(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Jun 03, 12:39 pm
EU issues latest package of sanctions
The European Union announced a new package of sanctions targeting Russia on Friday. The EU is banning all sea transfers of crude oil from Russia after a six-month transitory period, to allow for the market to adjust.
The EU will also ban imports (sea transfers) of refined petroleum products from Russia, after an eight-month transitory period.
The EU also added 65 new individuals to its sanctions list, including retired Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva. She became chair of the board of the National Media Group and previously sat as a deputy in Russia’s State Duma.
Kabaeva was sanctioned by the U.K. on May 13, which said she is alleged to have a close personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but has not been sanctioned by the U.S.
Jun 03, 12:17 pm
Marriott suspends all operations in Russia
Marriott International announced Friday that it will suspend all its operations in Russia, after operating there for 25 years, due to the conflict in Ukraine.
It said the suspension comes as newly announced U.S., U.K. and EU restrictions will make it impossible for it to operate or franchise hotels in Russia.
Marriott closed its corporate office in Moscow and all upcoming hotels and future developments and investments were paused on March 10.
The company also announced it has given $1 million in disaster relief funds for associates and their families who have been directly affected by the war. Lodging is being offered to refugees from Ukraine at 85 hotels in neighboring countries.
Jun 03, 7:50 am
Russia now controls over 90% of Luhansk region
Russia now controls over 90% of eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast and “is likely to complete control in the next two weeks,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Friday in an intelligence update.
“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 ministry said. “Russia has achieved these recent tactical successes at significant resource cost, and by concentrating force and fires on a single part of the overall campaign.”
Russia has been unable to advance its other fronts or axes, “all of which have transitioned to the defensive,” according to the ministry. In fact, the ministry noted, none of the strategic objectives of Moscow’s original plan have been achieved.
Russian forces failed to achieve their initial objectives to seize Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and other major cities.
“Staunch Ukrainian resistance and the failure to secure Hostomel airfield in the first 24 hours led to Russian offensive operations being repulsed,” the ministry said. “Following the failure of the initial plan, through false planning assumptions and poor tactical execution, Russia adapted its operational design to focus on the Donbas.”
Russian forces are now battling Ukrainian troops for control of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which comprises Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.
“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 ministry added.
Jun 03, 5:49 am
100 days of war
Friday marked the 100th day since Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine.
In a statement, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the “full-scale invasion” as a “continuation of Russia’s aggressive actions it unleashed 8 years ago by occupying Crimea and parts of territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”
“Today, our people defend not only their right to exist and live in an independent state, but the security of Europe and the whole democratic world,” the ministry said. “Every day our defenders, at the cost of their own lives, bravely repel Russia’s war machine and fight for freedom and peaceful future of the continent.”
“For 100 days of war, the Kremlin has failed to reach its main goal — conquest of Ukraine,” the ministry added. “Instead, Russia has become the most sanctioned state in the world, and its activities within international organizations and participation in international events have been significantly limited or stopped. The Ukrainian army is bravely holding the line and has liberated territories in a number of regions. Ukraine is determined to have a complete victory over the Russian invader.”
The ministry thanked the “dozens of countries around the world who provide significant support” to Ukraine. It also called on the international community to support the establishment of a special tribunal to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
“In order to stop Russia’s crimes against the Ukrainian people, destruction of our economy and blackmail of the whole world by famine, consistent support for Ukraine should continue. Assistance to our state today is the best investment in peace and sustainable development of all mankind,” the ministry said. “The main pillars for our victory remain unchanged: maximum sanction pressure on Russia, deliveries of necessary weapons and granting Ukraine the status of candidate on the way to full-fledged EU membership.”
Meanwhile, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova applauded progress that’s been made in the so-called special military operation in Ukraine.
“The special military operation will be continued until all of its objectives declared by the Russian administration, including denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine, are achieved,” Zakharova said at a press briefing Friday. “A lot has been done in this area: militants of the Azov nationalistic formation have surrendered in Mariupol and the liberation of Donbas has been consistently carried out.”
Jun 02, 1:34 pm
Russia controls about 20% of Ukraine’s territory, Zelenskyy says
Russia now controls over 46,300 square miles of Ukraine, which accounts for about 20% of Ukraine’s territory, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Since Russia’s invasion began, Russian forces have gained control of over 16,602 square miles, or roughly 7% of Ukraine’s territory — an area that’s comparable to the size of the Netherlands, Zelenskyy said Thursday in a speech to the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg. Combined with the territory from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war in the Donbas region, Russia’s control of Ukraine now accounts for 20% of its territory, he said.
-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou
Jun 02, 6:35 am
Ukrainian first lady sits down for exclusive interview with ABC News: ‘Don’t get used to our pain’
Since the start of Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian first lady has been in hiding with her two children. A difficult question her 9-year-old son keeps asking is when the war will end, Olena Zelenska said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think any Ukrainian would be able to answer that question,” Zelenska told Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts in her first televised solo interview since the invasion began.
In discussing the state of the conflict nearly 100 days after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine, Zelenska said that conceding territory to Russia won’t stop the war.
“You just can’t concede … parts of your territory. It’s like conceding a freedom,” Zelenska, 44, said in the interview, airing on Good Morning America Thursday. “Even if we would consider territories, the aggressor would not stop at that. He would continue pressing, he would continue launching more and more steps forward, more and more attacks against our territory.”
Jun 02, 4:34 am
Russia takes most of key city in Donbas
Russian forces have taken control of most of Sieverodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Thursday in an intelligence update.
“The main road into the Sieverodonetsk pocket likely remains under Ukrainian control but Russia continues to make steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery,” the ministry said. “This has not been without cost, and Russian forces have sustained losses in the process.”
Sieverodonetsk, an industrial hub, is the largest city still held by Ukrainian troops in the contested Donbas region of Ukraine’s east, which comprises the self-proclaimed republics in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.
“Crossing the Siverskyy Donets River — which is a natural barrier to its axes of advance –- is vital for Russian forces as they secure Luhansk Oblast and prepare to switch focus to Donetsk Oblast,” the ministry added. “Potential crossing sites include between Sieverodonetsk and the neighbouring town of Lysychansk; and near recently-captured Lyman. In both locations, the river line likely still remains controlled by Ukrainian forces, who have destroyed existing bridges.”
Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk are the last major cities in the Luhansk area still controlled by Ukraine.
“It is likely Russia will need at least a short tactical pause to re-set for opposed river crossings and subsequent attacks further into Donetsk Oblast, where Ukrainian armed forces have prepared defensive positions,” the ministry added. “To do so risks losing some of the momentum they have built over the last week.”
Jun 01, 9:27 pm
Ukraine’s first lady tells ABC News that giving up land is ‘like conceding a freedom’
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska spoke about the state of the ongoing conflict with Russia and where the Ukrainian people currently stand as a country.
In her first televised solo interview since the invasion began, Zelenska, 44, told Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts that conceding territory to Russia won’t stop the war.
“You just can’t concede…parts of your territory. It’s like conceding a freedom,” Zelenska said. “Even if we would consider territories, the aggressor would not stop at that. He would continue pressing, he would continue launching more and more steps forward, more and more attacks against our territory.”
The interview with Zelenska will air Thursday, June 2, on Good Morning America and across ABC News. GMA airs at 7 a.m. ET on ABC.
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