June 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Sana Noor Haq, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0405 GMT (1205 HKT) June 6, 2022
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8:11 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

Ukrainian official says Russian general given until June 10 to capture Severodonetsk or key highway

From CNN's Taras Zadorozhnyy, Julia Presniakova and Bex Wright

Russian forces are “advancing” in several areas north of the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine after they “completed regrouping of troops,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Sloviansk city military administration said hundreds of people were fleeing Sloviansk every day, with evacuation numbers almost doubling this week. A missile strike that killed three people on Tuesday “pushed the citizens to leave,” the official said.

In nearby Lyman, Russia is also “advancing in the direction of Sviatohirsk, trying to push our troops to the right bank of the Siverskyi Donets River,” the military said.

Russian troops continue to pummel areas of eastern Ukraine. In the past 24 hours, eight civilians were killed and 11 were injured in the Donetsk region after Russian forces shelled 15 areas, an update from the regional military-civilian administrations said on Sunday.

Russia also conducted two air strikes in Donetsk, including one overnight in the key city of Kramatorsk, which caused “serious damage to two enterprises in the city,” but did not result in casualties, Oleksandr Honcharenko, Kramatorsk Mayor said.

In areas around Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, the Russians are “firing on the front line of defense and the rear areas of our troops, in order to restrain our units and prevent their regrouping,” the military said.

And in Luhansk, Russian forces fired on five areas, including Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, with artillery and multiple rocket launchers. Air strikes were also carried out on four areas, regional officials said.

One person was also killed and two others were injured after shelling in Hirske and Lysychansk, which also damaged 18 houses and a police department building. In Severodonetsk, a building on the Azot chemical factory complex was damaged by Russian artillery shelling, regional officials said, with no casualties reported.

Russia’s units are “focusing on offensive operations to surround our troops” in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, and to “block the main logistics routes,” the military said.

The Russian general Aleksandr Dvornikov “has received the task by June 10 of either completely capturing Severodonetsk, or completely cutting off the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway and taking it under control,” Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk regional military administration said. “Therefore, a huge amount of forces, everything they had, all reserves — everything is used to accomplish these two tasks.”

Near Severodonetsk in the city of Lysychansk, a humanitarian aid center was “completely destroyed” by Russian shelling on Sunday, Hayday added.

In the northeast, in the Kharkiv region, the Russians used phosphorus munitions in the Cherkaski Tyshky area northeast of Kharkiv, the military said.

One person was also injured after Russian shelling of Chuguev to the southeast of Kharkiv, and several other areas came under fire overnight, regional officials said.

“The enemy does not stop firing on the positions of our troops near the city of Kharkiv,” the military statement said.

In Sumy in the northeast, Russia fired artillery shells at infrastructure facilities in two areas, the military said, and the Chernihiv region in the north was also shelled.

This post has been updated with additional information about casualties from regional officials.

4:02 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

Russian missile shot down south of Kyiv, says Ukrainian official

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Bex Wright

A Russian missile was downed on Sunday by Ukraine’s air defense system above the Obukhiv area south of Kyiv, the Kyiv region military administration said on Sunday.

“According to the preliminary information, there are no casualties or destruction,” the statement said.

Some background: Multiple explosions also hit the capital on Sunday morning local time. One person was hospitalized.

“In reference to this morning's explosions in the capital's Darnytskyi and Dniprovskyi districts, there are currently no casualties from missile strikes on infrastructure. One victim was hospitalized,” Klitschko said on Telegram.

He added that the city’s services are still operating in the affected areas. 

Russia “continues to launch missile and air strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in our country, in particular in Kyiv,” a separate update the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Sunday.

CNN's Taras Zadorozhnyy, Josh Pennington and Sophie Jeong contributed reporting to this post.

3:02 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

Ukrainian counterattacks in Severodonetsk are likely “blunting” Russian momentum: UK Ministry of Defense

From CNN's Bex Wright

Ukrainian counterattacks over the past 24 hours in Severodonetsk are likely “blunting” Russian momentum, the UK Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update on Sunday.

“Ukrainian forces have counterattacked in the contested city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower,” the ministry said.

The ministry said the Russian troops include personnel mobilized from the reserve of the Russian-led separatist forces of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic.

“These troops are poorly equipped and trained, and lack heavy equipment in comparison to regular Russian units," it said.

“The use of proxy infantry forces for urban clearance operations is a Russian tactic previously observed in Syria, where Russia employed V Corps of the Syrian Army to assault urban areas,” the ministry said. 
“This approach likely indicates a desire to limit casualties suffered by regular Russian forces.”
4:16 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

Russia flies cruise missile “critically low” over a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, operator says

From CNN's Taras Zadorozhnyy and Bex Wright

The South Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant is seen in this 2015 file image.
The South Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant is seen in this 2015 file image. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia flew a cruise missile “critically low” over the South Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant on Sunday, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power station operator Energoatom said.

Russia continues to threaten the nuclear safety of Ukrainian nuclear power plants and threatens the world with a new nuclear catastrophe,” the operator said in a statement.
“Russia committed another act of nuclear terrorism — at 5:30 a.m. a Russian cruise missile, similar to the 'Caliber' missile, flew critically low over the South Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant,” Energoatom said.
“Probably, this missile was fired in the direction of Kyiv, where explosions were heard this morning.”

Energoatom said that Russian forces “still do not understand that even the smallest fragment of a missile that can hit a working power unit can cause a nuclear catastrophe and radiation leak.”

2:33 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

Russia continues to “storm” Severodonetsk and controls the eastern part of the city: Ukrainian official

From Taras Zadorozhnyy and Bex Wright

Russian troops continue to “storm” the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, and they are “controlling the eastern part of the city,” Serhiy Hayday, the head of Luhansk regional military administration said on Sunday.

Russian forces are also “focusing on offensive operations to surround our troops” in Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk, and to “block the main logistics routes,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a separate update on Sunday.

Around 40 kilometers (24 miles) southwest of Severodonetsk, Russia is also trying to “lead an offensive in the direction of Nyrkove – Mykolaivka,” Hayday said.

In Severodonetsk's industrial area: Russia again attacked the Azot chemical factory complex with “artillery shelling,” Hayday said, damaging one of the buildings.

Last Tuesday, a Russian air strike hit a tank of nitric acid at the factory and on Thursday, troops fired at the complex and hit an administrative building and a warehouse. Hayday said 800 people are currently sheltering in several Soviet-era bomb shelters underneath the factory. 

In the Hirske area: About 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Severodonetsk, “significant damage” was sustained to 13 buildings.

Five buildings were also damaged in Lysychansk, the city next to Severodonetsk.

In Luhansk and Donetsk: In the past 24 hours, “five enemy attacks have been repulsed” and Ukrainian troops have destroyed “three tanks, four artillery systems, eleven armored combat vehicles and twenty-six vehicles,” Hayday said. Air defense units also shot down a Ka-52 combat helicopter and two Orlan-10 UAVs, he added.

4:04 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

Kyiv mayor says one person hospitalized after explosions on Sunday

From CNN's Taras Zadorozhnyy, Josh Pennington, Sophie Jeong and Bex Wright

Smoke rises after a missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 5.
Smoke rises after a missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 5. (Vladyslav Sodel/Reuters)

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person has been hospitalized after multiple explosions hit the capital on Sunday morning local time.

“In reference to this morning's explosions in the capital's Darnytskyi and Dniprovskyi districts, there are currently no casualties from missile strikes on infrastructure. One victim was hospitalized,” Klitschko said on Telegram.

He said the city’s services are still operating in the affected areas. 

Russia “continues to launch missile and air strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in our country, in particular in Kyiv,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a separate update on Sunday.

  

2:46 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

Explosions reported in Kyiv early Sunday

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Smoke rises in Kyiv, Ukraine after several explosions were reported around the capital on Sunday June 5.
Smoke rises in Kyiv, Ukraine after several explosions were reported around the capital on Sunday June 5. (CNN)

Several explosions were reported around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv at dawn on Sunday local time. 

"A few blasts in the Darnytskyi and Dniprovskyi districts of Kyiv. The services are already working on site. More detailed information later," said Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Telegram.

A CNN journalist who saw the aftermath of the explosions said one north-east of Kyiv sent a thick column of smoke into the sky.  

There were also reports of missile strikes around the port city of Odesa early Sunday. 

12:00 a.m. ET, June 5, 2022

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

The Russian state news agency TASS said five civilians were killed on Saturday as a result of multiple explosions close to the city of Donetsk. Meanwhile, hundreds of people are fleeing the eastern city of Sloviansk daily.

Here are the latest developments on the war in Ukraine:

  • Donetsk explosions: Five people were killed and 20 injured as a result of multiple explosions close to the city of Donetsk caused by the Ukrainian armed forces, Russian state news agency TASS reported. The city is held by the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, but is rarely shelled by Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian officials have not commented on the explosions.
  • Churches destroyed: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian artillery has "destroyed" 113 churches since the invasion of Ukraine. "Among them are the ancient ones — those that withstood World War II, but did not withstand the Russian occupation," he said. On Saturday, CNN reported the All Saints Church in Sviatohirsk Lavra was "destroyed" by Russian shelling.
  • Fight for Severodonetsk: The Russian army is "throwing all its reserves into" capturing the city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Luhansk region, according to Serhiy Hayday, the head of the regional military administration. "They had previously managed to capture most of the city, but now our military has pushed them back," he said, claiming the Russians are "suffering huge losses." Earlier Saturday, Hayday said Ukraine now controls about half of Severodonetsk.
  • Hundreds fleeing Sloviansk daily: Hundreds of people are fleeing the eastern city as the Ukrainian military says Russian units are being reinforced on the approaches to Sloviansk in preparation to resume an offensive. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Friday the Russians are concentrating a force of up to 20 battalion tactical groups in the area. There are currently around 22,000 people left in Sloviansk, around a fifth of the pre-war population.
  • State of fighting: As Russia intensifies its assault on the eastern part of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has claimed that Russian troops are making little progress, particularly in the Donetsk region. Russia’s air activity “remains high” over eastern Ukraine and has contributed to Russia’s “recent tactical successes,” but has “failed to have a meaningful impact on the conflict,” the latest intelligence assessment from the UK’s defense ministry said on Saturday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this week that one-fifth of the country's territory is under Russian control, with the Donbas area "almost entirely destroyed."
  • Ukrainian foreign minister slams Macron: Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reacted angrily to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that "we must not humiliate Russia." Kuleba said that it is "Russia that humiliates itself. We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives."

11:54 p.m. ET, June 4, 2022

President Zelensky says Russian shelling has destroyed 113 churches in Ukraine since start of war

From CNN'S Mariya Knight in Atlanta

An exterior view of a destroyed church on April 10,  in Lukashivka village, Ukraine.
An exterior view of a destroyed church on April 10, in Lukashivka village, Ukraine. (Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian artillery has "destroyed" 113 churches during "the full-scale war" with Ukraine.

In his nightly address on Saturday, Zelensky said, "Among them are the ancient ones - those that withstood World War II, but did not withstand the Russian occupation." 
"There are also those that were built after 1991. Reconstruction of the Skete of All Saints of the Sviatohirsk Lavra began in 2001. June 10 would be another anniversary of the beginning of construction," he said.

Earlier Saturday, CNN reported All Saints Church in Sviatohirsk Lavra was "destroyed" by Russian shelling.

Zelensky noted in his address it is "not the first shelling of the Lavra," and "three Lavra monks were killed by the Russian shelling on Wednesday. Worship services are forced to be held in the basement."

According to the President, the sounds of incoming Russian artillery are "constant" in the Lavra.

Zelensky pointed out Sviatohirsk Lavra "belongs to Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is still considered in Moscow to be connected with the Russian Orthodox Church, but even this does not stop the Russian army."

In the light of "the support of the Orthodox hierarchs in Russia for the aggression against Ukraine," Zelensky called on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church "to draw conclusions."

"The Russian army can stop burning churches. The Russian army can stop destroying cities. The Russian army can stop killing children. If the same person in Moscow just gives such an order. And the fact that there is still no such order is an obvious humiliation for the whole world," he said.