Ukrainian soldiers remain at the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, despite Russia’s ultimatum to lay down their arms on Wednesday.
- US President Joe Biden says Washington will provide another $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine
- The Russian army says it destroyed a depot in the western region of Lviv where ammunition for NATO-provided weapons was stored.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are expected to visit Kiev on Thursday.
- Ukrainian fighters at the Severodonetsk Azot chemical plant have ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender.
- The Russian defense ministry has accused Ukrainian troops of disrupting efforts to allow civilians to escape from the chemical plant on Wednesday.
These are the latest updates:
No immediate need for additional Ukrainian help from Congress: White House
The White House does not believe it currently needs an additional Ukraine aid package from Congress, having just tapped into a recently approved $40 billion measure.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on Wednesday.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Says Ruble Overvalued: Tass
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov says the ruble is overvalued and the industry would be more at ease if it fell to between 70 and 80 from the current $57, the Tass news agency said.
Belousov, speaking in an interview with the agency, said Russia’s annual inflation rate would be somewhere around 15 percent by the end of the year. On June 10, that was 16.69 percent.
NATO arms depot destroyed near border with Poland: Russia
The Russian army said it used long-range missiles to destroy a depot in Ukraine’s western Lviv region, which stored ammunition for NATO-provided weapons.
Near the border with NATO member Poland, Russian forces used high-precision Kalibr missiles to destroy the depot near the town of Zolochiv, Russian Defense 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 that Russian airstrikes also destroyed Ukrainian “aviation equipment” at a military airport in the southern region of Mykolaiv.
Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment.
German, French and Italian leaders expected to show solidarity in Kiev
The leaders of the three largest countries of the European Union, Germany, France and Italy, are expected in Kiev on Thursday to show their support for Ukraine.
The visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi took weeks to organize and the three sought to overcome criticism within Ukraine over their response to the war.
“We are at a point where we need to send clear political signals, we Europeans, to Ukraine and its people when it heroically resists,” Macron said, 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 Europe’s biggest countries have been lukewarm about.
Ukraine ignores Severodonetsk ultimatum to surrender
Ukraine ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender the eastern city of Severodonetsk, now largely in ruins after weeks of heavy bombardment.
Russia told Ukrainian troops holed up in a chemical factory there to lay down their weapons. Ukraine says more than 500 civilians, including 40 children, remain alongside soldiers at the Azot chemical plant.
Moscow said it has opened an Azot humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to escape into Russian-controlled territory. It accused Ukrainian forces of disrupting that plan and using civilians as human shields, which Kiev denied.
West must remain focused on Ukraine: Pentagon chief
The Russian invasion of Ukraine came at a “pivotal” moment and the United States and its allies must not lose their focus on the three-month conflict, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said.
Austin spoke at a gathering of dozens of defense ministers on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial meeting.
“We can’t afford to give up and we can’t get up to speed. 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 and overwhelm Ukrainian positions.”
You can read all updates for June 16 here.