Ukraine war live updates: Air raids sound over Ukraine amid Russian attacks; Kyiv says counteroffensive is proving challenging

Ukraine concedes it’s ‘quite difficult’ to advance in counteroffensive

A tank from Ukraine’s 3rd Independent Tank Iron Brigade near the front line in the Kharkiv region on June 15, 2023.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces is increasingly intense as Ukraine conducts counteroffensive operations in at least three sectors of the front line spanning southern to eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar announced Monday that over the past week, Ukrainian troops in the Zaporizhzhia direction have advanced up to 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) and liberated 113 square km of territory, including eight settlements.

But in later comments last night, Maliar conceded that it “is quite difficult for our defenders to advance, because the enemy threw all their forces to stop the offensive” and added that the fighting “is hot both in the east and in the south” of Ukraine.

“Despite the fact that our troops are advancing in several directions of the south, the enemy is concentrating a lot of his efforts in the east and continues to advance there,” she noted in comments translated by Google.

“The enemy will not give up positions easily and we must prepare for the fact that it will be a tough duel. Exactly what is happening now,” she said.

Still, she added, “the ongoing operation has several tasks and the military is carrying out these tasks. They move as they were supposed to move. And the biggest blow is yet to come,” she said without elaborating.

Ukraine’s armed forces said it had “eliminated” 1,010 Russian troops in the past day alone amid fierce fighting as Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues, but with a reportedly high level of attrition for both sides.

CNBC was not able to verify the information in the report and both Ukraine and Russia have looked to minimize their own reported losses while looking to accentuate their opponent’s.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia launches overnight attacks on Ukraine

The Kyiv skyline at night.

Robert Wallis | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Air raids sounded across Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday morning amid reports of Russian attacks targeting cities Kyiv and Lviv, in the western part of the country, and the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said preliminary information showed that Ukraine’s air defense systems had shot down 32 of 35 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia. Ukrainian military and infrastructure facilities were targeted, the military said. Missiles had targeted the southern Zaporizhzhia region, it added.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was spared a drone attack the last 18 days, with last night’s attack being only the second since the start of June, Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.

“According to the usual tactics for mass UAV [unmanned aerial vehicles] attacks, drones entered the capital in waves, coming from different directions. The air alert lasted more than three hours. About two dozen enemy targets were detected and destroyed by the forces and means of our air defense in the airspace around Kyiv,” he said. Information about casualties and damage is still being gathered.

The Lviv Regional Military Administration wrote on Telegram that preliminary information suggested that a critical infrastructure object was hit in Lviv but that people weren’t injured in the attack.

In Zaporizhzhia, the military administration said, it recorded 72 attacks on 19 cities and villages in the region using drones and artillery. “So far, 50 reports of destruction have been recorded: apartments, houses, cars, administrative and commercial buildings,” the administration said, with at least one person reported to have been injured. CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information.

— Holly Ellyatt

Macron says first-of-its-kind European missile defense system has launched in Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky walk together after a bilateral meeting during the European Political Community (EPC) Summit in Bulboaca, on June 1, 2023.

Ludovic Marin | Afp | Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday that Europe’s first medium-range anti-missile system, jointly developed by France and Italy, has been delivered and is operational in Ukraine, according to a report from French newspaper Le Monde.

The SAMP/T system, known as Mamba, is the only European-made technology that can handle ballistic missiles, Reuters reported in February. It is intended to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian drones, missiles and planes. Le Monde compared it to the Patriot, an American missile defense system.

Macron delivered the news at a meeting of defense ministers in Paris.

The announcement comes four months after France and Italy said the technology was ready. In February, the two countries said they would deliver the missile system to Ukraine this spring, according to Reuters.

“It really is Europe protecting Europe,” Macron said at the meeting, according to The Associated Press.

Rebecca Picciotto

Blinken says China spy balloon ‘chapter should be closed’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News on Monday that his visit to Beijing was an “important start” to repairing U.S.-China relations, especially after the strain brought by an alleged Chinese spy balloon reported in February.

He had postponed the trip after the U.S. military discovered the spy balloon over the U.S. So long as no more spy balloons are found in the skies above the U.S., Blinken wants to leave the incident in the past so that the two economic superpowers can strengthen ties.

“That chapter should be closed,” Blinken said in an NBC interview before leaving Beijing. During his trip, he spent two days in meetings with senior Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping.

The two countries have yet to reestablish military communication channels, though Blinken says it is necessary and is “not something we’re going to drop.”

China cut those lines of military communication last year after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, which is self-governing though Beijing claims it as its own territory. President Joe Biden said that a deal to reopen the communication had stalled due to the spy balloon.

Though military communication between the U.S. and China is currently on pause, Blinken said that he was assured in the meeting with Jinping that China had no intentions of providing aid to Russia in the war against Ukraine.

Blinken said he brought up the surveillance issue multiple times in his meetings with Chinese officials and is something that the U.S. government “will continue to watch.”

Read more on the story here: Xi tells Blinken in high-stakes meeting: World needs stable U.S.-China relations

Rebecca Picciotto

Russia says it is too dangerous for UN to send aid to stranded civilians

The Kremlin said Monday it is too unsafe to send the United Nations’ humanitarian aid workers into areas impacted by the recent Kakhova Dam collapse where civilians are stranded.

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for the Kremlin, said in a call with reporters that the war has made humanitarian visits too risky, though he did not say outright that Russia had obstructed the U.N.’s aid, according to The Associated Press.

The Kremlin’s comments come a day after the U.N. condemned Russia for interfering with its humanitarian efforts.

On Sunday, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown said in a statement that Russia has denied the U.N.’s request to send aid to the Kakhova Dam area, which is located in southern Ukraine and is currently under Russian military control.

“We urge the Russian authorities to act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Brown said in the statement.

Survivors of the dam flood have faced a shortage of food, water and electricity, all while attacks continue in the area. Some rescuers from Ukraine have endured the risk of Russian snipers to evacuate stranded Ukrainians.

Rebecca Picciotto

China looks to reassure U.S. over its relationship with Russia

After a high-profile meeting with the Chinese president on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had received assurances that Beijing was not providing lethal aid to Russia, nor had any intentions to do so in future.

There have been long-standing concerns that Beijing could provide weapons to its ally Moscow that could be used in the war against Ukraine. China has repeatedly insisted it has no plans to do so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping leave after a reception in honor of the Chinese leader’s visit to the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2023.

Grigory Sysoev | Sputnik | via Reuters

“With regard to lethal aid to to Russia for use in Ukraine, we and other countries have received assurances from China, that it is not and will not provide legal assistance to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Blinken told a press conference Monday after meeting Chinese President Xi in Beijing.

Blinken said the U.S. had not “seen any evidence that contradicts that.”

“What we do have ongoing concerns about though are Chinese firms, companies, that may be providing technology that Russia can use to advance its aggression in Ukraine. And we have asked the Chinese government to be very vigilant about that,” Blinken said.

Blinken and Xi Jinping’s meeting comes at a low point in Sino-U.S. relations, with tensions rife over trade, tech and geopolitics, including Beijing’s close relationship with Moscow.

At this latest high-stakes meeting, China’s president stressed the importance of steady relations between China and the U.S.

Read more on the story here: Xi tells Blinken in high-stakes meeting: World needs stable U.S.-China relations

— Holly Ellyatt

British prime minister speaks to Zelenskyy ahead of recovery conference in London

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after meetings at Chequers on May 15, 2023, in Aylesbury, England.

Carl Court | Getty Images News | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Monday as London prepares to host the Ukraine Recovery Conference this week.

During the call, Sunak “paid tribute to the bravery of the Ukrainian soldiers on the front line of the counteroffensive and said it was clear they were making good progress,” a statement from Downing Street noted.

“Looking ahead to the NATO summit next month, the Prime Minister told President Zelenskyy that he believed NATO members would demonstrate a strong signal of support for Ukraine at the Vilnius meeting,” the statement added.

The conference, which begins Wednesday, is “a unique opportunity to underline the strong public and private sector support for Ukraine, and demonstrate the country’s transformation and ongoing reform,” the leaders agreed, Downing Street said.

The Ukraine Recovery Conference will focus on mobilizing international support for Ukraine’s economic and social stabilization and recovery from the effects of war, organizers say, “including through emergency assistance for immediate needs and financing private sector participation in the reconstruction process.”

— Holly Ellyatt

‘Step by step,’ Ukraine’s troops are advancing, Zelenskyy says

“Our troops are advancing, position by position, step by step, we are moving forward,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday.

Brendan Smialowski | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country’s armed forces are making gains in their counteroffensive.

“Our troops are advancing, position by position, step by step, we are moving forward,” he said in his nightly address Sunday.

Zelenskyy’s comments come as Ukraine’s counteroffensive continues into its third week. Unlike several previous counteroffensives that saw Ukraine recapture an impressive amount of territory relatively quickly, this counteroffensive has been different, with Ukraine recapturing just a handful of settlements and progress expected to be limited by deep Russian defenses.

Ukraine met with its international allies last week to discuss Kyiv’s military progress and ongoing needs but Zelenskyy said Sunday that “the main thing is the speed of supply” of weaponry after a series of delays in decision-making over weapons, and their supply to Ukraine.

“Next week, we will have new important communications with our partners, for the sake of our movement, for the sake of weapons, for the sake of our warriors having everything they need,” he said Sunday.

— Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here: