An air strike has hit a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk, a city in east Ukraine, Ukrainian officials wrote on Telegram late Tuesday afternoon.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk region, said Russians hit “a tank with nitric acid at a chemical plant”, while urging residents not to come out of hiding due to the acid’s toxic fumes.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Kyiv’s ministry of internal affairs shared a similar message on Telegram, alongside an image of large, pink clouds of smoke rising overhead buildings.
Earlier we reported Russian forces control “around half” of the city, a day after officials said Russian shelling had been so intense that it was not possible to assess casualties and damage.
Ukraine welcomes sanctions, but criticises EU’s “unacceptable” delay, Reuters reports. Speaking alongside Slovakia’s president Zuzana Caputova in Kyiv, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said:
When over 50 days have passed between the 5th and 6th sanction packages, the situation is not acceptable for us.
‘The west can change the outcome’: plea for heavy weapons on Ukraine frontline
A stack of deadly weapons line the corridor next to Roman Kostenko’s office in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. Giant tube-like Javelin missiles and a powerful-looking green cylinder. “That’s an NLAW anti-tank weapon supplied by Britain,” Kostenko – a member of Ukraine’s parliament and a special forces commander – explained. “We’ve used it.”
When Russia invaded on 24 February, Kostenko was in Kyiv. He swapped his politician’s outfit of suit and tie for a uniform and hurried to Mykolaiv on the southern frontline. By this point Russian troops had practically encircled the city and its port on the Bug River. They had seized Mykolaiv’s airport and were advancing from the north-east. “I was the last car in,” he said.
Citizens were piling up tyres and making molotov cocktails in preparation for street-to-street fighting. The Ukrainian army, however, managed to push the Russians back. Kostenko showed off a video he took of a Russian position on Mykolaiv’s outskirts. There were bodies of enemy soldiers killed in a Ukrainian artillery strike, as well as abandoned field guns and vehicles.
Read more here:
Ukraine is working on an international United Nations-led operation with naval partners to ensure a safe trade route for food exports, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
Earlier we reported that Ukraine’s giant seed bank near battlefields is in danger of being destroyed. Here’s some of the Guardian’s recent coverage on just how vital seed banks are in the climate crisis.
All our food systems – agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture – are buckling under the stress of rising temperatures, wildfires, droughts and floods.
If no action is taken to curtail the climate crisis, crop losses will be devastating. Here’s why:
Two in five of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction, and though researchers estimate there are at least 200,000 edible plant species on our planet, we depend on just three – maize, rice and wheat– for more than half of humanity’s caloric intake.
There are roughly 1,700 seed banks, or gene banks, around the world housing collections of plant species that are invaluable for scientific research, education, species preservation and safeguarding Indigenous cultures.
Read more on seed banks across the globe trying to safeguard biodiversity here:
The African Union has warned EU leaders that Moscow’s blockade of Ukraine’s ports risks “a catastrophic scenario” of food shortages and price rises.
Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, who chairs the union, said “the worst is perhaps ahead of us” if current global food supply trends continue.
Speaking via video link to the 27 EU leaders meeting in Brussels, Sall said African countries had been hit hard by the global food crisis because of their “strong dependence” on Russian and Ukrainian wheat. The situation was “worrying” for a continent that has 282 million people that did not get enough to eat, he said.
Read more from Jennifer Rankin here:
Ukraine’s giant seed bank near battlefields is in danger of being destroyed, Reuters reports.
The genetic code for nearly 2,000 crops rests in underground vaults based in Kharkiv, north-eastern Ukraine, which has come under intense bombing from Russia forces.
Earlier this month, a research facility was damaged near the country’s national seed bank, according to Crop Trust, a nonprofit set up by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
According to the trust, only 4% of the seeds in Ukraine’s store, the 10th largest of its kind in the world, has been backed up. Stored genetic material has become increasingly vital to ensure enough food is produced to feed 7.9 billion people as weather grows more extreme.
An executive director of Crop Trust told Reuters:
Seed banks are a kind of life insurance for mankind. They provide the raw materials for breeding new plant varieties resistant to drought, new pests, new diseases, and higher temperatures. It would be a tragic loss if Ukraine’s seed bank were destroyed.
It’s approaching 6pm in Ukraine. Here’s where things currently stand:
- At a Brussels press conference, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU will make available funds to help replenish “the military material that has been sent to Ukraine”. She also called for greater coordination and interoperability of the military equipment of member states.
- Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region of Donbas, posting on the Telegram messaging app said Russian forces “insidiously” hit a residential area of Slavyansk, in the region of Donetsk, overnight.
- Ukraine to prosecute 80 suspected war criminals, said Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova. It was announced Tuesday as representatives of a group of countries investigating Russian war crimes and international criminal court prosecutor, Karim Khan, met at The Hague.
- A senior Russian lawmaker has suggested kidnapping a Nato defence minister. In an interview late on Monday, Oleg Morozov, first elected to the Russian parliament in 1993 and a member of the dominant United Russia party, said on Rossiya-1 state TV he has a “fantastical plot” that a Nato war minister will travel to Kyiv and wake up in Moscow.
- A consortium of Ukrainian and international lawyers is preparing to launch a mass civil legal action against the Russian state, as well as private military contractors and businesspeople backing the Russian war effort, in an attempt to gain financial compensation for millions of Ukrainian victims of the war, the Guardian can reveal.
- Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Turkey with a military delegation next week on 8 June. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food is among topics that will be discussed.
- Sanctions against Russia are directed at ordinary citizens and motivated by hatred, the former president Dmitry Medvedev has said. Medvedev, who advises Vladimir Putin on national security matters, said in a post on Telegram on Tuesday that the “endless tango of economic sanctions” won’t touch the political elite but have incurred losses for big business.
- Ukraine is still in control of some parts of Sievierodonetsk city. Its soldiers are fighting slowly advancing Russian troops, but civilian evacuations are not currently possible, the head of the city’s administration has said. Russians now control “around half” according to reports on national television in Ukraine.
- EU leaders have backed a partial embargo on Russian oil after late-night talks at a summit in Brussels. The sanctions will immediately impact 75% of Russian oil imports with the aim to ban 90% of all Russian oil imported to Europe by the end of the year, officials said.
Speaking to reporters following the EU summit, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said nothing could be ruled out regarding additional sanctions in the coming weeks.
According to Reuters, Macron said he hoped an agreement could be reached in the coming days and weeks to allow more food exports from Ukraine.
He added that talks between the Russian and Turkish presidents had led to “positive conclusions”.
I hope that the next few days or weeks will make it possible to resolve this situation.”
On a visit outside of Kyiv, the new US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, said in a tweet that her thoughts “are in the Donbas, where the fight is critical right now”.
Yesterday, Brink confirmed her arrival in Kyiv with a tweet noting that she had visited the foreign ministry to present her credentials. “Our first priority is to help Ukraine defend itself,” she wrote.
A career diplomat who served as US ambassador to Slovakia until recently, Brink was nominated by Joe Biden in late April and confirmed unanimously by the US Senate on 18 May.
Here are some of the latest images from Ukraine to drop on our newswires today.