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.
Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over multiple recent incidents of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe's largest nuclear power plant. Russian troops captured the station early in the war.
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.
Rockets hit the northeastern town of Chuhuiv in Kharkiv region overnight, killing three people including a 70-year-old woman and wounding three others.
Ukrainian officials reported strikes on Saturday, while Britain's Ministry of Defence said Moscow was assembling reserve forces from across Russia near Ukraine.
With the war entering its next phase, Ukrainian forces took up new defensive lines in the eastern part of the country.
The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear, although Russia later said it had hit army command posts in the area. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš met with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday ahead of a six-day Latvian song and dance festival in St. Paul.
Ukraine called its retreat from the city a "tactical withdrawal" to fight from higher ground in Lysychansk on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river.
On June 22, the owl center opened up an online auction selling art sent into the center by Ukrainian children as a part of an international art content; the money raised will be donated to children and families in Ukraine through UNICEF.

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