June 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Lianne Kolirin, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022
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11:40 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Blinken: Ukraine says it won't use US weapons to strike in Russia

From CNN's Michael Conte

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint press conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint press conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Ukraine has assured the US that they will not use weapons systems provided by the US “against targets on Russian territory.” 

“There is a strong trust bond between Ukraine and the United States, as well as with our allies and partners,” said Blinken at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The Biden administration has announced it will be sending Ukraine US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, with munitions with a range that fall shorter than what Ukraine had requested.

Blinken also said that regarding concerns about Russia interpreting the US sending these new weapon systems to Ukraine as escalatory, that President Biden had been clear with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the consequences of the Russian invasion, including sending security assistance to Ukraine.`

“There was no hiding the ball. We’ve been extremely clear about this from day one with President Biden communicating that directly to President Putin. So we have done exactly what we said we would do,” said Blinken.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that "it's not so much a question of deterring Russia at this point," but rather making sure that Ukraine has the equipment to push back Russian aggression and therefore have the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.

Blinken noted that Russia has "committed the aggression and they're pursuing it."

"What we're working to do, and the Secretary General said this very eloquently, is to make sure that the Ukrainians have in hand what they need to defend against this aggression, to repel it, to push it back. And as well, and as a result of that, make sure that they have the strongest possible hand at any negotiating table," he said.

He reiterated that the US will continue to provide defensive capabilities to Ukraine.

11:26 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Ukraine defense ministry reports a "very difficult" situation in Severodonetsk

From Tim Lister and Anastasia Graham-Yooll

Smoke rises from Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on May 30.
Smoke rises from Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on May 30. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says fighting continues in the city of Severodonetsk, where Russian forces and their allies are edging forwards. 

"The enemy reached central Severodonetsk and is trying to establish positions. The situation is very difficult," Defense Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said at a briefing Wednesday.

"I don't want to estimate or give any percentage ratios of what we control and don't control," Motuzyanyk added. "We know the enemy's goals and we are doing everything to stop them from achieving them."

One officer involved in the defense of Severodonetsk has spoken more optimistically about the situation.

"We maneuver, we try to destroy the occupier as much as possible. The night went more or less well. Our units took prisoners," Petro Kuzyk, commander of the Svoboda battalion and a captain of the National Guard, told Radio Liberty.

Kuzyk said that his unit did not plan to retreat from Severodonetsk, but was trying to push the Russian military as far as possible outside the city.

Russian forces "minimized contact with us. They have an advantage in artillery, in tanks in this direction, so they use it," he added.

The Russian army used infantry only to determine the positions of the Ukrainian military are. "Then the work of artillery is turned on for hours, tanks and aircraft are used," he said. "They are fighting like a Russian war machine – they are trying to grind our positions, as they fought in Syria, Rubizhne [a town near Severodonetsk.]

"They completely destroyed the city of Rubizhne. They are trying to do the same with Severodonetsk, but our counter-artillery is already working here, although at a much slower pace than I would like," he continued.

Elsewhere on the front lines, the defense ministry said Russian attacks around Lyman — supported by assault helicopters — had been beaten back. And Ukrainian units had also resisted efforts by the Russians to dislodge them from Bilhorivka, Motuzyanyk said.

However, he acknowledged that along frontlines south of the town of Bakhmut, "as a result of assaults near Vozdvizhenka, the enemy had partial success, which allowed him to capture the southwestern part of this settlement."

Russian forces have made incremental gains in the last week in rural parts of Donetsk bordering Luhansk and are trying to encircle Ukrainian forces that have been defending the region's border in three directions — north, east and south.

9:59 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

White House says new security assistance to Ukraine meets the country's needs

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The White House defended its decision to send Ukraine new rocket systems that fall short of the 200-mile range Ukrainians requested, saying the US assessed that the 49-mile-range systems were what the country needs at this time in a new phase of battle. 

"We have tried to get the Ukrainians exactly what we think they needed to be able to fend off this Russian assault on their country. That worked in the early days, the Ukrainians were able to win the battle for Kyiv and drive the Russians away from their capital, now the conflict has shifted to a different phase in the south and east of the country," deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told CNN’s John Berman. 

The new weapons will add to Ukraine’s capability, Finer said, and it “will give them the ability to strike with precision Russian targets on the battlefield.”

As CNN has reported, the Biden administration will be sending Ukraine US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS. The HIMARS will be equipped with munitions that will allow Ukraine to launch rockets about 80 kilometers, or 49 miles. That is far less than the maximum range of the systems, which is around 300 kilometers, but far greater than anything Ukraine has been sent to date.

“We believe that this does meet their needs,” Finer said when pressed on Ukraine’s request for longer-range systems. 

The US, he added, has asked Ukraine “for assurances that they will not use these systems to strike inside Russia” and instead to defend Ukrainian territory. 

Finer also reacted to reaction from Russia Wednesday morning that the US action is “adding fuel to the fire.”  

The US, he said, does not negotiate its security systems packages to Ukraine. 

“Russia has brought this on itself by launching an invasion into a sovereign country from its territory. So we've been very clear and transparent about what we're going to be doing. It has been effective for the Ukrainians thus far and we will continue,” he said. 

He declined to comment on Russian gains in the eastern Donetsk region, calling this a “very difficult phase of fighting.” This phase, Finer predicted, will play out “over a period of weeks and months and perhaps even longer.” 

The Russians have made “incremental gains,” he said, but declined to “handicap the play-by-play.”

10:58 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Russian officials talk up integration of occupied Ukrainian areas into Russian Federation

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Tim Lister

A replica of the Soviet Banner of Victory flies by a WWII memorial in Kherson, Ukraine, on May 20.
A replica of the Soviet Banner of Victory flies by a WWII memorial in Kherson, Ukraine, on May 20. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images)

More Russian officials have been talking about integrating Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine into the Russian Federation.

Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti quotes Sergei Tsekov, a member of the Federation Council, as saying that referendums may be held this year in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Russian forces occupy much of Kherson, where fighting is continuing, and a part of Zaporizhzhia region.

“I think that all the territories controlled by Russia have a very good chance of being reunited with the Russian Federation. These are originally Russian territories, ” Tsekov said.

Kherson was annexed by Tsarist Russia in the late 18th century but has been part of Ukraine since independence in 1991. 

Another member of the Federation Council, Andriy Turchak, said that the Kherson region and the liberated territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk republics would become part of Russia. But at the same time, he said the decision would be made by the residents of these regions themselves. 

"A referendum should be organized as soon as the situation is ready for this, as soon as the shelling stops and a security zone appears," said Turchak, a senior member of the governing United Russia party. "I'm sure the residents of Zaporizhzhia will also express their opinion in support of such a decision."

In April, CNN reported that fear of the impending vote and its implications — a possible strengthening of Russia's control — has led many residents to flee fast.

9:18 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Sweden's prime minister says dialogue with Turkey over NATO membership will continue

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London 

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrive for a news conference in Stockholm on June 1.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrive for a news conference in Stockholm on June 1. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Wednesday that dialogue with Turkey regarding Sweden's NATO membership will continue, and Sweden will respond directly to Turkey to "sort out" any possible "misunderstandings."

"We have had discussions, dialogue with Turkey, and this dialogue will continue going forward, and I am looking forward to further constructive meetings together with Turkey in the near future," Andersson said at a news conference in Stockholm after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. 

"Our responses to demands and also questions from Turkey, we will take directly with Turkey and also of course sort out any issues or misunderstandings that there might be," she added. 

During their meeting, Andersson and Guterres discussed "Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine," the security situation in Europe and the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, she said. 

"Sweden will continue to pressure on Russia and to be a strong supporter of Ukraine," Andersson said, as the world is "witnessing shocking brutality and attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure."

"Russia must be held accountable for its action and I'm grateful for the secretary-general's clear stance on this," she said. 

8:13 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

It's now over 30% higher to fill up your gas tank in the US than it was the day before Russia invaded Ukraine

From CNN’s Matt Egan

A customer refuels a vehicle at a Wawa gas station in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 28.
A customer refuels a vehicle at a Wawa gas station in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 28. (Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Pump prices just took another big step in the wrong direction.

The US national average for regular gasoline climbed by five cents on Wednesday to a fresh record of $4.67 a gallon, according to AAA.

That leaves gas prices up by 48 cents in the past month alone.

It is now 32% higher to fill up your tank than it was the day before Russia invaded Ukraine. 

Seven states now average $5 or higher, with Illinois becoming the latest to join that unpopular club, according to AAA. New York and Arizona are just pennies away from the $5 threshold. The average in California now stands at $6.19 a gallon.

No states have an average of $4.15 or lower, with George coming in at the lowest with $4.16.  

Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, told CNN he expects the national average to hit $4.75 in the next 10 days.

Oil prices, the biggest component of pump prices, continue to move higher. 

Brent crude, the world benchmark, gained 1% on Tuesday to close at the highest level in nearly three months. Brent is up another 1.2% Wednesday morning. The gains come after Europe agreed to phase out 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of the year. 

The national average for regular gas is now 44 cents higher than on the day US President Joe Biden announced the largest-ever release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in late March.

8:04 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Serbia's gas deal with Putin has created a fresh headache for Europe

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

On Sunday, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic announced that his country had agreed to a new three-year gas supply deal with Russia's state energy provider Gazprom. 

The news came at an awkward time, and in doing so, Vucic created a fresh headache for the Western anti-Putin alliance and, notably, for the European Union. 

On the other side of the continent, EU heads of state were mired in in grueling negotiations over a sixth package of sanctions against Moscow. The final deal, announced late Monday, includes a partial ban on Russian oil imports to the bloc.

But Brussels was forced to make an exemption for oil that is imported to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic via a pipeline, in order to get everyone on board. This was seen by some EU members as a major concession.

While Serbia is not an EU member state, it is part of an EU enlargement plan that also includes some of its neighbors. The EU is set on expanding to the east and sees the Western Balkans as key to European security — even more so in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Of these Balkan states, Serbia in particular is seen as crucial for numerous reasons. 

Its size, population and geographical location all make it a major stakeholder in the geopolitics of the region. If you want to have a conversation about the future of Bosnia or Kosovo, you are going to need the Serbian government in the room. 

However, Serbia is also very reliant on Russia when it comes to gas. It is also militarily cooperative with Moscow. In short, Serbia benefits enormously from its relationship with Russia, and even if it obtains EU membership down the road, it will not want to burn its bridges with the Kremlin.

Read the full story here:

7:59 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Ukraine simplifies child adoption procedures with a digital portal

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll

A new "simplified procedure" for the adoption of Ukrainian children was introduced Wednesday, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy and the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

There are 17,000 children in Ukraine waiting for adoption, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Social Policy Kostiantyn Koshelenko told reporters in Kyiv.

"However, there are several times as few potential adoptive parents. One of the reasons is that the adoption procedure is very complicated," said Koshelenko.

"We are changing it to implement a rapid digital process. One needs only five minutes to submit a request for the initial consultation."

An initial adoption request can be submitted via Diia portal from Wednesday, with adoption applications available online from August, Koshelenko added.

Some 6,506 children from orphanages have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict, including 4,228 that have been relocated abroad, according to a statement from the Ministry of Social Policy.

Less than half of the country’s orphanages have moved children abroad or elsewhere in Ukraine. Some 1,750 foster families have been displaced.

The war has had a devastating impact on Ukraine's children.

On Wednesday, which marks Children's Day in Ukraine, the country's prosecutor general's office said that at least 243 children have died and 446 others have been injured in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Meanwhile, UNICEF said millions of young lives had been "shattered" by the conflict. Three million Ukrainian children need humanitarian assistance inside the country, as do more than 2.2 million in refugee-hosting countries, the UN children's agency said.

The war has wrought "devastating consequences for children at a scale and speed not seen since World War II," UNICEF added.

Nearly two-thirds of children have been displaced by the conflict, said UNICEF.

7:53 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Kremlin says US "adds fuel to fire" by supplying weapons to Kyiv

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The US is "adding fuel to the fire" by supplying weapons to Kyiv, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to provide more advanced missile systems to Ukraine.

"We believe that the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire," Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call.

The Ukrainian authorities have long asked the United States to supply high-tech, medium-range rocket systems. Biden said Tuesday the US is providing Ukraine "more advanced rocket systems and munitions" as its war with Russia grinds on.

"Such supplies do not contribute to the Ukrainian leadership’s willingness to resume peace negotiations,” Peskov said.

Peskov also added the Kremlin does not trust Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's words that Kyiv would not use multiple launch rocket systems to attack the Russian territory if they receive them from the US.