Here are the key events so far on Thursday, June 23.
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- An adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the battles for Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are entering a “sort of fearful climax”. Russian forces have taken another two villages near Lysychansk, Luhansk’s Governor Serhiy Haidai said, and Russia said it has Ukraine’s troops surrounded south of the city. About 25 people have been killed in Russia’s shelling of the Kharkiv region on Tuesday and Wednesday, the regional governor Oleh Synehubov said. A British man sentenced to death by a Russian proxy court for fighting in Ukraine has been told the execution will be carried out, his family have told the BBC. A drone attack has hit a major Russian oil refinery near the border with Ukraine, the plant’s management said, prompting the suspension of operations.
- The European Union is set to make an historic offer of candidacy status to Ukraine at a summit that starts on Thursday. Zelenskyy urged Ukraine’s allies to accelerate the shipment of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield as the Donbas region is under intensifying attacks. The United States is hopeful there will soon be a positive resolution of the issues between Turkey, Finland and Sweden regarding the NATO accession bids of the two Nordic countries, the State Department’s top diplomat for Europe said. Leaders from the G7 and the NATO alliance will seek to increase pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine at meetings next week, while making clear that they remain concerned about China, the Reuters news agency cited senior US administration officials as saying.
- The EU will temporarily shift to coal to cope with slowing Russian gas flows and soaring prices, an official said on Wednesday. Moscow is working on a “practical” response to Lithuania’s ban on the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Russian officials said on Wednesday. Ukraine said it exported 48 percent less grain in the first 22 days of June than a year earlier. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would focus its trade on the other BRICS emerging economies.