Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (June 15)
As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
The Biden administration has committed an additional $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, though the aid falls short of Ukrainian leaders’ recent demands as they warn their fighters remain outgunned by Russia. The new U.S. military package is expected to include more howitzers and artillery rounds as well as two ground-based Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley also said some 60 Ukrainian troops have completed training on long-range rocket systems, which will be on the battlefield “in a few weeks.”
Planned evacuations of civilians from the besieged Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk appear to have been disrupted, as Russia continues to make slow gains around the city. Russia had said it would open a humanitarian corridor from the city on Wednesday. Hundreds of civilians and Ukrainian soldiers are believed to be sheltering at a chemical plant. Russian-backed separatists in the region blamed Ukrainian fighters for disrupting the evacuations, a claim NPR has not been able to independently verify. Sievierodonetsk is the last major city in the eastern Luhansk region still partially under Ukrainian control.
Six million acres of winter crops will not be harvested this year, including wheat and barley planted in the fall, Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said. The government said the unharvested food could be worth as much as $1.4 billion. Ukraine has more than 23 million tons of grain in the country, stuck in storage because Russian warships in the Black Sea are blocking exports. Farmers are expected to begin the wheat and barley harvest in the coming weeks. But without extra storage, many fear the food will go to rot.
In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s leader Xi Jinping reiterated his country’s support for Russia. “China is willing to continue mutual support with Russia on issues related to sovereignty, security and issues of major concern,” Xi said, according to China’s state broadcaster. China has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This was the second call between Xi and Putin since February, when the two countries agreed to a strategic partnership.
The State Department says it is aware of unconfirmed reports that Russian forces have captured two U.S. citizens fighting in Ukraine, and is in touch with Ukrainian authorities about the reports. At the White House, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said, “We discourage Americans from going to Ukraine and fighting in Ukraine.”
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You can read more daily recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR’s coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.