Ukraine updates: Kyiv downs Russian missiles in early attack
Ukrainian defence systems shot down more than 30 Russian drones and missiles over Kyiv on Friday, authorities said.
“According to preliminary information, more than 30 air targets of various types were detected and destroyed in the airspace over and around Kyiv by air defence forces,” Kyiv military authorities said in a statement.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who earlier in the day reported two separate wave of attacks, wrote on Telegram there had been no calls for rescue services yet.
Air raid sirens were heard across Ukraine early Friday morning, as Russia launched a new wave of strikes. The alarms were then turned off after the fresh wave of attack was thwarted.
Russian strikes on Thursday killed three people, including a child, in Kyiv.
Moscow has ramped up aerial attacks since the beginning of May, as Ukraine prepares for an anticipated counteroffensive.
Here are some of the other developments concerning Russia’s war in Ukraine on Friday, June 2:
Kremlin warns of Ukraine joining NATO
The Kremlin has reiterated its ire at the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO.
“Ukraine’s membership in NATO, of course, is one of the main irritants and would be a potential problem for many, many years,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“Many EU countries, oddly enough, are well aware of this,” he added. “But, unfortunately, Washington orders and pays for the tunes in NATO. The EU is simply an obedient instrument in this orchestra.”
Meanwhile, British Defence Minister Ben Wallace said that his country supports Ukraine’s NATO accession, yet added that political realities might slow the process.
Though “that path is open,” it is not possible to add members to the alliance who are still engaged in active conflict, Wallace said on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security meetings in Singapore.
“The best thing we can do to help Ukraine is now to help them defeat Russia,” Wallace said. “After that is to make sure they’re ready and capable and resilient.”
Zelenskyy orders Kyiv bomb shelters audit
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ordered a full audit of Kyiv’s bomb shelters, as well as those nationwide.
The president gave the order during a high-level government security meeting on Friday.
On Thursday, three people were killed in Kyiv as they were unable to access a shelter during a Russian airstrike.
Moscow has intensified aerial attacks on Kyiv since the beginning of May. It comes as Ukraine prepares for an anticipated counteroffensive.
Blinken calls Russian war on Ukraine ‘strategic failure’
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “strategic failure” for the country, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, alluding to Moscow’s losses since the war broke out in February 2022.
“When you look at President Putin’s long-term strategic aims and objectives, there is no question: Russia is significantly worse off today than it was before the full-scale invasion,” Blinken said in Helsinki City Hall.
The US state secretary referred to the losses Russia has incurred both on the battlefield and on the markets. He also pointed out Western unity against Moscow, exemplified by Finland’s NATO accession.
“The Kremlin often claimed it had the second strongest military in the world — and many believed it. Today, many see Russia’s military as the second strongest in Ukraine,” Blinken said.
Blinken is co-hosted in the Finnish capital by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and supported by the city of Helsinki.
Russia governor says two killed in Ukraine shelling
Two civilians were killed in Ukrainian shelling on Russia’s border region of Belgorod, Russia’s regional governor said, adding that two more were injured in the alleged attack.
“Shrapnel hit cars passing by. Two women travelling in one of them died on the spot from their wounds,” Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. He added that Ukrainian forces had fired at a road in the village of Maslova Pristan, in the Shebekino district.
The reports could not be independently verified.
But attacks on Belgorod, which lies in western Russia near the Ukrainian border, have been frequent in recent days.
Swiss parliament shoots down Ukraine’s Transfer of arms exemption
The Swiss Parliament voted against a motion to exempt the transfer of arms to Ukraine.
The War Material Act ensures Switzerland’s neutrality and prevents other states from delivering Swiss-made war material to a country in an active conflict.
The proposal was drafted by the security policy committee of the National Council, which is the larger Swiss parliamentary chamber.
Opponents included the greens and right-wing populists from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP). They were wary of violating the country’s neutrality and being seen as cosying up with the NATO alliance.
Switzerland’s neutrality laws have stood in the way of giving Germany permission to send Swiss ammunition for the German Leopard Tank to Ukraine.
Russia’s Belgorod attacked for second time in ten days, UK MOD
The UK Defence Ministry appeared to confirm Russia’s earlier reports of an attack on Russia’s Belgorod region, saying this time, Russian forces “have likely seen quicker success” in containing the raid than they did in the previous one.
The British ministry said the June 1 attack was the second on the Russian region in ten days.
“In a complex battlefield situation, what appeared to be uncrewed aerial vehicles also struck Belgorod city (35km inside Russia), while the authorities evacuated civilians from the border town of Shebikino following Ukrainian shelling,” the ministry said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said on Thursday that its troops had repelled what it called “Ukrainian terrorist formations” who were trying to cross the border into Russia in the Belgorod region.
The British ministry said Russian commanders were now faced with the “acute dilemma” of whether to strengthen border defence or reinforce their lines in Ukraine.
Russia shoots down Ukrainian Drones in border region, says the Governor
Russian air defence systems have shot down several Ukrainian drones near the border region of Kursk, regional governor Roman Starovoyt said.
He urged residents to stay calm, saying: “The city is under the reliable protection of our army.”
The western Russian region of Kursk has been repeatedly shelled by the Ukrainian army as the conflict dragged on.
Ukraine should ‘stay on path’ to NATO, former deputy Secretary-General tells DW
Rose Gottemoeller, former deputy Secretary-General of NATO, told DW that Ukraine must continue on its “path” towards membership in the military alliance.
“That is to work hard on integrating its military capability and capacity into the NATO style of fighting,” she said, adding that the military alliance had done “a lot” to help train Ukrainians since 2014.
She said she believes NATO military aid will continue for Ukraine in the medium and long term.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly said that Ukraine belongs in the alliance but they need to be mindful about processes.
But discussing NATO membership for a country that is in the middle of the war is not a feasible one, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at an informal meeting of NATO ministers in Oslo on Thursday.
NATO is set for its annual summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on July 11 and 12.
Zelenskyy says the Ukrainian peace plan only way forward
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected peace plans that took into account Russia’s concerns to end the war in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy made the comments in a surprise visit to neighbouring Moldova for a European leaders’ summit on Thursday, where he pressed dozens of leaders present for NATO and European Union membership.
He renewed calls for endorsing the peace plan for Ukraine, saying: “In war, there is an aggressor and there is a victim.”
The Ukrainian president said that “A peace plan cannot be prepared by the aggressor — it is prepared by those who have suffered.”
“People from other continents do not stand aside… we will be grateful if they come to us, not imposing, but offering. This is a dialogue,” he added.
Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has entered its 16th month, has split the world. Nonaligned countries like South Africa, India, and Brazil have called on both countries to end the conflict.
China, which shares warm relations with Russia, has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict. South Africa has offered a peace plan with some other African countries.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba visited African countries to garner support for their peace plan at the end of May after Zelenskyy made stops at an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia and at a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Japan.