June 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Updated 3:02 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022
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5:26 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Debate over Ukraine’s EU status could endanger unity, says Portuguese prime minister

From CNN's Mick Krever and Chris Liakos

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks to the press outside 10 Downing Street after a bilateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, England, on June 13.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks to the press outside 10 Downing Street after a bilateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, England, on June 13. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Portugal’s prime minister has warned that the debate over whether to grant Ukraine candidacy status in the European Union could divide the bloc and create “false expectations.”

“The best support that the European Union can give to Ukraine is to keep its unity,” António Costa told the Financial Times in an interview. “The best we can offer is European unity.”

Division in the EU would be a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the newspaper cites Costa as saying.

“My focus is to obtain in the next European Council a clear commitment on the urgent support and to build a long-term platform to support the recovery of Ukraine,” Costa told the FT.

“This is my main priority. The most important are not legal debates about Ukraine but practical deliveries," he added.

According to the FT, Costa said that he did not explicitly oppose Ukraine’s candidacy, but that his priority was “clear and immediate support,” warning against opening a years-long negotiation at this moment.

“The great risk is to create false expectations that become bitter disappointment. Less legal debates, more practical solutions," he said.

During a visit to Kyiv this weekend, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Commission would be ready to finalize its assessment on whether to recommend Ukraine for EU membership “by the end of next week.”

3:41 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Ukrainian prosecutor investigating mass grave near Bucha

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever

A forensic technician inspects an alleged mass grave near the village of Vorzel in the Bucha district, Kyiv region, Ukraine, on June 13.
A forensic technician inspects an alleged mass grave near the village of Vorzel in the Bucha district, Kyiv region, Ukraine, on June 13. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General says that it is investigating the deaths of seven civilians found with their hands tied behind their backs near the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

During an investigation of formerly Russian-held positions in the forest near the village of Myrotske, authorities said “the bodies of seven civilians with gunshot wounds and hands tied behind their backs were found in the trenches.” 

“The pre-trial investigation is being carried out by the Bucha District Department of the National Police in the Kyiv Region,” a press release on Monday read.

Ukraine’s national police on Monday said that across the country they are still trying to identify the bodies of 1,200 civilians.

“This is a long process, rather painstaking, because a lot of bodies are in a state of putrefactive decay,” National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko told Interfax Ukraine. “We select DNA from those relatives who contacted us via the hotline, and then we compare the profiles of these relatives with the profiles of the dead, buried, shot, who could not be identified.”

He said that police are currently investigating the deaths of more than 12,000 civilians across the country.

In Bucha, he said, a single mass grave had been found with 116 people. He said that some mass graves were the result of residents who collected corpses from the streets and buried them in nearby parks.

8:51 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Ukrainian authorities continue Severodonetsk evacuations "every minute when there is quiet"

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever

Ukrainian authorities say they continue to evacuate civilians from Severodonetsk during every lull in “extremely escalated” fighting for control of the embattled eastern city.

The third of three main bridges to Severodonetsk was deemed impassable on Monday by the head of the regional military administration, though authorities say they still have ways in and out of the city.

“The ways to connect with the city are quite difficult, but they exist,” Oleksandr Struik, head of Severodonetsk military administration, told Ukrainian television. He said evacuations were taking place “every minute when there is quiet there, or there is a possibility of transportation.”

Struik said just over 500 civilians continued to shelter in the city’s Azot chemical plant, which authorities say has been the target of intense shelling by Russian forces.

Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration, told Ukrainian television Tuesday that two more Russian battalion tactical groups had been moved into the area to bolster their efforts. He said Russian forces continue to try to encircle Ukrainian forces in the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

8:51 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Battle for Donbas is "one of the most brutal battles in and for Europe," Zelensky says

From CNN's Victoria Butenko and Jen Deaton

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives his nightly address from Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 13.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives his nightly address from Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 13. (President of Ukraine)

The battle for the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine “will surely go down in military history as one of the most brutal battles in Europe and for Europe,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nighty address on Monday.

This comes after Ukrainian military officials earlier in the day said their troops had been pushed back from the Severodonetsk city center, which along with its twin city Lysychansk, is at the heart of the current battle for what’s still in Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas.  

Officials also said three key bridges linking Severodonetsk to Lysychansk are now impassable to vehicles, meaning supply routes in and evacuations out via those routes are impossible.

Zelensky said Ukrainians face the “significant advantage of the Russians in the amount of equipment, and especially — artillery systems.”

“The price of this battle for us is very high. It’s just scary. And we draw the attention of our partners on a daily basis to the fact that only a sufficient number of modern artillery for Ukraine will ensure our advantage and finally the end of Russian torture of the Ukrainian Donbas,” he added.

Zelensky said a boy was killed on Monday by Russian shelling in the battle for Lysychansk.

"This is it: a 6-year-old boy on Moskovska Street is also, as it turned out, a dangerous enemy for the Russian Federation," he said.

8:51 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

All 3 bridges into Severodonetsk are now impassable, Luhansk region leader says

From CNN's Julia Presniakova, Yulia Kesaieva, Jen Deaton and Mick Krever

A satellite image shows the damaged Pavlograd Bridge in western Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on June 11.
A satellite image shows the damaged Pavlograd Bridge in western Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on June 11. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

All three bridges connecting the embattled city of Severodonetsk with its twin city Lysychansk to the west, are now impassable for vehicles, severely limiting evacuation options for those trying to flee the city and supply routes in, according to Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration.

“The bridges made it possible to carry at least some humanitarian cargo, something related to reserves. It is currently impossible to use the bridges,” Hayday said.

A second of three bridges was destroyed over the weekend. Hayday’s office explained that the third bridge, which has come under sustained shelling, is now impassable for vehicles.

The destruction of the bridges gives the Russian military another advantage since supply lines are interrupted, Hayday said. Getting in weapons and reserves is now “difficult, but not impossible,” he said.

Hayday said travel between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk was still possible, but did not go into detail for security reasons.

“Lysychansk is already being shelled very powerfully, with a heavy caliber [weapons], they are destroying everything: both humanitarian headquarters and hospitals. But from Lysychansk there is still an opportunity to evacuate people and pick up humanitarian goods every day," he said.

Hayday also said of Severodonetsk that Russian forces “really control most of the city," estimating about 70% to 80%.

But he denied claims by the self-declared Luhansk People Republic (LPR) that Severodonetsk has fallen, saying “this is not true.”

“Part of the city is still controlled by Ukrainian defenders. If they had complete control of the city, Russian soldiers would not have died there,” Hayday said.

Hayday also said that even if Ukrainian forces won back the city, it would be impossible to “restore the infrastructure completely before the winter. The only possible thing is to put radiators that will keep the temperature warm in the tents. And yes, everything is broken. With water, with electricity — there will be huge problems with everything."

8:52 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

"High-intensity hostilities" continue in Severodonetsk, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Julia Presniakova in Lviv and Jen Deaton

Intense fighting continues inside Severodonetsk, one of the last holdouts for Ukraine in the Luhansk region, and more widely, the entirety of the country’s eastern Donbas, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzianyk said in a briefing Monday.

“High-intensity hostilities” continue in Severodonetsk, where Ukrainian troops fight to repel Russia’s advances, Motuzianyk said. 

Russian forces already in control of the city center are “actively using artillery, multiple rocket systems," he added.

He said that Russia’s advantage is their airpower, which is why they are advancing, adding that Russia is losing troops in armed combat.

In terms of the street fighting happening in Severodonetsk, Russian forces are trying to encircle Ukrainian troops, but “the enemy is suffering significant losses in the infantry units of the Russian Guard and the Russian armed forces. And they are advancing only by using assault aircraft,” Motuzianyk said.

Earlier Monday, the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Russia had pushed Ukrainian forces back from the city center.  

8:52 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

As Russian attacks continue to pound Ukraine, volunteers are rebuilding Kyiv's suburbs

From CNN's Salma Abdelaziz

Men in hard hats enter a child's bedroom decorated with pink wallpaper that features two bejeweled elephants, a little one and big one.

The workers quickly shovel mounds of rubble off the beige carpet and into wheelbarrows, then dump it down a makeshift chute. They leave only a dusty pile of children's books before moving on to the next room.

With the roof mostly burned out of this apartment building on the outskirts of Kyiv, due to previous Russian strikes on the Ukrainian capital, the sun beats down on the volunteers as they work methodically to make the devastated homes livable again.

"I really feel we are unified now. We know Ukraine is our home and all Ukrainians understand we need to rebuild," said Andriy Kopylenko, co-founder of the charity organization District 1.

It's now 110 days since Russian troops invaded Ukraine. They initially attacked and occupied multiple Kyiv suburbs before the Kremlin withdrew its forces from around the capital to concentrate on the east of the country. Even as brutal street-by-street battles continue to rage there, residents in Kyiv say it is time to rebuild and return.

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