The battle for two key cities in eastern Ukraine is moving to “a terrifying climax” as Russian forces attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces defending Lysychansk, officials say.
Russia’s Attempts to Capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansky – the two remaining cities under Ukrainian control in Luhansk – have turned into a bloody battle of attrition, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Moscow has managed to make steady gains over the past two weeks.
“The fighting is going into a kind of terrifying climax,” said Oleksiy Arestovych.
Russian forces are trying to surround Ukrainian forces defending Lysychansk, senior Ukrainian defense official Oleksiy Gromov said in a briefing on Thursday.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, one of two in the eastern Donbas, added that the Russian forces had been successful in their advance.
He said enemy forces had captured Loskutivka, a settlement south of Lysychansk, which threatened to isolate Ukrainian forces.
The official also said that all Lysychansky was within range of Russian fire and that Ukrainian troops there could withdraw to new positions to avoid being trapped.
“To avoid encirclement, our command could order troops to withdraw to new positions,” Haidai said in a Telegram message.
Russia’s state-run Tass news agency quoted Russian-backed separatists as saying Lysychansk had been surrounded and cut off from supplies after Russia seized a road connecting the city to Ukrainian-occupied territories.
Zelenskiy immediately welcomed the move to grant Ukraine candidate status, calling it “a unique and historic moment” in relations with the 27-nation bloc.
“Ukraine’s future lies in the EU,” he tweeted.
“It’s a win,” he later added on Instagram. “We’ve been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” he said, referring to the length of the war and the decades since Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “And now we will defeat the enemy.”
In a televised speech shortly after the announcement from Brussels, Zelenskiy said:
I believe that this will always be the starting point of the new history of Europe. Europe without division. Europe without ‘grey’ zones. Europe that is truly united and that knows how to defend itself, its values and its future.
Today you have made one of the most important decisions for Ukraine in all 30 years of independence from our state.
However, I believe that this decision is not just for Ukraine. This is the greatest step towards strengthening Europe that can be taken now, in our time and in such difficult circumstances, as the Russian war is testing our ability to preserve freedom and unity.”
European leaders late Thursday granted Ukraine candidate status in a landmark decision that opens the door to EU membership for the war-torn country and deals a blow to Vladimir Putin.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels approved Ukraine’s candidate status nearly four months after the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, overturned his country’s attempt to join the bloc in the early days of the Russian invasion. launched to close. Moldova was also given candidate country status.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it “a good day for Europe”. French President Emmanuel Macron said it was a historic decision that “sent a strong signal to Russia in the current geopolitical context”.
The transition from candidate to candidate usually takes years, but the EU has dramatically accelerated the process amid outrage at the brutality of the unprovoked Russian attack, and to show solidarity with Ukraine’s defenders.
“Ukraine is going through hell for a simple reason: its desire to join the EU,” von der Leyen had tweeted on the eve of the summit. The committee last week called on EU leaders to grant Ukraine candidate status.
Earlier, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said candidate status “would draw a line under decades of ambiguity and set it in stone: Ukraine is Europe, not part of the ‘Russian world'”.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, said earlier this week that the EU had gone “lightning fast” by its standards.
Hello, it’s Samantha Lock back with you as we continue to report all the latest news from Ukraine.
Here are all the major developments from 8am in Kiev.
- The European Union has approved Ukraine’s application to become a candidate country for: recognition to the 27-member bloc in one step Kiev and Brussels were hailed as a “historic moment”. The meeting of EU leaders in Brussels followed the recommendation of the European Commission, which was made on 17 June.
- Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, immediately welcomed the move, saying: “Ukraine’s future lies in the EU.” “It’s a victory … we’ve been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” he added, referring to the length of the war and the decades since Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “And now we will defeat the enemy.”
- US sends another $450 million in military aid to Ukraineincluding some additional medium-range missile systems. The latest package includes four high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) and tens of thousands of artillery ammunition and patrol boats, Pentagon officials announced Thursday. With the latest shipments, the U.S. contribution to the Ukrainian military to date will total $6.1 billion, White House spokesman John Kirby said. added.
- Russian troops take two villages in eastern Ukraine and fighting for control of a major highway in a campaign to cut supply lines and encircle the Ukrainian frontline, according to British and Ukrainian military officials.
- Battle for two key cities in eastern Ukraine nears ‘terrifying climax’Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, has said. Russia is now believed to be in control of all of Sievierodonetsk, with the exception of the Azot chemical plant.
- No city is safe for residents of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region as fighting intensifies, local officials say. “There is no place, no city in the Donetsk region where it would be safe,” Pavlo Kyrylenko told Agence France-Presse, citing the latest intelligence data. “It is extremely dangerous for residents to stay in all places in the region.”
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was willing to assist in mine clearance operations off Ukraine’s southern coast. Asked if Britain was willing to help Ukraine clear the area, Johnson said: “Yes, I don’t want to go into the technical or military details, but you can tell from what we’ve already done in delivering equipment to the Ukrainians to help protect themselves, that we are certainly talking to them at a technical level to help de-mine Odessa.”
- The UK also offers its expertise to escort Ukrainian grain out of its ports, said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Boris Johnson added that Britain is considering offering insurance to ships to transport millions of tons of grain trapped in the country. of expertise in moving goods through contentious areas of the sea.
- More than 150 cultural sites in Ukraine have been partially or completely destroyed, according to a UNESCO report. The damage includes 70 religious buildings, 30 historic buildings, 18 cultural centers, 15 monuments, 12 museums and seven libraries.
- Ukraine records 200 to 300 war crimes committed by Russian troops on its territory every day, the Attorney General has claimed. “War crimes are our problem. Every day we have 200 to 300 … We have a duty: if there is a crime, we have to start an investigation,” Iryna Venediktova told Ukrainian television.
- Ukraine holds preliminary hearing in its first trial of a Russian soldier accused of raping a Ukrainian woman during the invasion of Moscow – the first of what could be dozens of such cases. The suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, who will be tried in absentia, is charged with breaking into a house in March in a village in the Brovarsky region outside Kiev, murdering a man and repeatedly raping his wife while he was in prison. threatened her and her child.
- The US embassy in Russia this week pressured the Kremlin to reveal the whereabouts of two Alabama men imprisoned in Ukraine., said the mother of one of the robbed Americans. Lois “Bunny” Drueke also said her son, Alexander Drueke, and the other imprisoned US military veteran, Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, were not mercenaries but volunteers, and pushed back statements from a Kremlin spokesman who said the US couple would be executed.