June 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Aditi Sangal and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, June 3, 2022
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5:40 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Ukraine's football team preparing for World Cup playoff final on Sunday

From CNN's Mitchell McCluskey, Josh Pennington and Ben Church

Ukraine supporters celebrate after defeating Scotland in a World Cup qualifier on June 1.
Ukraine supporters celebrate after defeating Scotland in a World Cup qualifier on June 1. (Lee Smith/Reuters)

Ukraine's mens national football team is just one game away from qualifying for the World Cup after beating Scotland on Wednesday night.

If Ukraine can beat Wales in Cardiff on Sunday the team will make it to the tournament in Qatar, which is scheduled to start on November 21.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky celebrated the 3-1 win against Scotland in an Instagram post.

“There are times when you don't need many words! Pride is enough! Simply thanks to you guys!” he wrote. 

“We are all fighting, everyone on their own front, for this. For our blue and yellow flag, for our coat of arms on our hearts, for 'Ukraine is not dead yet…', which cannot be silenced,'” he said.

Wednesday's playoff had originally been scheduled to take place in March, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced the match's postponement.

Given that staying in Ukraine was too dangerous, the squad went to a training camp in Slovenia on May 1 to prepare for the game.

Prior to playing Scotland, Ukraine's last competitive game had been in November.

Read the full story here:

5:31 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

US officials looking to salvage Ukrainian grain with no good solution yet to Russia's export blockade

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Jennifer Hansler, Alex Marquardt and Jeremy Herb

The Biden administration is working to get temporary storage containers for Ukrainian grain into the country, a stopgap measure as it seeks to mitigate a growing food crisis caused by Russia's months-long blockade of Ukrainian ports, administration officials told CNN.

These storage containers -- such as bags or boxes -- could help salvage some of the more than 20 million tons of grain that are currently stuck inside Ukraine. They could also help Ukraine load the grain onto trains or trucks out of the country once overland routes are established, a senior administration official explained.

Still, as these efforts are underway, the US and its international partners are no closer to finding a quick and absolute solution to lifting the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports that's raised global food prices and threatened to cause a catastrophic food shortage in parts of the world.

The work that the US is doing to open up overland routes for the grain to get into neighboring countries, get containers into the country, and implement long-term changes meant to drive down global reliance on Ukrainian grain could collectively have an impact on the crisis.

But many view the efforts as marginal fixes to a much larger problem that can't be completely resolved until Russia eases its blockade, particularly of Ukraine's biggest port in Odessa, which has been surrounded by Russian warships for months.

UN and Turkish officials are preparing for separate rounds of diplomatic talks with Moscow coalescing around a new plan to try to open up sea routes for Ukrainian grains, sources say.

Read the full story here:

5:45 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Ukraine conducts counterattacks in Severodonetsk, but Russia still holds “most” of the city

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Bex Wright

Ukraine's army has carried a series of counterattacks in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, but Russian forces still control "most" of the city, a regional Ukrainian military official said.

Severodonetsk is one of the last remaining strongholds held by Ukraine in the eastern region of Luhansk.

The head of the Luhansk Military Administration, Serhiy Hayday, said that the Kremlin's forces did not make any headway Wednesday night in their attempt to capture Severodonetsk, despite Russian claims that the they have taken the whole city.

Hayday has previously said that 10,000 Russian-controlled troops are fighting to take the city.

The counteroffensives by Ukrainian troops managed to move enemy forces away from some streets and allowed them to capture some prisoners of war, according to Hayday.

"They don’t control the whole city, fighting is going on,” Hayday said.

On Wednesday, Hayday said that Russians control 80% of the city.

Why Severodonetsk matters: Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk together make up Ukraine's Donbas region, an industrial heartland dotted with factories and coal fields that has been home to sporadic fighting since 2014, when Russian-backed separatists seized control of two territories there -- the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

Severodonetsk and sister city Lysychansk are two of the last cities in Luhansk housing Ukrainian troops. Russian forces have spent days attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, advancing in several directions and pushing Ukrainian forces out of the city.

Capturing the region would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a symbolic victory. A key goal of Russia's so-called "special military operation" -- the Kremlin's official euphemism for the invasion of Ukraine -- was to take control of the Donbas region.

3:44 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

More than 200,000 children deported to Russia from Ukraine, Zelensky says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Bex Wright

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a his evening video message on Wednesday June 1.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a his evening video message on Wednesday June 1. (Office of President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of pursuing a “consistent criminal policy of deporting our people” into mostly remote areas of Russia.

During his daily address on Wednesday, Zelensky said more than 200,000 children have been deported so far.

Russia "forcibly removes both adults and children. This is one of Russia's most heinous war crimes. In total, more than 200,000 Ukrainian children have been deported so far. These are orphans from orphanages. And children with parents. And children divorced from their families,” Zelensky said.
“The Russian state disperses these people on its territory and settles our citizens, in particular, in remote regions. The purpose of this criminal policy is not just to steal people but to make deportees forget about Ukraine and not be able to return."

He also said that so far, at least 243 children have died during the war, 446 have been injured, and another 139 are missing.

CNN cannot independently verify the numbers of deportations or casualties.

2:50 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Ukraine's defense minister thanks Biden for sending advanced rocket systems

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Bex Wright, Barbara Starr and Ellie Kaufman

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is seen at the US Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, on April 26.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is seen at the US Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, on April 26. (Andre Pain/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has publicly thanked US President Joe Biden and the US military for including HIMARS rocket systems in the next round of security assistance to Ukraine.

“I was pleased to see in the 11th package of military aid to Ukraine the six letters for which the whole country has been waiting: HIMARS," Reznikov said in a Twitter post on Thursday.

"Our cooperation is stronger than ever! Thank you."

In a statement on Wednesday, Biden formally announced the inclusion of the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) as part of the package to Ukraine.

“This new package will arm them with new capabilities and advanced weaponry, including HIMARS with battlefield munitions, to defend their territory from Russian advances. We will continue to lead the world in providing historic assistance to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” Biden said. 

The systems will have a range of about 70 kilometers (44 miles), a US defense official told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, which is further than anything Ukraine has been sent to date. Ukraine had sought longer range weapons, but the US resisted due to concerns they would be capable of striking Russian territory, thereby potentially escalating the war.

12:19 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Ukrainian First Lady says conceding territory to Russia won't end the war 

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie

Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska.
Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Conceding territory to Russia would be “conceding a freedom” and would not end President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska said.

“Ukrainians can’t take normally all those statements that we are sometimes hearing from leaders of countries — in some cases the leaders of big and influential countries. You can’t just concede parts of your territory, it’s like conceding a freedom,” Zelenska said during an interview with ABC News previewed on Thursday. 

She reiterated her husband’s position that the Donbas region — where Russia has now concentrated its offensive — will be Ukrainian again.

“Even if we would concede our territories the aggressor would not stop at that, he would continue pressing, he would continue … launching more and more attacks against our territory,” Zelenska added. 

Located in Ukraine’s southeast, the Donbas region’s proximity to Russia has dictated much of its turbulent history.

Russia’s failures to take Kyiv and other central Ukrainian regions in the early months of its invasion has seen Donbas become the centerpiece of Putin’s military ambitions. 

12:17 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

The UK will send multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine in a step "coordinated closely" with the US' decision to provide Kyiv with more advanced weaponry — a move Russia said was "adding fuel to the fire."

Here are the latest updates on Russia's war in Ukraine:

  • "Direct provocation": Russia's foreign minister said Ukraine's demands to the West regarding the supply of advanced rocket launchers go beyond "all limits and decency" and is a "direct provocation." It comes after President Joe Biden said the US is providing Ukraine "more advanced rocket systems and munitions" that will enable it to hit targets 50 miles away. The US says Ukraine has pledged not to use the weapons against targets in Russia.
  • "Right for self-defense": NATO does not foresee any Russian retaliation to the decision by the US to supply advanced weapons to Ukraine, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN on Wednesday. He said this is because the move upholds Ukraine's "right for self-defense, and this is a right which is enshrined in the UN treaty."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg answers a reporter's question on Wednesday, June 1, during a news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the State Department in Washington, DC.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg answers a reporter's question on Wednesday, June 1, during a news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the State Department in Washington, DC. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

  • Russian gains in the east: Ukrainian officials say about 80% of the key eastern city of Severodonetsk is now occupied by Russian forces, as street fighting continues. The head of Luhansk's regional military administration said Ukrainian forces have been successful on "some streets" and six Russian soldiers had been captured.
  • Railway targeted: Russian missiles hit a railway in western Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials. The strikes occurred close to the Beskyd tunnel in the Carpathian mountains, near the border with Slovakia.
  • Death toll mounts: Ukraine is losing 60 to 100 soldiers every day, Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky told Newsmax in an interview. He added that 500 are wounded in combat daily, calling the situation in the east “very difficult.”
  • EU renewables transition: Despite concerns that Russia's war in Ukraine might mean a return to more fossil fuels, most countries in the European Union are laying out more ambitious plans to boost renewables, according to a new report.
  • Football victory: Ukraine beat Scotland 3-1 in a playoff on Wednesday — a result that leaves the team just one win away from qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Fans in the stadium, some of them refugees, could be seen holding signs reading "Stop War."
11:41 p.m. ET, June 1, 2022

UK will give Ukraine rocket systems capable of hitting targets about 50 miles away, defense secretary says 

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Arnaud Siad

An M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System of the Finnish military is tested during exercises near Rovaniemi, Finland on May 23.
An M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System of the Finnish military is tested during exercises near Rovaniemi, Finland on May 23. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom will send multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine to help defend itself against Russia, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Wednesday.

Britain will send M270 launchers able to strike targets up to 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) away, offering “a significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces,” according to a statement from the British Foreign Office.

The move has been “coordinated closely” with the United States' decision to provide Ukraine with its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) — a variant of the multiple-launch rocket systems that will be gifted by the UK, the statement added.  

“The UK stands with Ukraine and has taken a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country,” Wallace said.
“As Russian’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against Russia’s brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.”

The British government also said that Ukrainian troops will be trained on how to use the launchers in the UK, so the effectiveness of the launchers can be maximized.

9:57 p.m. ET, June 1, 2022

Ukrainian official says about 80% of Severodonetsk is occupied by Russian forces

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

Serhiy Hayday, the head of Luhansk's regional military administration, says street fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk but Russian forces now occupy about 80% of the city.

"On some streets, our defenders are successful," Hayday said. Six Russian soldiers have been captured, he said.

Hayday said the remaining parts of Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control were under constant shelling but local volunteers had gotten trucks with humanitarian cargoes to many settlements and also evacuated people.

The Ukrainian official said the neighboring city of Lysychansk "is under Ukrainian control. This is a militarily advantageous position. The location of the city on a hill gives many opportunities. The city's defense is strong."

Hayday said heavy fighting continued in settlements to the south and west of Severodonetsk as Russian forces try to encircle the Ukrainian defenses.

"Despite the simply constant, daily shelling, it is still possible to bring humanitarian supplies both to the Hirske community and to Lysychansk," Hayday said.