Russia-Ukraine war live: US citizen detained in Moscow; Ukraine counteroffensive reported in four areas

Key events

The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam was a fast-moving disaster that is swiftly evolving into a long-term environmental catastrophe affecting drinking water, food supplies and ecosystems reaching into the Black Sea.

The short-term dangers can be seen from outer space — tens of thousands of parcels of land flooded, and more to come. Experts say the long-term consequences will be generational.

The Associated Press reported:

For every flooded home and farm, there are fields upon fields of newly planted grains, fruits and vegetables whose irrigation canals are drying up. Thousands of fish were left gasping on mud flats. Fledgling water birds lost their nests and their food sources. Countless trees and plants were drowned.

If water is life, then the draining of the Kakhovka reservoir creates an uncertain future for the region of southern Ukraine that was an arid plain until the damming of the Dnipro River 70 years ago. The Kakhovka Dam was the last in a system of six Soviet-era dams on the river, which flows from Belarus to the Black Sea.

Then the Dnipro became part of the frontline after Russia’s invasion last year.

“All this territory formed its own particular ecosystem, with the reservoir included,” said Kateryna Filiuta, an expert in protected habitats for the Ukraine Nature Conservation Group.

Houses and a sports stadium are seen underwater and polluted by oil in Kherson, Ukraine, yesterday.

Houses and stadium are seen underwater and polluted by oil in the flooded Kherson. Photograph: AP

More now from that ISW daily update.

Russian sources are claiming that Ukraine has tactical advantages in conducting assaults at night due to Western-provided equipment with advanced night optics systems.

A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are launching assaults at night because western-provided equipment provides Ukrainian forces with “excellent” night vision optics.

Russian sources have widely claimed that Ukrainian forces have started or intensified assaults at night in recent days, and Ukrainian forces may be increasingly leveraging the advantages provided by western systems.

Reuters reports that two drones crashed early on Sunday in Russia’s Kaluga region, the governor of the region, Vladislav Shapsha, said on the Telegram messaging app.

One drone crashed near the village of Strelkovka, another in the woods in the Medynsky municipal district.

The Kaluga region borders the Moscow region to the north.

According to preliminary information, there were no casualties and only minimal damage, Shapsha said on Telegram. Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Earlier in the day inside Russia, 15 cars of an empty freight train derailed in the southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, the local governor said late on Saturday, adding there was no immediate information about the cause.

The accident happened near a train station in the Alexeyevsky municipal district and the train was empty, Gladkov said. Reuters could not independently verify this report.

American musician arrested in Moscow accused of selling mephedrone

Russian news media reported Saturday that an American musician who has lived in Russia for more than a decade has been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, according to the Associated Press.

The reports said Michael Travis Leake is suspected of selling mephedrone, whose effects are similar to those of cocaine and MDMA. A Moscow court ordered him to be held for two months in pre-trial detention, the reports said.

He faces charges of production or distribution of drugs, which carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

An Instagram page under the name Travis Leake Instagram identifies him as the singer for the band Lovi Noch, meaning Seize the Night. News reports said Leake is a former paratrooper with the US military and has lived in Moscow since 2010.

Russian drug laws are strict. WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested in February 2022 after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage at a Moscow airport. She was sentenced to nine years in prison, but was released in December in an exchange for US-imprisoned Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The US state department said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that it was aware of the reports that a US citizen had recently been arrested in Moscow. It said when a US citizen is detained overseas, the department “pursues consular access as soon as possible and works to provide all appropriate consular assistance”.

The department said it would have no further comment due to privacy considerations.

Ukrainian forces are conducting counteroffensive operations in at least four areas of the front, the US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War had said in its daily update.

Ukrainian eastern group of forces spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty noted that Ukrainian forces advanced up to 1,400m in unspecified areas of the Bakhmut front, and Russian milbloggers reported Ukrainian advances northwest and northeast of Bakhmut, ISW says.

Russian sources reported Ukrainian activity in Luhansk Oblast near Bilohorivka, while the Russian defence ministry and other Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops conducted localised attacks in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, particularly in the Velyka Novosilka area.

ISW reports geolocated footage posted on 10 June additionally indicates that Ukrainian forces in western Zaporizhia Oblast made gains during counterattacks southwest and southeast of Orikhiv.

It says Ukrainian forces are unsurprisingly taking casualties in initial attacks against some of the best-prepared Russian forces in Ukraine. However, initial attacks – and particularly selected footage that Russian sources are intentionally disseminating and highlighting – are not representative of all Ukrainian operations.

Opening summary

Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine, I’m Christine Kearney bringing you the latest.

Russian news media are reporting that an American musician who has lived in Russia for more than a decade has been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, according to the Associated Press.

The reports said Michael Travis Leake is suspected of selling mephedrone. A Moscow court ordered him to be held for two months in pre-trial detention, the reports said.

An Instagram page under the name Travis Leake Instagram page identifies him as the singer for the band Lovi Noch, which means Seize the Night.

Meanwhile US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War had said in its daily update that Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least four areas of the front.

More details shortly, in other key developments:

  • President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that counteroffensive and defensive operations were taking place in Ukraine, a day after Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin said Kyiv’s long-vaunted drive to retake territory was well under way. Zelenskiy would not say what stage they were at, but to pass on to Putin that his generals were optimistic and in ‘positive mood’.

  • Counterattacking Ukrainian forces have advanced up to 1,400 metres at a number of sections of the front line near the eastern city of Bakhmut in the past day, a Ukraine military spokesperson said on Saturday.

  • The UK’s Ministry of Defence said over the past 48 hours “significant” Ukrainian operations have taken place in several sectors of eastern and southern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have “likely made good progress” and “penetrated the first line of Russian defences”, the MoD added. However, in other areas “Ukrainian progress has been slower”.

  • The Russian defence ministry said on Saturday that Ukraine’s forces have continued “unsuccessful” attempts in the past 24 hours to launch attacks south of Donetsk and in Zaporizhzhia regions, as well as in the area of the eastern city of Bakhmut.

  • A drone attack by Russian forces killed three people and injured 27 people, including three children, in Ukraine’s Odesa region in the early hours of Saturday, according to Ukraine’s southern command. Emergency services said but the fire had been rapidly put out and 12 people were rescued from the building.

A resident inspects her belongings in a damaged residential building after a Russian drone attack in Odessa. Photograph: Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images
  • The UN’s top aid official Martin Griffiths has warned Ukraine’s humanitarian situation is “hugely worse” after the Kakhova dam rupture.

  • German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said on Saturday that he planned to speak to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on the phone soon to urge him to withdraw troops from Ukraine.

  • Canada’s minister, Justin Trudeau, landed in Kyiv on Saturday and said Canada will be part of a multinational effort to train Ukrainian fighter pilots. He also announced C$500m ($375m) worth of military aid for Kyiv and said the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam was a “direct consequence of Russia’s war”.

Justin Trudeau hugs Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a meeting in Kyiv. Photograph: Frank Gunn/AP
  • Russian activists and dissidents say Russian authorities in Kherson region are preventing 1,842 left bank residents, including 338 urgent cases around Olekshy, and nearby, from leaving. The figure includes 148 children and 243 elderly people, said the Anti-War Human Rights Coalition.

  • Russia has fired missiles and attack drones at the central Ukrainian region of Poltava overnight, inflicting “some damage of infrastructure and equipment” at the Myrhorod military airfield, according to the regional governor.

  • A £150m fund to help Ukrainians into their own homes has been announced by the UK government. More than 124,000 people have arrived in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year. The UK will also provide an extra £16m of humanitarian aid to Ukraine after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.

  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Iceland’s decision to suspend its embassy operations in Moscow “destroys” bilateral cooperation adding the action would elicit a “corresponding” response.

  • The southern reach of the Dnipro River is likely to return to its banks by 16 June after the breach of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam this week, a Russian-installed official said on Saturday. Vladimir Saldo said the water level at Nova Kakhovka, the town adjacent to the dam on the downstream side, had now dropped three metres (10ft) from Tuesday’s peak, Reuters reported.

Volunteers haul a woman on a stretcher as she been evacuated from a flooded neighbourhood on the left bank Dnipro river, in Kherson. Photograph: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP
  • German investigators are examining evidence suggesting a sabotage team used Poland as an operating base to damage the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September, the Wall Street Journal reported.

  • Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency says it has put the last operating reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into a “cold shutdown” as a safety precaution amid flooding from the collapse of the Kakhovka dam.

  • South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has briefed Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about an upcoming mission to broker peace by African leaders to Russia and Ukraine to try and broker peace, Pretoria said on Saturday.

  • The UN has helped boost Russian exports of food and fertilisers, facilitating a steady flow of ships to its ports ahead of an important grain deal deadline. Top UN trade official Rebeca Grynspan met with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin as Moscow threatens to walk away from a deal allowing the safe export of food and fertiliser from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on 17 July if obstacles to its own shipments are not removed.