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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8:47 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin's son-in-law quit as Putin adviser, Kremlin confirms

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Radina Gigova in London

Valentin Yumashev, right, is seen with his wife Tatyana Yumasheva in Moscow in 2019.
Valentin Yumashev, right, is seen with his wife Tatyana Yumasheva in Moscow in 2019. (Irina Bujor/Kommersant/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP)

The son-in-law of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin has quit his role as an unpaid adviser to President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday. 

When asked to comment on reports that Valentin Yumashev, who is married to Yeltsin's younger daughter Tatyana Borisovna Yumasheva, no longer serves as an adviser to Putin, Peskov said during a daily call with journalists that “indeed, yes, I can confirm that about a month ago he stopped being a pro bono adviser.”

“In terms of staff, this has been formalized," Peskov added. He also said "it was decided not to publish the document” on the Kremlin's website, which is not required. 

Peskov didn't say why Yumashev has left the post. 

Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as prime minister in August 1999. When Yeltsin stepped down amid scandal on December 31, 1999, Putin became acting president.

In the intervening years, Putin has remained close to Yeltsin's family. 

Yumashev's daughter, Maria, posted a picture of the Ukrainian flag on February 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine with the caption "no to war" and a broken-heart emoji. 

7:42 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Areas of Donetsk region “under constant rocket fire," says Ukrainian official

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll and Bex Wright

Several areas of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine are “under constant rocket fire,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk military administration, on Thursday.

The cities of Bakhmut and Slovyansk are among the areas under bombardment, Kyrylenko said via videolink at a press briefing in Kyiv.

Russian troops are also “moving along Lyman-Izyum direction to capture Sloviansk and Kramatorsk territories,” and the highway from Bakhmut to Lysychansk “remains under enemy fire," he said.

At least seven people have been killed and 10 more wounded in the last 24 hours in the Donetsk region, Kyrylenko said.

Just 340,000 of the 1.6 million people that used to live in the region remain.

7:31 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Angela Merkel calls Russia's invasion "barbaric" in first public speech since leaving office

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen at the farewell to German Trade Union Confederation Chairman Reiner Hoffmann in Berlin on June 1.
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen at the farewell to German Trade Union Confederation Chairman Reiner Hoffmann in Berlin on June 1. (Basil Wegener/picture alliance via Getty Images)

In her first public speech since leaving office in December, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russia is waging a "barbaric war of aggression" in Ukraine.

Speaking to 200 people at the farewell ceremony for the outgoing head of a prominent trade union, Merkel said the invasion constitutes blatant breach of international law and ''a profound break'' in the history of Europe after the end of World War II.

''My solidarity is with Ukraine, which was attacked and invaded by Russia, and with supporting its right to self-defense," Merkel said. "Never should we take peace and freedom for granted."

Merkel said that now that she no longer holds office, she will not make political assessments from "the sidelines." She did, however, say that she supports the current efforts by the West -- including her successor, Olaf Scholz -- to find an end to the conflict.

Merkel said that the consequences of the war would be far-reaching, including in terms of human rights.

''Bucha is representative of this horror," she said, referring to the atrocities committed against civilians in the Kyiv suburb.

Merkel said she found a small ray of hope in the tremendous support being given to Ukrainians in neighboring countries such as Poland and Moldova.

7:08 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

It's just past 2 p.m in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

A woman inspects damage from an overnight missile strike in Sloviansk, Ukraine, on June 1.
A woman inspects damage from an overnight missile strike in Sloviansk, Ukraine, on June 1. (Andriy Andriyenko/AP)

Russia has taken control of most of the eastern city of Severodonetsk despite a series of counterattacks by Ukrainian forces, while at least seven people have been killed in Russian strikes on targets across Ukraine in the past 24 hours.

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

  • Severedonetsk holding out: Ukraine's army has carried a series of counterattacks in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, but Russian forces still control "most" of the city, said Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk regional military administration. Severodonetsk is one of the last remaining strongholds held by Ukraine in Luhansk.
  • Hundreds sheltering in chemical factory: Around 800 people are hiding in several Soviet-era bomb shelters underneath the Azot chemical factory in Severodonetsk, which has been targeted by Russian missile attacks, Hayday told CNN on Thursday.
  • Russian strikes across Ukraine: At least seven people have been killed and 26 more injured in the past 24 hours, Ukrainian officials said Thursday. In addition to attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, Russian forces fired on targets in Mykolaiv in the south, Sumy in the northeast and Lviv in the west.
  • Ukrainian children sent to Russia: Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky says more than 200,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly taken to Russia since the start of the war. The aim is “to steal people” and “make deportees forget about Ukraine and not be able to return," he said. Meanwhile, Russian state news agency TASS reported that 1.6 million people from Ukraine and breakaway republics in the Donbas region have crossed into Russia since the start of the Kremlin’s invasion.
  • Ukrainian first lady rules out giving up territory to Russia: Conceding territory to Russia would be “conceding a freedom” and would not end President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, said Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska. “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," Zelenska said during an interview with ABC News previewed on Thursday. "You can’t just concede parts of your territory, it’s like conceding a freedom.”
  • Ukrainian football team one game away from World Cup: Ukraine's mens national football team will qualify for the World Cup in Qatar if they can beat Wales in Cardiff on Sunday. The team beat Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday night.
2:37 p.m. ET, June 2, 2022

Hundreds of people hiding in bomb shelters under chemical plant in Severodonetsk

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Bex Wright

Around 800 people are hiding in several bomb shelters underneath the Azot chemical factory in Severodonetsk, which has been targeted by Russian missile attacks, said Serhiy Hayday, the head of Luhansk region military administration.

Hayday told CNN Thursday that local residents have sought shelter in the Soviet-era bomb shelters under the factory.

“There are locals there, who were asked to leave the city,” Hayday said. “But they refused. There are also children there, but not many of them.”

In a separate update on Thursday, regional Ukrainian officials said the Russians have again fired on Azot factory and “hit one of the administrative buildings and a warehouse where methanol was stored,” although it’s unclear how much methanol remained there.

The Ukrainians still maintain control of the Severodonetsk industrial zone, the statement said, one of the remaining parts of the city Russia has not taken.

"Most" of Severodonetsk, one of the last cities to hold out in Luhansk, has been taken by Russia, Hayday said earlier.

Hayday said a Russian airstrike hit a tank of nitric acid at the Azot factory on Tuesday. Images that day showed a thick orange-colored cloud of smoke rising from the area. But Hayday said the people sheltering under the factory were not in danger.

“Thank God nothing threatened the people,” Hayday told CNN on Thursday. “As (the cloud) went up and moved at once, there’s no deadly danger.”

Hayday said that the factory is privately-owned, and the owners say there are only small amounts of chemicals left at the plant.

Hayday added that the factory is not significant from a military point of view, therefore “Azot is definitely not Azovstal” -- referring to the steel plant in Mariupol which Russia took after a weeks-long siege.

6:44 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

More than 1.6 million people have crossed into Russia from Ukraine, Russian state media reports

From CNN's Anna Chernova

More than 1.6 million people from Ukraine and breakaway republics in the Donbas region have crossed into Russia since the start of the Kremlin’s invasion, Russian state news agency TASS reported Thursday, citing a law enforcement source.

"As of Wednesday morning, more than 1.6 million people, including almost 263,000 children, crossed the border," said the source.

CNN cannot independently confirm the number of border crossings, but the numbers are similar to official Ukrainian estimates.

Earlier Thursday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of pursuing a “consistent criminal policy of deporting [Ukrainian] people” into mostly remote areas of Russia, adding that more than 200,000 children had been taken to Russia so far.

The aim is “to steal people” and “make deportees forget about Ukraine and not be able to return," said Zelensky. 

According to TASS, 33,000 people, including 11,000 children, are currently being kept in 559 temporary accommodation centers across Russia.

The rest “have been placed with relatives and privately," it added.

Four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence assessments told CNN in late May that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have now been processed through a series of “filtration camps” in eastern Ukraine.

They were then sent across the border to Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal and resettlement, the sources said.

Some context: In April a CNN investigation revealed that Russian forces and allied separatist soldiers were taking residents of the city of Mariupol to a so-called “filtration center” set up in Bezimenne, where they were registered before being sent on to Russia, many against their will.

At the time, Mariupol's city council accused Russian forces of bringing Ukrainians to these centers as part of a broader effort to cover up potential war crimes by "destroying" potential witnesses.  

Zelensky has also alleged that Ukrainians have been forced to move to Russia.

"Their documents and means of communication are confiscated,” he said on May 6.   

According to Michael Carpenter, US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the practice "would be in violation of international humanitarian law, and a war crime if people were forcibly being displaced from Ukraine to Russia.”

6:04 a.m. ET, June 2, 2022

At least 7 killed, 26 injured in the past 24 hours in Ukraine 

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Bex Wright

A woman collects belongings from rubble in Sloviansk on June 1.
A woman collects belongings from rubble in Sloviansk on June 1. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

The war in Ukraine has left at least 7 people dead and 26 injured in the past 24 hours, Ukrainian officials said.

Here is where much of the fighting is taking place:

Donbas: Ukraine's military said it has repelled 13 enemy attacks in the direction of Donetsk and Luhansk -- the two regions that make up Donbas -- in the past 24 hours.

Northeast of Sloviansk in the Lyman area, Russian forces tried to advance but “suffered losses and withdrew,” an update from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

"Most" of Severodonetsk, one of the last cities to hold out in Luhansk, has been taken by Russia, a Ukrainian military official there said.

Southern Ukraine: Two people were killed and two other were injured Wednesday in Mykolaiv, a southern city not far from the front line, after Russia “fired on residential quarters,” damaging two high-rise buildings and four homes, regional officials said.  

“We are being shelled from all sides,” Vitalii Kim, head of Mykolaiv regional military administration said on Thursday.

Mykolaiv is not far from Kherson, which has been under Russian control since early in the invasion. Kim said reports have emerged that Russian forces in Kherson “have started looting stores in Kherson” and “they are taking everything out in the direction of Crimea," in the event that Ukrainian forces re-take the city.

Regional officials said the situation in Kherson is “stably tense” with “fighting and shelling” continuing. Many areas are “without electricity, water and gas,” and in need of “medicine and humanitarian aid.”

Further west in South Buh, six areas were targeted by mortars and artillery, and air strikes were also launched from Mi-24 helicopters, regional officials said.

Zaporizhzhia: Two people received shrapnel wounds after Russian troops fired artillery on residential homes in the Polohy district, the Zaporizhzhia Military Administration said.

Northeast Ukraine: Russia’s main efforts in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, were “focused on maintaining the occupied borders,” the military said. Regional officials said one woman was found dead under the rubble of a school after shelling overnight; one man was also injured. Six other civilians were also injured after shelling to two areas southeast and northeast of Kharkiv.

Russian forces retreated from the city in May, leaving behind evidence of potential atrocities.

Three civilians in Sumy, a city northwest of Kharkiv, were injured after a Russian plane “fired three missiles” around midnight during an air raid, destroying one house and damaging several others.

Western Ukraine: In Lviv, the city in western Ukraine that is housing countless internally displaced Ukrainians, five people were injured after Russia carried out a missile strike on Wednesday night, targeting railways. Train services have been impacted.

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: