Day 124 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Battle of Lysychansk Continues, Zelensky wants More Weapons
Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as G-7 leaders discussed new sanctions against Russia in Germany. To the east, the battle continued in the city of Lysychansk, the last major Ukrainian-controlled city in the Luhansk region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who will participate in the G7 summit today via video link, is expected to ask for more weapons from the West.
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Kyiv hit by multiple missiles
After a 3-week lull, Russian missiles hit the capital Kyiv again. The Ukrainian army reports that 6 long-range missiles have been fired by bombers from the Caspian Sea, 1,000 kilometers from the target. A multi-story building near a kindergarten was hit.
In his video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a 7-year-old girl had been injured and her father killed in a Russian attack. 5 more people were injured. Russia has denied hitting civilian targets.
Zelensky renewed his calls for armed assistance
"We need a powerful air defense - modern, fully effective, to protect ourselves from missiles. We talk to our partners about this every day. Delays in the transfer of weapons to our country, any restrictions, are in fact an invitation for Russia to strike again and again. The occupiers, these terrorists, must be beaten with all our might so that they do not think they can put pressure on us and outplay someone."
Battle for Lysychansk intensifies
In the east, Russian media reported that pro-Russian separatist forces had already entered the city of Lysychansk.
The Ukrainian army admits that artillery was used in an attempt to separate the city from the south, but did not mention street fighting with separatists.
On Saturday, the other big city in the Luhansk region, Sievierodonetsk, fell.
Russia's Novosti news agency quoted a separatist spokesman as saying that 250 people, including children, had been evacuated from the “Azot” chemical plant.
Russia also fired missiles at the city of Cherkasy in central Ukraine. One person was killed and a bridge connecting the western areas with the eastern war zones was hit, Ukrainian authorities said.
The Ukrainian agency UNIAN reported a Russian missile strike in the Odessa region, in which six people were injured, including a child.
Putin on his first international tour since the start of the war in Ukraine
Vladimir Putin will visit two small former Soviet republics in Central Asia this week, Russian state television reported. This will be the first known trip of the Russian leader abroad since the invasion of Ukraine began.
Russia's invasion began on February 24 and since then thousands of people have been killed, millions displaced and financial sanctions from the West were severely imposed, which Putin said: “led to stronger trade ties with other powers such as China, India and Iran”.
Pavel Zarubin, a Kremlin correspondent for “Russia 1” state television, said Putin would visit Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and then meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo for talks in Moscow.
In Dushanbe, Putin will meet with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, a close Russian ally and the longest-serving ruler of a former Soviet republic. In Ashgabat, he will attend a summit of Caspian states, meeting with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan, Zarubin said.
Putin also plans to visit the Belarusian city of Grodno on June 30 and July 1 to participate in a forum with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, RIA quoted Valentina Matviyenko, chairwoman of the upper house of the Russian parliament, as saying on Belarusian television on Sunday.
Putin's last known trip outside Russia was a visit to Beijing in early February, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping presented a friendship agreement "without borders" hours before the two attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
Russia says it sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 to reduce its neighbor's military capabilities, prevent it from being used by the West as a threat to Russia, eradicate nationalists and protect Russian speakers in the eastern regions. Ukraine defines the Russian invasion as an imperial-style seizure of land.
UN: The war in Ukraine could stimulate drug production
“The war in Ukraine could lead to a boom in illicit drug production, and the future of the opium market depends on the fate of crisis-stricken Afghanistan”, the UN has warned.
Past experience in the Middle East and Southeast Asia has shown that conflict zones can act as a "magnet" for the production of synthetic drugs that can be produced anywhere, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its annual report.
"This effect may be stronger when the conflict zone is close to large consumer markets."
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said that the number of liquidated laboratories for the production of amphetamine in Ukraine has increased from 17 in 2019 to 79 in 2020, which is the largest number of liquidated laboratories reported in any other country in 2020.
Ukraine's capacity to produce synthetic drugs could increase as the war continues, the document said.
"There are no police to patrol and stop such laboratories in conflict zones," UNDP expert Angela Me told AFP.
The report notes that the conflict could change and disrupt drug trafficking routes, suggesting that trafficking in Ukraine has declined since early 2022.
The situation in Afghanistan - which produced 86% of the world's opium in 2021 - will determine the development of the opiate market, the UN report said.
The country's humanitarian crisis could spur illegal opium poppy cultivation, even after the Taliban banned the practice in April.
"Changes in opium production in Afghanistan will affect opiate markets in almost all regions of the world," the UN report said.
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