efforts to aid Ukrainian children displaced by Russia’s invasion.

— Dan Mangan

Stuffed toys on empty school buses memorialize the children killed in Russia’s invasion

Stuffed toys symbolizing each of 243 Ukrainian children killed in Russia’s invasion sit on seats in empty yellow school buses during an event marking International Children’s Day in Lviv.

Stuffed toys symbolizing each of 243 killed Ukrainian children sit on seats in an empty yellow school buss during an action marking the International Children’s Day, in Lviv on June 1, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

A general view shows empty yellow school busses where stuffed toys symbolizing each of 243 killed Ukrainian children are displayed on seats during an action marking the International Children’s Day, in Lviv on June 1, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

A girl looks into an empty school bus where stuffed toys symbolizing each of 243 killed Ukrainian children are displayed on seats during an action marking the International Children’s Day, in Lviv on June 1, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

– Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

UN’s Guterres cites ‘progress’ in talks to allow export of grains stored in Ukraine’s ports

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a joint news conference with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita in Chisinau, Moldova May 9, 2022. 

Vladislav Culiomza | Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says there is “progress” in talks to allow the export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports and ensure Russian food and fertilizer have unrestricted access to global markets.

“I think that there is progress, but we are not yet” there, Guterres said, adding “these are very complex things,” because “everything is interlinked.”

Russia’s war on Ukraine has closed the country’s Black Sea ports, halting food exports to many developing countries.

Guterres reiterated that the world should have access to the Russian production of fertilizers and foods “that is also essential for global markets in the present situation.”

Guterres spoke in Stockholm where he met with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson ahead of a climate and environment conference Thursday and Friday.

— Associated Press

Poland can serve as ‘economic hub’ to help Ukraine export grains, PM says

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attends the opening ceremony of a temporary shelter built with the help of Polish government for those who lost their apartments in the war, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Borodyanka, near Kyiv, Ukraine June 1, 2022.

Viacheslav Ratynskyi | Reuters

Poland’s prime minister says the European Union member country will serve as an “economic hub” for neighboring Ukraine, helping it export grain and other products while Russia blocks Ukraine’s export routes, chiefly its ports.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka, near Kyiv. Morawiecki was in the heavily damaged settlement to inaugurate a series of container houses for homeless residents that was funded by Poland.

Morawiecki said Poland is working on expanding its infrastructure and capacity to facilitate the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and other agriculture products. Poland is receiving EU funds for the purpose, Morawiecki said.

He stressed that North Africa’s countries rely heavily on Ukraine grain and could face problems feeding their populations without it.

— Associated Press

Russia says U.S. adding fuel to the fire by supplying rockets to Ukraine

Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitriy Peskov attends an event during Russia’s Victory Day commemorations in Moscow on May 9, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said the U.S. is adding fuel to the fire by supplying longer-range rocket systems to Ukraine.

“We believe that the U.S. is deliberately pouring oil on the fire. The U.S. is obviously holding the line that it will fight Russia to the last Ukrainian,” Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters.

His comments echo those made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov who had claimed President Joe Biden’s administration increased the risk of direct clashes between Moscow and Washington by supplying rockets to Ukraine.

— Sam Meredith

Germany to send IRIS-T air defence system to Ukraine — Scholz

Scholz says Germany will supply Ukraine with the IRIS-T air defence system.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Germany will supply Ukraine with the IRIS-T air defence system, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, following pleas from Kyiv and German opposition parties to step up heavy weapons deliveries.

Scholz said Germany had been “delivering continuously since the beginning of the war”, pointing to more than 15 million rounds of ammunition, 100,000 grenades and over 5,000 anti-tank mines sent to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.

“Most recently, the government has decided that we will deliver the most modern air defence system that Germany has in the form of the IRIS-T,” Scholz told lawmakers in the Bundestag.

A security source told Reuters last month that Germany was considering supplying IRIS-T SLM medium-range surface-to-air defence systems to Ukraine.

— Reuters

Russia now controls 70% of Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine regional governor says

The eastern city of Sievierodonetsk has come under intense artillery and missile strikes from the Russian army.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Russian forces have seized control of approximately 70% of Sievierodonetsk, according to Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai.

His comments come as Russian forces continue their offensive in the Donbas region. The Donbas refers to the two eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk — a major strategic, political and economic target for the Kremlin.

Haidai said via Telegram that the eastern city of Lysychansk remains “completely” under Ukrainian control.

However, all free settlements of the Luhansk region are constantly under fire and evacuation efforts have been suspended, Haidai said.

— Sam Meredith

Wheat can’t be ‘weapon of war’, Pope says in urging lifting of Ukraine block

Pope Francis leads his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 1, 2022.

Filippo Monteforte | Afp | Getty Images

Pope Francis on Wednesday appealed to authorities to lift the block on wheat exports from Ukraine, saying the grain cannot be used as a “weapon of war”.

Speaking at his general audience to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, he said the block should be lifted because many millions of people depend on wheat from Ukraine, particularly in the world’s poorest countries.

— Reuters

Russia says Biden’s arms supplies to Ukraine increase the risk of direct clashes with the U.S.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says the risk of direct clashes between Moscow and Washington have increased after the U.S. decision to supply more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine.

Fabrice Coffrini | Afp | Getty Images

Russia has warned that U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to supply advanced rocket systems to Ukraine increases the risk of direct clashes between Moscow and Washington.

When asked whether the likelihood of an open clash between Russia and the U.S. would increase following the White House’s decision to supply Ukraine with longer-range rocket systems, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “Any arms deliveries that continue, are on the rise, increase the risks of such a development.”

Speaking to the RIA Novosti news agency, Ryabkov said of U.S. foreign policy that “the remnants of a responsible, sound approach to the situation have simply been scrapped.”

— Sam Meredith

Oil group OPEC+ reportedly considering suspending Russia from supply deal

Then Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak (right) with Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, during the Russian Energy Week 2019 International Forum in Moscow. OPEC delegates are reportedly concerned about the growing economic pressure on Russia and its ability to pump more crude to cool soaring prices.

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Some members of the energy alliance OPEC+ are considering whether to suspend Russia from an oil production deal, The Wall Street Journal has reported, citing unnamed OPEC delegates.

This comes at a time when non-OPEC leader Russia, a major player in global energy markets, faces a barrage of Western sanctions and a partial oil ban from the European Union in the wake of the onslaught in Ukraine.

OPEC delegates are reportedly concerned about the growing economic pressure on Russia and its ability to pump more crude to cool soaring prices.

CNBC has contacted a spokesperson for Russia’s energy ministry and OPEC for comment.

OPEC and non-OPEC countries are scheduled to discuss the next phase of production policy on Thursday.

— Sam Meredith

Zelenskyy says Russian bombing of chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk is ‘insanity’

Sievierodonetsk is one of three towns that constitute one of Ukraine’s largest chemical complexes. The area is now the frontline as Russian troops move closer to the city.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reaffirmed that the situation in the eastern region of the Donbas is “very difficult,” saying Russian air strikes in Sievierodonetsk are “insanity,” given the presence of a large-scale chemical plant in the city.

His comments come after a Russian airstrike hit a nitric acid tank in the city. Residents of Sievierodonetsk have been warned not to leave bomb shelters due to the risk posed by toxic fumes.

Speaking in an evening address to the nation, Zelenskyy said the cities of Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, and Kurakhove are now at the epicenter of the confrontation.

“Given the presence of large-scale chemical production in Sievierodonetsk, the Russian army’s strikes there, including blind air bombing, are insanity,” he said.

“But on the 97th day of such a war, it is no longer surprising that for the Russian military, for Russian commanders, for Russian soldiers, any madness is absolutely acceptable.”

— Sam Meredith

UNICEF says 5.2 million children require humanitarian aid

Children seen at an underground shelter. Nearly 100 days of war in Ukraine have rendered 3 million children inside Ukraine and over 2.2 million children in refugee-hosting countries in need of humanitarian aid, with nearly 2 out of every 3 children displaced by fighting.

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The war has rendered 3 million children inside Ukraine and over 2.2 million children in refugee-hosting countries in need of humanitarian aid, according to UNICEF, which estimated 2 in 3 children have been displaced by the fighting.

On average, more than 2 children are killed and more than 4 are injured every day in Ukraine due mostly to attacks using explosive weapons in populated areas, according to reports verified by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Civilian infrastructure critical for children, including 256 health facilities and hundreds of schools, have also been damaged or destroyed in the war.

— Chelsea Ong

Biden says U.S. will provide Ukraine with longer-range rocket systems

A Multiple Launch Rocket System shoots during an artillery live fire event on March 4, 2020. U.S. President Joe Biden said in a New York Times opinion piece that he will “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

Christof Stache | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden said in a New York Times opinion piece that he will “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

The rocket systems refer to longer-range Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, NBC News reported, citing the White House Security Council.

U.S. officials have been hesitant to send MLRS to Ukraine over concerns that Russia may view it as an escalatory action because of the system’s range, NBC News reported.

The MLRS can fire numerous rockets from an extensive distance away — much further than any of the systems Ukraine already has, CNN reported.

Russia said earlier this week that it would strike “decision making centers” including those “not in Kyiv,” if the U.S. sent long-range rocket systems to Ukraine.

But a U.S. senior administration official said Ukraine has agreed not to use the MLRS to launch rockets into Russia, NBC News reported.

— Chelsea Ong

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