June 15, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Kathleen Magramo and Hafsa Khalil, CNN

Updated 2:07 a.m. ET, June 16, 2022
19 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:47 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

Civilians at Severodonetsk chemical plant have not been resupplied for two weeks, says district leader

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever

The more than 500 civilians sheltering underneath the Azot chemical plant in the besieged city of Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, have not been supplied in two weeks, the district’s leader told CNN on Wednesday.

“There are food stocks, but they have not been resupplied for two weeks,” Roman Vlasenko, head of the Severodonetsk district military administration, said via text message. “So stocks won't last long. If there is a humanitarian corridor, I believe people are ready to leave Azot.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense said that it would open an evacuation corridor from the plant for civilians starting on Wednesday, but only to Russian-held territory to the north. Ukrainian authorities have not commented on Russia’s proposal, and have generally been skeptical of such claims, given past Russian practice: At repeated points during the war, they say, Russian forces have broken promises to open evacuation corridors, driven civilian evacuees onto their territory and failed to observe ceasefire agreements.

They have been hiding there from the very beginning,” Vlasenko said. “There are real bomb shelters there. In most cases, these are employees of the enterprise, local residents.”

In an interview on national television, the head of the city’s military administration said that travel between Ukrainian-held Lysychansk and Severodonetsk was difficult but still possible.

“Ways to escape are quite dangerous, but they exist,” Oleksandr Striuk said. “It is wrong to say that the city is completely cut off. Logistics has become much more complicated.”

He said that fighting was concentrated in the center of Severodonetsk.

“We control the industrial zone, the perimeter that provides connections with Lysychansk,” he said. “The situation is difficult, but stable.”

Striuk said that it was difficult to estimate how many civilians were left in the city, saying only that there were around 10,000 people left “at the beginning of the escalated situation.”

7:33 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

For the first time since the Cold War, NATO will have preassigned forces in its eastern regions

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London  

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 15.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 15. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

NATO will have preassigned forces and prepositioned equipment on its eastern flank for the first time since the Cold War, the alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

This would enable a faster response by the alliance in case of a threat, he said at a Brussels news conference before a NATO Defense Ministers meeting. 

"That's exactly what we are working on with Germany but we expect all the allies to make similar offers, to enable preassigned forces that are training and are responsible for the defense of specific territories," Stoltenberg said. 

7:27 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

IKEA to "further scale down" business in Russia

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty

A view of an IKEA store in Russia's capital Moscow on March 4.
A view of an IKEA store in Russia's capital Moscow on March 4. (Pavel Pavlov/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Swedish furniture company IKEA announced that it will “further scale down” business in Russia and Belarus in a statement on Wednesday.

The company had already paused operations in both countries on March 3 due to the war in Ukraine, but said “unfortunately the circumstances have not improved."

Businesses and supply chains across the world have been heavily impacted and we do not see that it is possible to resume operations any time soon," it added.

As part of this scaling down IKEA is looking for new ownership for all four of its factories in Russia; all import and export of IKEA products to and from Russia and Belarus will remain frozen; its offices in Moscow and Minsk will close permanently; and IKEA stores will also remain closed.

IKEA acknowledged that many staff will lose their jobs because of this decision.

In a statement published March 3 the company said the number of staff directly impacted was around 15,000, and subsequently announced it had guaranteed 6 months’ salary for all workers. 

7:12 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

NATO to provide military support aiding Ukraine's transition to modern weapons, says alliance head

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference ahead of a NATO defense ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 15.
NATO head Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference ahead of a NATO defense ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 15. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the alliance will continue to support Ukraine, supplying them with a military support package that would help the Ukrainian army transition from Soviet-era artillery to more modern weapons.

"We are extremely focused on stepping up, providing more support, more advanced weapons ... because we support them in their just fight against the brutal Russian invasion," Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels ahead of a NATO Defense Ministers meeting. 

Ukraine will continue receiving "practical support, lethal and non-lethal support from NATO allies and NATO" that would enable Ukraine "to continue to modernize its armed forces, something NATO allies have worked on for many years but stepped up now," he said. 

"This is our focus and Ukraine's most urgent need as we speak," he added. 

Stoltenberg also said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be invited to the NATO summit in Madrid in two weeks.

8:41 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

There's uncertainty over Russia’s claim it has opened an evacuation corridor in Severodonetsk

From CNN's Mick Krever

Smoke rises after a military strike on a compound of Severodonetsk's Azot Chemical Plant, Luhansk region, Ukraine, on June 10.
Smoke rises after a military strike on a compound of Severodonetsk's Azot Chemical Plant, Luhansk region, Ukraine, on June 10. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters)

Hundreds of civilians continue to shelter at a chemical plant in the besieged Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, as Russia advances a questionable claim to have opened a so-called “humanitarian corridor” for Ukrainians to evacuate into Russian-held territory.

The Russian Ministry of Defense on Tuesday said that it would open a route for civilians to move from the Ukrainian-held Azot chemical plant, starting at Wednesday at 8 a.m. Moscow time (7 a.m. local in Severodonetsk).

Just over 500 civilians are still sheltering beneath that industrial facility, according to Oleksandr Striuk, head of the Severodonetsk military administration. Authorities say it has come under sustained Russian bombardment, and the regional leader said Wednesday that “the Russians are close.”

It is unclear whether any Ukrainians will leave for Russian-held territory, or even whether a workable evacuation corridor exists. Given Russia's past practice, Ukrainian officials have generally been skeptical of such claims, saying that Russian forces have repeatedly broken promises to open evacuation corridors, driven civilian evacuees onto their territory and failed to observe ceasefire agreements.

Ukrainian authorities have not commented on Russia’s proposal, and such a corridor is much less tenable without a two-sided ceasefire.

The Russian MOD did not mention the corridor in its Wednesday update on the war, but publicized its proposal after it claimed Ukraine asked for a corridor from the Azot plant to Lysychansk, to the west, which is held by Ukraine.

“We consider the appeal by the Ukrainian side for the alleged rescue of civilians to be an attempt to withdraw the surrounded surviving units,” the Russian MOD said. “Thus, there are all signs of a repeat of Mariupol scenario.” 

Instead, the Russian MOD called on Ukrainian fighters to “lay down their arms” and promised to treat them as prisoners of war, “as has already happened to your comrades who previously surrendered in Mariupol.”

“We call on the official authorities in [Kyiv] to show prudence and give appropriate instructions to the militants to stop their senseless resistance and withdraw from the territory of Azot plant,” the MOD said.

The difference with Mariupol is that unlike the Azovstal plant, which was entirely surrounded by Russian forces, the Ukrainians still appear able to move in and out of the territory they control in Severodonetsk.

All three main bridges between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk across the Siverskyi Donets River are now impassable.

But Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said Monday that moving back and forth to Severodonetsk was “difficult, but not impossible.”

Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday that evacuations were slow because of the constant bombardment, but still possible.

6:47 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

Russia claims to have destroyed warehouse of NATO-supplied weapons

From CNN's Anna Chernova, Oleksandra Ochman, and Mick Krever

The Russian Ministry of Defense says it destroyed a warehouse of weapons provided by NATO nations in the western Ukrainian Lviv region on Tuesday.

“High-precision long-range Kalibr missiles near Zolochev, Lvov region, have destroyed a warehouse of ammunition for foreign weapons transferred to Ukraine by NATO countries, including 155-mm M777 howitzers,” the Russian MOD said in its update on the war in Ukraine published Wednesday. CNN cannot independently verify these claims.

Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday that their air defense systems had shot down Russian cruise missiles over Lviv and Ternopil, but conceded that some Russian strikes were successful.

“It was possible to bring down only a part,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, there are victims, there is destruction."

8:04 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

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 more than 100 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.

Read the full story here.

6:04 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

Negotiations with Russia over Ukraine inevitable, says President Macron

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman and Elias Lemercier in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses NATO forces during his visit at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near the city of Constanta, Romania, on June 15.
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses NATO forces during his visit at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near the city of Constanta, Romania, on June 15. (Yoan Valat/AFP/Getty Images)

“It is the reality of things” that Ukraine and Europe “will have to negotiate” with Russia over the Ukrainian war at some point, French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.

“The only desirable end to the conflict is either a Ukrainian military victory or talks at some point because fighting has stopped, so at some point we must talk,” he said while visiting French troops at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase in eastern Romania.  

We Europeans will be around the table to negotiate, at some point that will happen,” he added.

The French leader, on a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova, stressed that France is not at war with Russia, despite European support for Ukraine.

“The difficulty in which we were all plunged, is that while we condemn, we sanction, we support the Ukrainians in their fight but we are not at war with Russia,” he said.

Macron also said that the current deployment of French forces to NATO’s eastern flank “will increase in strength,” without providing further details.

According to the French armed forces, France has some 500 troops deployed in Romania under NATO command, alongside fighter and surveillance aircraft, as well as some 300 troops in Poland and Estonia.

8:05 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

Russia is predicted to lose around 15,000 millionaires this year

From CNN's Anna Cooban

Millionaires are leaving Russia in droves after its invasion of Ukraine and the West imposed sanctions.

According to a report by Henley & Partners -- a company that helps the wealthy move abroad -- almost three times as many Russian millionaires are expected to leave the country in this year than in 2019.

As Western sanctions take a toll on its elite, Russia is predicted to suffer a net loss of around 15,000 high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) -- people with over $1 million in assets -- in 2022 which is about 15% of Russia's millionaire population, the report said.

Andrew Amoils, head of research at analytics company New World Wealth, which contributed data to the report, said that Russia was "hemorrhaging millionaires."

"Wealth migration figures are a very important gauge of the health of an economy," he told CNN Business, adding that this usually precedes "any major country collapse in history."

Read the full article here.