(C) Reuters. Ukrainian national flag is seen through the window of an apartment destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the town of Borodianka, in Kyiv region, Ukraine May 13, 2022. REUTERS/Vladyslav Musiienko
(Reuters) – Ukraine will be accepted as a candidate to join the European Union on Thursday, a move that will boost the country’s morale as the battle with Russian troops for two cities in the east reached what one official called a “fierce climax”.
* Ukrainian forces are defending the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk and the nearby settlements of Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said, though Russia had captured Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka to the south.
* “All of Lysychansk is within reach of their fire, it is very dangerous in the city,” Gaidai said.
* TASS news agency quoted pro-Moscow separatists as saying they had captured most of Vovchoyarivka, a village some 12 km (7.5 miles) southwest of the city of Lysychansk.
* According to Britain’s defence ministry, Russian forces have highly likely advanced more than 5 km (3.11 miles) towards the southern approaches of Lysychansk since June 19.
* Russian forces pounded Kharkiv and its surroundings, killing at least 20 people. Kyiv said Moscow was trying to force it to divert battlefield resources to protect civilians there.
* Two drones flying from the direction of Ukraine hit Russia’s Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, near the border. Production has been suspended.
* Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the ground.
Two Britons and a Moroccan who were captured while fighting for Ukraine and sentenced to death by a court in the Russian-backed, self-proclaimed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) are preparing to appeal, TASS news agency cited one of their lawyers as saying.
ECONOMY AND DIPLOMACY
* European Union leaders will formally accept Ukraine as a candidate to join the EU on Thursday, a bold geopolitical move triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
* Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey is taking seriously claims that Ukrainian grain was stolen by Russia and is investigating those allegations. Ukraine said it exported 48% less grain in the first 22 days of June than a year earlier.
* A dozen EU countries have been affected by cuts to gas supply from Russia, EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said. The EU will temporarily shift to coal to cope with slowing Russian gas flows and soaring prices, an official said on Wednesday.
* Leaders from the Group of Seven and NATO will seek to increase pressure on Russia at meetings next week, U.S. administration officials said on Wednesday.
* Moscow is working on a “practical” response to Lithuania’s ban on the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to the Russian Baltic coast exclave of Kaliningrad, Russian officials said on Wednesday.
* President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday Russia would focus its trade on the other BRICS emerging economies. He signed a decree establishing temporary procedures to fulfil foreign debt obligations.
“Harry Potter is better than Voldemort, and we know who is Voldemort in this war, and who is Harry Potter, so we know how the war will end.” -Zelenskiy, speaking to a student in Canada who compared him to the fictional boy wizard.
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now