Scholz Calls On China To Raise Pressure On Russia Over Ukraine War

Russia launched another large-scale missile, drone, and artillery attack on Kyiv and several other Ukrainian cities early on June 20, killing at least two people, regional authorities and the military said on June 20.

A 27-year-old man was killed in Russian shelling of the southern city of Kherson, the head of the region’s military administration, Oleksandr Prokudin, reported on June 20.

In the northwestern Sumy region, one civilian was killed by Russian shelling overnight, the regional administration reported on June 20.

The air defenses of the Ukrainian capital repelled a “massive” Russian drone attack overnight, destroying about 20 Iranian-made drones, Serhiy Popko, the governor of Kyiv region, said on Telegram.

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“Another massive air attack on the capital. This time the enemy used unmanned aerial vehicles, according to preliminary information — Shahed drones,” Popko said, adding that the attack was the first on Kyiv in the last 18 days.

The air raid alert lasted for more than three hours in Kyiv, Popko said. There was no immediate information about victims or damages.

Ukraine’s air defense said that it had shot down 32 out of a total of 35 Iranian-made drones.

The Zaporizhzhya and Lviv regions were also targeted by Russian strikes overnight.

In Zaporizhzhya, the attack targeted communications and housing developments as well as farming enterprises, regional military administration chief Yuriy Malashko said.

A critical infrastructure target was also hit in Lviv, regional Governor Maksym Kozytskiy said.

The latest wave of attacks came after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that, as of June 18, 9,083 Ukrainian civilians had been killed and 15,779 wounded since the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February last year.

In June alone, 112 civilians were confirmed killed and 445 were wounded, the UN said in a statement on June 19, warning that the actual toll is likely to be much higher.

Most of the victims were killed by heavy artillery fire as well as missile and air strikes, the UN said.

On the battlefield, Russian troops have become more active in the Lyman-Kupiansk areas of the Donetsk region, said Serhiy Cherevatiy, a spokesman for the Eastern Group of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

Amid incremental progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the Ukrainian military’s General Staff said on June 20 that Russian troops focused their main efforts on conducting defensive operations and preventing the advance of Ukrainian forces, using reserves, “trying to restore lost ground.”

On June 19, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar told state television that it was “quite difficult for Ukrainian defenders to advance, because the enemy threw all their available forces into stopping the offensive.”

She was speaking after intense fighting took place on June 19 as Kyiv tried to dislodge Russian troops from southern areas.

RFE/RL cannot confirm reports of battlefield developments by either side in areas of the heaviest fighting.

WATCH: A Ukrainian tank unit played a key role in a recent counteroffensive operation that managed to recapture several villages in the Donetsk region. The tank crew claims to have advanced more than 6 kilometers along the Mokri Yaly River in the hotly contested region. RFE/RL’s Roman Pahulych visited the soldiers near the front line and spoke with the unit’s commander about the close-quarter tank maneuvers.

On the diplomatic front, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on June 20 said he had called on China to use its influence over Russia more in regard to the war in Ukraine.

Speaking alongside China’s Premier Li Qiang after bilateral talks in the German capital, Scholz also said China should not supply weapons to Russia and that the war in Ukraine should not become a frozen conflict.

China is Russia’s largest economic partner for Russia, which has been hit by biting Western sanctions following its unprovoked invasion on Ukraine in February last year. The trade volume between Beijing and Moscow amounted to a record $190 billion last year.

According to customs data published on June 20, Chinese imports of Russian oil last month reached their highest level since the invasion — 9.71 million tons.

In Brussels, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union asked member states to provide 50 billion euros ($55 billion) more to support Ukraine over the next four years.

“This financial reserve will allow us really to calibrate our financial support according to the evolution of the situation on the ground,” von der Leyen said.

With reporting by dpa and Reuters