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As Russia strengthens its attacks in the east and seizes land, Zelenskiy remains stubborn

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  Ukraine conceded that battle in the east was challenging, as Russian forces seized territory and increas...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  Ukraine conceded that battle in the east was challenging, as Russian forces seized territory and increased pressure on two cities ahead of an EU summit this week, which is anticipated to applaud Kyiv's bid to join the group.

As of Monday evening, the governor of the Luhansk area, which has seen the most intense Russian assaults in recent weeks, stated the situation along the front line was "very challenging" and that the Russian army had gathered enough reserves to launch a large-scale offensive.

Russia, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, will intensify its attacks ahead of the EU summit on Thursday and Friday. He was bold in a national address on Monday evening, referring to "tough" battle in Luhansk for Sievierodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk.

"We're defending Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk, and the entire region, which is the most tough. We're fighting the most difficult battle there, "he stated "However, we've got our tough lads and gals there."

Apart from the Azot chemical factory, where hundreds of civilians have been sheltering for weeks, Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk, said Russian soldiers controlled most of Sievierodonetsk. He claimed that the road connecting Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk to Bakhmut was under regular shell fire.

"The city of Lysychansk has been bombarded by Russian artillery all day. It's impossible to know how many people have died "Gaidai remarked.

The self-styled Luhansk People's Republic's ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, said his soldiers were "moving from the south towards Lysychansk," with firefights erupting in a number of towns.

"The balance of forces in the area should change significantly in the hours ahead," he warned on Telegram.

It would be a victory for Kyiv if EU leaders approved Ukraine as an official applicant for membership.

It applied for membership four days after Russia invaded on February 24. It would take years to achieve, but the EU's deep penetration of the former Soviet Union would result in one of Europe's most significant economic and social transformations since the Cold War.


On February 24, Russia launched tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it dubbed a "special operation" to weaken its military and drive out "dangerous nationalists."

It has passed legislation making it illegal to transmit "knowingly false" material or reports that could be used to undermine the Russian military.

Dmitry Muratov, a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 and the editor of an independent Russian newspaper, auctioned off his Nobel medal for a record-breaking $103.5 million to help children displaced by the war. After receiving threats over its coverage of the war, his newspaper, which is harshly critical of President Vladimir Putin, halted operations in Russia in March.

In recent weeks, the war has entered a severe attritional phase, with Russian forces focussing on portions of the Donbas controlled by Ukraine, which Russia claims on behalf of separatists.

On Monday, three civilians were killed in Russian bombardment in the Donetsk region, while three more were killed in shelling in the Kharkiv region, according to Ukrainian officials.

According to Ukraine's military, a Russian missile destroyed a food warehouse in Odesa, Ukraine's largest Black Sea port, which is blockaded by the Russian naval.

The US and its European allies have supported Ukraine with arms and financial aid while avoiding active engagement in the conflict. However, some Americans have offered to fight for Ukraine.


The Kremlin claimed on Monday that two Americans seized in Ukraine were mercenaries who were not covered by the Geneva Convention and should be held accountable for their acts.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, was the first to acknowledge that the two individuals, identified as Andy Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, were being held.

According to a US State Department official, the US has been in contact with Russian authorities about any US individuals who may have been apprehended.

"We urge the Russian government – and its proxies – to uphold their international commitments in their treatment of anyone apprehended fighting in Ukraine."

After being captured fighting for Ukraine, a rebel court sentenced two Britons and a Moroccan to death.

Peskov also stated that American basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been held in Russia for almost two months, is being prosecuted for drug charges and is not a hostage.

At least two Americans have died as a result of the conflict.

International concern has centred on restoring Ukrainian food exports, which have been stifled by a de facto Russian boycott. Ukraine is one of the world's primary grain and food oil suppliers, raising concerns about worldwide shortages.

Russia attributes the food issue to Western sanctions that have stifled Russian exports.

The war has also impacted energy markets, notably Russian oil and gas supplies to Europe, which remain the continent's key energy source and Russia's primary source of revenue. Russia claims that restrictions imposed by the EU prohibited it from reinstalling pipeline equipment.

Russia has promised to react against Lithuania, which has banned the transport of coal, metals, building materials, and advanced technology to Kaliningrad, a Russian colony on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory.

Russia's foreign ministry summoned Lithuania's top diplomat, demanding that the "openly hostile" step be reversed or Russia "reserves the right to take actions to preserve its national interests." Lithuania said that EU penalties made it obligated to enforce the ban.

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