Updated June 18, 2022 at 10:13 p.m. EDT|Published
June 18, 2022 at 2:15 a.m. EDT
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Russia has amassed forces near Severodonetsk in an attempt to seize Ukraine’s last urban foothold in the east, Ukrainian officials said, but the invaders made little progress there on Saturday.
Kremlin-backed forces progressed in the southeastern suburbs of the city and stalled elsewhere, according to the Ukrainian army. The result was “marginal gains” amid mounting losses, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank.
On the same day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a rare trip to the war’s front lines in the southern city of Mykolaiv as Kyiv’s forces there hold off Russian troops trying to move west, toward the port of Odessa.
Ukraine has notched some victories in the south, including a successful strike on a Russian tugboat with at least one U.S.-made Harpoon anti-ship missile, a U.S. defense official confirmed. Officials have said the United States hopes the West’s upcoming surge of military assistance to Ukraine — along with Russia’s increasing isolation on the world stage — will drain President Vladimir Putin’s will to fight. The danger of Russia swallowing its neighbor and trying to reverse other territorial losses is so high that Biden administration officials said they are willing to risk the global economic turmoil that could accompany a protracted war.
Here’s what else to know
- A senior Ukrainian official hinted that peace talks with Russia could start again in August after, Kyiv officials hope, Ukraine wins several battles.
- Russia has sharply reduced the flow of natural gas to European countries such as Italy and France in a move viewed as retaliation for their support of Ukraine. The curtailment poses no immediate risks but could have consequences when energy demands rise later in the year.
- A former U.S. soldier who disappeared in Ukraine is alive, according to his family members, who have seen a video of him taken after he was reportedly captured by Russian forces.
- Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to meet with European Union counterparts next week to discuss putting pressure on Russian oligarchs. Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo will visit Turkey and the UAE next week as the United States seeks to rally support for a clampdown on Russian assets abroad.