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War in Ukraine. Daily update. Day 108 [10.00 am, 11.06.2022 🇬🇧]

Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska 

Photo: Alexey Filippov

Human rights.  Ukraine and Russia held the 11th prisoner exchange, reported Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim. Among the released was the Head of Shevchenkove community, Mykolaiv region, who was detained by Russian forces for two months while delivering bread with volunteers. 

Russian authorities have announced that starting from Saturday, June 11, citizens of temporary occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia region will have a possibility to receive Russian passports.  

Russia continues to block the evacuation of residents of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, says Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk. The Minister says Russia keeps lying that people do not want to leave the regions, as they are satisfied with the effective so-called governance. However, in reality, Russian forces block the exits from the region, except in the direction of Crimea, say local activists and those who managed to leave.

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, on Friday condemned the death sentence handed down to three foreign fighters in Ukraine by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. ‘Such trials against prisoners of war amount to a war crime,said OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Ukraine has already initiated a pre-trial investigation into this matter and will take all appropriate steps to ensure that everyone that was involved in this illegal action is held responsible for their actions – says Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General. 

Currently, there are 32 institutions of social protection in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and in the zone of active hostilities or nearby. Among the institutions are boarding schools, geriatric facilities, detention centers and colonies where people are usually left to fend for themselves with the challenges of war and occupation. They often face a lack of shelter, lack of food, water, hygiene products, medicine and support personnel, unable to evacuate, says the report ‘Places of unfreedom in times of war in Ukraine’ prepared by the human rights organizations.

War crimes. The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine started their first mission to Ukraine. The Commission is focused on getting first-hand information on alleged human rights violations and abuses, international humanitarian law violations, and meeting with victims, witnesses and internally displaced persons. The Commission will submit reports of its activities to the General Assembly in October 2022, and to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2023.

Cities under attack. Situation in the regions in the East and South remains tense, while in the North Russian forces continue shelling border territories. In the Sumy region, three communities were shelled from the territory of Russia, as a result one person was killed. In Dnipropetrovsk region, the communities at the border with Kherson region are enduring regular shelling. In the Kharkiv region, due to the midnight shelling a production building and a car caught on fire. No one was injured. Russian forces shelled communities of Chuhuiv and Kharkiv districts during the day, 5 people were injured. In the Luhansk region, Russian forces are destroying the remaining industrial facilities. The Azot railway depot was damaged during another shelling yesterday. Attacks were recorded at the premises of brick and research plants, while in Lysychansk, Russian forces hit the territory of the glass factory. Active battles continue over taking control of Severodonetsk. In the Donetsk region, 5 private houses, 2 high-rise buildings, industrial facilities and critical infrastructure facilities were damaged. 5 civilians were injured. There is no gas supply in the region, and partially – water and electricity (334 settlements are without electricity). In the Mykolaiv region, four communities got under the Russian shelling.

European integration. On June 23-24, the European Council will decide whether to grant Ukraine the EU candidate status. However, there is still quite an intense wave of concerns present in the block. The New Europe Center prepared counter-arguments to the key caveats of Europeans regarding Ukraine’s EU candidacy, as well as 7 things there is to know about the EU candidate status for Ukraine.

Foreign policy. French President Macron will travel to Moldova and Romania, Ukraine’s neighbors, next week. In Romania, he will meet with the Romanian President and visit 500 French soldiers deployed to the NATO forward base. He will travel to Moldova to meet with Moldovan President and to show support in regard to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. As for the visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, no date has been set yet by President Macron – it has been reported that he is ‘willing’ to do so, but only when it ‘will be most useful’ for Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyi.

Food security. Russian media released another video of stealing grain from Ukraine. In the temporarily occupied Starobilsk, Luhansk region, the Russian forces of the so-called ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ transported 650 tons of stolen Ukrainian grain to Russia. The Russian media reports the ‘export fees’ were canceled, while the ‘authorities’ facilitated the transportation, helping the agrarians to move the excess grain. 

France is ready to take part in the operation of lifting the blockade of Odesa seaport and transportation of the Ukrainian grain, said an adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron. ‘We are at the disposal of the parties to put in place an operation which would allow access in complete safety to the port of Odesa, in other words for boats to pass through despite the fact that the sea is mined’.

Energy security.  Germany increased imports from Russia by 60% from January to April this year. Russia received about €6 billion from it, tweeted Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andrii Melnyk. During the same period, trade with Ukraine decreased by 11%.

Cyber security.  Amazon Web Services (AWS) helped Ukrainian ministries and private companies transfer 10 million gigabytes of data to secure servers after the Russian attack, says the Company’s statement. ‘Amazon Web Services has added more than 10 petabytes (10 million gigabytes) of important data from 27 Ukrainian ministries, 18 Ukrainian universities, the largest K-12 distance learning school (teaches hundreds of thousands of displaced children), and a dozen other private sector companies. So far, there are 61 transfers of government data to AWS, and more is expected,’ Amazon said.

Tech companies with Ukrainian roots and core markets in the US and Europe continue to operate uninterrupted after making sure their teams and data are completely safe abroad or in the west of Ukraine. This week the European Commission has announced an initiative for the Ukrainian innovation community, namely start-ups. Ukraine’s tech industry briefly explained reasons to invest in startups in Ukraine. Among the key factors, Ukraine’s tech community proved their ability to withstand a crisis, by showing flexibility and ability to withstand any conditions during these months of war. The majority of Ukrainian tech startups are still hiring, as nearly 90% of IT specialists haven’t seen any changes to their job or workload since the war began. Ukraine has an immense talent pool and there are trends of people returning to Ukraine. 

Recent polls. Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation released the results of their surveyWell-being of Ukrainians during the war: emotions, expectations, personal experience – a survey in the western and central regions’.  Respondents assess the political situation in Ukraine as tense – 46%, while  26% as critical. The overall mood is balancing between hope and present anxiety. The participation of Ukrainians in volunteering and charity during the war has significantly multiplied since the beginning of the Russian war in Ukraine. Around 70% of the people in age between 20-29 are involved in different forms of volunteering. In total, 57% of respondents in the surveyed regions of the Center and Western Ukraine actively helped the army, territorial defense and temporarily displaced persons. 

Disinformation. The EUvsDisinfo database has collected more than 5000 individual cases of disinformation targeting Ukraine, which is well over one-third of all cases in their database. These pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives span far and wide, from accusing the West of planning world domination, to alleging an unholy alliance between Ukraine and Satan himself. There are two narratives in the Kremlin’s playbook that have risen to hitherto unseen prominence and stand well above the others. First is the rampant claim that hysterical ‘Russophobia’ has enthralled the world. In its essence, this disinformation narrative is quite simple – everyone who opposes or criticizes Russia, or its actions, is doing so out of irrational fear and unsubstantiated hatred for all things Russian. Second, are the baseless claims that Ukraine has become a breeding ground for Nazis who present an existential threat to all things Russian. ‘Denazification’ was one of the centerpieces of Putin’s speech on 24 February, which laid out the justification for Russia’s ‘special operation’. For decades, the defeat of Nazism in the Second World War has been portrayed with utmost sanctity and reverence. So, drumming up a false Nazi threat in Ukraine has a powerful psycho-emotional impact on Russian society as a call to arms. Pro-Kremlin disinformation does not end with peddling the meta-narratives of ‘Russophobia’ and ‘Nazi Ukraine’. There is one more new trend in Russian state-controlled media, spearheaded by the liar-in-chief Putin himself. This is an effort to redefine the terminology which the Kremlin uses to describe Russia’s war in Ukraine, in a way that denies reality, and dismisses Russian culpability in any wrongdoing.

Watchlist. The battle for Ukrainian Railroads. With the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, Ukrainian Railways turned into the so-called ‘iron’ army. Risking their lives, often under the shelling, they evacuated millions since the very first days of the war. With airspace closed, international officials traveled to Kyiv by Ukrainian trains. Watch the story of how Ukrainian railways saved people and ensured sustainable connection between the cities in times of war.

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