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In Ukraine's Donbas, Russians are moving closer to the center of a vital town

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - A regional governor warned on Tuesday that Russian troops were steadily pushing into the city center in S...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - A regional governor warned on Tuesday that Russian troops were steadily pushing into the city center in Sievierodonetsk, providing an update from a pocket of Ukrainian resistance that has held back the greater Russian onslaught in the eastern Donbas region.
The governor of the Luhansk area, Serhiy Gaidai, told Ukrainian state media that just about 15,000 citizens remained in Sievierodonetsk after most of the city's 120,000 residents fled the severe Russian artillery bombardment.

To avoid being encircled, Gadai indicated that Ukrainian troops defending Sievierodonetsk may evacuate across the Siverskyi Donets river to the city of Lysychansk.

As the Russian attack in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region progressed, the European Union agreed on Monday to prohibit most Russian oil imports, putting a dent in the Kremlin's war fund.

European Council President Charles Michel said the ban agreed at an EU conference in Brussels on Monday will immediately cover more than two-thirds of Russia's oil imports and eliminate a "major source of finance for its war machine."

EU leaders said that they had decided to limit 90 percent of oil imports from Russia by the end of the year, with exceptions for Hungary, a landlocked country that relies significantly on crude piped from Russia, and others concerned about the ban's economic impact.

They also decided to remove Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, from the SWIFT system, as well as three additional Russian state-owned media, according to Michel.

The declaration came as Russian forces advanced on critical Donbas targets, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy declaring the situation "very tough."

Russia has been attempting to take the whole Donbas, which includes the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, on behalf of rebel proxies.

After more than three months of fighting, capturing the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk would give Moscow effective control of Luhansk and allow the Kremlin to announce some type of triumph.

According to TASS, Leonid Pasechnik, the commander of the Moscow-backed Luhansk People's Republic, a third of Sievierodonetsk is "already under our control," although progress has been slower than expected.

The existence of many huge chemical plants in the Sievierodonetsk area hampered Russian soldiers' approach, according to TASS.

In the south, Kyiv said its forces had forced Russian troops back to defensive positions in the villages of Andriyivka, Lozove, and Bilohorka, which are located on the southern bank of the Inhulets River, which defines the border with Kherson province, where Moscow is attempting to establish control.

Reuters was unable to independently verify either side's assertions.

Ukraine has requested more long-range weapons from the West, but US President Joe Biden has stated that the US will not supply Ukraine rocket systems capable of reaching into Russia, a decision that Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev has described as "logical."

On Monday, Russian soldiers shelled the northeastern city of Kharkiv, as well as the border area of Sumy, which was targeted from within Russia, according to Zelenskiy.

Much of Sievierodonetsk has been reduced to ruins by Russian shelling, but the Ukrainian defense has halted the Russian campaign across the Donbas region.


Hungary's refusal to agree to a ban on Russian supplies it receives through the massive Soviet-era "Friendship" pipeline that runs across Ukraine has stymied efforts to agree on an EU oil embargo.

There is a "temporary exception for the oil that comes through pipeline to the EU," Michel said at a press conference ""We want to return to the European Council as soon as possible to resolve this temporary exception and ensure that we will be able to target all of Russia's oil," he added.

According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed in conversations with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday that Russia was ready to support unfettered grain exports from Ukrainian ports in conjunction with Turkey.

Western officials have chastised Russia for closing Ukrainian ports, causing grain and other commodity prices to skyrocket. The United Nations has declared a worldwide food crisis and is attempting to broker a solution to allow Ukraine's grain exports to resume.

"Safe sailing in the Black and Azov seas was emphasized, as was removing the mine threat in their waters," the Kremlin stated of Putin's call with Erdogan.

If sanctions are eliminated, Putin believes Russia would be able to export large amounts of fertilizers and agricultural products.

"Of course, how to speed the conclusion of this war," Zelenskiy said, adding that he spoke with Erdogan about food security and defense cooperation."

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