June 10, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Jeevan Ravindran and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 0001 GMT (0801 HKT) June 11, 2022
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1:29 p.m. ET, June 10, 2022

McDonald’s replacement in Russia will open Sunday on Russia Day

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Chris Liakos

(Sistema PBO)
(Sistema PBO)

Russia on Sunday plans to open its own fast-food restaurants replacing the iconic McDonald’s, a spokesperson for the new managing firm Sistema PBO told CNN Friday. 

The first 15 restaurants of the chain will open in Moscow and the surrounding region on June 12, she said, adding that “in the near future, openings of other points throughout Russia will follow.”

According to the press office, the new name of the chain and plans for the future will be announced later.

The company’s new logo shared with CNN has “the main symbols of the restaurant” depicted on it — what is supposed to be two sticks of yellow fries and an orange burger. The green background, the press office told CNN, symbolizes “the quality of products and service that guests are accustomed to.”

On Sunday, Russia will also celebrate its national day, originally known as Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty.

McDonald’s decided to leave the country and sell its Russia business following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in line with many other Western businesses.

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

Ukraine believes Russia can continue war "at its current pace" for a year 

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever

Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate believes that Russia can continue the conflict for another year, warning that Ukraine is significantly outgunned on the frontlines. 

“The Kremlin leadership probably will try to freeze the war for a while in order to convince the West to lift sanctions, but then continue the aggression,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Intelligence Directorate said via Telegram. “Russia's economic resources will allow the occupying country to continue the war at its current pace for another year.”

“Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces,” Vadym Skibitsky of the Main Intelligence Directorate said in an interview with The Guardian, and distributed by the Main Intelligence Directorate. “Therefore everything now depends on what weapon the Western partners give us.”

Nonetheless, he said that Ukraine believes that Russia is running out of modern weaponry.

“We have noticed that Russia is carrying out far fewer missile attacks and it has used Kh-22 missiles,” Skibitsky said. “They are old 1970s Soviet missiles. This shows that Russia is running low on high-precision missiles.”

9:47 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

UK defense secretary vows to work "even more closely" with Ukraine during visit to Kyiv

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Sharon Braithwaite and Mick Krever 

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, right, who made an unannounced visit to Kyiv this week, agreed to work “even more closely” with Ukraine during meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, right, who made an unannounced visit to Kyiv this week, agreed to work “even more closely” with Ukraine during meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky. (President of Ukraine)

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who made an unannounced visit to Kyiv this week, agreed to work “even more closely” with Ukraine during meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

“The three agreed to work even more closely going forward in support of their shared goal of enabling Ukraine to liberate itself from illegal Russian occupation,” according to a UK Ministry of Defence press release. “They also discussed the range of equipment and training the UK is currently providing and what further support we can offer to help Ukrainian forces to defend their country.”

It is unclear when the meeting took place. The defense ministry said that the two-day trip took place “this week,” and Zelensky posted video of the meeting on his official Telegram channel on Friday afternoon.

Zelensky told Wallace during the meeting that “war is a great manifestation of who our true friends are,” and that the UK had proven itself to be one.

“I am very grateful for such a truly united work. These words are constantly moving into action, and this is a very important difference between Ukraine's relations with the UK and other countries,” Zelensky said. “Weapons, finances, sanctions are three things in which the United Kingdom has consistently shown its leadership.”

The British readout said that the meetings focused on how the UK could continue to provide “operationally effective lethal aid that meets the current and future threats facing Ukraine” as the war “enters a different phase.”

8:04 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Russian Central Bank cuts interest rates for second time in 2 months

From CNN's Robert North

Russia’s Central Bank has cut interest rates for the second time in two months, reducing rates to 9.5% down from 11%. The bank said inflation is slowing faster than expected.

The bank also said “the decline in economic activity” is smaller than it forecast in April, though it added that the economic environment remains “challenging.” It comes after the bank cut rates from 14% to 11% on May 26. 

The central bank said inflation in Russia is currently 17%, compared to forecasts of 17.8% in April. It now predicts that the rate will drop to between 5% and 7% in 2023 and return to 4% in 2024.

The decline is “largely due to a correction in prices for a small group of goods and services, after they went up sharply in March,” according to the bank. It said that fall is in part due to a rise in the Russian ruble.

Some background: Rates were hiked as high as 20% in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February as the bank tried to prevent Western sanctions triggering a financial crisis.

The ruble crashed to a record low to the US dollar in the wake of the invasion as the West froze about half of Russia’s $600 billion foreign currency reserves. Hundreds of multinational companies have quit the country, and Russia has been banned from buying key Western technology and services.

Russia’s currency has since rebounded, propped up by capital controls aimed at forcing businesses and investors to buy rubles, plus soaring global energy prices.

But Russia’s economy is hardly on a solid footing. Capital controls and emergency reserves can last only so long, and a possible default looms. The Kremlin claimed on May 31 that Russia has the money and a willingness to pay its debt so there was no objective reason for a default.

CNN's Mark Thompson and Clare Sebastian contributed reporting to this post.

8:06 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

UN “concerned” by the death sentences of the three foreign fighters in Donetsk

From CNN's Chris Liakos and Sharon Braithwaite

The United Nations says it is “concerned” by the death sentences of the three foreigners in Donetsk, adding that “according to the Chief Command of Ukraine, all men were part of Ukrainian armed forces and, if the case, should not be considered as mercenaries.”

Responding to reporters during a press briefing in Geneva Friday, UN Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said: “The UN Human Rights Office is concerned that on 9 June, the so-called ‘supreme court’ of self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ sentenced to death three servicemen from Ukrainian armed forces, but citizens of foreign countries, captured in Mariupol, for being mercenaries and for the attempted seizure of power in the so-called ‘republic’."

A court in the pro-Russian, self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) sentenced Moroccan citizen Brahim Saadoune and British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner to death on Thursday, after accusing them of being “mercenaries” for Ukraine.

Shamdasani said that since 2015 the UN has observed that “the so-called ‘judiciary’ in self-proclaimed ‘republics’ has not complied with essential fair trial guarantees, such as public hearing, independence and impartiality of the court and the right not to be compelled to testify.”

“Such trials against prisoners of war amount to a war crime. In the case of the use of the death penalty, fair trial guarantees are all the more important,” Shamdasani said.

7:57 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Putin’s statement on Peter the Great proves "bloody seizure under contrived pretexts," says Ukrainian official

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever

A Ukrainian official on Friday responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that like Peter the Great, his fate was to “take back and fortify” what was rightfully Russia’s land.

“Putin’s confession of land seizures and comparing himself with Peter the Great prove: there was no ‘conflict,’ only the country’s bloody seizure under contrived pretexts of people’s genocide,” Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Office of the Ukrainian President, said via Twitter.

“We should not talk about ‘saving [Russia’s] face,’ but about its immediate de-imperialization,” he said.

Podolyak was likely referring to French President Emmanuel Macron's remarks last week that the world “must not humiliate Russia,” to enable diplomatic talks.

Putin on Thursday argued that Peter the Great was not conquering, but rather fighting over territory that rightfully belonged to Russia.

"Why did he [Peter the Great] go there? He took back and fortified. And it looks like our fate is to “take back and fortify” too.”

In an interview broadcast on the BBC Thursday, Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya insisted that “the aims of the operation were announced publicly." "It was neutrality of Ukraine, demilitarization and Nazification of the country. And the liberation of Donbas was the primary goal, which is being implemented at the moment,” he said, repeating Russia's claims to justify its invasion.

8:18 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Ukraine. Catch up here

The battle for the city of Severodonetsk continues to rage on, according to Ukrainian officials. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says its forces are "holding on" to key frontline cities in Donbas, namely Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Severodonetsk: Street fighting continues in the eastern city, with no major changes reported in the past day, according to Ukrainian officials. The head of the Severodonetsk district military administration said the situation is "very tense."
  • Potential cholera outbreak: The city of Mariupol is at risk of a major cholera outbreak as Russia struggles to provide basic services amid deteriorating sanitary conditions in the city, according to a UK intelligence report published on Friday. Kherson also “likely faces a critical shortage of medicines,” according to the report.
  • Condemnation of death sentences: World leaders have criticized a pro-Russian court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic for sentencing three men — a Moroccan citizen and two British citizens — to death on Thursday after they were accused of being “mercenaries” for Ukraine. The UN said it is “concerned” by the death sentences, while the Ukrainian and British governments are calling for them to be entitled to treatment as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.
  • "Peter the Great": Russian President Vladimir Putin compared himself favorably to Peter the Great, a Russian monarch from the late 17th century. Putin drew parallels to Peter the Great's conquest of Sweden — saying that the monarch was not conquering but rather fighting over territory that rightfully belonged to Russia — to justify the current invasion of Ukraine. 
  • Constant fire: The city of Kryvyi Rih, located in the central part of Ukraine, has been under constant fire by Russian forces. Villages and towns in the are "littered with cluster munitions due to shelling,” leaving a trail of gas, electricity and water supply problems as well.
  • Ukraine sanctions Putin: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday signed a decree imposing personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials. The restrictions include blocking assets, banning entry to Ukraine, and the cancellation or suspension of licenses and permits.
  • Slashed harvest: Next year’s harvest in Ukraine could be cut by up to 40% due to the ongoing Russian invasion, Ukraine’s Agrarian Policy and Food Deputy Minister Taras Vysotskyi told CNN Thursday.
7:54 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Why are politicians calling for the foreign volunteers sentenced to death in the DPR to be treated as prisoners of war?

Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, on June 9.
Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, on June 9. (AP)

The death sentences handed down Thursday by a court in the pro-Russian, self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) to three British and Moroccan volunteers in the Ukrainian armed forces have drawn condemnation from politicians who insist they must be treated as prisoners of war.

British citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune -- were foreign fighters who had been captured in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol by Russian forces in April, according to DPR authorities.

The court in the DPR accused them of being "mercenaries" for Ukraine, according to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti.

However, 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.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also said "they are prisoners of war," and that the ruling was "a sham judgement with absolutely no legitimacy."

A spokesperson for British leader Boris Johnson said Friday that the Prime Minister was was "appalled" at the sentencing.

“We completely condemn the sham sentencing of these men to death. There’s no justification at all for this breach of the protection they’re entitled to," the spokesperson said.

According to the 1949 Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are "members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps," or "members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps" who meet certain conditions, including: carrying arms openly; acting within the laws and customs of war; "being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;" and having "a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance."

Some context: Russia is the only country that considers the DPR independent. The DPR government is not an internationally recognized government; therefore, the court's decisions are not considered legitimate by the international community. Independent watchdog groups have long accused the separatists of a dismal human rights record and ill-treatment of prisoners.

5:32 a.m. ET, June 10, 2022

Battle for Severodonetsk not substantially changed, street fighting continues, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Julia Presniakova, Olga Voitovych, and Mick Krever

Black smoke and dirt rise above city of Severodonetsk during the battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas on June 9.
Black smoke and dirt rise above city of Severodonetsk during the battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas on June 9. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Intense fighting is ongoing for control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, with no major changes reported in the past day, according to Ukrainian officials.

“The situation in Severodonetsk is very tense,” Roman Vlasenko, head of the Severodonetsk district military administration, told Ukrainian national television.

“Fighting continues, street fighting continues. The dynamics are very great. The Russians are heavily using artillery. They have a certain advantage in terms of artillery, in terms of personnel. But they have no real success. They can't beat the guys out of Severodonetsk.”

Vlasenko said that the Ukrainian military in Severodonetsk was “confident” in their defense.

On Wednesday, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Serhiy Hayday, said most of the city was now controlled by Russian forces, although Ukrainians had retained control of Severodonetsk's industrial zone.

Hayday told Ukrainian television Friday that those fighting for Severodonetsk faced difficulty, “but they clearly understand that they are not threatened by encirclement.

“They clearly hold their positions and understand how things are developing,” he said.

In an address on Thursday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and other cities in Donbas, which the occupiers now consider key targets, are holding on."