– Russia to ‘intensify’ fighting –
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warns that Russia is likely to intensify its “hostile activity” this week, as Kyiv awaits a decision from the European Union on its bid for membership candidate status.
“Only a positive decision is in the interests of the whole of Europe,” he says in his evening address on Sunday, ahead of a summit of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday.
“Obviously, we expect Russia to intensify hostile activity this week… We are preparing. We are ready,” he says.
Moscow’s forces have been pounding eastern Ukraine for weeks as they try to seize the key industrial Donbas region, after being repelled from other parts of the country following their February invasion.
– China’s Russian oil imports rise –
China’s imports of oil from Russia rose 55 percent in May, according to new customs data, as the West sanctions fuel imports from Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The world’s second-biggest economy imported around 8.42 million tonnes of oil from Russia last month, surpassing its shipments from Saudi Arabia.
Last week, President Xi Jinping assured Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of China’s support on Russian “sovereignty and security”. Beijing has also been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Moscow by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.
– Grain blockage a ‘war crime’, EU says –
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says that Russia should be held “accountable” if it continues blocking the export of grain from Ukraine.
“One cannot imagine that millions of tonnes of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are suffering hunger. This is a real war crime,” Borrell says at a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
The West has demanded Moscow stop blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to allow vast stores of grain to be taken to world markets as fears rise of famines in vulnerable regions.
– Ukraine loses eastern village –
Ukraine says it has lost control of a village, Metyolkine, next to the eastern industrial city of Severodonetsk, the centre of weeks of fierce fighting with Russian troops.
Russia’s capture of the hamlet with a pre-war population of around 1,000 people, is the latest around Severodonetsk, where Moscow’s army has met tough Ukrainian resistance.
Regional governor Serhiy Haidai also says on social media that the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, where hundreds of civilians are said to be sheltering, is being shelled by Russian forces “constantly”.
Evacuations from Severodonetsk not been possible for days, after a last bridge across the river connecting it to Lysychansk was blown up.
The head of the Severodonetsk’s administration, Oleksandr Stryuk tells Ukrainian television that Moscow’s army controls most of the city’s residential areas, with more than a third controlled by Ukraine’s armed forces.
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