Russian forces have taken partial control of a key industrial city in eastern Ukraine, a regional governor said on Tuesday, hours after European Union leaders struck a deal to ban more than two-thirds of Moscow’s oil imports.

Severodonetsk is one of several urban hubs that lie on Russia’s path to capturing the Donbas’s Lugansk region, where Moscow has shifted the bulk of its firepower since failing to capture Kyiv in the war’s early stages.

“The situation is extremely complicated. Part of Severodonetsk is controlled by the Russians,” Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media, adding that Ukrainian troops still retained some areas.

But as Russian troops edged closer to the Severodonetsk city centre, officials in Brussels were tightening the economic screws on Moscow.

A compromise deal reached late on Monday, meant to punish Russia for its invasion three months ago, cuts “a huge source of financing for its war machine,” European Council chief Charles Michel tweeted. “Maximum pressure on Russia to end the war,” he said.

At least three people were killed and six wounded in an overnight rocket attack on the city of Slovyansk, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said on Telegram.

“I repeat once again that there are no safe places in the Donetsk region, so I call again: evacuate — save your lives,” he said.

But Ukrainian forces have pushed back in the southern region of Kherson, the country’s military leadership has said.

On Monday, Ukraine’s southern command centre said they had driven Russian troops from the village of Mykolayivka.

A day earlier, the army claimed to have pushed Russian forces into “unfavourable positions” around the villages of Andriyivka, Lozovo and Bilohorka, forcing Moscow to send reserves to the area.

Russian war crime suspects

Ukraine has identified more than 600 Russian war crime suspects and has started prosecuting around 80 of them, Kyiv’s top prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The list of suspects includes “top military, politicians and propaganda agents of Russia”, prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova told a news conference in The Hague.

Venediktova said Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia had decided to join an international investigation team in Ukraine, which was originally formed by Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland in March to enable the exchange of information and investigation into suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity.

They are working with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which launched its investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine in early March.


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