Biden to meet NATO chief as Russia advances in Ukraine

  • US President Joe Biden is expected to meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on Thursday.
  • Washington announces a new $700m military aid package for Kyiv that includes High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
  • Germany says it will supply Ukraine with up-to-date anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems.
  • Luhansk’s regional governor says civilians are sheltering under a chemical plant in Severodonetsk as Russian forces advance on the key city in eastern Ukraine.
INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY98_June1_INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Ukraine Day 98
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Football coach dedicates Ukraine win to those fighting Russia

Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov has said his country’s World Cup qualification playoff win over Scotland is a victory for his compatriots who “fight with every last drop of their blood”.

“We played for them, for those who fight with their last drop of blood, for those who suffer every day, we made baby steps towards our great aim,” he said.

Football fans
Ukraine fans celebrated after the match and held flags in support of Ukraine [Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters]

Football legend Pele tells Putin: ‘Stop the invasion’

Brazilian football legend Pele has called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his army’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I want to use today’s match as an opportunity to make a request: stop the invasion. There is absolutely no justification for this continued violence,” Pele wrote in an open letter to Putin posted on Instagram just before the Ukrainian men’s football team faced Scotland in their World Cup playoff semi-final.

“This conflict is wicked, unjustifiable and brings nothing but pain, fear, terror and anguish … Wars only exist to separate nations, and there’s no ideology that justifies projectile missiles burying the dreams of children, ruining families and killing the innocent.”

Ireland designates Russia’s invasion an act of genocide

Ireland’s Senate has passed a resolution declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an act of genocide, Chair of the Irish Senate Mark Daly has said in a tweet.

The resolution follows similar moves in recent weeks by Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic.

Ukraine soccer win brings joy to military in war with Russia: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed the national soccer team’s win over Scotland in a vital World Cup playoff game, saying the victory would bring joy to soldiers fighting against Russia.

Ukraine kept alive their dream of reaching the finals, beating Scotland 3-1 in their first game since the Russian invasion. Ukraine will now face Wales on Sunday with the winner taking a place in the finals.

“Thank you guys! Two hours of happiness, something we have become unaccustomed to,” Zelenskyy said in an online post.

“Joy to our soldiers, joy to the entire country. We are all fighting, everyone on their own front. We will fight on, we will withstand everything, we will win. For we are Ukrainians.”

Cyber activity not against Russia policy: White House

The White House has said that any offensive cyber activity against Russia would not be a violation of US policy of avoiding direct military conflict with Russia.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented on statements from US cyber command chief General Paul Nakasone, who told Sky News the US has conducted a series of digital operations in support of Ukraine.

Russia’s war has led to massive destruction to cultural heritage: Officials

Ukraine’s Culture Ministry has documented 367 war crimes against Ukraine’s cultural heritage, including the destruction of 29 museums, 133 churches, 66 theatres and libraries, and a Jewish cemetery, the Kyiv Independent has reported.

“Russians have the precise aim of destroying our culture as part of our identity, something that distinguishes Ukraine from Russia,” Olha Honchar, co-founder of Ukraine’s Museum Crisis Center told Bloomberg. “It has become quite clear now for the whole world that Russia bombs museums, archives, and theatres not by accident.”

Biden to meet NATO secretary-general at White House

Biden and his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will meet with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said.

Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he would convene a meeting in Brussels in the coming days with senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Turkey to discuss Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.

Denmark looks set to join EU defence policy

Denmark will join the European Union’s defence policy after a referendum, public broadcaster DR has projected.

Preliminary results by DR showed that 66.6 percent of voters were in favour of removing an opt-out to the EU’s so-called Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Denmark is the only EU member that is not part of the policy after the country secured several exemptions in a 1993 referendum.

“It is a completely new approach to Europe, that we are signalling to our European allies, to the whole world,” said former foreign minister and member of the Social Liberal Party, Martin Lidegaard.

“It can hardly be overestimated, the importance it has on our foreign and European policy,” Lidegaard said.

Ukrainians shelter under chemical plant from Russian shelling: Governor

Several civilians have been sheltering from Russian shelling under a chemical plant in the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, the Luhansk regional governor has said, raising concerns the facility may still have stocks of dangerous materials.

“There are civilians there in bomb shelters, there are quite a few of them,” Serhiy Haidai said of the Azot chemical plant, adding that there were “strong Soviet-era” bomb shelters under the factory.

“It’s a privately-owned plant, we can’t know 100 percent if any chemicals are left,” he told the Reuters news agency.

US plans to sell armed drones to Ukraine in coming days: Report

The Biden administration plans to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles for battlefield use against Russia, the Reuters news agency reported, citing three people familiar with the situation.

“Generally the MQ-1C is a much larger aircraft with a max take-off weight around three times that of the Bayraktar-TB2, with commensurate advantages in payload capacity, range, and endurance,” said drone expert Dan Gettinger with the Vertical Flight Society.

But the sale of the General Atomics-made drones could still be blocked by Congress, according to the report, and there is also a risk of a last-minute policy reversal that could scuttle the plan.

US to send medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine

The Pentagon has announced that the US will send Ukraine four sophisticated, medium-range rocket systems and ammunition to help try to stall Russian progress in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

But it will take at least three weeks to get the precision weapons and trained troops onto the battlefield, said Colin Kahl, the US defence undersecretary for policy.

“It is a grinding fight,” Kahl said during a Pentagon briefing. “We believe that these additional capabilities will arrive in a timeframe that’s relevant and allow the Ukrainians to very precisely target the types of things they need for the current fight.”

Biden announces new military aid package for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has announced a new $700m weapons package for Ukraine that will include High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which can accurately hit targets from as far away as 80km (50 miles).

“The United States will stand with our Ukrainian partners and continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to defend itself,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden announced the plan to give Ukraine the HIMARS after receiving assurances from Kyiv that it would not use them to hit targets inside Russian territory.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Read all the updates from Wednesday, June 1 here.

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