Russian forces captured territory along a frontline river in eastern Ukraine on Monday and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy predicted Moscow would escalate attacks ahead of a summit of European leaders expected to welcome Kyiv’s bid to join the EU.
Moscow’s separatist proxies claimed to have captured Toshkivka, a town on the mostly Ukrainian-held western bank of the Siverskyi Donets river, south of Sievierodonetsk, which has become the main battlefield city in recent weeks.
Ukraine acknowledged that Moscow had success in Toshkivka and said the Russians were trying to gain a foothold there to make a breakthrough into the wider, Ukrainian-held pocket of the eastern Donbas region. It also confirmed a Russian claim to have captured on Sievierodonetsk’s eastern outskirts.
“Obviously, this week we should expect from Russia an intensification of its hostile activities,” Zelenskiy said in a Sunday nightly video address. “We are preparing. We are ready.”
In Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest Black Sea port, a food warehouse was destroyed in a Russian missile attack on Monday, the Ukrainian military said. No civilians were reported killed.
The city has come under sporadic bombardment since the start of the war and is blockaded by the Russian navy, while each side accuses the other of laying mines in the sea.
The Operational Command “South” said Russian forces fired 14 missiles at southern Ukraine during a three-hour barrage. The Russian military did not comment on the reports.
The Russian-installed leader of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, said Kyiv had struck Black Sea drilling platforms owned by a Crimean oil company. Three people were wounded, and a search was under way for seven workers, he said on the Telegram messaging app.
Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency said the platforms were located 71 km (44 miles) from Odesa. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the reports of the attack.
European Union leaders at a summit on Thursday and Friday are expected to give their blessing to Ukraine becoming an official candidate to join, a decision that will be marked as a triumph in Kyiv.