Zelensky defiantly, while Russia intensified its attacks in the east, seized territory

Kyiv: Ukraine has acknowledged difficulties in fighting in the east as Russian forces seize territory and increase pressure on two cities ahead of this week’s EU summit, which is expected to welcome Kyiv’s bid to join the bloc.
The governor of the Luhansk region, the site of Russia’s worst attacks in recent weeks, said the situation had been “extremely difficult” on the front line since Monday night and that the Russian army had amassed enough reserves to launch a large-scale offensive.
Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelenski he had predicted that Russia would step up attacks ahead of Thursday’s and Friday’s EU summit. Addressing the nation on Monday night, he was challenging, citing the “difficult” battles in Luhansk for Severodonetsk and its sister city, Lisichansk.
“We are defending Lisichansk, Severodonetsk, this whole area, the most difficult. We have the most difficult battles there,” he said. “But we have our strong boys and girls there.”
Luhansk Governor Sergei Gaidai said Russian forces control most of Severodonetsk, with the exception of the Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of civilians have been sheltered for weeks. The road connecting Severodonetsk and Lisichansk with the city of Bakhmut has come under constant fire, he said.
“Lisichansk has been suffering from massive Russian shelling all day. It is impossible to determine the number of victims,” ​​Gaidai said.
Rodion Miroshnik, Russia’s ambassador to the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said its forces were “moving south to Lisichansk” with clashes in a number of cities.
“The coming hours must lead to significant changes in the balance of power in the area,” he told Telegram.
Approval by EU leaders that Ukraine would become an official candidate to join the bloc would be a triumph for Kyiv.
She applied for membership just four days after Russia in February. 24 invasion. It will take years to achieve, but reaching the EU deep into the heart of the former Soviet Union will lead to one of the greatest economic and social transformations in Europe since the Cold War.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine in February. 24 in what he called a “special operation” to worsen his military capabilities and eradicate what he called dangerous nationalists.
He introduced a law according to which the dissemination of “knowingly false” information or reporting that could discredit the Russian military is a crime.
Dmitry Muratov, one of the winners of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize and editor of an independent Russian newspaper, has auctioned off his Nobel medal for a record $ 103.5 million to help children displaced by the war. His document, fiercely critical of the president Vladimir Putinceased operations in Russia in March following warnings to cover the war.
The war has entered a brutal phase of exhaustion in recent weeks, with Russian forces concentrating on Ukrainian-controlled parts of Donbass, which Russia claims on behalf of the separatists.
Ukrainian authorities said three civilians were killed in a Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on Monday and three more in a shelling in the Kharkiv region.
In Odessa, Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port blocked by the Russian navy, a Russian missile destroyed a food warehouse on Monday, the Ukrainian army said.
The United States and its European allies provided weapons and financial assistance to Ukraine, but avoided direct involvement in the conflict. However, some Americans have volunteered to fight for Ukraine.
The Kremlin said on Monday that two Americans detained in Ukraine were mercenaries not covered by the Geneva Convention who should be held accountable for their actions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry PeskovThe comments were not the first official acknowledgment that the two identified in US reports as Andy Huyn, 27, and Alexander Drucke, 39, had been detained.
A spokesman for the US State Department said they had been in contact with Russian authorities about any US citizens who may have been captured.
“We call on the Russian government – as well as its proxies – to abide by their international obligations to everyone, including those captured and fighting in Ukraine.
This month, a separatist court sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan to death after being caught fighting for Ukraine.
Peskov also said the American basketball star Britney Greenerdetained in Russia for more than two months, was prosecuted for drug crimes and was not held hostage.
At least two Americans were killed in the war.
International concern has focused on trying to restore Ukraine’s food exports, which are now closed by a de facto Russian blockade. Ukraine is one of the world’s major sources of grain and edible oils, leading to fears of a global shortage.
Russia blames the food crisis on Western sanctions restricting its exports.
The war also destroyed energy markets, including Russia’s oil and gas supplies to Europe, still the continent’s main source of energy and Russia’s primary source of income. Russia says EU sanctions have prevented it from restoring pipeline equipment.
Russia has threatened to retaliate against EU member Lithuania for banning the transport of coal, metals, construction materials and modern technology to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost in the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory.
Russia’s foreign ministry has summoned Lithuania’s top diplomat and called for an “openly hostile” move or “Russia reserves the right to take action to protect its national interests”. Lithuania says EU sanctions oblige it to impose the ban.

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