Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
June 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Kathleen Magramo, Helen Regan, Jack Guy and Ed Upright, CNN
Most of the eastern city of Severodonetsk is now controlled by the Russians, Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, announced on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian forces reported fierce battles taking place at several locations across the eastern city in Ukraine's Luhansk region.
"The Russians are destroying everything," Hayday said in a televised announcement, "They are firing tanks and artillery at residential buildings."
In an interview with news outlet RBC-Ukraine on Wednesday, Hayday said that earlier this week, Ukrainian special forces had managed to take control of almost half of the city.
But he said that when the Russian troops saw the Ukrainian advance, "they simply began to level it to the ground with air strikes and artillery."
Hayday explained that Ukrainian forces had no choice but to make a temporary tactical retreat from the central parts of the city due to the intense Russian bombardment.
The official said that despite the pullback, Ukraine has retained control of Serverodonetsk's industrial zone, a key area on the outskirts of city.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the eastern city of Severodonetsk "remains the epicenter of the confrontation in Donbas.”
“This is a very fierce battle, very difficult,’’ he said. “Probably one of the most difficult throughout this war. I am grateful to everyone who defends this direction. In many ways, the fate of our Donbas is being decided there.”
Zelensky also said that on Wednesday “the occupiers announced the absolutely crazy news that they are preparing to unite some football clubs from all occupied territories into one pseudo-championship — from Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Melitopol, Crimea, and even part of Georgia. “
He called this decision “a mockery” of the Ukrainian people. Only the return of Ukraine, Zelensky stressed, will mean “a normal life for these territories, for these cities — again... Peaceful, safe, open to the world. And of course — new matches of world-class teams at the Donbas Arena,” he added.
Zelensky also thanked President of Poland Andrzej Duda and President of Slovakia Zuzana Čaputová for the joint initiative to start “a special trip to European countries to support the European perspective of our country.” He says all Ukrainian diplomats are working on this issue in full.
The Ukrainian president also mentioned that he addressed the representatives of the world's largest investment funds at a private event on Wednesday and urged them to invest in Ukraine.
Zelensky talked to “members of the community of leaders of major American companies.” He prompted them “to leave the Russian market and not to support this war with their taxes.” He said it is very important for him to know that these leaders support strengthening the sanctions against Russia.
Authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine have released propaganda video showing three foreigners in court over accusations they were mercenaries fighting for Ukraine.
The video, released Tuesday by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, showed British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune.
The three men have been charged with “mercenarism, crimes aimed at forcible seizure and retention of power, as well as training in order to carry out terrorist activities on the territory of the DPR," said Vitalia Cherniavskaya, an official representative of general prosecutor of DPR, in a separate video released on the DPR Telegram channel.
Russia is the only country that considers the DPR independent. The international community does not recognize DPR and its institutions and considers the territory to be part of Ukraine.
DPR authorities said the three were foreign fighters who had been captured in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by Russian forces in April. Independent watchdog groups have long accused the separatists of a dismal human-rights track record and ill-treatment of prisoners.
The Ukrainian government said in a statement on Wednesday that it considers all foreign volunteers to be members of its armed forces and to be lawful combatants entitled to treatment as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.
The family of Aslin said Tuesday it was working with the UK Foreign Office and Ukrainian government to get him home, according to PA media. In a statement released through the UK Foreign Office, the family said Aslin was “a "much-loved man and very much missed."
Pinner was previously member of the UK Armed Forces, according to a statement released by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in April. Several friends of Saadoune told CNN he initially came to Ukraine to study at a university and joined the Ukrainian armed forces in 2021.
US President Joe Biden's administration has issued new investment restrictions that prohibit Americans from buying Russian stocks and bonds.
The ban is the latest step by US officials to crank up the financial pressure on Russia in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to new guidance issued Monday by the Treasury Department, US investors are prohibited from buying “both new and existing debt and equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation.”
Up until now, Americans were able to buy Russian stocks and bonds that change hands in secondary markets.
Americans will still be allowed to sell Russian stocks and bonds, although only to a “non-US person,” the Treasury said. Americans are not “required” to divest Russian securities and may continue to hold them, according to the guidance.
And US investors can also still invest in US funds that own Russian securities, as long as those Russian holdings are not the bulk of the fund’s assets.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have agreed "to do everything" to enable grain exports from Ukraine as concerns mount over a global food crisis.
During a phone call Wednesday, Scholz briefed the Ukrainian leader on his calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron on May 28, according to a statement from the German Chancellery.
"The Chancellor and the Ukrainian President also exchanged views on the current military and humanitarian situation in Ukraine. They agreed that everything must be done to enable grain export from Ukraine, especially by sea," according to the Chancellery.
The leaders' call comes as Turkish and Russian foreign ministers met in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss issues related to grain exports from Ukraine.
In a tweet Wednesday, Zelensky said he raised the issue of Russia's "compliance with international rules of treatment of war prisoners" with Scholz. He also stressed the importance of decisions on Ukraine's integration into the European Union, according to the tweet.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has sharply downgraded its global growth forecasts for 2022 warning that “the world is set to pay a hefty price for Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
OECD now expects global growth to be 3% in 2022 — down from 4.5% in its December forecast — and to remain at similar pace for 2023.
“Inflation projections now stand at nearly 9% in OECD countries in 2022, twice what we were previously projecting,” said OECD Chief Economist and Deputy Secretary-General Laurence Boone, adding that “the extent to which growth will be lower and inflation higher will depend on how the war evolves, but it is clear the poorest will be hit hardest.”
The forecast is in line with the World Bank, which said yesterday that it expects global growth to be 2.9% in 2022.
Among the G20 countries, OECD expects the UK to be hit the most in 2023 besides Russia, projecting that the country will post zero growth in 2023 after growing by 3.6% in 2022.
Boone called for global cooperation to avoid a food crisis.
“Today, the world is producing enough cereals to feed everyone, but prices are very high and the risk is that this production will not reach those who need it most. Global cooperation is needed to ensure that food reaches consumers at affordable prices, in particular in low-income and emerging market economies,” Boone said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia's intentions and goals in Ukraine are "clear" and maintained that Moscow is not halting grain exports from Ukraine.
During a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, a Ukrainian journalist asked Lavrov: "Aside from the grain products, what [else] did Russia steal from Ukraine?"
He responded that "with regards to grains, there is no obstacle or challenge caused by the Russian Federation."
"Mr. Zelensky needs to give an instruction so that Ukrainian ports can become safe," Lavrov said, reiterating his earlier remarks that Ukraine needs to de-mine its waters to ensure the safe passage of ships.
Lavrov said "we are not the ones to blame" for creating an issue and that "the ball is in their [Ukraine's] court."
The Russian foreign minister said Russia is discussing securing the safe passage of ships with the Turkish military.
Lavrov said Russia has "clear intentions and clear goals" in Ukraine, which he claimed are to "liberate" the country from a "neo-Nazi regime," once again repeating a false claim from the Kremlin about Ukraine's government.
The spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry hit back at Lavrov’s statements.
“Lavrov’s words are empty,” Oleg Nikolenko said via Twitter, alongside photos of news headlines summarizing Lavrov’s statements.
“Ukraine has made its position on the sea ports clear: military equipment is required to protect the coastline and a navy mission to patrol the export routes in the Black Sea. Russia cannot be allowed to use grain corridors to attack southern Ukraine,” Nikolenko said.
CNN's Mick Krever contributed reporting to this post.
The battle for the key city of Severodonetsk continues to rage, while Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. Russia has been accused of keeping around 600 people "hostage" in the occupied Kherson region, and there is further controversy over blocked grain shipments.
Here are today's latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:
Fight for Severodonetsk continues: Ukraine could pull back its military “to more fortified positions” but Ukraine will not “give up” the key city, said Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration.
Norway ships artillery pieces: Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine to help it "withstand Russian attacks," according to the Norwegian Ministry of Defense (MOD).
Deportations to Russia continue: More than 1,000 Ukrainian servicemen who recently surrendered in Mariupol will be transported to Russia for “investigation,” Russian state-run news agency TASS reported Wednesday, citing a source in law enforcement.
Further accusations of human rights violations: Around 600 people are “being held hostage” in “rooms outfitted as torture chambers” and “pre-trial detention” facilities in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, according to a Ukrainian official.
Controversy over grain shipments: A top Ukrainian official has accused Russia of “artificially creating obstacles” to gain control over the country’s grain market, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says grain shipments can resume when Ukraine removes mines from coastal waters.
Zelensky discusses cooperation with Germany: The Ukrainian President said he had a telephone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during which the pair discussed "enhancing defense support" and other issues.
More World Bank funding for Ukraine: The bank has approved $1.49 billion of additional financing for Ukraine, part of a support package worth more than $4 billion that will help pay the wages of government and social workers.