Ukraine’s soldiers remain in the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk despite Russia’s ultimatum they lay down arms on Wednesday.
- US President Joe Biden says Washington will provide an additional $1bn in security assistance to Ukraine
- The Russian military says it destroyed a depot in the western Lviv region where ammunition for NATO-supplied weapons was stored.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are expected to visit Kyiv Thursday.
- Ukrainian fighters inside the Severodonetsk Azot chemical plant have ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender.
- Russia’s defence ministry has accused Ukrainian forces of disrupting efforts to allow civilians to escape the chemical plant on Wednesday.
Here are the latest updates:
No immediate need for additional Ukraine aid from Congress: White House
The White House does not believe it currently needs an additional Ukraine aid package from Congress after just tapping a recently approved $40 billion measure.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on Wednesday.
Russia’s first deputy PM says rouble overvalued: Tass
Russian first Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov says the rouble is overvalued and industry would be more comfortable if it fell to between 70 to 80 against the US dollar from the current 57, the Tass news agency has said.
Belousov, speaking to the agency in an interview, said year-on-year Russian inflation by the end of the year would be somewhere around 15 percent. As of June 10 it was 16.69 percent.
NATO weapons depot destroyed near Poland border: Russia
The Russian military said it used long-range missiles to destroy a depot in the western Lviv region of Ukraine where ammunition for NATO-supplied weapons was stored.
Near the border with NATO-member Poland, Russian forces used high-precision Kalibr missiles to destroy the depot near the town of Zolochiv, Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov said shells for M777 howitzers, a type supplied by the United States, were stored there. He said four howitzers were destroyed elsewhere and Russian air strikes also destroyed Ukrainian “aviation equipment” at a military aerodrome in the southern Mykolaiv region.
Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment.
German, French, Italian leaders expected in Kyiv to signal solidarity
The leaders of the European Union’s three biggest countries, Germany, France and Italy, are expected in Kyiv on Thursday to show their backing for Ukraine.
The visit by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has taken weeks to organise with the three looking to overcome criticism within Ukraine over their response to the war.
“We are at a point when we need to send clear political signals, us Europeans, towards Ukraine and its people when it is resisting heroically,” said Macron, without giving details.
The trip, which has not been announced for security reasons, comes a day before the European Commission makes a recommendation on Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate, something the biggest European nations have been lukewarm about.
Ukraine ignores Severodonetsk ultimatum to surrender
Ukraine ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender the eastern city of Severodonetsk, which now largely lies in ruins after weeks of heavy bombardment.
Russia told Ukrainian forces holed up in a chemical plant there to lay down their arms. Ukraine says more than 500 civilians, including 40 children, remain alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory.
Moscow said it opened a humanitarian corridor from Azot to allow civilians to escape to Russian-controlled territory. It accused Ukraine’s forces of disrupting that plan and using civilians as human shields, which Kyiv denied.
West must stay focused on Ukraine: Pentagon chief
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was at a “pivotal” moment and the United States and its allies cannot not lose focus on the three-month-long conflict, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said.
Austin was speaking at a meeting of dozens of defence ministers on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial gathering.
“We can’t afford to let up and we can’t lose steam. The stakes are too high,” Austin said at the start of the meeting in Brussels. “Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield … Russia is using its long-range fires to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions.”
You can read all updates for June 16 here.