Ukrainian forces claimed late Tuesday they launched airstrike attacks on Snake Island in the Black Sea that resulted in “significant losses” to Russian forces.
The Ukrainian military’s southern operational command said in a post on Facebook it had dealt “significant losses” to Russian forces “with the use of various forces,” the Washington Post reported. The New York Times reported the military said it destroyed a Russian air defense system as well as vehicles on the island.
Satellite images released by U.S. space technology company Maxar Technologies show the island on June 17 and again on June 21, depicting newly charred areas. Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, was the site where Ukrainians soldiers refused to surrender to a Russian warship in the early days of the war.
Meanwhile, the Russian defense ministry said on its Telegram channel that Ukraine made “another crazy attempt” to reclaim the island and that Russia had undermined the attack and “destroyed all enemy weapons” aimed at the island.
The Russian-occupied island plays a critical role in the control of shipping lanes in the Black Sea, including corridors for grain distribution in and out of Ukraine and access to the port of Odesa.
►Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olha Stefanishyna, said Wednesday that she’s “100%” certain all E.U. nations will approve Ukraine’s candidacy for membership as early as Thursday, the first day of the of the E.U. leaders summit in Belgium.
►Russian forces continue to target and overtake villages in eastern Ukraine in an advance on the city of Lysychansk, the last city in the Luhansk region still in Ukrainian control. The Russian military currently controls about 95% of the area.
►Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Tuesday for a meeting with Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. Garland announced the creation of a War Crimes Accountability Team within the U.S. Justice Department to provide legal counsel and expertise in evidence collection and forensics.
►A Ukrainian photojournalist and a soldier who was accompanying him when they were killed in the first weeks of Russia’s invasion appear to have been “coldly executed” as they were searching Russian-occupied woodlands for the photographer’s missing image-taking drone, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Diary of 12-year-old Ukrainian girl to be released
Yeva Skalietska, a 12-year-old Ukrainian refugee, is releasing a book of journal entries recounting her experience during the war and her escape from the country.
Titled “You Don’t Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine,” the book begins with her 12th birthday, shortly before the Russian troops attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24. She had been living in Kharkiv with her grandmother when the bombing began.
The book is set to be released Oct. 25. The publisher — Union Square & Co., owned by Barnes & Noble — will donate a portion of the proceeds to Ukraine refugee organizations.
— Associated Press
No concerns of Western alliance fracture as Russia advances in eastern Ukraine
For weeks, Russian troops have picked away at eastern Ukraine, gaining territory little by little. Western countries have sent an influx of weapons to Ukraine, but forces there are still outgunned by Russians in the Donbas region.
Now, some are questioning whether the West’s alliance and strategy in the war are splintering.
French President Emmanuel Macron drew criticism earlier this month when he said the West should not “humiliate” Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently warned of “Ukraine fatigue.”
But President Joe Biden said Tuesday he had no fears that the Western alliance was fracturing.
“No, I’m not afraid,” he told reporters, according to CNN. “But what I do think is there — at some point, this is going to be a bit of a waiting game: what the Russians can sustain and what Europe is going to be prepared to sustain.”
Biden will attend a G7 summit in Germany this week followed by a NATO gathering in Spain.
State Department reports second known American fatality
Stephen Zabielski, 52, is the second U.S. citizen known to have died in the war in Ukraine, the State Department confirmed Tuesday.
The State Department did not say exactly when or how he died, but an obituary published in The Recorder newspaper in his hometown of Amsterdam, New York, says he died May 15 “while fighting the war in Village of Dorozhniank, Ukraine.”
Zabielski is survived by his wife and five stepchildren, according to the obituary.
Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, was the first known American killed in Ukraine while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, his family said in early May. Cancel, who was working as a corrections officer in Tennessee, had joined a private military contracting company to fight against Russian forces.
He left behind an infant son and wife.
Ukraine LGBTQ community struggles as war drags on
The official Pride parade in Kyiv was canceled this year after a decade of hard-fought efforts for more acceptance of LGBTQ people.
Before Russia invaded, Ukraine — a largely religious nation with a long history of oppression against sexual and gender expression — had increasingly become a rare bright spot for LGBTQ rights and a sanctuary of sorts for Eastern Europe. Ex-Soviet LGBTQ individuals would travel to experience a gay nightclub scene, especially in larger cities like Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa, where they could feel safer to be open.
Now, what would have been the 10th anniversary of the Equality March in Kyiv this month was relocated to Poland because of the ongoing war.
“We had a lot and I hope we will rebuild it,” said Yuriy Dvizhon, creative director of UKRAINEPRIDE. Read more here.
– Tami Abdollah, USA TODAY