War in Ukraine: Latest developments

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President Volodymyr Zelensky makes his first visit outside the Kyiv area since the war began (AFP/STR) (STR)

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

– Russians advance into eastern city –

Russian forces advance closer to the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, which has been under bombardment for weeks in the battle for Ukraine’s industrial heartland, the Donbas.

“The Russians are advancing into the middle of Severodonetsk. The fighting continues. The situation is very difficult,” Luhansk governor Sergiy Gaiday says on Telegram.

Severodonetsk is the easternmost city still in Ukrainian hands. Capturing it would give Russia de-facto control over Luhansk, one of two eastern regions that make up the coveted Donbas.

Gaiday says the city’s critical infrastructure has been “destroyed” and 60 percent of its housing is damaged beyond repair.

– Zelensky visits Kharkiv –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky leaves the Kyiv region for the first time since the invasion started to visit the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where Ukrainian troops beat Russian forces into retreat in recent weeks.

Zelensky’s office posts a video of him wearing a bulletproof vest and being shown heavily destroyed buildings in Ukraine’s second-biggest city, which came under relentless attack for nearly three months.

He sacks Kharkiv’s security chief, “for not working to defend the city from the first days of the full-scale war but thinking only of himself”.

– Eurovision trophy auctioned for army –

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, which won the Eurovision song contest this year, auctions off its trophy on Facebook to raise funds for the Ukrainian army.

The trophy — a large crystal microphone with the song contest’s logo — nets $900,000 (836,000 euros) after a bidding war won by Ukrainian bitcoin company WhiteBIT

“You guys are amazing!” Kalush Orchestra says on Facebook, announcing the winner.

– Ukraine counterattack in Kherson –

Ukrainian forces counterattack in the south, claiming to have pushed back Russian troops in Kherson, the only region fully controlled by Russian forces.

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