The months-long war in Ukraine has been progressing with Russia now laying siege in the eastern part of the war-torn country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has acknowledged that the military situation in the eastern region of rebel-held Luhansk looks difficult with Russia stepping up an effort to evict Ukrainian troops from key areas. “That is really the toughest spot. The occupiers are pressing strongly,” Zelensky said in a video address on Tuesday. Russian-backed forces have been fighting Ukrainian forces in Luhansk and Donetsk provinces – together known as the Donbas – since 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Since invading Ukraine on February 24, Russia has failed to make a major breakthrough, with some military analysts saying that time is on the side of Ukrainians.
Here’s are the top updates from the war:
1) The Russian military currently controls about 95% of the Luhansk region. But Moscow has struggled for weeks to overrun it completely, despite deploying additional troops and possessing a massive advantage in military assets.
2) In the city of Sievierodonetsk, the hot spot of the fighting, Ukrainian defenders held on to the Azot chemical plant in the industrial outskirts. About 500 civilians are sheltering at the plant, and Haidai said the Russian forces are turning the area “into ruins.”
3) Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, also came under heavy Russian shelling on Tuesday. Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said 15 civilians were killed and 16 wounded in Kharkiv and elsewhere in the region.
4) In a symbolic decision, Ukraine is set to become an official candidate for European Union membership on Thursday, EU diplomats said.
5) Zelensky said he has spoken with leaders from nine European Union members — Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain — in anticipation of Friday’s meeting of EU leaders to decide whether to grant Ukraine candidate status. He said his agenda for Wednesday is just as full. “We are expanding the circle of those who support Ukraine’s candidacy and making it more likely that Friday’s decision will be positive,” he said.
6) Meanwhile, today also marks the ‘Day of Remembrance and Sorrow’ in Russia, when Hitler’s Nazi Germany forces invaded the Soviet Union in World War Two. It is also commemorated in Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus, then part of the Soviet Union. The war there lasted 1,418 days from June 22, 1941, and historians estimate around 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians died.
(With agency inputs)