– Evacuations planned in eastern city –
Russia says it will evacuate civilians sheltering at a chemical plant in the war-torn eastern city of Severodonetsk on Wednesday, June 15. About 500 civilians are holed up in the Azot chemical plant, alongside Ukrainian fighters defending one of the last pockets of resistance in the city to Russian forces.
The Russian defence ministry says it will take the evacuees to a part of Luhansk Region held by pro-Moscow separatists.
Ukraine has yet to respond to the evacuation plan, which comes after Russian forces destroyed the last bridge over the Donets river into Severodonetsk in a bid to encircle it.
Britain’s defence ministry says in an intelligence note that the fight for the Azot plant, like the battle for Azovstal steelworks in the port of Mariupol, which lasted for weeks, will likely prevent Russia from redeploying forces to other battles.
– “We must stay strong”, says Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges the nation to remain united in the face of Russia’s scorched-earth offensive in the Donbas region. “Unfortunately, there are painful losses. But we must stay strong,” he says in a video address, adding that staying the course in Donbas, the mainly Russian-speaking region that Moscow has vowed to “liberate” is “crucial.” “Donbas is the key to deciding who will dominate in the coming weeks,” he says.
– NATO seeks more arms for Ukraine –
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Western countries to send more heavy weapons to Ukraine to help it fend off Russia’s offensive in the east of the country. “Yes, Ukraine should have more heavy weapons,” Stoltenberg says after meeting the leaders of seven European NATO allies in The Hague.
Ukraine has repeatedly appealed for more heavy weapons from the West, including tanks, howitzers, advanced rocket launcher systems and ammunition. Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar said Tuesday, June 14 that Kyiv had received just 10% of the weapons pledged by the West.
– New Ukraine grain plan –
US President Joe Biden discloses Western plan to build silos on the borders of Ukraine to facilitate the export of grain caught in the Russian blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports. Ukraine is looking for alternative ways of getting the 20 million tonnes of grain sitting in its ports and silos to market.
Some grain is being exported overland by rail and truck, but the process of crossing several land borders is cumbersome, leading to bottlenecks. Biden revealed a plan to build silos “in the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland” to help ease the process.
– EU looks to Israel for gas –
European Union Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen visits Israel to discuss increasing its gas supplies to Europe, with EU members desperately seek alternatives to Russian gas. Von der Leyen says the Kremlin “has used our dependency on Russian fossil fuels to blackmail us”.
Poland, Bulgaria and Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark have all had their gas supplies turned off since the war began for refusing to pay in rubles.
Von der Leyen says the EU is exploring ways to import more gas from Israel, pointing to work on an underwater power cable and plans for a gas pipeline in the eastern Mediterranean that would transport gas from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and Italy.
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