Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now!

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now!

(Reuters) Bitter fighting raged in Sievierodonetsk but Ukraine remained in control of an industrial area and chemical plant in the eastern city where hundreds of civilians are sheltering from incessant Russian shelling, the region's governor said.

FIGHTING

* President Volodomyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine's military was gradually liberating territory further west in the Kherson region and had had some successes in Zaporizhzhia, too.

* The regional governor, Serhiy Gadai, conceded Russian forces had taken most of Sievierodonetsk but said the Azot plant was not being blockaded. He also said Russian shelling of the plant had ignited a big fire after a leak of tonnes of oil.

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* In addition to saying 300 to 400 Ukrainian fighters were blockaded in the plant, the separatist, Rodion Miroshnik, said that Ukrainian forces may be holding several hundred civilians "hostage."

* In the neighbouring Donetsk province, Russian news agency RIA reported a huge cloud of smoke after an explosion in Avdiivka, a city which houses another chemical plant. Reuters was unable to immediately to confirm the report.

* Ukraine said its forces pushed back a Russian attack on three small towns to the northwest of Sloviansk in Donetsk province, while fighting was continuing in a fourth settlement.

ECONOMY, DIPLOMACY

* Up to 300,000 tonnes of grain may have been stored in warehouses in Mykolaiv that Kyiv says were destroyed by Russian shelling, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskyi said.

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* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kyiv with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi before the G7 summit at the end of June, Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported.

* European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU executive's opinion on Ukraine's request to join the European Union would be ready by the end of next week.

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