June 9, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Ed Upright, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Kathleen Magramo and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 2:54 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022
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6:32 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

The integration of Kherson into Russia has started, claims Russia-appointed leader

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Mick Krever

The integration of the Ukraine’s Kherson region into Russia is underway, the Russian-appointed leader of the region claimed on Thursday.

“We are sure that Russia is with us, and we are with Russia forever,” Vladimir Saldo said via Telegram. “Integration has begun and will continue intensively.”

Saldo offered no further details on what “integration” means.

Russian troops guard an entrance of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station, a run-of-the-river power plant on the Dnieper River in Kherson region, southern Ukraine, on May 20.
Russian troops guard an entrance of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station, a run-of-the-river power plant on the Dnieper River in Kherson region, southern Ukraine, on May 20. (AP)

The city of Kherson, in the south of Ukraine, has been under Russian control since the early days of the invasion.

But the Ukrainian military has in recent weeks stepped up its counterattacks on Russian positions in the Kherson region.

A senior official in Russia's governing United Russia party, Andrei Turchak, visited Kherson last week.

“We feel that we are already together with Russia,” Saldo said. “There is confidence that in a common big family all problems will be solved systematically and we will adequately respond to all requests of the time.” 

5:11 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Battle for Severodonetsk "developing quite dynamically" after "difficult" night, say officials

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Mick Krever

The battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk continues to rage as local officials say that Russia now controls most of the key city.

“The night was difficult,” said Oleksandr Striuk, head of Severodonetsk’s city military administration, on national television Thursday morning. “Our armed forces control part of the city -- the industrial zone, and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Striuk said that around 10,000 people remained in the city. The industrial zone -- which contains the Azot chemical plant, where last week some 800 people were said to be sheltering -- came under heavy shelling overnight, he said.

There were no casualties at the chemical plant overnight and “the bomb shelter also survived,” said Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration via Telegram on Thursday.

“The blasts damaged at least two plant shops in the chemical plant,” Hayday said. “One of them is a key one -- for the ammonia production 1-B. However, no chemicals emissions were into the environment -- all fertilizers and chemicals, according to the owner of the enterprise, were removed from the territory on the second day of the war.”

Earlier Thursday, in an interview on national television, Hayday said that “street fights” continue to rage in the city.

The situation there is developing quite dynamically,” Hayday said.

“Russia is constantly firing on the part that is controlled by the Ukrainians. They are constantly firing artillery, and very powerfully," he added. "And they dismantle the houses floor by floor. In this sense, it is very difficult.”

Hayday said that he believed that Russia wanted to capture the whole city by the weekend, in time for Russia Day on Sunday, but that they would not achieve that goal.

“As soon as we have long-range artillery so that we can hold artillery duels with Russian artillery, our special forces can clear the city in two to three days," he said.

A National Guard commander fighting for control of the city told national television on Thursday that his forces were “catastrophically short of artillery barrels.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday evening that “in many ways, the fate of our Donbas is being decided there,” in Severodonetsk.

On Wednesday Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said that his military is progressing according to plan in its so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. 

“You will see the liberation of all the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts," he said. "That will hopefully take place soon.”

5:05 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

First rail cars with grain depart occupied Melitopol, says Russia-backed leader

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever

The first rail cars carrying Ukrainian grain from the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol have departed, headed towards Crimea, a leader in the Russian-backed military administration of the occupied portion of Zaporizhzhia region said on Wednesday.

“I inform you with pride and joy that the first railway wagons, 11 wagons, went with grain from the Melitopol elevator in the direction of Crimea,” Eugeny Balitsky said on Solovyov live, an online video platform. “It can be predicted that in the near future these deliveries will be increased hundreds of times.”

Balitsky said he hoped the grain would find its way to Turkey and the Middle East in quotes cited by state-run broadcaster Russia-24.

"We send grain through the Russian Federation. The main contracts are being concluded with Turkey. The first trains have already gone through Crimea, went in the direction of the Middle East," he said, noting that "it was a traditional market for Ukraine."
4:06 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Ukraine war threatens "unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution," says UN Secretary-General

From CNN's Kristina Sguelia and Mick Krever

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses reporters during a news conference to introduce the second report of the Global Crisis Response Group on June 8, at UN headquarters, New York.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses reporters during a news conference to introduce the second report of the Global Crisis Response Group on June 8, at UN headquarters, New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The war in Ukraine threatens to “unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution” around the world, the United Nations Secretary-General said on Wednesday. 

“For those on the ground, every day brings new bloodshed and suffering,” Antonio Guterres said in New York. “And for people around the world, the war, together with the other crises, is threatening to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake.”

This year’s crisis is about “lack of access,” he said. “Next year’s could be about lack of food.

“Make no mistake: no country or community will be left untouched by this cost-of-living crisis.”

4:00 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Zelensky says "millions of people may starve" if Russia continues blockade of ports

From CNN's Mick Krever

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via taped video address to the Time 100 Gala from Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 9.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via taped video address to the Time 100 Gala from Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 9. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is warning that millions of people around the world may starve if Russia fails to allow Ukraine to export grain from its ports.

“We cannot export our wheat, corn, vegetable oil and other products that have played a stabilizing role in the global market,” he said according to the prepared remarks of a taped video address to the Time 100 Gala.
“This means that, unfortunately, dozens of countries may face a physical shortage of food. Millions of people may starve if Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea continues.”

Some context: Global leaders have condemned a months-long blockade by Russian forces at key ports in Ukraine — including Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and Odesa on the Black Sea — which has left more than 20 million tons of grain stuck inside the country. The Ukrainian Navy said Monday that approximately 30 Russian ships and submarines continued the blockade of civilian shipping in the Black Sea.

3:38 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Russian ambassador says "progress is being made" in its invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Mick Krever

Vasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations is seen on Thursday, May 19.
Vasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations is seen on Thursday, May 19. (John Minchillo/AP)

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said the country's military is progressing according to plan in its so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“The progress is being made, that’s clear,” Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, told the BBC in an interview broadcast Wednesday. “Nobody promised to deliver it in three or seven days, as some pundits are saying now.”

He claimed “the plan is developing according to the military plans that were initially envisaged — of course with minor tactical changes, because you cannot predict whatever happens on the front line.”

“You will see the liberation of all the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. That will hopefully take place soon,” he said.

Some context: More than three months into its bloody assault on Ukraine, Russia insists on referring to the Kremlin's attack as a "special military operation," effectively banning words such as invasion and war.

3:56 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Ukrainian forces "catastrophically short of artillery barrels" in Luhansk, commander says

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Mick Krever

Ukrainian forces fighting for control of the twin eastern Ukrainian cites of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are “catastrophically” short of artillery pieces, a commander in the national guard fighting in that region said on national television. 

“There is no problem here that we have bad positions or we maneuver badly or choose a good position,” Petro Kuzyk, commander of the Svoboda battalion, said. “The problem is that we are catastrophically short of artillery barrels.”

Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 7.
Smoke and dirt rise from shelling in the city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 7. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Tactical retreat: The head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Serhiy Hayday, suggested on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces might stage a tactical retreat in Severodonetsk. Its sister city, Lysychansk, lies on strategic high ground across the Siverskyi Donets River. Later on Wednesday, Hayday said Russia now controls most of Severodonetsk.

“With all due respect to Serhiy Hayday, this is a political opinion,” Kuzyk said. “There is a certain strategy in maneuvering: Lysychansk is on the bank above. But this is completely absurd if the crucial key issue is not resolved, and it is that the occupier has an advantage in artillery.
“If, for example, there is an order to leave Severodonetsk and keep Lysychansk, then the artillery that is currently concentrated on the part of Severodonetsk that we are holding will join the part that fires on Lysychansk, and the concentration of artillery at the positions will double. And in fact such an advantage in height will be offset by a greater concentration of artillery.”
3:49 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

Ukrainian official accuses Russia of stealing 600,000 tons of grain

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

A satellite image shows an overview of bulk carrier ship loading grain at the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, on May 19.
A satellite image shows an overview of bulk carrier ship loading grain at the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, on May 19. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

A Ukrainian official on Wednesday accused Russia of stealing about 600,000 tons of grain from Ukraine that he claimed was later transported to the Middle East.

In a statement, Denys Marchuk, deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council Public Union claimed the grain was stolen from occupied regions in the south of the country.

He claimed the grain was transported to the port of Sevastopol in the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea before onward shipment to the Middle East.

Criminal cases have been opened “to demand through the international courts of law that Russia compensates those who has been affected by these actions,” Marchuk said.
Marchuk called Russia’s actions “a well-planned operation by the occupiers.”

Russia has not yet responded to Marchuk’s accusation. 

Some context: CNN has previously reported that convoys of trucks have been seen carrying grain from farms and silos in southern Ukraine into Crimea. Ukrainian authorities estimated in May that Russian forces in occupied areas had seized more than 400,000 tons of grain.

CNN cannot independently verify how much grain Russia has transported out of Ukraine.

12:25 a.m. ET, June 9, 2022

South Korea pledges more than $1 million to support Ukraine's nuclear power plants

From CNN’s Gawon Bae in Seoul, South Korea

South Korea will provide $1.2 million dollars to support the safe operations of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants that are under military threats amid the ongoing war with Russia, the country's Foreign Ministry said in a news release.

The support will be provided through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to dispatch IAEA personnel and buy equipment needed to take safety measures at the facilities, it said.

“Our government will actively support IAEA’s effort for safe operations of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine, and participate in other international efforts related to peaceful usage of nuclear power,” the ministry added.

The decision was announced during an IAEA board meeting in Vienna.

In Seoul on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Park Jin expressed regret over the war as he met with Ukraine’s Vice Foreign Minister Dmytro Senik, according to the ministry.