Two key cities in eastern Ukraine are the scene of fighting

BAKHMUT (Ukraine) -- Friday marked the 100th day in Russia's war on Ukraine.

Two key cities in eastern Ukraine are the scene of fighting

BAKHMUT (Ukraine) -- Friday marked the 100th day in Russia's war on Ukraine. Block-by-block fighting broke out in two cities in eastern Ukraine.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai stated that fierce battles continued at Sievierodonetsk where approximately 13,000 residents sought refuge in basements to escape the relentless Russian bombardment. He said that 20% of the city's terrain was reclaimed by Ukrainian forces, and that more were added to it later.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of the Russian Federation, stated Thursday that there had been "some progress," but did not give any details.

Haidai stated that Russian forces also attacked neighbor Lysychansk. Authorities say that there are still around 20,000 people living there, which is about one-fifth the prewar Lysychansk population. However, Russian shelling has destroyed 60% of residential buildings and civil infrastructure. Haidai stated that a civilian was killed by the shelling on Friday.

Russian forces have attempted to surround Sievierodonetsk (and Lysychansk) in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk Province. These are the only cities not under control of Russian forces or Moscow-backed separatists. Russia wants to capture the Donbas, an eastern industrial region made up of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

The Defense Ministry of Britain stated that Russia controls more than 90% Luhansk, and it is likely to take it all over in the coming weeks.

Haidai stated that Ukraine's progress over the last two days may prove to be strong enough to withstand a Russian attack for the duration of the window for new Western weapons.

Mykola Sunhurovsky, of the Razumkov Center in Kyiv, stated that the Russian offensive has slowed down due to Ukrainian resistance and that "they have lost too much forces and need a strategic break."

He stated that the "time is working for Ukraine's benefit as supplies of Western arms are increasing, making it nervous for the Kremlin."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian troops have succeeded in their main stated task of protecting civilians in the separatist-controlled areas.

Zelenskyy stated this week that Russia has almost half of the country's population. In a video message commemorating 100 days of war, the president was determined to remain defiant.

He said, "We have already defended Ukraine for 100 day," "Victory will come to us!"

Other developments

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Macky Sall from Senegal, the Chairman of the African Union. The talks were about how to get grain supplies moving once again. The war has caused wheat prices to soar. Russia, the largest exporter of wheat in the world, has asked the West to lift sanctions on its shippers so that grain can flow freely. The growing global food crisis was not caused by sanctions, but Russia's bottling of grain ports used to export Ukraine's wheat.

The European Union officially approved an embargo against Russian oil. EU 27 members have agreed to a six-month embargo on Russian oil imports. They also said that other refined petroleum products will be removed over the next eight months. The EU will grant a temporary exemption to landlocked countries, such as Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic that depend on Russian crude oil supplies.

Another round of sanctions was also imposed by the EU, targeting Russian military officers. These included top brass who were accused of war crimes at Bucha and during Mariupol's siege. Col.-Gen Mikhail Mizintsev was also on the list. He is known as "Butcher of Mariupol".

Three months after Russia invaded, the government was compelled to act by German lawmakers who approved $107 billion for new spending to strengthen its military. Officials claim that the German military has been neglected for years.


This story was contributed by Frank Jordans, Berlin and Lorne Cook, all Associated Press writers.