US to announce new Ukraine aid package ‘before too long’
- Ukrainian forces have had some success near the southern city of Kherson and are advancing in parts of the Kharkiv region, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.
- Ukraine’s foreign minister calls on French President Emmanuel Macron to visit the country before the end of June.
- Russia has taken control of most of the eastern industrial city of Severodonetsk, Luhansk regional governor says.
- Washington will not provide Kyiv with long-range rockets capable of reaching beyond the battlefield in Ukraine, the White House has said.
- The US hails a European Union decision to scale back Russian oil imports, urging more long-term efforts to reduce dependence on Moscow.
Here are all the latest updates:
US to provide long-range rocket system to Ukraine: Official
The US will provide Ukraine with the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a senior Biden administration official has said, upgrading Kyiv’s battleground capabilities as it battles Russian invaders.
“These systems will be used by the Ukrainians to repel Russian advances on Ukrainian territory, but they will not be used on targets in Russian territory,” the official told reporters.
Joe Biden said in an opinion piece for the New York Times that the US “will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”
“We will continue providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters and ammunition,” Biden added.
Russia’s bombing of Severodonetsk ‘just madness’: Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy has called Russia’s bombing of Severodonetsk “madness” due to the number of chemical plants in the city.
“Given the presence of large-scale chemical production in Severodonetsk, the Russian army’s strikes there, including blind air bombing, are just madness,” he said in his nighttime address.
Zelenskyy added that the situation in the Donbas remained “very difficult”.
“Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Kurakhove are now at the epicenter of the confrontation,” he said.
US to announce medium-range rockets for Ukraine
Washington’s new aid package for Ukraine is expected to include what the US considers medium-range rockets, which generally can travel about 70 kilometres.
That’s a critical weapon Ukrainian leaders have been begging for as they struggle to stall Russian progress in the Donbas region, US officials said Tuesday.
The US plan tries to strike a balance between the desire to help Ukraine battle ferocious Russian artillery barrages while not providing arms that could allow Ukraine to hit targets deep inside Russia and trigger an escalation in the war.
The expectation is the medium-range rockets could both intercept Russian artillery and take out Russian positions in towns where fighting is intense, such as Severodonetsk.
European centre-right’s new leader backs Ukraine EU membership
German politician Manfred Weber has said European Union membership for war-torn Ukraine was a priority as he was elected leader of Europe’s struggling main group of conservative parties.
The Bavarian lawmaker, 49, was the sole candidate to be the new president of the European People’s Party (EPP) at a group meeting in Rotterdam.
“The first message we have to give in this moment is that we as EPP family, we say, ‘Yes you are welcomed, yes it’s worth to fight, yes you can become a member of the European Union,’” Weber said in a speech after he was elected. “The EPP supports the candidate status for our Ukraine friends.”
Ukraine football star Zinchenko in tears ahead of World Cup playoff
Ukrainian football star Oleksandr Zinchenko couldn’t hold back tears as he tried to explain what it means to represent his country’s national team at this moment, with a spot at the World Cup within reach.
Ukraine is two games away from qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar, starting with a match against Scotland in Glasgow on Wednesday– which was postponed in March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The winner at Hampden Park will play against Wales on Sunday in the decisive playoff.
“We want to give incredible emotions to the Ukrainian people because Ukrainians deserve it so much at this very moment,” Zinchenko said at a news conference. “Our mood, I would describe as a fighting mood, because everyone understands what is going on in Ukraine these days.”
Zelenskyy thanks EU for Russian oil ban
Zelenskyy has thanked the European Union for banning most oil from Russia and urged Ukraine’s allies to give the country more weapons.
Speaking in a video address, Zelenskyy said the EU’s decision to cut the bulk of Russian oil imports means Moscow “won’t be able to spend tens of billions of euros to finance terror”.
He added that Ukraine will be pressing for more sanctions, saying that “there should be no significant economic ties left between the free world and the terrorist state”.
Zelenskyy also urged Ukraine’s Western allies to provide more heavy weapons, saying that the situation in eastern Ukraine where Russia has been pressing its offensive remains “very difficult”.
US warns against formalising Russian control in Kherson
Washington has warned against attempts by Russia to “institutionalise” its control over “sovereign Ukrainian territory”, particularly in the Kherson region.
Price, the State Department spokesman, said Russia could announce an independent region in the area in an effort to eventually annex it.
“It’s a predictable part of the Russian playbook, which is why we are continuing to sound the alarm now, particularly following Russian President Putin’s unilateral decree that would fast-track the issuance of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens,” he said.
.@StateDeptSpox: As we approach the 100th day of Russia’s war against Ukraine, we remain concerned about steps Russia is taking to attempt to institutionalize control over sovereign Ukrainian territory, particularly in Ukraine’s Kherson region. pic.twitter.com/THMsVNq15I
— Department of State (@StateDept) May 31, 2022
Ukrainian reports ‘shutdown of all communications’ in Kherson region
Ukrainian officials have reported a “shutdown of all communications” in the Russian-occupied southern region of Kherson.
Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communication and Information Protection said in a statement that an unspecified intrusion “by the occupation regime” had taken place and that equipment had been powered down and cables disconnected.
“The residents of the region are currently left without Ukrainian mobile communication and Internet access, as well as with no means to make national and international phone calls using landline phone devices,” the agency said.
On Tuesday, the Russian-backed occupation regime of the Kherson region said that the region had switched over to Russia’s mobile and Internet networks.
US to announce new Ukraine aid package ‘before too long’
The United States State Department has suggested that Washington is readying another aid package for Kyiv, after Congress approved an additional $40bn in military and humanitarian assistance earlier this month.
“Now that we have significant additional financial resources for security assistance, I imagine you’ll be hearing from us before too long about additional security assistance as those conversations with senior levels of the Ukrainian government have been ongoing,” spokesperson Ned Price said.
Russia captures most of Severodonetsk city in eastern Ukraine: Governor
Russia has taken control of most of the eastern industrial city of Severodonetsk, the regional governor has said.
Russia’s all-out assault on the city in Ukraine’s Luhansk province has been met by tough resistance from Ukrainian forces. Russian-backed separatists in Luhansk acknowledged that capturing the city was taking longer than hoped, despite one of the biggest ground attacks of the three-month-long war.
Luhansk’s regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, said nearly all critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk had been destroyed and 60 percent of residential property has been damaged beyond repair.
“Most of Severodonetsk is under the control of the Russians. The town is not surrounded and the prerequisites for it to be are not in place,” Haidai said, adding that Russian shelling had made it impossible to deliver aid or evacuate people.
Ukrainian forces having some success near Kherson, Zelenskyy says
Ukrainian forces have had some success near the southern city of Kherson and are advancing in parts of the Kharkiv region to the east of Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.
“Our defenders are showing the utmost courage and remain masters of the situation at the front despite the fact the Russian army has a significant advantage in terms of equipment and numbers,” he said in a late-night address.
Ukraine FM calls for French president to visit before end of June
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on French President Emmanuel Macron to visit the country before the end of France’s European Union presidency on June 30.
“It would be good that Macron came during the French EU presidency, and the best thing would be that he comes with more weapons deliveries for Ukraine,” Kuleba told French news channel LCI.
“That’s the most precious aid we can receive from France.”
US hails EU decision to scale back Russian oil imports
The US has hailed a European Union decision to scale back Russian oil imports and called for long-term efforts to further reduce dependence on Moscow.
“We applaud the steps by our European allies and partners to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and natural gas,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price. He added that there was “broad support” among US allies for “cutting off the strength of Russia’s war machine, and that is Russia’s energy market”.
“The EU took an important step on that near-term path, but then there’s also a longer-term path that has less to do with the day to day and more to do with trends over time and the broader need to lessen our reliance on Russian energy,” Price told reporters.
US will not send long-range rockets for use beyond Ukraine: White House
The Biden administration is still considering sending rocket systems to Kyiv, the White House press secretary has said, but Washington will not send long-range rockets for use beyond the battlefield in Ukraine.
Karine Jean-Pierre’s comments echoed those of US President Joe Biden, who said earlier this week that his administration would not send Ukraine any rockets capable of reaching Russia.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Read all the updates from Tuesday, May 31 here.