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
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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.

8:06 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

"A performance at the cemetery": Ukrainian official slams Russian plans to reopen Mariupol theater

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Mick Krever

Emergency workers and volunteers remove debris in April after Russian strikes on the Mariupol Drama Theater.
Emergency workers and volunteers remove debris in April after Russian strikes on the Mariupol Drama Theater. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russia is planning to reopen Mariupol’s Drama Theater this fall -- the location where hundreds of people are believed to have died after a Russian bombing on March 16 -- according to an adviser to the Ukrainian mayor of the city.

“The Drama Theater in Mariupol is scheduled to open on September 10,” Petro Andriushchenko said on Telegram on Tuesday. “The new season will open with two or three dance and pop-concert shows, as well as a theatrical performance.”

Dances on the bones, a performance at the cemetery,” he said. “There is no such depth of the inhumanity bottom that the occupiers have not hit.”

Andriushchenko is not in the city but has been a reliable conduit for information from Mariupol.

Meanwhile, the theater company is preparing a new production in exile, in the western Ukrainian city of Uzhgorod.

“In May, our theater troupe found refuge in the Transcarpathian Music and Drama Theater,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration, on Telegram.

“Work is currently underway on the first full-fledged production in the evacuation: a play about the life of Vasyl Stus [a Ukrainian dissident poet]," he added.

Read more on the theater here.

5:37 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

Pope appeals to the world not to forget the Ukraine war

From CNN’s Hada Messia in Rome

Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, on June 15.
Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, on June 15. (Yara Nardi/Reuters)

Pope Francis made an appeal for people not to forget about the Ukraine war as the conflict rages on.

Speaking on Wednesday in his weekly general audience, he urged that people keep the “martyred” people of Ukraine in their thoughts. 

Let’s not get used to living as if war were a distant thing,” he said. 

“Our memory, our affection, our prayer, our help always goes…. to the people who suffer so much and who are carrying out a true martyrdom.”

Pope Francis previously said that the war in Ukraine "was perhaps in some way either provoked or not prevented" in remarks published by Italian newspaper La Stampa on Tuesday.

The Pope spoke of the "brutality and ferocity" of the war, "but the danger is that we only see this, which is monstrous, and we do not see the whole drama that is unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps in some way either provoked or not prevented," he added.

4:52 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

"Nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s children are displaced," says UNICEF regional director

From CNN's Richard Roth in New York and Mick Krever in London

A girl rides a kick scooter past a destroyed residential building in the village of Horenka, Ukraine, on June 4.
A girl rides a kick scooter past a destroyed residential building in the village of Horenka, Ukraine, on June 4. (Sergei Chuzavkov/AFP/Getty Images)

The Russian invasion has forced a large majority of Ukrainian children to leave their homes, a regional director for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told a news conference in New York.

“Nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s children are displaced -- whether displaced inside the country or those who have fled across borders as refugees,” said Afshan Khan, regional director for Europe and Central Asia, according to remarks as prepared for delivery.

“Children forced to leave homes, friends, toys and treasured belongings, family members and facing uncertainty about the future.”

Khan said that according to UN figures, 277 children have been killed and 456 injured over the course of the war, and fighting has damaged or destroyed one in six “UNICEF-supported ‘safe schools’” in the country’s east.

The Ukrainian government quotes an even higher figure: The Prosecutor General says 313 children have been killed and 579 injured.

As these numbers show, the war in Ukraine is a child rights crisis, and UNICEF is working to support children and families wherever they are in the country,” Khan added.

She said that attacks on populated areas and civilian infrastructure “clearly must stop.”

“UNICEF continues to call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and to protect all children from harm. Every day that this war continues, is increasing the long-lasting, devastating impact on children, in Ukraine, in the region and across the world."

4:14 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

Ukrainian official: "We are waiting for a decision" on weapons

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever

A Ukrainian serviceman checks a just received Next Generation Light Anti-Armour Weapon (NLAW) not far from the Ukrainian town of Chuguiv, on June 9
A Ukrainian serviceman checks a just received Next Generation Light Anti-Armour Weapon (NLAW) not far from the Ukrainian town of Chuguiv, on June 9 (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

As NATO and allied defense ministers prepare to meet with their Ukrainian counterpart in Brussels, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his compatriots are eagerly awaiting “a decision” on weapon supplies.

“Ratio [Russia] / [Ukraine] artillery in some areas: 10 to 1,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine, on Twitter. “Front line — more than 1000 km.
“Daily, I receive a message from the defenders: ‘We are holding on, just say: when to expect the weapons?.’ I address this question to the Rammstein participants.
“Brussels, we are waiting for a decision.” 

Some context: The US expects more announcements of weapons and equipment packages to Ukraine during a key meeting of nearly 50 countries known as the Ukraine Contact Group on Wednesday, according to a senior US defense official.  

Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is gaining ground in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, specifically in the city of Severodonetsk, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting recently. Without an influx of more weapons, some Ukrainian officials have said it will be increasingly difficult to halt Russia’s incremental progress or reclaim occupied ground in the region. 

8:42 a.m. ET, June 15, 2022

Fight in eastern Ukraine "getting harder," says Luhansk region leader

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Mick Krever

A Ukrainian artillery man prepares near the city of Lysychansk, in Luhansk region of Ukraine, on June 14.
A Ukrainian artillery man prepares near the city of Lysychansk, in Luhansk region of Ukraine, on June 14. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian military’s defense in the eastern region of Luhansk is growing more difficult, the head of Luhansk’s military administration said Wednesday morning.

“It is getting harder, but our military is holding back the enemy from three directions at once,” Serhiy Hayday said via Telegram. “They are defending Severodonetsk not allowing the enemy to advance towards Lysychansk. However, the Russians are close; the population suffers and houses are destroyed.”

Hayday said Russia was once again targeting the Azot chemical plant, where just over 500 civilians are said to be sheltering.

“High-rise buildings located closer to the chemical giant are being destroyed,” he said. “The enemy is weaker in street battles, which is why uses artillery fire, destroying our homes.”

The Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday called on Ukrainian fighters at the Azot plant to lay down their arms, and said it would open a “humanitarian corridor” on Wednesday from the Ukrainian-controlled plant to Russian-held territory to the north. Ukrainian officials have not commented on that proposal.