- The United Nations human rights commissioner has said the death and destruction in the port city of Mariupol show ‘gross violations’ of international human rights law.
- The UN’s Michelle Bachelet also said the city is the “deadliest place in Ukraine” and raised concern over reported “filtration” processes.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis have backed Ukraine’s bid for candidate status at the European Union on their first trip to Kyiv since the war started.
- Ukraine’s city of Irpin has become a “symbol of the unimaginable cruelty of the Russian war,” Scholz said after the three leaders visited the city.
- Russian-backed separatists in Luhansk say they are ready to open a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from a chemical plant in Severodonetsk, if Ukraine agrees to a ceasefire.
Here are the latest updates:
Air strikes in Lysychansk kill at least four: Governor
The death toll after an air strike hit a building in Lysychansk, where civilians were sheltering, has risen to four, the governor of the Luhansk region has said.
“The rescue operation is still ongoing,” Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram on Thursday evening. At least seven people were injured in the attack, he said.
Haidai said a separate air strike on Thursday hit a sanatorium building in Lysychansk and collapsed it, possibly causing further casualties.
“It is likely that there are people trapped under the rubble,” he said of the second strike, adding that a rescue effort was also underway there.
Australia’s PM won’t say if he will visit Kyiv: Sky News
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has remained coy over whether he would accept Zelenskyy’s invitation to visit Ukraine later this month, Sky News reports.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia previously said Zelenskyy had extended the invitation when he congratulated Albanese on Labor’s election win on May 21. But Albanese told Sky News he had only read about the invitation in the paper.
“That’s the information, the extent to which it’s come at this point in time,” he said.
“Look, I’m going to NATO as a priority because Australia is actually the largest non NATO contributor to the efforts to support sovereignty in Ukraine and support the people of Ukraine standing up against this thuggish illegal behaviour of Russia,” he told Sky News.
Russian separatists in Luhansk ready to open corridor for Azot evacuation: Interfax
Pro-Russian militia in Luhansk say that they, together with the Russian Federation, are ready to discuss opening humanitarian corridors for civilians to exist the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, subject to ceasefire from Ukraine, Interfax has reported.
The self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic’s (LPR) Ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, said Ukrainian militants disrupted the humanitarian corridor on Wednesday by shelling from a mortar and tank, according to Interfax.
Luhansk separatists say evacuation efforts failed in Severodonetsk
The pro-Russian militia of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) have said efforts to evacuate people to safety from the eastern frontline city of Severodonetsk had failed, in a video released on Thursday.
Reuters was able to geolocate the video to damaged shopfronts in central Severodonetsk. One shot showed a woman dragging luggage outside a damaged supermarket, and another showed a man walking by a storefront with an insurance company logo.
Russia had told Ukrainian forces holed up in the city’s Azot chemical plant to lay down their arms from Wednesday morning – an ultimatum ignored by Kyiv’s soldiers.
Ukraine says more than 500 civilians, including 40 children, remain alongside soldiers inside the chemical factory, sheltering from weeks of Russian bombardment. Russian-backed separatists say up to 1,200 civilians may be inside.
Russia’s Ukraine invasion shows aggression again all Europe: Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy has said that Russia’s invasion amounted to aggression against all Europe and that the more weapons Ukraine receives from the West, the faster it will be able to liberate its occupied land.
“Every day of delay or postponed decisions is an opportunity for the Russian military to kill Ukrainians or destroy our cities,” he told a news conference on Thursday.
“There is a direct correlation: the more powerful weapons we receive, the faster we can liberate our people, our land.”
Putin says government must support domestic car industry
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to come up with new measures to support the domestic car industry, which has seen sales tank since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.
Amid a crunch on demand from Russian buyers and severe logistics problems as a result of Western sanctions slapped on Moscow, car sales slumped a record 83.5 percent in May, according to figures from the Association of European Businesses (AEB).
Mariupol ‘deadliest place in Ukraine’: UN
At least 1,348 people have been killed in Mariupol since the beginning of the war, making it the “deadliest place in Ukraine,” Michelle Bachelet has said, adding the death toll is likely “thousands higher”.
UN’s top human rights official also said that nine out of 10 residential buildings and six out of 10 private houses have been damaged or destroyed, citing the attack on the theatre in March as an emblematic example.
Bachelet raised concern over the “filtration” process in the city where arbitrary determinations, intimidation and humiliation, which may amount to ill-treatment, have been reported.
The Ukrainian coordinator of the humanitarian corridor effort, Tetiana Lomakina, said her hometown “is purposefully turned into a ghetto for the Ukrainians where the genocide takes place at an accelerated pace.” She said the civilians death toll rises and is at 22,000 and that “47,000 have been forcefully transferred to Russia or other occupied territories.”
Macron asked French manufacturer to increase howitzer production: Reuters
Emmanuel Macron has asked French arms manufacturer, Nexter, to increase the production of Caesar howitzers as he promised to send six more of the weapon systems to the Ukrainian army, a source close to France’s defence ministry said, Reuters reports.
Macron, ahead of his visit to Kyiv on Thursday, urged Nexter “to review its organisation to be able to work in a ‘wartime’ mode to be able to produce Ceasars much more quickly for the French army”, the source told Reuters.
Macron on Thursday pledged to send six more Ceasar howitzers out of French army stocks to Ukraine, adding to the 12 previously delivered. The French army in total holds less than 80 such artillery weapon systems.
UK to host Ukrainian leaders to discuss reconstruction
Britain will welcome representatives from Ukraine and business leaders on Friday to discuss how UK companies can help rebuild key infrastructure in Kyiv.
Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will seek to promote collaboration between British companies in infrastructure, energy and transport, and Ukrainian public and private organisations to help repair damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
Trevelyan will also announce changes to trade remedy measures, including reallocating ring-fenced market access for steel imports from Russia and Belarus to other countries including Ukraine.
Russian pranksters posing as Ukraine president trick J.K. Rowling
A pair of Russian pranksters have revealed fragments of an interview they conducted with British writer J.K. Rowling while posing as people with sympathies toward neighbouring Ukraine.
Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stoliarov, who are also known as ‘Vovan and Lexus’ on their show on Russian video platform Rutube, revealed the video at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The pranksters told their audience they had questioned Rowling on “cancel culture” and her opinions towards Russia, while also pretending to ask questions on behalf of Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The “Harry Potter” author, who received widespread criticism on social media and beyond after making comments about transgender rights, said she supported tougher sanctions on Russia during the interview.
Macron decries ‘war crimes’ on ‘Ukraine’s soil’
Emmanuel Macron has decried the war crimes committed in Ukraine and vowed to hold accountable the perpetrators.
“The whole world has witnessed the war crimes committed on Ukraine’s soil,” Macron said in a tweet.
“We will remain mobilised to ensure the perpetrators of those crimes are held accountable and punished in line with international law. Our experts are on the front line to gather the evidence,” he added.
The whole world has witnessed the war crimes committed on Ukraine’s soil. We will remain mobilized to ensure the perpetrators of those crimes are held accountable and punished in line with international law. Our experts are on the front line to gather the evidence.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 16, 2022
US has not asked Russia about two missing Americans
The United States has said it has not asked Russia about two US citizens reported missing after traveling to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces and said there are reports of a third missing American.
“As of today, we have not raised this yet with the Russian Federation … (We) haven’t seen anything from the Russians indicating that two such individuals are in their custody,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, describing reports about the two men as unconfirmed.
Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, went to Ukraine as volunteer fighters against Russian forces, have been missing for a week, and are feared captured, family members have said.
EU leaders visit to Ukraine was ‘historic’: Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the visit to Kyiv by the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, all criticised in the past by Kyiv for support viewed as too cautious, as “historic” and said “big steps” were made during their meeting.
“Today is a truly historic day. Ukraine has felt the support of four powerful European states. And in particular support for our movement towards the European Union. Italy, Romania, France and Germany are with us,” he said, during his evening address.
“All four leaders … support Ukraine’s candidacy. Of course, all relevant procedures must be followed, all EU member states must join. But at our meeting today a big step was made,” Zelenskyy said.
The leaders, who were joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, toured Irpin, a town northeast of the capital devastated soon after the invasion began on February 24, where withdrawing Russian forces left behind bodies littering the streets.
‘Gross violations’ took place in Mariupol: UN
The intensity and extent of the death and destruction in Mariupol suggested that “serious violations” of international humanitarian law and “gross violations” of international human rights law occurred during the battle for the Ukrainian city, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said.
Michelle Bachelet made the observation as she presented her agency’s report into the situation in Mariupol before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
She said that the “tragedy of Mariupol” was far from over and explained that the full picture of the devastation was not yet clear.
European leaders back Ukraine’s EU bid
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy back “immediate” European Union candidate status for Ukraine amid their ongoing visit to Kyiv.
“All four of us support the status of immediate candidate for accession,” French President Macron told a joint news conference with his EU colleagues.
Moreover, he said Ukraine must “resist and win” the war and has announced that France will donate six additional long-range artillery systems.
Russia’s war of ‘unimaginable cruelty’: Scholz
The Ukrainian town of Irpin, like Bucha before it, has become a symbol of the “cruelty” of Russia’s war in Ukraine and its senseless violence, German Chancellor Scholz said on a visit to the Kyiv suburb, adding that the war must end.
“Irpin, like Bucha, has become a symbol of the unimaginable cruelty of the Russian war, of senseless violence,” Scholz wrote on Twitter. “The brutal destruction of this city is a warning: this war must end.”
#Irpin ist wie #Butscha längst ein Symbol für die unvorstellbare Grausamkeit des russischen Kriegs geworden, für sinnlose Gewalt. Die brutale Zerstörung in dieser Stadt ist ein Mahnmal – dieser Krieg muss zu Ende gehen. pic.twitter.com/DEPZUfh9OY
— Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz (@Bundeskanzler) June 16, 2022
Read all the updates from June 16 here.