(Reuters) – Ukrainian troops were set to withdraw from the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk after weeks of intense bombardments and street fighting, the regional governor said on Friday.
The day marks four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent forces across the border into Ukraine, sparking the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two.
* Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said Ukrainian forces will have to leave Sievierodonetsk. Troops had already received the order to move to new positions, he added.
* Russian forces are seeking to surround eastern Ukraine’s embattled Lysychansk, the sister city of Sievierodonetsk, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry said.
* Russia is trying but has been unable to target Western weapons flowing into Ukraine, including longer-range systems that Kyiv hopes will be decisive on the battlefield, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday.
* Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the ground.
* The U.N. nuclear watchdog is increasingly concerned about the welfare of Ukrainian staff at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest, it said on Friday, adding that it must go there as soon as possible.
ECONOMY AND DIPLOMACY
* EU leaders on Friday warned that “cheap energy is gone” and agreed to boost preparations for further cuts in Russian gas, accusing Moscow of “weaponising” energy via a supply squeeze which Germany warned could partly shut its industry.
* Italy’s dependence on Russia for imported gas has decreased to 25% from 40% last year, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday following a summit of EU leaders where inflation and rising energy prices were a key issue.
* The lawyer defending one of two Britons sentenced to death in a Russian-backed breakaway territory of Ukraine said on Friday that they had not yet submitted an appeal because they seemed to be holding out for intervention from London.
* Poland and the Baltic states want to see a stronger NATO defensive presence in the Suwalki Gap, the stretch of land that separates the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad from Belarus, the Polish prime minister said on Friday.
* “Russia has stolen our peace,” Zelenskiy told the crowds at Glastonbury, the world’s largest green field festival.
“Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense,” Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said of the situation in Sievierodonetsk.
(Compiled by Nick Macfie)