It is day 100 of Russia's war in Ukraine, which the Kremlin is still calling its "special military operation." Recent days have seen Russian forces gain significant ground in Ukraine's eastern Donbas, and they now control more than 90% of the region of Luhansk, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense has said.
Russia is starting military drills in the Pacific involving some 40 ships and 20 aircraft. At the same time, U.N. officials have been meeting with their Russian counterparts in an effort to bring Russian and Ukrainian grain exports back into global markets as risks of global food shortages mount.
Elsewhere, the oil-producer alliance OPEC+ has agreed to boost crude output faster than expected in July and August to temper the global price spikes brought on by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions on Russian oil.
UN calls for end to violence as it works to release grain exports stuck in Black Sea ports
As the war in Ukraine entered its 100th day, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the conflict "already taken thousands of lives, caused untold destruction, displaced millions of people, resulted in unacceptable violations of human rights and is inflaming a three-dimensional global crisis – food, energy and finance – that is pummeling the most vulnerable people, countries and economies."
"As we mark this tragic day, I renew my call for an immediate halt to violence, for unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need, for safe evacuation of civilians trapped in areas of fighting and for urgent protection of civilians and respect for human rights in accordance with international norms," the UN chief said.
The UN said it is continuing work to release grain stuck in Ukraine's Black Sea ports as well as securing fertilizer from major producer Russia. The agency estimates 1.5 billion people globally are in need of that food and fertilizer. It stressed resuming exports is key to preventing another crisis.
While humanitarian efforts have sought alternatives to maritime exports, the UN said the sea is still the "only viable solution" because of "the huge amount of cereals and other essential foodstuffs produced." Rail and truck transportation cannot manage the same volume and have their own logistical problems, UN crisis coordinator for Ukraine Amin Awad said.
— Christine Wang
Foreign volunteers for Ukraine prepare in the Luhansk region
Portraits of War: A look back at 100 days of conflict in Ukraine
One hundred days have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military invasion of Ukraine. But for the millions of Ukrainians whose homes and families have been shattered by war, the time before the invasion may feel like a lifetime away.
Putin's attack against Russia's sovereign neighbor shocked the world, upending the geopolitical status quo virtually overnight and stoking fears of a new nuclear crisis. In Ukraine itself, it has produced seemingly endless scenes of carnage.
Click here for a fuller look at how the invasion has affected Ukraine's people.
Moscow warns heads of U.S. media outlets in Russia of 'consequences'
Russia's Foreign Ministry announced it would be calling a meeting for all the heads of American news outlets in Moscow to outline "consequences" their bureaus would be facing in response to U.S. clampdowns on Russian media.
"If the work of the Russian media — operators and journalists — is not normalized in the United States, the most stringent measures will inevitably follow," Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, said.
"To this end," she added, "on Monday, June 6, the heads of the Moscow offices of all American media will be invited to the press center of the Russian Foreign Ministry to explain to them the consequences of their government's hostile line in the media sphere. We look forward to it."
Several western countries have put restrictions on Russian state media outlets. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on some Russian state media entities and cut off state outlets from American advertisers.
Russia has cracked down on its own media, setting 15-year prison sentences for anyone spreading what the Kremlin describes as "fake news" about its war in Ukraine, which it calls its "special military operation."
Russia's government has already blocked Russian-language versions of foreign media like the BBC, the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America, and Germany's Deutsche Welle. Its censorship laws have forced several independent Russian media outlets to shutter since its invasion of Ukraine began in late February.
— Natasha Turak
African Union chief says Putin expressed 'willingness' to release Black Sea grain exports
Vladimir Putin appeared willing to free up grain exports that have been blocked for months at Ukraine's Black Sea ports, Senegalese President and African Union chairman Macky Sall said in a tweet after the two met in the coastal Russian city of Sochi.
"President #Putin expressed to us his readiness to facilitate Ukrainian wheat exports. Russia is ready to ensure the export of its wheat and fertilisers. I call on all partners to lift sanctions targeting wheat and fertilisers," Sall wrote on Twitter. He did not specify whether any conditions were tied to Putin's offer.
Ukraine's exports of grain and other cereals provide a large proportion of African countries' supply. The food crisis brought on by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has seen Russian forces blockade Ukrainian ports and use its warships to control access to Black Sea trade routes, is hitting Africa particularly hard.
Moscow has already said it would allow food shipments from Ukraine to resume if the West lifted sanctions against it, something Ukraine has slammed as "blackmail."
Kyiv is currently working with international partners to create a U.N.-supported mission to reopen its Black Sea export routes.
— Natasha Turak
Ukraine investigates Russian deportation of children as potential acts of genocide
Ukraine's prosecutors are examining allegations of the forced deportation of children from Ukraine by Russian forces. The evidence in the cases could amount to genocide, the country's top prosecutor told Reuters in an interview, as investigators seek to build their case.
"Forcibly transferring children" constitutes an act of genocide, according to the 1948 Genocide Convention.
"From the first days of the war, we started this case about genocide," Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova told Reuters. "We have more than 20 cases about forcible transfer of people" to Russia from different parts of Ukraine, she said. Venediktova is supervising several war crimes investigations in Ukraine.
— Natasha Turak
Moscow refuses blame for Ukraine's blocked grain exports
The Kremlin denied any responsibility for the growing food crisis cause by Russia's blockage of Ukrainian ports, ahead of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and African Union leader Macky Sall to discuss freeing up vital grain exports.
"The president will tell our African friends the real state of affairs, he will explain once again what is happening there, who has mined the ports, what is needed for grain to go, that no one on the Russian side is blocking these ports," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
Macky Sall, who is also president of Senegal, spoke of the impact of the war on food supplies from the Black Sea region that his country, and many others in Africa, rely on. Russia and Ukraine together provide nearly a third of the world's grain and 75% of its sunflower oil. Much of that goes to the developing world.
Moscow insists that Russia is not responsible for the growing crisis, saying that instead Ukraine is to blame for mining its ports against Russian ships, and the West for crippling its banking, shipping and insurance operations with sanctions.
But one hundred days into the war, it's Russia that occupies much of Ukraine's southern coastline, and its warships control access to Ukraine's critical Black Sea ports.
Ukraine is currently working with allies to establish a United Nations-backed effort to reopen its Black Sea export routes.
— Natasha Turak
Cyclists ride past tanks, wreckage on World Bicycle Day in Ukraine
Cyclists across Ukraine take to the road on World Bicycle Day.
— Dogukan Keskinkilic | Anadolu Agency | Getty Image
EU targets Russian officers in new sanctions
The European Union says it has targeted Russian military officers linked to atrocities in Ukraine in its latest round of sanctions, including top brass accused of war crimes in Bucha and the siege of Mariupol.
The EU froze the assets of 65 people and imposed travel bans on them. The bloc has now targeted almost 1,160 people, including President Vladimir Putin, pro-Kremlin oligarchs and other top officials over Russia's actions in Ukraine since 2014.
The EU said that Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov and Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, known as the "Butcher of Mariupol," were among those on the list.
It said Omurbekov "was leading the actions of his military unit and nicknamed 'the Butcher of Bucha' due to his direct responsibility in killings, rapes and torture in Bucha," on the outskirts of Kyiv.
It accused Mizintsev "of orchestrating the bombardments of the city of Mariupol, killing thousands of civilians, including the shelling of a Mariupol maternity hospital and a theatre, killing hundreds of children."
— Associated Press
Ukraine won't use U.S.-supplied weapons to attack Russia, official says
Ukraine has no intention of using weapons provided by the U.S. to attack Russian territory, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said, responding to Russian accusations that it would do so.
"Task #1 today for Russia — to undermine trust between (Ukraine) and (U.S.). Ukraine is waging a defensive war and does not plan to use the MLRS to attack facilities in (Russia)," Podolyak wrote on Twitter, referencing the U.S.-made multiple launch rocket system. "Our partners know where their weapons are used."
The Biden administration this week announced a new $700 million weapons package for Ukraine, which included longer-range rocket systems. Russian officials immediately accused Washington of "adding fuel to the fire," and called the weapons transfer "a direct provocation" by Ukraine, "aimed at involving the West in military action."
Podolyak rejected the claims as disinformation and psychological operations by Moscow. "Any allegations of such intentions - PSYOP of special services," he said.
— Natasha Turak
Russia ‘will continue in Ukraine until all goals achieved': Kremlin
Russia will continue its "special military operation" in Ukraine, as Moscow calls it, "until all goals are achieved," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
"One of the main goals of the operation is to protect people in the DNR and LNR," Peskov said, referring to the self-declared breakaway People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, which Russia has recognized as independent but belong to Ukraine under international law.
"Measures have been taken to ensure their protection and certain results have been achieved," Peskov said. Russian forces have subjected eastern Ukraine's Donbas region to heavy and indiscriminate shelling for months, destroying most of its infrastructure and committing what Ukrainian officials allege to be war crimes against civilians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that 20% of Ukrainian territory was now occupied by Russia.
— Natasha Turak
Russia controls over 90% of Luhansk, but no original goals have been achieved: UK MoD
On the 100th day of Russia's war in Ukraine, which the Kremlin still terms its "special military operation," Russian forces made significant territorial gains in the country's eastern Donbas, now controlling more than 90% of Luhansk.
"Russia is now achieving tactical success in the Donbas. Russian forces have generated and maintained momentum and currently appear to hold the initiative over Ukrainian opposition," the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense wrote in its daily intelligence update on Twitter.
That has come at a significant cost in terms of resources, as its forces have been overwhelmingly concentrated on one part of the campaign, the post said.
"Russia has not been able to generate manoeuvre or movement on other fronts or axes, all of which have transitioned to the defensive," the ministry wrote, adding that "measured against Russia's original plan, none of the strategic objectives have been achieved." Among those objectives was the aim to seize Kyiv and Ukrainian centers of government.
"In order for Russia to achieve any form of success will require continued huge investment of manpower and equipment, and is likely to take considerable further time," the post added.
— Natasha Turak
OPEC+ to increase production faster than expected in July and August
OPEC+ has agreed to increase oil output by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August – a larger-than-expected hike as the Ukraine war wreaks havoc on global energy markets.
The increase will push forward the end of the historic output cuts the alliance administered during the pandemic.
Governments around the world, including the Biden administration, have been calling on producers to raise output to dampen oil prices. However, while in theory output will be higher in the future, OPEC+ has been struggling to meet production quotas.
The additional barrels will not make up for the potential loss of more than 1 million barrels per day from Russia as the country is hit by increasing global sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.
— Chelsea Ong, Weizhen Tan, Pippa Stevens
Russia starts week-long exercises in the Pacific Ocean involving more than 40 ships
Russia is conducting a week-long series of exercises in the Pacific Ocean involving more than 40 ships and up to 20 aircrafts, according to a Reuters report citing Russian news agencies.
The exercises, which start on Friday and end June 10, would include "groups of ships together with naval aviation taking part in search operations for (enemy) submarines," Reuters reported, quoting a statement from the defense ministry.
Ukraine lies thousands of kilometers from where the exercises are being conducted in the Pacific Ocean.
— Chelsea Ong
UN humanitarian chief to meet with Russian officials amid push to restart agricultural exports
The U.N. humanitarian chief was to meet with Russian officials as part of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' efforts to enable Ukrainian and Russian agricultural exports through the Black Sea amid a global food crisis.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths met officials Wednesday and will continue his meetings Thursday.
Guterres said there was no resolution as of Wednesday, but the U.N. is engaged in serious dialogue with all relevant parties "in order to find a package deal."
Dujarric noted that Griffiths' visit to Moscow followed a Monday visit to the Russian capital by Rebeca Grynspan, the secretary-general of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development known as UNCTAD. Grynspan is focusing on getting Russian grains to global markets. She later went to Washington.
"We've seen a lot of positive statements coming from various capitals," Dujarric said. "We also very much appreciate the role that Turkey is playing in all of this. If we have something concrete to announce, we will do so."
— Associated Press
Russia limits exports of noble gases, a key ingredient for making chips
Sanctions-hit Russia has limited exports of noble gases such as neon, a key ingredient for making chips, until the end of 2022 to strengthen its market position, its trade ministry said.