Russia and Ukraine war updates: Russia closing in on Lysychansk, Zelensky rallying support for E.U. candidacy

Deafening explosions echoed across Severodonetsk on June 20, following weeks of Russian and Ukrainian forces fighting for control of the city. (Video: Reuters)

Updated June 22, 2022 at 2: 06 p.m. EDT|Published

June 22, 2022 at 2: 06 a.m. EDT

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The fate of the eastern Luhansk region hangs in the balance as Russian forces intensify efforts to seize control. The Ukrainian government claims that Toshkivka (south of Lysychansk) was captured by Russia this week. It is being used to bomb the region. “Hellish battles” are ongoing in Severodonetsk, the regional governor said Wednesday, while Lysychansk is “constantly suffering from enemy fire.” The mayor of Severodonetsk says up to 8,000 people are still holed up in his city, while others have been transported to Russian-held areas.

Ukraine said it inflicted “significant losses” in an attack on Russian-occupied Snake Island in the Black Sea. Moscow said its forces repelled the attack, but a series of before-and-after satellite images released by Maxar appeared to show newly damaged and charred areas on parts of the island on June 21. Russia is fortifying Snake Island in order to protect its Black Sea defenses. This area has been blocked from grain exports by the Ukrainian naval blockade.

2: 58 a.m.

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Bryan Pietsch:

The Russian ruble hit a seven-year high against the U.S. dollar this week, outperforming many global currencies even as Russia has faced global economic and diplomatic backlash over the war. As of late Tuesday Eastern time, 1,000 rubles were worth about $18. 56 — the highest exchange rate for the ruble since June 2015. Although the ruble fell sharply in the early days of the invasion in February, it has risen steadily since early March, in part because of strict currency controls to stop the ruble from leaving the country, as well as skyrocketing fuel prices and Russia’s demands that its fossil fuels be purchased with the currency. The ruble’s rally comes amid forecasts that Russia will probably fall into a recession this year.

2: 08 a.m.

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Reis Thebault:

Like a U.S. lawmaker whipping votes in Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is opening his Rolodex this week and dialing leaders across Europe, lobbying for votes in favor of Ukraine’s candidacy to the European Union. Zelensky claimed that he had spoken with nine E.U. members on Tuesday. premiers — a third of the bloc’s members and “a marathon of phone conversations.”“We are increasing the number of those who stand for Ukraine’s candidacy,” Zelensky said in his nightly address. It is likely that the European Council will decide whether Ukraine should be granted E.U. This week, the European Council will decide whether to grant Ukraine E.U. status. Zelensky called this week’s summit “truly historic” and has tried to use his international influence to help Ukraine get through its accession process quickly. “I will do my best to ensure that the historic decision of the European Union is adopted,” he said. “This is important for us.”

Reis Thebault


National and breaking news reporter

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