Russia claims Ukrainian forces retreating from Severodonetsk

Smoke rises in the city of Severodonetsk during heavy fighting on May 30, 2022.
Smoke rises in the city of Severodonetsk during heavy fighting on May 30, 2022.   -  Copyright  ARIS MESSINIS/AFP or licensors
By Joshua Askew  with AP/AFP/Reuters

Russia's MoD made the claim amid fierce street-by-street fighting in the key eastern Ukrainian city, although it cannot be verified.

The war in Ukraine, which passed its 100 day anniversary Friday, is now one of the bloodiest conflicts to shake Europe in decades. Thousands have died, millions are displaced and whole cities lie in ruins.

With the rhetoric hardening on both sides, Ukrainian fighters on the ground battled Russian forces in the country's east on Saturday, particularly in the key eastern city of Severodonetsk which saw fierce fighting. 

After a regional governor claimed Ukrainian forces had pushed Russia's military back in certain parts of the area, Russia's MoD later said Ukrainian forces were now in retreat. 

Euronews could not independently verify this. 


Key points

  • Russia has been accused of playing 'hunger games' with the world over Ukrainian wheat exports.
  • Fighting continues to rage in two key eastern Ukrainian cities, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
  • Russia's MoD has claimed Ukrainian forces are retreating from Severodonetsk, although this cannot be verified by Euronews. 
  • A centuries-old Orthodox monastery has caught fire near the frontline in eastern Ukraine. Both sides blame each other for the blaze. 
  • Ukraine's FM dismissed a warning by the French President not to 'humilate' Russia. 
  • United Nations head renewed calls for peace in Ukraine. 
  • The Ukraine war marked its 100th day anniversary Friday. 

That's the end of our live blog for today.

Follow our coverage of the Ukraine war tomorrow. 


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Ukrainian units retreating from Severodonetsk - claims Russia

Russia's Defence Ministry has claimed Ukrainian armed forces are retreating from the key eastern city of Severodonetsk, after suffering critical losses of up to 90 per cent. 

In a Saturday Telegram post, the Russian MoD said Ukrainian forces were retreating towards Lysychansk, a city on the other side of the Siverskyi Donets river. 

The post gave no further details. 

Euronews cannot verify these claims independently. 

Earlier Saturday, the Ukrainian regional governor said Ukrainian forces had pushed Russian troops back from certain areas of Severodonetsk. 

Severodonetsk is a key focus of the Russian war effort at present. It is one of only two cities in the prized Donbas region that it does not control. 

A man stands looking at a building destroyed during attacks, in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Children in train guard uniforms wait for the departure of a children's train in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during interview with the Russia-1 TV channel in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, June 3, 2022. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Ukraine dismisses Macron's warning not to 'humiliate' Russia

Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has rebuked a warning by Macron not to "humiliate" Russia, so that a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine war may be reached. 

The French President offered to mediate the conflict and warned against embarrassing Moscow in an interview on Saturday. 

Such calls “could only humiliate France and every other country that calls for it," said Kuleba in response to Macron's comments. 

"It is Russia that humiliates itself," he added. "We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives."


Flames engulf famous Ukrainian monastery caught up in war

 A famous wooden monastery in eastern Ukraine, known as the Sviatohirsk Lavra, has caught on fire, as fighting rages in the area. 

A Ukrainian government tweet shows the old Orthodox monastery in one piece, accompanying a photo of it ablaze. 

"As a result of hostilities, a large-scale fire broke out on the territory of the All Saints Hermitage of the Holy Dormition Sviatohirsk Lavra," the Ukrainian Orthodox Church says on its website. "The flames engulfed the main shrine of the monastery."

The monastery is affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate, which is run by Patriarch Kirill, an ally of President Vladimir Putin and supporter of the Russian military.

The Ukrainian government tweet alleges that Russian forces killed four monks there on 30 May. Euronews cannot independently verify this claim.

Russia's Defense Ministry has alleged that Ukrainian nationalists set fire to the monastery as they retreated from Svyatogorsk, reports the state-affiliated TASS news agency. Again this cannot be verfied

A Ukrainian army officer, Yurii Kochevenko, posted a photo of the burning monastery on Facebook, with the caption: "Another crime of Russian barbarians for whom there is nothing sacred."

The monastery stands on cliffs by the Siverskyi Donets river. Russian troops have tried repeatedly to cross the river, aiming to encircle the Ukrainian army. Sviatohirsk lies just north of Slovyansk, a city held by the Ukrainians.

The monastery dates back centuries and was closed by the Communists in the last century, but was reopened in 1992 after the Soviet Union’s collapse.


Ukraine minister: Azov fighters 'will end up here in Kyiv'

The Ukrainian Interior Minister has said Ukraine is "doing everything it can" to bring soldiers of the Azov regiment, who were taken captive when the southern city of Mariupol fell, back home.   

"We all know that they will end up here, in Kyiv, and we are doing everything to make it happen," said Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyy Saturday on Telegram. 

Ukrainian intelligence agents are communicating with Azov regiment servicemen, who withstood a gruelling Russian siege at the city's steel works for several weeks, before being captured. 

"It is through them that we learn more about their living conditions, food, and possibilities for their release," Monastyrskyy added in the post. 

A huge question mark has hung over the heads of the Ukrainian fighters. 

After the sprawling Avoz Steel plant was captured by Russian forces, they were taken to territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine. 

Ukraine has called for a prisoner swap but some in Russia - including the deputy foreign minister - have said they should be put on trial.

Read more about how the wives and partners of the Avoz fighters fared during the siege below. 

Azov wives: 'This is not a reality show. The truth is horrible'


'Our forces are pushing them back' in Severodonetsk, says Ukrainian regional governor

The governor of the Lugansk region, Sergiï Gaïdaï, has said Ukrainian forces are repelling Russia's army in the strategic Severodonetsk city in a Saturday interview. 

"Initial information indicates that they have succeeded in taking control of most of the city. But our forces are pushing them back now," he said. 

Gaïdaï continued that Russia had engaged all of its available forces in the struggle over the key city in the prized eastern Ukrainian Donbas region. 

"The situation in the whole region is extremely difficult. The fighting is currently concentrated in Severodonetsk because, from what we have been able to understand, the Russian army has thrown all its weight and reserves" into this battle, said the governor.

Moscow is currently concentrating all of its forces in the Donbas region in a bid to secure Severodonetsk, one of the last unoccupied cities in the region. 

Capturing the city would allow Russia to secure its hold on the Donbas, a industrial region partially occupied by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.


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