June 6, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Andrew Raine, Amy Woodyatt, Jack Guy and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022
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1:46 p.m. ET, June 6, 2022

Situation changing "every hour" as heavy fighting continues in Severodonetsk, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

Smoke rises from Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on June 5.
Smoke rises from Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on June 5. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Heavy fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, with the situation "changing every hour," according to Ukrainian officials.

Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the city's military administration, said "there are enough [Ukrainian] forces and means to recapture the city. There are fierce battles and street fights."

Striuk said Russian forces had a substantial numerical advantage. "They tried to attack the city, and it is happening now. They are throwing away more and more human resources, which of course complicates the situation," the official said.

"Now Severodonetsk is being leveled, because they can't capture it in one to two days. The city is being destroyed. It is impossible to say about the preservation of infrastructure because even before the acute phase of the attack on the city and its assault, the infrastructure was almost destroyed. Both gas and water supply will need almost complete reconstruction," he added.

The highway from the west along which supplies for the Ukrainian front lines travel is under increasing attack from Russian artillery, with Russian units getting closer to it. Striuk said that it "remains under the control of the Armed Forces, but it is still dangerous to move as enemy artillery is reaching [it.]".

The General Staff said that Ukrainian units were thwarting the enemy's attempts to take control of the highway.

The Russians have intensified artillery attacks on areas north of the city of Sloviansk and are shelling Ukrainian positions on the southern side of the Siverskiy Donets river. Russian forces appear to be close to the town of Sviatohirsk on the north side of the river — the site of a historic Russian Orthodox monastery. But there is no evidence that they have been able to cross the river in this area.

12:49 p.m. ET, June 6, 2022

UN envoy on sexual violence in Ukraine says she thinks situation "is turning into a human trafficking crisis"

From CNN's Laura Ly

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten addresses the UN Security Council in New York on June 6.
UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten addresses the UN Security Council in New York on June 6. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence Pramila Patten said Monday that she believes the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is “turning into a human trafficking crisis.”

Women and children fleeing the conflict are being targeted for trafficking and exploitation – in some cases facing further exposure to rape and other risks while seeking refuge,” Patten told the UN Security Council in New York City on Monday.

She said addressing the issue will require “a coherent and coordinated response at the level of European institutions” and “a concerted, integrated and holistic cross-border response humanitarian partners, law enforcement agencies, border forces, immigration officials and political leaders.”

The UN special representative added that she visited reception centers at Ukrainian borders in Poland and Moldova. While there has been an outpouring of financial and moral support for Ukrainians from neighboring countries, there have also been a number of “credible anecdotal accounts from humanitarian staff” regarding suspected attempts of human trafficking, Patten said. She called the protection challenges related to the displacement of Ukrainians “unprecedented.” 

“The lack of consistent vetting of accommodation offers and transportation arrangements is a serious concern, as well as the limited capacity of protection services to address the velocity and volume of displacement. There are also concerns regarding the multiplicity of volunteers, with limited vetting, and little or no training or experience,” Patten said.

Per Patten, the “credible anecdotal accounts from humanitarian staff” at a reception center for Ukrainian refugees in Przemysl, Poland, regarding suspected, attempts at human trafficking include:

  • A male volunteer made contact with a 19-year-old woman, whom he later woke up in the sleeping hall at 2 am local time, offering a ride to France. Another volunteer became suspicious of the male volunteer roaming the sleeping quarters in the early morning hours, and intervened. 
  • Another male wearing a volunteer vest and standing with a sign at the train station hall, was seen offering free transport from Poland to Germany. Other volunteers became suspicious and informed local law enforcement when they noticed that the man was selecting only young women for transportation in his minivan.

“The prevalence of sexual violence in conflicts throughout history teaches us that reinforcing prevention, protection, and service-delivery is critical from the onset of any armed conflict,” Patten said. “To address this challenge, it is crucial to ensure that the level of political focus as well as the allocation of resources for a comprehensive response, is commensurate with the scale and complexity of the problem.”

CNN’s Richard Roth contributed reporting to this post.

10:19 a.m. ET, June 6, 2022

Ukrainian Navy says Russian ships withdrew from coastal waters in Black Sea

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

The Ukrainian Navy says ships of the Russian Black Sea fleet have withdrawn to more than 100 kilometers (about 65 miles) from Ukrainian shores as a result of its attacks with missiles and drones.

In an operational update Monday, the Navy said that in an effort to regain control of north-western parts of the Black Sea, the Russians had deployed coastal missile systems in the Crimea and Kherson regions.

It said that the threat of missile strikes from the sea remains. "Since the beginning of the invasion, enemy ships and submarines have launched more than 300 cruise missiles on Ukrainian territory. Currently, the intensity of strikes with Caliber cruise missiles has decreased, while the enemy began to hit ground targets with anti-ship missiles....Probably, this indicates that Russia has used a significant amount of modern missile weapons and is forced to use out-dated types of missiles."

The Navy said that approximately 30 Russian ships and submarines continued the blockade of civilian shipping. "Currently, there are up to 12 large landing ships in the Black Sea, but more than a third of them are under repair," the Navy said.

"We deprived the Russian Black Sea Fleet of complete control over the north-western part of the Black Sea, which has become a "grey zone". At the same time, the enemy has adopted our tactics and is trying to regain control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea through coastal missile systems and air-based cruise missiles," the navy statement said. But it added there was still the risk of the Russians' landing tactical troops and sabotage and reconnaissance groups on the Odesa coast, especially in favorable weather conditions in summer.

9:55 a.m. ET, June 6, 2022

Ukraine Ministry of Defense: Russian missile and air attacks increase on several fronts

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense says that Russian forces have launched missiles and air strikes against a number of targets across Ukraine, as they try to break down Ukrainian defenses and hit key infrastructure.

Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, the Defense Ministry spokesperson, said Russia was carrying out "intense fire and assault operations along the entire line of combat confrontation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions."

Seven aircraft had launched guided missiles from above the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, while coastal missile systems in Crimea were also active.

On the ground, Motuzyanyk said the Russians had made some advances, including north of Sloviansk, where they were advancing in the Sviatohirsk area toward the Siverskiy Donets River. He said the Russians were carrying out "engineering reconnaissance of the area, preparing for the possible forcing of a water barrier." But in other districts on this front they had been repulsed, he said.

Sloviansk is a key target of the Russian operation, and Russian forces have been edging closer to the city in recent weeks.

Further east in Severodonetsk, Motuzyanyk said Ukrainian units were holding back "the offensive of the Russian aggressor, who seeks to surround our troops in the area of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, as well as to block the main logistics routes.....Units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are fighting hard against the occupiers in the eastern and central parts of the city. The enemy spares neither people nor equipment. With the support of artillery, the enemy conducts assault operations to achieve its goal of taking control of the city," he said.

The Russians are also continuing efforts to break through Ukrainian lines defending the route between Lysychansk and Bakhmut, but had been repulsed, Motuzyanyk said.

Further south, an attempt to break through towards the border of Donetsk region had been thwarted. Ukrainian forces had "inflicted heavy losses and forced several enemy sabotage groups to retreat" as they tried to reach the settlements of Rivnopol and Novosilka, close to the regional border with Zaporizhzhia.

In the northern region of Kharkiv, Motuzyanyk said that enemy fire continued against settlements to the north and east of the capital city in an effort to prevent Ukrainian forces reaching the border with Russia.

In the south, the Russians appear to be trying to win back ground that had been lost to a Ukrainian offensive over the last week. Motuzyanyk said that Ukrainian troops were holding off a Russian counter-attack near the settlements of Lozove and Bila Krynytsia. In the same region, Russian troops were firing on Ukrainian positions along the entire line of contact between Mykolaiv and Kherson, he said.

9:19 a.m. ET, June 6, 2022

At least 1 dead after shelling of residential area of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Mick Krever, and Tim Lister

At least one person is dead and several more injured after Russia shelled a residential area of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, according to the regional council.

“This morning Mykolaiv was being shelled chaotically again,” Hanna Zamazieieva, head of Mykolaiv regional council, said on Telegram. “Civil residential houses in different districts of the city with no military objects were shelled.”

Over the past week, Ukrainian forces have been pressing an offensive on Russian-occupied Kherson, to the southeast of Mykolaiv, reportedly retaking some previously occupied villages.

On Sunday, a Russian missile destroyed a large grain storage facility in Mykolaiv, according to the spokesperson for the Ukraine’s Operational Command South.

8:44 a.m. ET, June 6, 2022

Russia loses another general in Donbas

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

A Russian general has died in Donbas, Russian state media said, citing the Telegram channel of a war correspondent Sunday. 

The Russian general was identified as Roman Kutuzov by Russian state media and Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“According to military correspondent Alexander Sladkov’s Telegram channel, Kutuzov, a native of the Airborne Forces, led people into the attack and died in battle,” Russia 24 said. 

Ukrainian Armed Forces also said Kutuzov had died.

"Major General Roman Kutuzov, Commander of the 1st Army Corps (Orcs) of the [DPR], has been officially denazified and demilitarized,” the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Sunday in a Facebook post.

Prior to being sent to the Donetsk People’s Republic, Kutuzov served as chief of staff of the 29th combined-arms army of the Eastern Military District of Russia, according to Ukrainian independent news agency UNIAN journalist Roman Tsymbalyuk.

7:44 a.m. ET, June 6, 2022

First Russian strikes on Kyiv in weeks among key developments from this weekend

From CNN's Jack Guy

Smoke rises after several missiles hit Kyiv, Ukraine on June 5.
Smoke rises after several missiles hit Kyiv, Ukraine on June 5. (Sergi Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images) 

This weekend saw continued heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, as well as the first Russian strikes on Kyiv in weeks.

Russian forces launched five cruise missiles toward the Ukrainian capital from the Caspian Sea at 6 a.m. local time Sunday.

One missile was destroyed by Ukraine’s air defense unit, and the rest hit “infrastructure facilities in the north of the Ukrainian capital,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement.

Several of the missiles hit the Darnytsia Carriage Repair Plant, injuring one railroad worker, according to Oleksandr Kamyshin, CEO of the Ukrainian state railroad enterprise Ukrzaliznytsia. Passenger trains were not delayed by the attacks, he said.

“I officially declare that there is no military equipment on the plant’s territory. This plant repaired cargo carriages, including those we use for grain export,” Kamyshin said.

“Their real target is the economy of Ukraine and the civilian population,” he said. “They also want to block our opportunity to export Ukrainian products to the West.”

On Monday, the UK defense ministry’s latest intelligence assessment said the missile attack was probably an attempt to disrupt the supply of Western military equipment to frontline Ukrainian units.

In addition, the ministry said, Russian forces have probably moved multiple air defense assets to Snake Island in the Black Sea, and it is likely that these weapons are intended to provide air defense for Russian naval vessels operating around Snake Island.

“Russia’s activity on Snake Island contributes to its blockade of the Ukrainian coast and hinders the resumption of maritime trade, including exports of Ukrainian grain,” it added.

Heavy fighting continued over the weekend in eastern Ukraine, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he visited troops in some of the most heavily bombarded front-line positions in the Luhansk region on Sunday.

In his nightly address, Zelensky said: “We were in Lysychansk, and we were in Soledar.”

Both places have been under heavy Russian attack for weeks, suffering missile, rocket and aerial bombardment.

Elsewhere in the east of the country, Ukrainian forces regained some territory in the city of Severodonetsk through a series of counterattacks, but, by Monday, Russian forces had turned the tide.

“The fiercest battles continue here,” Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said on Monday morning. “Our defenders managed to counterattack for a while – they liberated almost half of the city. However, now the situation has worsened for us again.”

7:40 a.m. ET, June 6, 2022

UN watchdog warns of "clear and present risk" at nuclear power plant in Russian-controlled Ukraine

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

There is a “clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards” at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is currently controlled by Russia, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Monday.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that “at least five of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised at the site.”

In remarks to the IAEA’s Board of Governors, Grossi reiterated that he was “working actively to agree, organize and head an IAEA-led International Mission” to the facility, in order to “carry out essential nuclear safety, security and safeguards work at the site.”

Some background: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since early March. Grossi visited the now-defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kyiv, which was briefly occupied by Russian forces, at the end of April.

“Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia NPP site remains under the control of the Russian forces there. I have repeatedly expressed my grave concern at the extremely stressful and challenging working conditions under which Ukrainian management and staff are operating the plant," Grossi said.

“The situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP has not only raised serious and pressing humanitarian concerns but is also a clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards at the nuclear power plant.”

“There are indications from Ukraine regarding their concern about interruptions in the supply chain of spare parts to Zaporizhzhia NPP. This means now at least five of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised at the site. The Ukrainian regulator has informed us that they have ‘lost control over’ the facility’s nuclear material that is subject to the Safeguards Agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA," he added.

He concluded by saying that “the urgent need for us to be there is clear to all.”

6:54 a.m. ET, June 6, 2022

Ukraine's military intelligence head visited an embattled eastern city

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Mick Krever

Ukraine's military intelligence chief has visited the embattled city of Severodonetsk amid reports that the Ukrainian position there has worsened.

The country's defense ministry said Monday that Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov has been to the eastern city, though it is unclear when the visit took place.

Some background: After reclaiming territory from Russia over the weekend, the Ukrainian position in Severodonetsk has deteriorated on Monday, the region’s top official said on Ukrainian television Monday.

“The fiercest battles continue here,” Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said on Monday morning. “Our defenders managed to counterattack for a while ­-- they liberated almost half of the city. However, now the situation has worsened for us again.”

Hayday said that the Russians are using “standard scorched-earth tactics,” and that evacuation of the approximately 15,000 civilians remaining in the city is impossible because of intense fighting.

Budanov “inspected the work of the Intelligence units in the city of Severodonetsk,” the Intelligence Directorate said on its official Telegram channel.

“Budanov got acquainted with the operational situation on this section of the front and determined the further actions of the units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.”

The statement added that that Russia is targeting most of its shelling at the neighboring city of Lysychansk, which sits on strategic high ground across the Siverskyi Donets River from Severodonetsk.