Russia is attempting to capture Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region at all costs, with the strategic city of Severodonetsk “under enemy fire around-the-clock,” Sergei Haidai, the regional governor, said Wednesday. Civilians are sheltering in bomb shelters inside the Azot chemical plant which has been hit by deadly strikes in recent days, Haidai added. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the situation in the Donbas region as “extremely difficult,” accusing Russia of wanting “to destroy everything there.”
The British Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea has left “significant supplies of Ukrainian grain” stranded and “unable to be exported,” as fears grow that the war could spark a global food crisis. After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of using food “as a form of blackmail,” a Russian official suggested Moscow could allow ships carrying Ukrainian grain to leave if the West were to lift sanctions.
Talks are underway in Ankara between Swedish, Finnish and Turkish delegations over the Nordic nations’ bids to join NATO. Turkey, an influential NATO member, released a list Monday of assurances it wants Sweden to make for the NATO accession process to move forward. Meanwhile, the European Union is still trying to overcome opposition from Hungary to a deal on an embargo on Russian oil.