The Russian military stepped up its attacks in Donetsk as the Kremlin sought to capture more of the Donbass region.
In recent days, at least seven civilians have been killed in shootings in Ukraine, officials said Wednesday. Pro-Russian separatists say four civilians have been killed in attacks by Ukrainian forces.
With Russian troops closing in on the city of Sloviansk, the The British Ministry of Defense said in a tweet That fight for that city could be the “next major contest in the struggle for Donbass.”
Governor Pavlo Kyirelenko said in a telegram post that two people were killed in the central city of Avdivka and one each in the Donetsk cities of Slovyansk, Krasnohorivka and Kurakhov.
“Every crime will be punished,” he wrote.
Kirilenko urged more than 350,000 remaining residents of the province to flee late Tuesday night and said Donetsk needed to be evacuated to save lives and better protect Ukrainian troops against Russian advances.
In Brussels, European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen warned that the European Union should think about the future without access to Russian gas.
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Russia tightens grip on Luhansk: British defense
The British Defense Ministry said on Twitter on Wednesday that the Kremlin “probably continues to strengthen its control over the Lisichensk and Luhansk oblasts.”
Russian troops from its eastern and western forces are closing in on the city of Sloviansk, which could be the next “key contest” in the battle for Donbass.
The ministry said Russian forces were meeting with “determined Ukrainian opposition” as they advanced on the eastern Ukrainian city of Izim.
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Europe without Russian gas?
BRUSSELS – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the 27-nation European Union needed to plan for an emergency in preparation for a full cut in Russian gas in the wake of the Kremlin war in Ukraine.
“It’s clear: (Russian President Vladimir) Putin continues to use energy as a weapon. That’s why the commission is working on a European crisis plan,” she told lawmakers in Strasbourg, France.
The EU has already imposed sanctions on Russia, including some energy supplies, and is moving away from Kremlin-controlled deliveries. But the head of the EU’s executive branch said the bloc needed to be prepared for the shock disruptions coming from Moscow, and said the first plans would be presented by the middle of the month.
“If the worst comes, we have to be prepared,” she said, hoping to avoid chaotic scenes, and the “my-country-first” attitude that some member states initially showed in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
– Associated Press