Here are the key events so far on Saturday, June 25.
- Ukraine officials said troops in Severodonetsk have been ordered to withdraw as there is very little left to defend in the bombed-out eastern city, where hundreds of civilians remain trapped in a chemical plant.
- Severodonetsk’s twin city of Lysychansk is set to become the next main focus of fighting. Pro-Russian leader says it would take another week and a half to secure full control of Lysychansk.
- South of Severodonetsk, Ukrainian soldiers have retreated from the towns of Hirske and Zolote in the face of overwhelming Russian forces, said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- Ukraine’s foreign minister says retreating does not mean losing the war, notes Russia had wanted to occupy the eastern Donbas region by May 9.
- Ukraine’s general staff said its troops had some success in the southern Kherson region, forcing the Russians back from defensive positions near the village of Olhine, the latest of several Ukrainian counterassaults.
- Ukraine held a preliminary hearing in its first trial of a Russian soldier charged with raping a Ukrainian woman during Russia’s invasion, the first of what prosecutors say could be dozens of such cases.
- European Union leaders formally accepted Ukraine as a candidate to join the bloc, a bold geopolitical move triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Russia says the candidacy decision amounted to the EU “enslaving” neighbouring countries.
- The G7 rich democracies will seek to show long-term support for Ukraine at a summit starting on Sunday, even as the war’s growing effect on the world economy tests their resolve.