ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Russians advance, Zelenskyy expects escalation as EU set to welcome Ukraine

Moscow's separatist proxies claimed to have captured Toshkivka, a town on the mostly Ukrainian-held western bank of the Siverskyi Donets river, south of Sievierodonetsk, which has become the main battlefield city in recent weeks.

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region
People wait to board a train to Dnipro and Lviv during an evacuation effort from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine, amid Russia's invasion of the country, in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
Gleb Garanich/REUTERS
We are part of The Trust Project.

KYIV — Russian forces captured territory along a frontline river in eastern Ukraine on Monday, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicted Moscow would escalate attacks ahead of a summit of European leaders expected to welcome Kyiv's bid to join the EU.

Moscow's separatist proxies claimed to have captured Toshkivka, a town on the mostly Ukrainian-held western bank of the Siverskyi Donets river, south of Sievierodonetsk, which has become the main battlefield city in recent weeks.

More from Ukraine
Russia's invasion, the biggest attack on a European state since 1945, has seen more than 6.5 million people flee abroad, turned entire cities into rubble and brought down severe economic sanctions on Moscow.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday said Ukrainian forces would respond to the shelling of Marhanets. Ukraine's military said Russia also bombarded several other areas in the Zaporizhzhia region including the coal-mining town of Vuhledar.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week described the pressure his armed forces were under in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine as "hell." He spoke of fierce fighting around the town of Avdiivka and the fortified village of Pisky, where Kyiv has acknowledged its Russian foe's "partial success" in recent days.
Schroeder, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and increasingly derided in Germany for his pro-Russia stance, said last month's agreement on grain shipments from Ukraine, aimed at easing a global food crisis, might offer a way forward.
Russia said it was responding to comments by Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine's deputy head of military intelligence, about the way Kyiv had used U.S.-made and supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers based on what he called excellent satellite imagery and real-time information.
Washington was "deeply concerned" that Moscow was now using the plant as a military base and firing on Ukrainian forces from around it, Blinken told reporters after nuclear nonproliferation talks at the United Nations in New York.
The deaths, some of which were confirmed by Reuters journalists at the prison where the men were held in eastern Donetsk province, overshadowed a U.N.-brokered deal to restart shipping grain from Ukraine and ease a worldwide food crisis.
Mark J. Lindquist, of Moorhead, well known in the military community for his performances, begins a Ukrainian concert series in Kharkiv. He has been volunteering as a humanitarian in Poland and the Ukraine since April.
Russian forces have taken over Ukraine's second biggest power plant, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in an interview posted on YouTube. Russian-backed forces had earlier announced the capture of the Soviet-era, coal-fired Vuhlehirsk plant in eastern Ukraine.
With a dozen EU countries already facing lower Russian supplies, Brussels is urging member states to save gas and store it for winter, fearing Russia will completely cut off flows in retaliation for sanctions over the Ukraine war.

Ukraine acknowledged that Moscow had success in Toshkivka and said the Russians were trying to gain a foothold there to make a breakthrough into the wider, Ukrainian-held pocket of the eastern Donbas region. It also confirmed a Russian claim to have captured Metyolkine on Sievierodonetsk's eastern outskirts.

"Obviously, this week we should expect from Russia an intensification of its hostile activities," Zelenskyy said in a Sunday nightly video address. "We are preparing. We are ready."

Moscow, for its part, denounced a decision by EU member Lithuania to ban transport of some basic goods to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Lithuanian ban, which took effect on Saturday, blocks shipments of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology to the outpost. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the move illegal and unprecedented, and said Moscow would announce a response soon.

EU leaders at a summit later this week are expected to give their blessing to Ukraine becoming an official candidate to join, a decision that will be marked as a triumph in Kyiv.

UPDATED UKRAINE WEB MAP

Though it would take years for Ukraine to enter the EU, for the bloc to reach deep into the heart of the former Soviet Union would bring about one of Europe's biggest economic and social transformations since the Cold War. Ukraine applied to join just four days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops across the border in February.

Putin says the "special military operation" is aimed at disarming a neighbor Russia views as a threat and protecting Russian speakers there. Kyiv believes Moscow's true aim is to restore control over Ukraine and erase its national identity.

In the strongest step yet proposed by Kyiv to enforce a cultural break with Moscow, Ukraine's parliament passed bills on Sunday that would ban the publication of books or the public broadcast of music by citizens of post-Soviet Russia.

The measures, which require Zelenskyy's signature to become law, "are designed to help Ukrainian authors share quality content with the widest possible audience, which after the Russian invasion do not accept any Russian creative product on a physical level," said Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko.

Funeral of Ukrainian servicemen in Lviv
Ukrainian servicemen attend a funeral ceremony for their comrades Ivan Kerdman and Serhii Spodarenko, who were recently killed in a battle against Russian troops, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lviv, Ukraine on June 17, 2022.
VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS

TOSHKIVKA FOOTHOLD

Russian forces were defeated in an assault on the capital Kyiv in March, but have since launched a new assault to capture more territory in the east and solidify their hold on the south.

ADVERTISEMENT

The war has entered a brutal attritional phase in recent weeks, with Russian forces concentrating their overwhelming artillery firepower on a Ukrainian-held pocket of the Donbas, which Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.

Much of the fighting has taken place along the Siverskyi Donets river. Russia's TASS news agency quoted Vitaly Kiselev, an aide to the interior minister of the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People's Republic separatist administration, as saying on Monday the town of Toshkivka had been "liberated."

The town is located on the river's western bank, south of Sievierodonetsk's twin city Lysychansk, a key Ukrainian bastion.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai, acknowledged that a Russian attack on Toshkivka "had a degree of success." Russian forces were trying to break through and gain a foothold there and near the small village of Ustinovka further north along the river, he said. The Russians were bringing a huge amount of heavy equipment there including tanks.

He also confirmed Russia's claim to have captured Metyolkine on Sievierodonetsk's eastern outskirts. "Unfortunately, we do not control Metyolkine today," he said.

A man photographs the Russian-owned super yacht Amadea seized in Fiji by American law enforcement, in Honolulu
A man photographs the Russian-owned super yacht Amadea, seized in Fiji by American law enforcement, in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 17, 2022.
Marco Garcia/REUTERS

Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksander Stryuk said Russian forces controlled about two-thirds of the city, including most residential areas, and Moscow kept throwing forces at the Ukrainians in an attempt to take over completely.

"I hope that the city will hold and, once it has the advantage in firepower, we will be able to liberate it without leaving it first," he said.

International concern has focused on trying to restore Ukrainian exports of food, now shut by a de facto Russian blockade. Ukraine is one of the world's leading sources of grain and food oils, leading to fears of global shortages and hunger.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We call on Russia to deblockade the ports," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters. "It is inconceivable, one cannot imagine that millions 4of tonnes of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are suffering hunger."

"This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer," he said on arriving to a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Russia blames the food crisis on Western sanctions curbing its own exports.

The war has also disrupted global energy markets, including Russian shipments of oil and gas to Europe, still the continent's main source of energy and Moscow's primary source of income. Moscow blames EU sanctions for a decline in gas export pipelines, saying the sanctions had prevented it from restoring pumping equipment sent for repairs.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; writing by Peter Graff; editing by Mark Heinrich.)

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region
Police officers distribute aid to local residents, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the town of Krasnohorivka, in Donetsk region, Ukraine on June 16, 2022.
GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: UKRAINERUSSIAWAR
What to read next
Calling any attack on a nuclear plant "suicidal," United Nations chief Antonio Guterres demanded U.N. nuclear inspectors be given access to Zaporizhzhia, the largest complex of its kind in Europe.
At least 24 Palestinians, including six children, have been killed and 203 wounded during the two days of firing, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom blamed Russia for the damage at the Zaporizhzhia power station, Europe's largest. Earlier this week, the United Nations nuclear watchdog appealed for access to the plant, which Washington says Russia is using as a battlefield shield.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a Women's National Basketball Association star, was arrested in mid-February as she arrived to play for a Russian side during the WNBA offseason.