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In this image released by the Ukrainian Defence Ministry Press Service, Ukrainian soldiers use a launcher with US Javelin missiles during military exercises in the Donetsk Region, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021. - Sputnik International

LIVE UPDATES: Stingers and Javelins Sent to Ukraine Already Being Sold on Black Market - Lavrov

Russia launched the military operation in Ukraine in February, as Kiev's troops intensified their attacks on Donbass. President Vladimir Putin stressed that the eight-year-long war, waged by Ukrainian forces against Donetsk and Lugansk amounts to genocide.
Russian and Donbass forces have continued to advance amid the special operation, while the Ukrainian military has backed down. A large number of Ukrainian troops are now stranded at the Azot plant in Severodonetsk in the Lugansk People's Republic. Russian authorities have noted that an attempt to install a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from the facility has been sabotaged by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
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22:33 GMT 16.06.2022
Mother of US Man in Ukraine Says State Dept. Verifying Photo Confirming Alleged Capture
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The State Department is working to verify a photo depicting two US men allegedly captured as combatants in Ukraine, the mother of one of the men said during an interview.
"They’re working hard to verify [the photo]. We’re very hopeful," Bunny Drueke told CNN on Thursday when asked about the photo being circulated. "I have seen it."
Earlier in the day, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said the US has been in contact with the families of the two men reported missing in Ukraine. However, the United States has not yet discussed the matter with the Russian government, Price also said.
Drueke’s son John-Robert Drueke is shown in the photo alongside Andy Huynh, both US veterans who were fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. The men are shown sitting in military clothing with their hands behind their backs.
Drueke in the interview also said that she does not want to get her hopes up about the photo’s veracity given the prevalence of photoshop technology.
"I’m hopeful that it’s an actual photo of them, that they are alive. Whoever is in the photo doesn’t look particularly hurt. The one that’s supposed to be my son looks rather angry, and that sounds like my son," Drueke said.
On Wednesday, media reported that Drueke, 39, and Huynh, 27, were captured by Russian forces near the city of Kharkiv. The reports said the former is a US Army veteran and the latter a US Marine Corps veteran.
Drueke felt he was too old to fight but had useful experience training soldiers, and decided to volunteer to teach Ukrainians how to use equipment, his mother said. He did two tours of duty in Iraq while in the US military, she added.
20:37 GMT 16.06.2022
Macron Says West De Facto Agreed Not to Supply Ukraine With Combat Aircraft, Tanks
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Western countries have informally agreed not to supply combat aircraft and tanks to Ukraine to avoid war with Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.
Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in Ukraine on Thursday, where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"You are talking about an informal agreement, but it is almost an official position of NATO partners. We help Ukraine defend itself, but we do not enter the war against Russia. Therefore, it was agreed not to supply certain weapons, such as assault aircraft or tanks, and President Zelenskyy is aware of this agreement," Macron told reporters, as quoted by Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.
France has already sent 12 self-propelled howitzers CAESAR to Ukraine, Macron noted, adding that Zelenskyy asked for six more units of this equipment.
20:18 GMT 16.06.2022
Russia Outnumbers Ukraine in Artillery by 20 to 1 - UK Defense Secretary
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia outnumbers Ukraine in artillery weapons by 20 to 1, but the West intends to continue supplying Kiev with arms, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday.
"In some areas they [Ukrainian troops] are out-numbered certainly in artillery tubes – 20:1 in some pockets," Wallace said after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, as quoted by Sky News.
European countries and the United States have begun to supply Ukraine with long-range artillery, Wallace noted, adding that this could allow Kiev to make "significant progress in the east of the country."
The UK bought and refurbished more than 20 self-propelled howitzers M109 from a Belgian company that will be sent to Ukraine, Wallace said.
19:45 GMT 16.06.2022
State Dept. Says US Stands by Anti-Russia Sanctions Strategy
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is standing by its strategy on sanctions against Russia, US State Department spokesperson Ned price said on Thursday.
"We do stand by our [sanctions] strategy [with respect to Russia]," he told journalists at a briefing.
On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help. The US and its Western allies have since been pressuring Moscow with sanctions, including in the area of energy supplies, causing prices to soar worldwide.
Global oil prices are hovering near 14-year highs at around $120 per barrel while prices of gasoline at the pump in the United States have reached all-time peaks above $4.70 per gallon due to a crude supply deficit that began with the 2021 economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic measures and was exacerbated by this year’s sanctions on Russia.
In the United States, the crisis has taken on an added dimension with the closure and downsizing of several refineries during the pandemic that has led to an even more drastic squeeze on the supply of gasoline and diesel - the main fuel that trucks, buses, trains and vessels run on.
Analysts say refineries that are in operation now are providing only what they can - or, more accurately, what they desire - without putting additional money into expanding existing capacity or acquiring idled plants that can be reopened to provide measurable relief to consumers.
19:14 GMT 16.06.2022
Ukrainian Intelligence Says Received Technical Documentation of Crimean Bridge
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Defense Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that it had come into possession of the detailed technical documentation of the Crimean bridge.
On Wednesday, Major General of the Ukrainian armed forces Dmitry Marchenko said that the Crimean bridge would become the number one target if the Ukrainian troops were supplied with appropriate weapons by the United States and Europe. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also said in an interview with CNN that new Western weapons would allow Ukraine to return Crimea.
"Detailed technical documentation of the Crimean bridge has been received. In particular, we are talking about the technical documentation ‘Construction of a transport crossing across the Kerch Strait.’ Among other things, it has detailed information about the terrain, road surface, bridge supports, anti-landslide structures, entrances and exits, and the entire infrastructure complex," the intelligence said on Telegram.
In March 2014, nearly 97% of Crimean voters supported secession from Ukraine and becoming part of Russia. Ukraine continues to consider Crimea as its own, but temporarily occupied territory. The Russian leadership has repeatedly stated that Crimean residents democratically, in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter, voted for reunification with Russia.
18:37 GMT 16.06.2022
Pushilin Says Syrian President Assad Has Announced Official Launch of Procedures to Recognise DPR
DONETSK (Sputnik) - A delegation of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has proposed to Syria to participate in the international tribunal to assess crimes committed by Ukrainian militants, DPR Head Denis Pushilin said on Thursday.
"During the meeting [with Syrian President Bashar Assad] we proposed to consider the possibility of the participation of the Syrian Arab Republic in the international tribunal against the militants of the Ukrainian armed formations who are accused of committing crimes against the inhabitants of Donbass," Pushilin wrote on his Telegram channel.
According to the DPR head, Assad has announced the official start of the procedure for the DPR recognition.
18:34 GMT 16.06.2022
Ukrainian Troops Fire Tochka-U Missile at Krasny Luch, LPR Envoy to Russia Says
A massive fire at a factory in the city of Krasny Luch occurred due to a Tochka-U missile strike, said Rodion Miroshnik, LPR ambassador to Russia.
18:32 GMT 16.06.2022
Ukraine Has Staged Attack on Health Facility in Odessa to Blame Russian Troops, MoD Says
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Ukraine staged an attack on a health facility in Odessa on June 11 to put the blame on Russian forces, the head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, who also leads Russia's humanitarian response coordination headquarters, said on Thursday.

"On June 11, in Odessa, specialists from the 83rd Center for Information and Psychological Operations of the armed forces of Ukraine conducted a staged filming of the results of an attack on a medical facility, allegedly carried out by the Russian military," Mizintsev told a briefing.

The Russian defense official added that Ukraine’s security forces have cordoned off the area where the health facility is located so locals could not film the "attack" on their mobile phones.

"We warn you in advance that in the near future these and other materials fabricated by the Kyiv regime about the alleged ‘atrocities of the Russians’ are planned to be widely distributed through Western and Ukrainian media, as well as Internet," Mizintsev said.
18:30 GMT 16.06.2022
US State Department Aware of Reports of American Missing in Ukraine, Understands He Travelled There to Take up Arms
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Biden administration is in touch with the families of two Americans reportedly captured by the Russian military in Ukraine, but has not yet discussed the matter with the Russian government, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, media reported that US citizens Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, were captured by Russian forces near the city of Kharkov. The reports said one of the captured Americans is a US Marine Corps veteran and the other is a US Army veteran.
Price added that the Biden administration wass aware of the reports that at least one additional US citizen has gone missing in Ukraine amid Russia's special operation.
“There are reports of one additional American whose whereabouts are unknown. I can't speak to the specifics of that case. Unfortunately, we don't know the full details of that case. Our understanding was that this individual had travelled to Ukraine to take up arms.”
Price said the Biden administration is aware of the unconfirmed reports of two US citizens captured in Ukraine.
"We're closely monitoring the situation. We are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities, as well as with the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the families of the two reported missing US citizens," he said.
17:33 GMT 16.06.2022
Coca-Cola HBC in ‘Process of Depleting Stock’ in Russia
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Coca-Cola HBC, a bottler of the coca-cola drink, said on Thursday and it is, together with its customers in Russia, in the ‘process of depleting stock."

The company also said that it will "no longer produce or sell Coca-Cola or other brands of the Coca-Cola Company in Russia" after the company’s stock is fully depleted.
17:08 GMT 16.06.2022
Lavrov: Russia Declared Special Op Because There Was No Other Way of Explaining to West That Dragging Ukraine Into NATO Was a Criminal Act
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stressed that Russia did not invade Ukraine:
"We declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into NATO was a criminal act," he told BBC.
15:42 GMT 16.06.2022
Russia Doesn't Intend to Switch Oil Payments to Rubles, Novak Says
15:37 GMT 16.06.2022
Germany's Scholz Vows Military Backing for Ukraine for 'as Long as Needed'
15:36 GMT 16.06.2022
Brain Wallpaper - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.06.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
US Tested Neuromodulators on Socially Vulnerable Ukrainians - Russian Defense Ministry
14:41 GMT 16.06.2022
Aedes  mosquito - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.06.2022
Russian MoD: Fever-Carrying Mosquitoes Studied in Ukrainian Labs May Have Been Used by US in Cuba
14:25 GMT 16.06.2022
Lavrov: Kiev Admits It Does Not Want to Negotiate With Russia
14:24 GMT 16.06.2022
Macron Says France, Germany, Italy and Romania Support 'Immediate' EU Candidate Status for Ukraine
14:14 GMT 16.06.2022
Stingers and Javelins That the West Has Delivered to Ukraine Are Already Being Sold on the Black Market, Lavrov Says
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Stingers and Javelin missiles, supplied by the West to Kiev, were already being sold at a discount on the black market and have surfaced in Albania and Kosovo.
"This is openly discussed, and they are sold at a discount, so to speak. In general, the process of mastering the black market is underway. They will return to a large extent to where they came from to Ukraine," Lavrov said in an interview with the NTV broadcaster.
13:19 GMT 16.06.2022
Stoltenberg: NATO Ministers Discussed Boosting Troops in Eastern Europe, Statements to Be Made at Madrid Summit
13:13 GMT 16.06.2022
Europe Switched to Paying Gazprom in Rubles, 90-95% of Previous Volumes, Deputy PM Says
A Russian ruble coin is pictured in front of St. Basil cathedral in central Moscow - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.06.2022
Europe Switched to Paying Gazprom in Rubles, 90-95% of Previous Volumes, Deputy PM Says
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