Live updates from Russia and Ukraine: Russia seizes key Ukrainian cities; oil prices rise after the E.U. crack down

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said May 31 that the new deal will cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the E.U. by the end of 2022. (Video: Reuters)

Updated May 31, 2022 at 11: 30 p.m. EDT|Published

May 31, 2022 at 2: 00 a.m. EDT

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The Biden administration on Tuesday confirmed it is sending advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, responding to a top request from Ukrainian officials who say the weapons are necessary to curb the advance of Russian forces in the east.

“America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression,” Biden said in an essay published Tuesday evening in the New York Times. A senior U.S. official stated that Ukrainian officials had given assurances they wouldn’t use weapons against Russian targets.

Russian forces now control most of Severodonetsk, one of the last major Ukrainian-held areas of the eastern Luhansk region, local officials said Tuesday evening. Russia had been pounding the city for several weeks, and the Kremlin would be celebrating a symbolic victory by capturing the area.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s combat power is at “maximum” strength in its push to capture the wider Donbas region, which includes Luhansk and Donetsk. “The situation in the Donbas direction is very difficult,” Zelensky said in his nightly address, adding that Severodonetsk is “at the epicenter of the confrontation.”

Here’s what else to know

  • A Ukrainian court found two Russian soldiers guilty of shelling civilian sites during fighting in Kharkiv, the second verdict handed down in a war crimes trial in Ukraine since the conflict began.
  • Fuel prices in the United States set a record Tuesday after the European Union agreed to a partial ban on Russian oil, the bloc’s most significant economic move yet to punish Moscow for the unprovoked invasion.
  • Jailed Russian opposition leader and Ukraine war critic Alexei Navalny said Russian authorities are pursuing a new criminal case against him that could keep him in prison for 15 more years.
  • Zelensky has denounced Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, which has halted the export of 22 million tons of grain.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

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