This story recaps the news from Ukraine on July 6.
Russia's army escalated its attacks in Donetsk as the Kremlin strives to capture more of the Donbas region.
In the past day, shelling has killed at least eight civilians in Ukraine, officials said Wednesday. Pro-Russia separatists said attacks by Ukrainian forces killed four civilians.
With Russian troops closing in on the city of Sloviansk, the British Defence Ministry said in a tweet that a battle for that city could be "the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas."
Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post that two people died in the city of Avdiivka, which is located in the center of the province, and the Donetsk cities of Sloviansk, Krasnohorivka and Kurakhove each reported one civilian killed.
“Every crime will be punished,” he wrote.
Kyrylenko urged the province's more than 350,000 remaining residents to flee late Tuesday, saying that evacuating Donetsk was necessary to save lives and allow the Ukrainian army to put up a better defense against the Russian advance.
In Brussels, European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen cautioned that the EU must consider a future without access to Russian gas.
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Mariupol restoration to cost more than $14B, city council says
Rebuilding the fallen Ukrainian port city of Mariupol could cost more than $14 billion and could take up to a decade to complete, its city council said Wednesday.
More than 1,300 city buildings and 40% of private houses were destroyed or damaged in the war, many of which cannot be reconstructed, the council said. International and local financial organizations and groups will help rebuild the city, they added.
In a statement, Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for their “constant attention” to Mariupol.
“I believe that jointly we will improve Mariupol and make it more beautiful,” Boychenko said.
- Ella Lee
UN, Japan partner on $17M project for Ukrainian farmers
The United Nations launched a $17 million project, funded by Japan, that aims to save Ukraine’s summer harvest and support the export of the country’s agricultural goods to international markets, the agency said Tuesday.
“Ukraine’s farmers are feeding themselves, their communities and millions more people around the world,” Rein Paulsen, director of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization’s emergencies and resilience office, said in a press release. “Ensuring they can continue production, safely store and access alternative markets to sell their produce is vital to secure food availability, protect livelihoods, strengthen food security within Ukraine and ensure other import-dependent countries have a steady and sufficient supply of grain at a manageable cost.”
Ukraine expects to harvest up to 60 million tons of grain, the UN said, but without help exporting harvest left over from last year, it won’t have space to store it. The project plans to address storage deficits and provide support to farmers in ten Ukrainian oblasts in the east, center, south and north of the country, the UN release says.
- Ella Lee
Biden tells wife of Brittney Griner he is seeking her release
President Joe Biden called Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner, to assure her that he is trying to secure the release of the WNBA star and other U.S. nationals detained in Russia as soon as possible.
The White House said Wednesday that Biden was joined on the call by Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden also read from a letter in response to a hand-written note from Brittney Griner's representatives, who wrote they are fearful she may never be freed.
'He takes this to heart': Biden has read Brittney Griner's letter, White House says
The president "offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and he committed to ensuring they are provided with all possible assistance while his administration pursues every avenue to bring Brittney home," the White House said.
- Joey Garrison
Putin’s aide warns US against pressing for war crimes court
MOSCOW — A top Kremlin official warned the U.S. Wednesday that it could face the “wrath of God” if it pursues efforts to help establish an international tribunal to investigate Russia’s action in Ukraine, while the Russian lower house speaker urged Washington to remember that Alaska used to belong to Russia.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, denounced the U.S. for what he described as its efforts to “spread chaos and destruction across the world for the sake of ‘true democracy.’”
“The entire U.S. history since the times of subjugation of the native Indian population represents a series of bloody wars,” Medvedev charged in a long diatribe on his Telegram channel, pointing out the U.S. nuclear bombing of Japan during World War II and the war in Vietnam. “Was anyone held responsible for those crimes? What tribunal condemned the sea of blood spilled by the U.S. there?”
Responding to the U.S.-backed calls for an international tribunal to prosecute the perceived war crimes by Russia in Ukraine, Medvedev rejected it as an attempt by the U.S. “to judge others while staying immune from any trial.”
“It won’t work with Russia, they know it well,” Medvedev concluded. “That’s why the rotten dogs of war are barking in such a disgusting way.”
- Associated Press
UN human rights chief: ‘No end in sight’ for civilian human rights violations
Civilians are bearing the brunt of human rights violations in Russia's war in Ukraine, according to a new report from the United Nations’ human rights arm determined.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet wrote in a report released Tuesday that the high number of civilian casualties, plus destruction to civilian infrastructure, is raising “significant concern” that Russian forces aren’t complying with international humanitarian law. Bachelet noted that on a “much lower scale,” Ukraine also appears not to have fully complied with international humanitarian law in eastern Ukraine.
The UN has documented more than 10,000 civilian deaths or injuries, including the deaths of 335 children, though the actual figures are likely higher. Some 28 cases of sexual violence have been verified by the UN, most in areas controlled by Russian armed forces. And 270 cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance have been documented by the group, an issue the report described as “widespread” in territories that Russian armed forces and allies control.
“We find ourselves yet again at a critical moment, with the devastation in Ukraine and the impacts far beyond its borders continuing to widen, day by day,” Bachelet wrote in the report. “In the name of every victim of this senseless war, the killings, the torture, the arbitrary detentions must stop.”
- Ella Lee
Ukraine: More than 21,000 war crimes, crimes of aggression committed by Russia
Russia has committed more than 21,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression against Ukraine since it launched its attack in February, Ukraine claims.
An infographic shared by Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office Wednesday alleges that more than 20,000 of those crimes “broke the laws and customs of war.”
'They behave like barbarians': Ukraine's chief war crimes investigator sees few prospects for reconciliation with Russian
The prosecutor general’s office also claimed Russia committed more than 10,000 crimes against Ukraine’s national security, and nearly 1,000 crimes against children – injuring 645 kids and killing 346.
- Ella Lee
Russia tightens grip in Luhansk: British Defense
The British Ministry of Defense said Wednesday on Twitter that the Kremlin "likely continues to consolidate its control over Lysychansk and Luhansk Oblast."
Russian troops from its eastern and western forces are closing in on the town of Sloviansk, which could be the next "key contest" in the battle for the Donbas.
The ministry said Russian forces are meeting with "determined Ukrainian opposition" as they move toward the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium.
A Europe without Russian gas?
BRUSSELS — European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the 27-nation European Union needs to make emergency plans to prepare for a complete cut-off of Russian gas in the wake of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
“It is obvious: (Russian President Vladimir) Putin continues to use energy as a weapon. This is why the Commission is working on a European emergency plan,” she told legislators in Strasbourg, France.
The EU has already imposed sanctions on Russia, including on some energy supplies, and is steering away from Kremlin-controlled deliveries. But the head of the EU's executive branch said the bloc needed to be ready for shock disruptions coming from Moscow, and said the first plans would be presented by the middle of the month.
“If worst comes to worst, then we have to be prepared,” she said, hoping to avoid the chaotic scenes, and the my-country-first attitude that some member states showed early on in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
– Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Russian troops escalate Ukraine attack in Donetsk: July 6 recap