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Russia intensifies push to seize Luhansk – The Washington Post
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Russia intensifies push to seize Luhansk – The Washington Post 

Russia will reroute trade to BRICS partners, Putin says
Updates from key battlefields: ‘Hellish battles’ in the east, civilian strikes near Russian border
Watchdog to scrutinize how U.S. military will restock weapons it provides Ukraine
International views improve on NATO, U.S., decline on Russia, Pew finds
The E.U. is poised to back Ukraine’s candidate status. Here’s what that means.
Germany, Austria, Netherlands plan return to coal amid gas shortage
Letters written, tanks in position as battle for Lysychansk looms
Microsoft launches effort to slow Russian propaganda on war, vaccines
South Korea’s Russian oil imports plunged in May
Putin lays wreath to honor WWII dead on anniversary of Nazi invasion
Russia declares area outside U.S. Embassy in Moscow ‘Donetsk People’s Republic Square’
Ukrainian photojournalist ‘executed in cold blood’ by Russians, group says
Estonia protests Russian invasion of airspace as Baltic frictions rise
Russia suffered ‘significant losses’ in Snake Island attack, Ukraine says
Canada bolsters air defense, citing threat of ‘autocratic regimes’
Russia will reroute trade to BRICS partners, Putin says
Updates from key battlefields: ‘Hellish battles’ in the east, civilian strikes near Russian border
Watchdog to scrutinize how U.S. military will restock weapons it provides Ukraine
International views improve on NATO, U.S., decline on Russia, Pew finds
The E.U. is poised to back Ukraine’s candidate status. Here’s what that means.
Germany, Austria, Netherlands plan return to coal amid gas shortage
Letters written, tanks in position as battle for Lysychansk looms
Microsoft launches effort to slow Russian propaganda on war, vaccines
South Korea’s Russian oil imports plunged in May
Putin lays wreath to honor WWII dead on anniversary of Nazi invasion
Russia declares area outside U.S. Embassy in Moscow ‘Donetsk People’s Republic Square’
Ukrainian photojournalist ‘executed in cold blood’ by Russians, group says
Estonia protests Russian invasion of airspace as Baltic frictions rise
Russia suffered ‘significant losses’ in Snake Island attack, Ukraine says
Canada bolsters air defense, citing threat of ‘autocratic regimes’
This live coverage has ended. For Thursday’s live updates, click here.
The fate of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region is on the line as Russian forces continue to advance. Ukraine says the village of Toshkivka, south of Lysychansk, fell to Russia this week and is being used as a base to bombard the city, where Ukrainian forces are digging in. “Hellish battles” are ongoing in Severodonetsk, the regional governor said Wednesday, while Lysychansk is “constantly suffering from enemy fire.”
Elsewhere in Europe, Russia’s stranglehold on gas could force the hand of governments intent on reducing carbon emissions back toward coal power.
Ahead of a European Council summit Thursday and Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is conducting a marathon session of calls with leaders across the continent to maximize his country’s chances of being granted candidate status for membership in the European Union. “The lives of thousands of people depend directly on the speed of our partners — on the speed of implementation of their decisions to help Ukraine,” he said in a speech Tuesday night.
E.U. poised to back Ukraine’s candidate status. Here’s what it means.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the country would redirect trade to “reliable international partners,” which include four of the world’s fastest growing economies, at a time of intense pressure from the West.
Speaking at this year’s summit for the coalition known as BRICS — which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — Putin highlighted a 38 percent increase in trade between Russia and the group’s member states during the first three months of the year.
Russian energy exports to China and India have also significantly increased, though both countries have remained wary of expanding business ties with Moscow for fear of running afoul of Western trade prohibitions.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last month that the steep drop in Chinese technology exports to Russia earlier this year suggested Beijing was at least initially reluctant to get caught in the crossfire between Russia and the West, which could result in losing access to international markets.
There is constant, bloody fighting in and around a key eastern city, as Russia fights to surround the Ukrainian troops there. In the northeast, a barrage of strikes on civilians means a rising death toll, with local leaders projecting prolonged conflict.
Here are more updates from across the country:
Severodonetsk: “Hellish battles” are ongoing in Severodonetsk, where Russia has been eyeing control, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said Wednesday. The mayor of Severodonetsk says up to 8,000 people remain in his city. The British Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Russia is pushing toward enveloping the city from the north via Izyum and the south via Popasna.
Lysychansk: The city of Lysychansk is “constantly suffering from enemy fire,” Luhansk’s Haidai said on Telegram. The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces had advanced toward the city — among the few Ukrainian toeholds in Luhansk — from the south, calling the advance a “clear setback” for Ukraine. Russia will likely reach Lysychansk in the coming days, the institute forecast, and the city is bracing itself.
Kharkiv: Heavy shelling continued on Wednesday across Kharkiv oblast, the northeastern province that borders Donbas, Oleg Synegubov, the regional governor, said. At least 10 civilians were killed in strikes on three villages and towns, Synegubov said, and another 10 were wounded. Local leaders expect a prolonged fight with Moscow’s troops here, as they battle to keep Ukrainian forces from advancing closer to the Russian border.
Southeastern Ukraine: Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said large convoys of Russian military equipment were traveling toward Berdyansk and Polohy in Ukraine’s southeast Zaporizhzhia region.
The Black Sea: Ukraine’s military claimed that it launched airstrikes Tuesday on Russian-occupied Snake Island in the Black Sea, saying it inflicted “significant losses.” The Russian military said its air defenses “destroyed all enemy weapons” as Ukraine made “another crazy attempt” to claim the island. Satellite images released by U.S. firm Maxar Technologies appeared to strengthen Ukraine’s claims.
The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General will scrutinize the degree to which the Pentagon has planned to restock weapons and ammunition it is providing Ukraine. The U.S. military has provided billions of dollars in arms to Kyiv as it fights off a Russian invasion.
The Pentagon’s top independent watchdog signaled its interest in the topic in a memo to senior U.S. defense officials and reserved the right to “revise the objective” of the evaluation as it proceeds.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the United States has provided $5.6 billion in security assistance to Kyiv, including $1 billion pledged last week. That includes billions’ worth of weapons from U.S. military stocks, among them artillery, vehicles, night-vision devices and vast quantities of ammunition.
In a time of crisis, the international image of the United States, NATO and Russia has shifted — with views on Russia plunging and views of the United States and NATO remaining positive, even increasing, a new Pew study of 18 nations found.
In Poland, the shifts have been dramatic. Views on the United States, European Union and NATO have reached all-time highs — all hovering around 90 percent — since the question was first asked in 2007. And views on Russia plummeted from one-third of Poles with a favorable view in 2019 to 2 percent in 2022.
Overall, Russia saw a steep decline in its favorability since 2020. All 18 countries surveyed recorded all-time low shares in positive opinions of the nation — although Russia was already seen in a relatively unfavorable light.
Some 85 percent across nations saw Russia unfavorably this year. In the United States, positive views of Russia dropped from 15 percent in 2020 to 7 percent this year.
BRUSSELS — European leaders meeting Thursday are expected to back European Union candidate status for Ukraine, a move that would mark a historic moment for the bloc and a major morale boost for Kyiv amid war with Russia.
Support for Ukrainian candidacy does not grant membership but would be a first step on the long and difficult road to joining the bloc. Full membership would still be many years or even decades away.
Ukraine has long pushed for a path to membership, but Russia’s invasion added a new sense of urgency. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for special consideration, an idea backed by some E.U. member states and strongly opposed by others.
In a matter of months, however, Zelensky’s personal appeals, dogged Ukrainian diplomacy and support from high-profile E.U. officials and leaders have made what seemed like a long shot feel almost inevitable. Heading into Thursday’s summit, all 27 member states have expressed support for possibly granting Ukraine candidate status, according to officials and diplomats, with conditions to be met later.
Ukraine’s push has also revived the enlargement debate more broadly. The European Commission last week recommended candidate status for Moldova as well. Georgia will be considered after additional conditions are met. “It is time to acknowledge that the future of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia lies within the E.U.,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote in an invitation letter to the meetings.
BERLIN — Austria, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands announced plans this week to prepare to resurrect old coal plants as natural gas supplies dwindled. The moves came just days after Moscow reduced gas flows to several European countries, including Italy and Slovakia, alarming leaders who are worried about energy reserves ahead of winter.
That’s not the direction in which these government wanted to move. A return to coal would controvert climate policy already in place in Amsterdam and Berlin. Some officials are concerned about the longer-term threat such a move would affect efforts to fight climate change in Europe.
“We have to make sure that we use this crisis to move forward and not to have a backsliding on the dirty fossil fuels,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters Tuesday.
Germany says it is restarting some coal power plants, while Austria is outfitting an existing plant to use coal. In the Netherlands, authorities have lifted production caps on coal-fired plants.
LYSYCHANSK, Ukraine — With Russian forces massed just across the river, Valentina Danko leaned over a pool of candlelight and wrote letters to her children. They had left months ago, but she chose to stay in her hometown and has lived in a dark school basement for 116 days.
“Everything is fine with me,” she wrote, her pen scratching quietly across the paper amid the coughs of other poor and elderly residents now directly in the path of the Russian military’s gruesome march across eastern Ukraine.
With its twin city of Severodonetsk now almost fully in Russian hands, Lysychansk appears to be next in Moscow’s campaign to take control of all of the eastern Donbas region. The city is bracing itself.
Officials said they are preparing to seal the city to everyone but military and humanitarian rescue missions. Soldiers are digging trenches around key intersections, moving tanks into position and camouflaging them with branches, blocking the rubble-filled streets with wrecked cars and tree trunks. Bursts of automatic rifle fire crackle in the distance. On Tuesday, the military checkpoint leading into the city was destroyed in a massive explosion.

Microsoft said Wednesday that it would do more to slow the spread of covert foreign government propaganda in the United States and other countries, starting with stories pushed by Russia to distort the war in Ukraine and to stir fear about coronavirus vaccines.
Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, the maker of Windows software and Outlook email programs, would use more data, new analytics and additional staff to counter Russia’s success in distributing false narratives through government-owned and government-influenced media. Microsoft has unusual visibility because most computer owners use one or more of its products daily, including its browsers and web servers.
The Redmond, Wash., company is known for rapid detection and analysis of hacking methods employed by governments against Microsoft users but has trailed Facebook, Twitter and other companies in dealing with the rapid proliferation of geopolitical lies.
As propagandists refine their techniques, they have also turned to smaller or upstart platforms, gaming and online influencers to spread their messages. A group of U.S. senators wrote to Chinese-owned TikTok last week expressing concerns about Russian state media promoting misinformation on the platform.
Smith’s announcement on Microsoft’s effort came in an introduction to the latest written company report about cyberactivity in Ukraine and elsewhere related to the war. As with previous reports, the document summarized limited cyberstrikes at Ukraine targets that would soon be attacked with explosives. The report also said Russian operatives have increased espionage efforts against the United States, Poland and other NATO countries, as well as think tanks, aid groups and suppliers of energy and other critical infrastructure.
South Korea, Asia’s third largest buyer of Russian oil, continues to let Russian oil imports plunge. All of the country’s crude oil imports from Moscow in May were carried on a single Aframax cargo, customs data showed.
That marks an 84.3 percent drop in Russian crude imports from the same month last year — a dive that signals South Korea is on track to phase out Russian oil by the end of the year, industry sources say, according to an analyst insight from S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Last year, South Korea imported 7.92 million tonnes of crude oil from Russia — about $4.27 billion worth — according to Korea International Trade Association data. The Asian nation imported more oil from Saudi Arabia, the United States and Kuwait.
Japan is also moving to phase out oil reliance on Russia, after agreeing to a Group of Seven nations pledge to phase out or altogether ban Russian oil imports. About 4 percent of Japan’s overall oil imports — or 33 million barrels — came from Russia in 2021, Reuters reported.
Even so, some Asian countries have let imports of Russian oil soar.
China imported a record amount of Russian crude oil in May, allowing Russia to surpass Saudi Arabia as China’s largest source of crude that month, according to Chinese customs data.
India, too, has also brought in large amounts of Russian oil — 60 million barrels so far this year, compared to only 12 million over all of last year.
Sold by Russia at discounted rates, the buyers get huge profits when they sell domestically in the importing countries, given high prices at the pump.
Russian President Vladimir Putin laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.
The anniversary, known in Russia as the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow, is also marked in Ukraine and Belarus. An estimated 26 million Soviet citizens died during World War II.
Russia’s Tass news agency said war veterans also attended the ceremony, along with “participants in the special military operation in Ukraine” — the term used by the Kremlin to describe Russia’s February invasion of its neighbor.
The president was pictured next to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during the ceremony.
Russia issued a decree proclaiming the area outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow “Donetsk People’s Republic Square,” state media reported, the latest move in a dispute over the area’s name.
The name references the Russian-aligned, self-proclaimed breakaway region in eastern Ukraine. It follows an announcement by Russia in May that the square would be called “Defenders of Donbas Square,” a reference to the larger Donbas region, including Donetsk, on which Moscow has set its sights.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said at the time that it was “surprised but not offended” by the “Defenders” name, saying in a statement to Reuters that it was “presumably in honor of Ukrainian soldiers bravely defending their homeland from Kremlin aggression. The country should know its heroes.” The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Renaming the periphery of an embassy is a rare but occasional tool used to irritate a foreign government. This month, D.C. renamed the street in front of the Saudi Embassy in Washington after Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributing columnist whose murder was found by the CIA to have been ordered by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.
In Prague, part of the street in front of the Russian Embassy there was renamed “Ukrainian Heroes” street.
There is evidence that Russian forces killed a Ukrainian photojournalist, along with a soldier accompanying him in a forest near Kyiv in March, Reporters Without Borders said in an investigation published Wednesday.
Maksym Levin, whom colleagues called Max, was found dead in April after friends lost contact with him in March. The photojournalist — who had worked for organizations including Reuters, the BBC and Ukrainian outlets — had been reporting near the front lines around the capital, from which Russian forces later retreated.
He is one of at least eight journalists killed doing their work during nearly four months of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Reporters Without Borders said.
The press freedom group, known by its initials in French as RSF, sent two investigators to Ukraine to gather evidence about Levin’s death on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, which were pummeled by Russian fire earlier in the war.
Amar Nadhir contributed to this report.
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The latest: Ukrainian forces withdrew from Lysychansk, allowing Russia to claim control of the city that had been Kyiv’s final foothold in the eastern Luhansk province. Kyiv’s loss means Moscow has seized essentially all of Luhansk and can move its sights toward neighboring Donetsk.
The fight: A slowly regenerating Russian army is making incremental gains in eastern Ukraine against valiant but underequipped Ukrainian forces. The United States and its allies are racing to deliver the enormous quantities of weaponry the Ukrainians urgently need if they are to hold the Russians at bay.
The weapons: Ukraine is making use of weapons such as Javelin antitank missiles and Switchblade “kamikaze” drones, provided by the United States and other allies. Russia has used an array of weapons against Ukraine, some of which have drawn the attention and concern of analysts.
Photos: Post photographers have been on the ground from the very beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.
How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.
Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.
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