Russia-Ukraine war: Donbas battles ‘most brutal’ Europe has seen, Zelenskiy says; civilians trapped in Sievierodonetsk – live

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A member of Ukrainian special operations team seen at a woodland in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 13, 2022.

Donbas battles ‘most brutal’ Europe has seen: Zelenskiy

The intense battle for Sievierodonetsk will be remembered as one of the “most brutal” Europe has ever seen and is taking a “terrifying” toll on Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday evening, as Russian forces move closer to capturing the strategic eastern city.

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Ukraine’s president made the comment during his nightly address to the nation, noting the fighting was having a severe effect on civilians and his country’s military:

The human cost of this battle is very high for us. It is simply terrifying.

The battle for the Donbas will without doubt be remembered in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe.

A member of Ukrainian special operations team seen at a woodland in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 13, 2022. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Zelenskiy, who has expressed fears of losing support from the west as the conflict drags on, repeated earlier pleas for more and heavier military weapons from allies including the US and UK:

We are dealing with absolute evil. And we have no choice but to move forward and free our territory.

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.

Zelenskiy reiterated Ukraine’s desire to free its entire territory and “drive the occupiers out of all our regions”.

Although now the width of our front is already more than 2,500km, it is felt that the strategic initiative is still ours.”

Lithuania to buy howitzers from France

Lithuania has agreed to buy 18 howitzers from France, both sides’ defence ministers announced on Monday.

Lithuania, a European Union and Nato member, will inject an additional €300m ($312m) into its 2022 defence budget as the Ukraine war ramped up security fears.

Lithuanian defence minister Arvydas Anusauskas tweeted alongside a photo with his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu:

Lithuania will buy 18 Caesar MarktII howitzers from France.

They will significantly strengthen the Lithuanian armed forces’ defence capabilities.”

🇱🇹 will buy 18 Caesar MarktII howitzers from 🇫🇷. Today me and my colleague DefMin of 🇫🇷 @SebLecornu signed a letter of intent for acquisition of the systems. They will significantly strengthen @LTU_Army defence capabilities. ✅ It is the largest acquisition project of 🇱🇹 with 🇫🇷. pic.twitter.com/wHNHCl3gEW

— Arvydas Anušauskas (@a_anusauskas) June 13, 2022

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – all Nato members and part of the former Soviet Union – have come to Ukraine’s defence with military hardware and humanitarian aid.

Lithuania has said it sent military supplies worth “tens of millions” of euros, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, mortars, rifles, ammunition and other equipment. Lithuanians also crowdfunded over five million euros to buy Ukraine another Bayraktar drone.

Summary and welcome

Hello it’s Samantha Lock back with you on the Guardian’s live blog as we cover all the latest developments from Ukraine.

Ukrainian defenders are being pushed further out of Sievierodonetsk – a key eastern city that has become the epicentre of the wider battle for control over Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Russian forces have destroyed all three bridges out of the city, leaving stranded civilians trapped.

If you’re just waking up, or dropping in to find the latest information, here’s a summary of the main points you might have missed:

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said the intense battle for Sievierodonetsk is taking a “terrifying” toll on Ukraine. “The human cost of this battle is very high for us. It is simply terrifying. The battle for the Donbas will without doubt be remembered in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe,” he said in an address to the nation late on Monday.
  • All three bridges to the embattled eastern city of Sievierodonetsk have been destroyed, according to the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai. In a video update, Haidai said Russia had not “completely captured” the city and “a part of the city” was under Ukrainian control. Russian artillery was hitting an industrial zone where 500 civilians were sheltering in the eastern Ukrainian city, Haidai added. Ukrainian troops in the city must “surrender or die”, a Russian-backed separatist leader in the self-proclaimed republic in Donetsk warned.
  • Ukrainian authorities said they discovered a new mass grave of civilians near Bucha in the Kyiv region. Investigators exhumed seven bodies from makeshift graves in a forest outside the village of Vorzel, less than 10km from Bucha, the scene of previous alleged Russian atrocities. Kyiv region’s police chief, Andriy Nyebytov, said: “This is another sadistic crime of the Russian army.” One man, he said, “has two injuries. He was shot in the knee with a gun. The second shot was into his temple.”
  • Ukraine has called on the west to supply 300 rocket launchers, 500 tanks and 1,000 howitzers before a key meeting on Wednesday. The request was made publicly by Mykhailo Podolyak, a key presidential adviser, amid concern in some quarters it is pushing its demands for Nato-standard weapons to the limit.
  • Zelenskiy accused the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, of being too concerned about the repercussions his support for Ukraine would have for Berlin’s ties with Moscow. “We need from Chancellor Scholz the certainty that Germany supports Ukraine,” he said in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF. “He and his government must decide: there can’t be a trade-off between Ukraine and relations with Russia.” Local media reports have speculated that Scholz could on Thursday make his first trip to Kyiv since the start of the war.
  • The mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, has accused “traitors” of passing on vital information to Russian forces during the bombardment of the southern port city at the beginning of the invasion. Boychenko said the destruction of the city’s critical infrastructure, including power supplies, was well-coordinated because Russia was provided with the coordinates.
  • About 1,200 bodies, including those found in mass graves, have not yet been identified, according to the head of the national police in Ukraine, Ihor Klymenko. Criminal proceedings had been opened over the deaths of more than 12,000 Ukrainians, Klymenko said. About 75% of the dead were men, 2% children and the rest women, he said.
  • Russia earned €93bn in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the war, according to research by Finland’s Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea). With 61% of these exports, worth €56bn (£48bn), going to the member states of the European Union, the bloc of countries remains Russia’s largest export market.
  • Ukraine has lost a quarter of its arable land since the Russian invasion, notably in the south and east, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy said. At a news conference on Monday, Vysotskiy insisted food security for the country’s population was not under immediate threat: “Crop planting this year is more than sufficient [and] the current situation of crop planting areas … does not pose a threat to Ukraine’s food security”.
  • The UN’s rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, described the “arbitrary arrests” of a “large number” of anti-war protesters in Russia as “worrying”. Speaking at the UN’s human rights council in Geneva, Bachelet also expressed concern about the “increase of censorship and restrictions on independent media” in Russia.
  • Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia’s prime minister from 2000 to 2004, has said he expects the war in Ukraine could last up to two years. Kasyanov, who championed close ties with the west while prime minister, said he felt that Vladimir Putin was already not thinking properly and that he was convinced Russia could return to a democratic path.
  • More than 15,000 millionaires are expected to flee Russia this year, as wealthy citizens turn their back on Putin’s regime, according to an analysis of migration data by London-based firm Henley & Partners.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, has filed an appeal against a Moscow court decision demanding that it remove information related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The foundation arguing that people have a right to know the facts of the war and that removing information is a violation of human rights.
An aerial view of completely destroyed settlements from Russian shells in northern Saltivka, about 40km from the Russian border in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.
An aerial view of completely destroyed settlements from Russian shells in northern Saltivka, about 40km from the Russian border in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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