Russian forces pounded Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv and surrounding countryside with rockets, killing at least 15 people, in what Kyiv called a bid to force it to pull resources from the main battlefield to protect civilians from attack.
ON THE GROUND
* Operations at Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery near the border with Ukraine were suspended on Wednesday after a fire possibly caused by an attack by two drones, regional governor Vasily Golubev said.
* The Russians are advancing towards the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, attacking buildings of police, state security and prosecutors and taking nearby settlements, the governor of the surrounding Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, said.
* Zelenskiy said the military situation in Luhansk was very difficult and his advisor Oleskiy Arestovych said Russian forces could cut off Lysychansk, and the fiercely-contested city of Sievierodonetsk across the Siverskyi Donets river, from Ukrainian-held territory.
* Ukraine’s second biggest city Kharkiv, further north, came under Russian attack again overnight, Arestovych said, and the nearby village of Chuhuiv was under fire again, a day after at least 15 civilians were killed there.
* Intense fighting was going on along the border with Russia in northeastern Ukraine, the governor of the Sumy region, Dmytro Zhyvitsky, said. Seven Russian missiles hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said.
* Six children were among 11 wounded in Chasiv Yar on Tuesday when the Russians fired at a beach on Lake Zolota Rybka, the governor of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Wednesday. One person was killed, he said, adding without providing evidence, that cluster munitions were used.
* Casualties have amounted to about 55% of the original strength of the forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic(DPR), one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, Britain said. Reuters could not immediately confirm the battlefield accounts.
DIPLOMACY AND ECONOMY
* Moscow’s response to Lithuania’s ban on the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad will not be exclusively diplomatic but practical in nature, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said, without elaborating.
* Ukraine said its grain exports in the first 22 days of June fell by 48% from a year earlier to 907,000 tonnes. Russia said Russian and Turkish delegations had agreed to continue talks on safe vessel departures and grain exports from Ukrainian ports.
* Germany faces certain recession if already faltering Russian gas supplies completely stop, an industry body warned.
* Estonia summoned the Russian ambassador on Tuesday to protest about a violation of its airspace by a Russian helicopter. Moscow did not immediately comment.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to lay flowers at a memorial flame for the dead in World War Two.
* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will pay an official visit to Iran on Wednesday, Tass news agency reported.
* “Russian forces are now hitting the city of Kharkiv in the same way that they previously were hitting Mariupol – with the aim of terrorising the population,” Arestovych said.