Zelensky says Russia controls almost 20% of Ukraine

Russia continued its deadly assault on eastern Ukraine on Saturday as the the war lasted more than 100 days and experts have warned of a bitter conflict with no end in sight.

Russia has targeted areas in the Donbass region using both guided and unguided munitions, according to a assessment released by the UK Ministry of Defense on Saturday.

Focusing on the Donbass region, Russia combined “airstrikes and massive artillery fire to assert its overwhelming firepower” and support its “creeping advance” in this region.

Meanwhile, the impact of war on global food insecurity took center stage, as African Union chairperson Senegalese President Macky Sall met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the effective blockade of Ukrainian seaports against the export of grain from the country.

Major developments:

►The European Union on Friday formally approved an embargo on Russian oil and other sanctions targeting major banks and broadcasters. EU leaders say the move means around 90% of Russia’s oil exports to Europe will be blocked by the end of the year.

►Marriott Hotels will suspend operations in Russia after 25 years of business in the country, the company announced on Friday.

►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this week that Russia now controls almost 20% of the country’s territory. Before the war, Russia controlled 7%, including the Crimean peninsula and parts of Donbass

►In the Kherson region, the ruble is an official currency, and Russian passports are offered to residents there and in the Zaporizhzhia region. But Russian forces continue to face challenges “in establishing societal control over occupied territories,” according to a June 3 analysis of the Institute for the Study of War.

NATO membership for Sweden and Finland will be a challenge for Russia, says US general

Russia would be placed in a difficult situation militarily if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, US General Mark Milley said on Saturday ahead of a military exercise in Stockholm, Reuters reported.

If the two Nordic nations joined, it would mean the Baltic Sea coastline would be almost completely surrounded by members of the global military alliance – an alliance of which Russia is not a member.

“From the Russian point of view, it will be very problematic for them, militarily speaking, and it would be very advantageous for NATO,” Milley said, according to Reuters.

Finland and Sweden are NATO’s closest partners. They contribute to alliance operations and air policing. After the invasion, they formally reinforced the exchange of information with NATO and attend all meetings on war issues.

Putin demanded that NATO stop expanding and promised a “military, technical” response if it joined.

Ukraine investigates deportation of children to Russia as possible genocide

Ukraine is investigating whether allegations of forced deportations of children to Russia rise to the level of genocide, Ukraine’s top prosecutor told Reuters in an exclusive interview.

“From the first days of the war, we started this case of genocide,” Attorney General Iryna Venediktova told Reuters, adding that the displacement of children provides the clearest evidence of genocide under the strict legal definition of the term. .

The “forced transfer of children” qualifies as genocide under international humanitarian law cemented by the 1948 Genocide Convention, which prohibits the intentional destruction of national, ethnic, racial or religious groups.

Venediktova did not tell Reuters how many children had been forcibly transferred, but Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said in May that Russia had relocated more than 210,000 children during the conflict, reported Reuters.

Macron chafes for saying world shouldn’t ‘humiliate’ Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron warned of Russia’s humiliation, despite its “historic” mistake to invade Ukraine, in an interview published Friday by the French press.

“We must not humiliate Russia so that the day the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means,” Macron said. “I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.”

The French president said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion was “a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history”.

Macron’s comments sparked outrage from Ukrainian and US officials, with many calling the leader’s comments tone-deaf and embarrassing.

“Calls to avoid the humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and all the other countries that would call for it. Because it is Russia that is humiliating itself,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote on Saturday. Foreign Affairs, in a tweet, “We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.”

“Emmanuel Macron is humbled,” also tweeted US Representative Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, on Saturday. “Russia has already been humiliated, and true to their reputation, the French are trying to raise the white flag.”

Macron had previously warned against humiliating Russia in May, noting that the two warring nations would have to sit down together to broker peace and that high tensions would not help.

‘Butcher of Bucha’, 64 others sanctioned by the EU

Russian Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov, nicknamed the “Butcher of Bucha” for torturing, raping and killing Ukrainians living in the suburbs of Kyiv Bucha, was sanctioned on Friday by the European Union alongside 64 other people.

Omurbekov, named first on the list of newly sanctioned individuals, commanded an army unit which the EU says committed “atrocities” that “constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes”. The EU wrote that Omurbekov had “direct responsibility” for the brutal attacks.

Other Russians sanctioned by the EU include Russian Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, nicknamed the “Butcher of Mariupol”, the chairwoman of the Russian National Media Group, Alina Maratovna Kabaeva, and the wife and children of the President’s spokesperson Russian Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov.

Over 127,000 explosives cleared by Ukraine: UN

Since this week, Ukraine has cleared more than 127,000 explosives in and around the regional north of the country and its capital, Kyiv, a United Nations group said in a situation report released on Wednesday.

“The withdrawal of Russian forces has provided space for considerable explosive ordnance clearance operations,” the UN Development Program report says, noting that most clearance efforts have been concentrated in urban areas like Kyiv. , Chernihiv, Sumy and Zhytomyr.

Ukrainian state emergency services cleared 127,393 explosive devices from 28,714 square kilometers, or about 12% of Ukrainian territory. Ukraine hopes to step up its efforts by adding 80 more teams to help sweep the terrain for explosives, the report said.

Street battles rage in cities across eastern Ukraine

Block-by-block fighting raged in two key towns in eastern Ukraine on Friday, the 100th day of Russia’s war, slowly reducing them to rubble.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said fierce battles continued in Sievierodonetsk, where around 13,000 remaining residents took refuge in basements to escape relentless Russian shelling. Ukrainian forces have recovered 20% of the city’s land that had been taken by Russian troops, he later added.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday there had been “some progress” in the battle for Sievierodonetsk but gave no details.

Zelenskyy criticizes US cities for maintaining sisterly relations with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a gathering of US mayors on Friday that they should sever ties with Russian cities.

“We shouldn’t let tyrants exploit their ties to the free world,” Zelenskyy said, addressing the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. “What do these ties do for you? Probably nothing. But they allow Russia to say that it is not isolated, even after the start of this war.”

Zelenskyy cited Chicago, Jacksonville, San Diego and Albany as among dozens of US cities with ties to Russian cities.

Some cities, including Chicago, have suspended but not permanently severed ties with their Russian sister cities since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February. Others, like San Jose, Calif., have chosen to continue their relationships; The San Jose Spotlight reported that the city council opted to send a letter to its sister city Yekaterinburg, urging residents to oppose Vladimir Putin.

– Jeanine Santucci

How seizing Russian superyachts helps the feds punish Putin and his oligarchs

A former U.S. Marshal says the confiscation of U.S. assets under orders from President Joe Biden and the KleptoCapture task force is taking a toll on Russian oligarchs and their ill-gotten gains.

The most recent seizures include $1 billion worth of superyachts, tracked down in ports from Europe to Fiji.

“Really, the power of asset forfeiture is that it allows us to hit them where it hurts the most, which is in the pocket, and not let them keep things that would otherwise illegally acquired,” former U.S. Marshal Jason Wojdylo said. “A Russian oligarch’s yacht is definitely a new level of vessel that we have never entered before.” Read more.

—Trevor Hughes

Contributor: Associated Press

Civilians evacuate the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region on June 4, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.