Live: Battle for Donbas reaches ‘dreadful climax’, says Ukraine


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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s massive air and artillery attacks were aimed at destroying the entire Donbass region and urged Ukraine’s allies to speed up the shipment of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield. Follow the TSTIME liveblog for all the latest news. Every hour in Paris time (GMT+2).

6:14 a.m .: Battle for Donbass reaches ‘dreadful climax’, says Ukraine

The fight for the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region is “entering a kind of fearsome climax”, said Oleksy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russia seeks to seize both Luhansk and Donetsk, which make up the Donbass region, the country’s industrial heartland.

“We must liberate our land and achieve victory, but faster, much faster,” Zelensky said in a video address released early Thursday, reiterating Ukrainian demands for bigger and faster weapons.

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“There were massive air and artillery strikes in the Donbass. The occupier’s goal here is unchanged, they want to destroy all of Donbass step by step,” he said.

“That is why we insist again and again on the acceleration of arms deliveries to Ukraine. What is needed quickly is parity on the battlefield to stop this diabolical armada and push it beyond Ukrainian borders.

On the diplomatic front, European leaders are expected to officially launch Ukraine on the long road to EU membership on Thursday at a summit in Brussels. Although mostly symbolic, the move could help lift the spirits of Ukrainians after four months of bloody conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed cities.

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5:21 am: Russia seeks new fuel markets in Africa and Middle East as Europe turns away

Russia is increasing supplies of gasoline and naphtha to Africa and the Middle East as it struggles to sell fuel to Europe, while Asia is already absorbing larger volumes of Russian crude, the data showed. of Refinitiv Eikon and sources told Reuters.

The development is likely to increase competition for Asian customers between Russia and other major fuel exporters – Saudi Arabia and the United States – which are Asia’s three main suppliers.

The European Union has been slowly reducing imports of Russian crude and fuel since March and agreed to a full embargo which will come into effect by the end of the year.

Asian buyers have stepped in to rapidly increase purchases of Russian crude, even though Asia is not a natural market for Russian fuel as Asia refines more oil than it needs and is an exporter net of fuel.

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This makes seeking new outlets such as Africa and the Middle East paramount for Russia to protect its global market share and avoid a deeper decline in oil exports and production.

“Africa and the Middle East appear to be the main options for Russian petroleum product suppliers, so we expect more shipments there in the second half as the EU embargo draws nearer” , a trader involved in trading Russian petroleum products told Reuters.

Zelensky tells the African Union that the sanctions against Russia are aimed at preventing Moscow from “reducing [Ukrainians] to slaves.

3:18 a.m.: Rights groups call on Biden to negotiate release of WNBA star Griner

A coalition of human rights groups called on US President Joe Biden on Wednesday to “reach a deal” to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia for months.

Griner was taken into custody at a Moscow airport on February 17 when a search of her luggage allegedly revealed several cannabis oil vape cartridges. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

Last week, his pre-trial detention was extended until July 2.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone Wednesday evening with Cherelle Griner, the wife of the two-time Olympic champion, a senior State Department official said, without giving details of the content of the call. .

1:52 a.m.: Russian strikes hit a school and grain facilities in Mykolaiv

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed responsibility during a briefing on Wednesday for a missile strike it said killed a number of Ukrainian soldiers in the southern city of Mykolaiv.

Ukrainian officials said seven Russian missiles hit the port city, killing at least one person and sparking several major fires. Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told Ukrainian television that the strike affected two businesses and a school, sparking a fire that authorities were unable to extinguish.

The operators of two grain storage facilities, global grain traders Bunge and Viterra, confirmed that their facilities had been affected.

12:11 a.m.: G7 summit to announce measures increasing ‘pressure on Russia’, US official says

Leaders at the upcoming G7 summit in Germany will announce new steps aimed at pressuring Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

“We will roll out a concrete set of proposals to increase pressure on Russia,” the official said. US President Joe Biden flies on Saturday to join leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan at the summit in Bavaria.

The wealthy democracies club is at the heart of a fierce economic and diplomatic campaign to punish Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February and continues to fight battles in the eastern region of the pro-Western country, as well as to occupy entire swathes of the south.

After attending the G7 summit from Sunday to Tuesday, Biden will fly to Madrid for a NATO military alliance summit next week.

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