Ukraine says more than 500 civilians, including 40 children, remain alongside soldiers inside the Azot chemical factory, sheltering from weeks of almost constant Russian bombardment.
“The situation is difficult but stable,” he told Ukrainian television. “The escape routes are dangerous, but there are some.” He made no reference to Russia’s ultimatum.
Together they make up the Donbas, an industrial region where Russia has focused its assault after failing to take Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in March.
The premises of Sievierodonetsk Azot Association PrJSC are pictured in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk Region, eastern Ukraine. Source: Getty / Future Publishing/Future Publishing via Getty Imag
US President Joe Biden later announced $1 billion worth of new weapons aid for Ukraine that sources familiar with the package said included anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets and rounds for howitzers.
British intelligence said the fighters could survive underground, and Russian forces would likely remain focused on them, keeping them from attacking elsewhere.
On Wednesday, Mr Zelenskyy urged more European sanctions against Russia. He also said Moscow’s territorial ambitions stretched beyond Ukraine to a swathe of eastern Europe from Poland to Bulgaria, without providing evidence for his claim.
NGO Promote Ukraine, together with the Institute of Innovative Governance and Avenir de l’Europe organised a symbolic EU-Ukraine human chain around the EU Commission headquarters on 12 June, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. Source: Getty / Thierry Monasse/Getty Images
‘Brussels, we are waiting’
Ukraine’s agriculture minister told Reuters the invasion would create a global wheat shortage for at least three seasons by keeping much of the Ukrainian crop from markets.
His adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said the defenders of Severodonetsk wanted to know when the weapons would arrive. “Brussels, we are waiting for a decision,” he wrote on Twitter.
“For three and a half months we have been standing against the biggest country in the world,” a 22-year-old Ukrainian serviceman nicknamed “Viking” said. “They have taken heavy casualties in vehicles and personnel, but they don’t retreat.”
UN probes allegations Russians adopting Ukrainian children
These reportedly included children who were “taken from orphanages and subsequently offered for adoption in Russia,” she said. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said her office could not confirm the allegations, nor the number of children involved.
A girl swings on a swing next to a shelled apartment building on 15 June, 2022 in Borodianka, Ukraine. The region around Ukraine’s capital continues to recover from Russia’s aborted assault on Kyiv. Source: Getty / Alexey Furman/Getty Images
But she told the council: “We are concerned about the alleged plans of the Russian authorities to allow the movement of children from Ukraine to families in the Russian Federation, which do not appear to include steps for family reunification or respect the best interest of the child.”
The UN began raising concern in March about the risk of forced adoption of Ukrainian children, especially around 91,000 who were living in institutions or boarding schools at the beginning of the war, many of them located in the country’s embattled east.
“Regarding children that have been sent to Russia, we’re working closely to see with ombudspersons and networks how best we can document those cases,” Ms Khan said, adding that there was currently no access to such children.
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