Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 116 of the invasion

Nato chief warns war could last years; Russia sends many reservists to Sievierodonetsk battle, says regional governor

Russia’s war in Ukraine could take years, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said. “We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine,” he said. “Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices.”

Russia was sending a large number of reserve troops to Sievierodonetsk from other battle zones to try to gain full control of the besieged eastern city, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region said on Sunday. “Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, they will throw in all the reserves they have … because there are so many of them there already, they’re at critical mass,” Serhiy Gaidai said on national television.

A big explosion rocked an area near Sievierodonetsk on Saturday. Rodion Miroshnik, an official in the self-styled separatist administration of the Luhansk People’s Republic, posted a video of what he said was the cloud on the Telegram messaging app.

Five civilians were killed on Saturday in Ukrainian strikes on the eastern separatist city of Donetsk, according to local authorities. “As a result of the bombardment by Ukrainian forces, five people were killed and 12 others were wounded in the Donetsk People’s Republic,” the authorities said in a statement posted on Telegram.

Several Russian missiles hit a gasworks in the Izium district in eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv region governor Oleh Synehubov said on Saturday. “A large-scale fire broke out, rescuers localised the fire,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Reuters reported him adding that some other buildings had also been damaged.

Russian missiles destroyed a fuel storage depot in Novomoskovsk, a town in eastern Ukraine, on Saturday. According to the head of the regional administration, three people have been sent to the hospital.

The Pentagon is considering sending four additional rocket launchers to Ukraine, Politico reports. According to US defence department officials, speaking to the outlet on anonymity, the US may likely send four more high mobility artillery rocket systems, making their total number about eight. The decision would be “based on Ukrainian immediate needs,” the official told Politico.

Russia and Ukraine have carried out a prisoner exchange, the Kyiv Independent reports. Five captured Ukrainian individuals were returned to Ukraine on 18 June in exchange for five captured Russian individuals, according to the Ukrainian defence ministry’s intelligence directorate.

Yuliia Paievska AKA “Taira”, the Ukrainian captured paramedic who was freed from Russian captivity during the week, released a video thanking Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy for her release. “I always believed that everything would be exactly this, and everyone who is now on the other side, they know everything will work out,” she said.

Zelenskiy presented state awards to border guards in Odesa as he visited the troops in southern Ukraine on Saturday. “I want to thank you from the people of Ukraine, from our state, for the great work you are doing, for your heroic service,” the president said. “It is important that you are alive. As long as you live, there is a strong Ukrainian wall that protects our country.”

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