Zelensky says Russia controls almost 20% of Ukraine

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Russia continued its deadly assault on eastern Ukraine on Saturday as the war stretched past the 100-day mark and experts warned of a bitter conflict with no end in sight.

Russia continued to strike areas in the Donbass region using both guided and unguided munitions, according to a assessment released by the UK Ministry of Defense on Saturday.

Focusing on the Donbass, Russia combined airstrikes and massive artillery fire to harness its “overwhelming firepower” and support its “creeping advance” in that region.

Meanwhile, the impact of war on global food insecurity took center stage, as African Union chairperson Senegalese President Macky Sall met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the effective blockade of Ukrainian seaports against the export of grain from the country.

Major developments:

►The European Union on Friday formally approved an embargo on Russian oil and other sanctions targeting major banks and broadcasters. EU leaders say the move means around 90% of Russia’s oil exports to Europe will be blocked by the end of the year.

►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this week that Russia now controls almost 20% of the country’s territory. Before the war, Russia controlled 7%, including the Crimean peninsula and parts of Donbass

►In the Kherson region, the ruble is an official currency, and Russian passports are offered to residents there and in the Zaporizhzhia region. But Russian forces continue to face challenges “to establish societal control over occupied territories,” according to a June 3 analysis by the Institute for the Study of War.

Marriott hotels suspend operations in Russia

Marriott Hotels will suspend operations in Russia after 25 years of operating in the country, the company announced on Friday.

“We have come to the conclusion that the recently announced US, UK and EU restrictions will make it impossible for Marriott to continue to operate or franchise hotels in the Russian market,” Marriott’s statement said.

The hotel chain called the process of suspending operations in Russia “complex” and said it planned to “stay focused on supporting our Russia-based associates.” Marriott also highlighted its efforts to support Ukraine, such as providing housing for Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries and deploying disaster relief funds.

–Ella Lee

Over 127,000 explosives cleared by Ukraine: UN

Since this week, Ukraine has cleared more than 127,000 explosives in and around the regional north of the country and its capital, Kyiv, a United Nations group said in a situation report released on Wednesday.

“The withdrawal of Russian forces has provided space for considerable explosive ordnance clearance operations,” the UN Development Program report says, noting that most clearance efforts have been concentrated in urban areas like Kyiv. , Chernihiv, Sumy and Zhytomyr.

Ukrainian state emergency services cleared 127,393 explosive devices from 28,714 square kilometers, or about 12% of Ukrainian territory. Ukraine hopes to step up its efforts by adding 80 more teams to help sweep the terrain for explosives, the report said.

–Ella Lee

Street battles rage in cities across eastern Ukraine

Block-by-block fighting raged in two key towns in eastern Ukraine on Friday, the 100th day of Russia’s war, slowly reducing them to rubble.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said fierce battles continued in Sievierodonetsk, where around 13,000 remaining residents took refuge in basements to escape relentless Russian shelling. Ukrainian forces have recovered 20% of the city’s land that had been taken by Russian troops, he later added.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday there had been “some progress” in the battle for Sievierodonetsk but gave no details.

— Associated Press

Zelenskyy criticizes US cities for maintaining sisterly relations with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a gathering of US mayors on Friday that they should sever ties with Russian cities.

“We shouldn’t let tyrants exploit their ties to the free world,” Zelenskyy said, addressing the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. “What do these ties do for you? Probably nothing. But they allow Russia to say that it is not isolated, even after the start of this war.”

Zelenskyy cited Chicago, Jacksonville, San Diego and Albany as among dozens of US cities with ties to Russian cities.

Some cities, including Chicago, have suspended but not permanently severed ties with their Russian sister cities since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February. Others, like San Jose, Calif., have chosen to continue their relationships; The San Jose Spotlight reported that the city council opted to send a letter to its sister city Yekaterinburg, urging residents to oppose Vladimir Putin.

How seizing Russian superyachts helps the feds punish Putin and his oligarchs

A former U.S. Marshal says the confiscation of U.S. assets under orders from President Joe Biden and the KleptoCapture task force is taking a toll on Russian oligarchs and their ill-gotten gains.

The most recent seizures include $1 billion worth of superyachts, tracked down in ports from Europe to Fiji.

“Really, the power of asset forfeiture is that it allows us to hit them where it hurts the most, which is in the pocket, and not let them keep things that would otherwise illegally acquired,” former U.S. Marshal Jason Wojdylo said. “A Russian oligarch’s yacht is definitely a new level of vessel that we have never entered before.” Read more.

—Trevor Hughes

Contributor: Associated Press

Civilians evacuate the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region on June 4, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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