– Ukrainian forces to withdraw from Severodonetsk –

Ukrainian forces will retreat from Severodonetsk in the embattled eastern Donbas region in the face of a brutal Russian offensive, says Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, which includes the city.

The strategically important city has been the scene of weeks of street battles as the outgunned Ukrainians put up a fierce defence.

“Remaining in positions that have been relentlessly shelled for months just doesn’t make sense,” Haidai says, adding that the city has been “nearly turned to rubble”.

Taking Severodonetsk, along with its twin city Lysychansk, would give Moscow control of the whole of Luhansk, one of two regions with neighbouring Donetsk that make up Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbas.


Russia has been focusing its offensive on eastern Ukraine after being repelled from Kyiv following their February invasion.

– Ukraine granted ‘historic’ EU candidacy –

European Union leaders agree to grant “candidate status” to war-torn Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova, in a show of support in the face of Russia’s war, EU chief Charles Michel says.

“A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” Michel tweets during a summit in Brussels.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hails the news as “a unique and historic moment”, adding: “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

Zelensky to Brief UK’s New Cabinet on Ukraine War Developments
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Zelensky to Brief UK’s New Cabinet on Ukraine War Developments

Zelensky will be the first official visitor to Downing Street since Keir Starmer became PM, and the first foreign leader to address Cabinet in person since US President Bill Clinton in 1997.

French President Emmanuel Macron says that the decision by EU leaders sends “very strong signal” to Russia that Europeans support the pro-Western aspirations of Ukraine.

Securing candidate status is the first step on the road to EU membership, a process that can take years.

– US to send more advanced rocket systems –

The United States is sending $450 million of new military assistance to Ukraine, the White House says, with the shipment including four more advanced rocket systems to use against Russian invasion forces.


White House spokesman John Kirby says the package includes new High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, as well as tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition and patrol boats.

Ukraine said on Thursday it had taken an initial delivery of US HIMARS.

Kyiv has pleaded for the new rocket systems, which have greater range than those it is currently using, in order to be able to strike Russian targets from safe positions.

– World leaders seek united front on Ukraine –

World leaders prepare for back-to-back G7 and NATO summits from Sunday, at which they will seek to close ranks on offering emphatic support to help Ukraine repel Russian forces.

At the talks they will take stock of the effectiveness of sanctions imposed so far against Russia, consider possible new military and financial aid for Ukraine, and begin turning their eye to longer-term reconstruction plans.

But they are expected to struggle to maintain a united front as the fallout from the war — from soaring inflation to looming food shortages to fears over energy supplies — dents their resolve.

– Moscow official killed in Kherson –


A Moscow-appointed official in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region has been killed in an explosion, Russian news agencies report, the latest in a string of attacks on pro-Kremlin officials in Ukrainian regions now under Russian control.

“According to preliminary data, he died. An explosive device was planted in his car,” a representative of the Kherson region administration tells Interfax, confirmed by other news agencies.

The Moscow-appointed deputy leader of Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, confirmed to the RIA Novosti news agency that the victim was the head of the region’s department of youth policy, family and sports.

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