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Ukraine-Russia war latest: Moscow says it has captured two areas in eastern Ukraine

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 We’ll be back with live updates on the war tomorrow – but for now, as always, we start the week by taking a few steps back and giving an overview of where the conflict is at right now.

Conflicting claims on the second front

Kharkiv remains a major focus after Russia opened a new front on the northeastern border. 

It has been the subject of conflicting reports, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying Ukraine had secured “combat control”, while the Russian ministry of defence claimed its forces were advancing.

The British defence ministry said Russian gains in the northeast had not been joined up, allowing Ukraine to contain Moscow’s momentum.

It assessed Vladimir Putin’s attempt to create a buffer zone between Ukraine and Russia had been unsuccessful thus far and further gains were unlikely in the coming week.

But this will be little comfort to those living under the constant threat of Russian shells in the region.

An attack on a DIY store in Kharkiv city this weekend killed at least 16 people, injured more than 40, and the search is still on for others.

A 12-year-old girl was among the dead.

Aid

The US announced a new $275m package of weapons and equipment for Ukraine to help it repel Russia’s assault in the Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian troops have been forced to train without firing ammunition due to shortages. 

Analysis shared with Sky News revealed the scale of the challenge facing Kyiv, with Russia producing artillery shells around three times faster than Ukraine’s Western allies and for about a quarter of the cost. 

Across the year, that means Russian factories are forecast to manufacture 3.2 million more shells than European nations and the US combined.

Peace summit

Mr Zelenskyy directly called on his US and Chinese counterparts to join his latest summit for peace in Ukraine. 

Speaking from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Friday, he announced a “global peace summit”, co-hosted by Switzerland, starting on 15 June. He claimed 80 countries had already confirmed their attendance.

Putin’s ‘freeze’

Vladimir Putin is ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a ceasefire that recognises current battlefield lines, four Russian sources told the Reuters news agency. 

The narrative is widely viewed as a strategy to consolidate Ukrainian land under Russian control, with little or no guarantees Mr Putin wouldn’t use it to launch another attack on what remains of Ukraine. Russian propogandists have previously advocated reducing Ukraine to the size of the Lviv region in the west.

Nuclear drills

Russia’s defence ministry said it had begun a round of drills involving tactical nuclear weapons in response to remarks by senior Western officials about the possibility of deeper involvement in the war. 

According to the ministry’s statement, the first stage of the new drills included nuclear-capable Kinzhal and Iskander missiles in southern Russian regions.

Crimea

Ukraine claimed to have destroyed the last Russian warship armed with cruise missiles that was stationed on the occupied peninsula. It said a long-range attack destroyed the Russian minesweeping navy vessel Tsiklon in Sevastopol.

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