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Natalia Zinets and Max Hunder

KYIV — Russian forces captured territory alongside a frontline river in japanese Ukraine on Monday, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy predicted Moscow would escalate assaults forward of a summit of European leaders anticipated to welcome Kyiv’s bid to affix the EU.

Moscow’s separatist proxies claimed to have captured Toshkivka, a city on the largely Ukrainian-held western financial institution of the Siverskyi Donets river, south of Sievierodonetsk, which has change into the principle battlefield metropolis in current weeks.

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Ukraine acknowledged that Moscow had success in Toshkivka and mentioned the Russians had been making an attempt to achieve a foothold there to make a breakthrough into the broader, Ukrainian-held pocket of the japanese Donbas area. It additionally confirmed a Russian declare to have captured Metyolkine on Sievierodonetsk’s japanese outskirts.

“Clearly, this week we must always count on from Russia an intensification of its hostile actions,” Zelenskiy mentioned in a Sunday nightly video tackle. “We’re getting ready. We’re prepared.”

Moscow, for its half, denounced a choice by EU member Lithuania to ban transport of some primary items to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory.

The Lithuanian ban, which took impact on Saturday, blocks shipments of coal, metals, development supplies and superior know-how to the outpost. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov known as the transfer unlawful and unprecedented, and mentioned Moscow would announce a response quickly.

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EU leaders at a summit later this week are anticipated to offer their blessing to Ukraine turning into an official candidate to affix, a choice that will probably be marked as a triumph in Kyiv.

Although it could take years for Ukraine to enter the EU, for the bloc to succeed in deep into the guts of the previous Soviet Union would result in one in every of Europe’s largest financial and social transformations for the reason that Chilly Battle. Ukraine utilized to affix simply 4 days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops throughout the border in February.

Putin says the “particular navy operation” is aimed toward disarming a neighbor Russia views as a menace and defending Russian audio system there. Kyiv believes Moscow’s true intention is to revive management over Ukraine and erase its nationwide identification.

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Within the strongest step but proposed by Kyiv to implement a cultural break with Moscow, Ukraine’s parliament handed payments on Sunday that will ban the publication of books or the general public broadcast of music by residents of post-Soviet Russia.

The measures, which require Zelenskiy’s signature to change into legislation, “are designed to assist Ukrainian authors share high quality content material with the widest potential viewers, which after the Russian invasion don’t settle for any Russian inventive product on a bodily degree,” mentioned Tradition Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko.


Russian forces had been defeated in an assault on the capital Kyiv in March, however have since launched a brand new assault to seize extra territory within the east and solidify their maintain on the south.

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

A lot of the combating has taken place alongside the Siverskyi Donets river. Russia’s TASS information company quoted Vitaly Kiselev, an aide to the inside minister of the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk Folks’s Republic separatist administration, as saying on Monday the city of Toshkivka had been “liberated.”

The city is situated on the river’s western financial institution, south of Sievierodonetsk’s twin metropolis Lysychansk, a key Ukrainian bastion.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai, acknowledged {that a} Russian assault on Toshkivka “had a level of success.” Russian forces had been making an attempt to interrupt by means of and acquire a foothold there and close to the small village of Ustinovka additional north alongside the river, he mentioned. The Russians had been bringing an enormous quantity of heavy gear there together with tanks.

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He additionally confirmed Russia’s declare to have captured Metyolkine on Sievierodonetsk’s japanese outskirts. “Sadly, we don’t management Metyolkine at present,” he mentioned.

Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksander Stryuk mentioned Russian forces managed about two-thirds of the town, together with most residential areas, and Moscow stored throwing forces on the Ukrainians in an try and take over utterly.

“I hope that the town will maintain and, as soon as it has the benefit in firepower, we will liberate it with out leaving it first,” he mentioned.

Worldwide concern has centered on making an attempt to revive Ukrainian exports of meals, now shut by a de facto Russian blockade. Ukraine is without doubt one of the world’s main sources of grain and meals oils, resulting in fears of worldwide shortages and starvation.

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“We name on Russia to deblockade the ports,” EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell advised reporters. “It’s inconceivable, one can not think about that tens of millions 4of tonnes of wheat stay blocked in Ukraine whereas in the remainder of the world persons are struggling starvation.”

“This can be a actual warfare crime, so I can not think about that this may final for much longer,” he mentioned on arriving to a gathering of EU overseas ministers in Luxembourg.

Russia blames the meals disaster on Western sanctions curbing its personal exports.

The warfare has additionally disrupted international vitality markets, together with Russian shipments of oil and fuel to Europe, nonetheless the continent’s primary supply of vitality and Moscow’s main supply of revenue. Moscow blames EU sanctions for a decline in fuel export pipelines, saying the sanctions had prevented it from restoring pumping gear despatched for repairs.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus, writing by Peter Graff, modifying by Mark Heinrich)

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