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Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russia takes most of key city in Donbas

ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 02, 4:34 am
Russia takes most of key city in Donbas

Russian forces have taken control of most of Sieverodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Thursday in an intelligence update.

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“The main road into the Sieverodonetsk pocket likely remains under Ukrainian control but Russia continues to make steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery,” the ministry said. “This has not been without cost, and Russian forces have sustained losses in the process.”

Sieverodonetsk, an industrial hub, is the largest city still held by Ukrainian troops in the contested Donbas region of Ukraine’s east, which comprises the self-proclaimed republics in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.

“Crossing the Siverskyy Donets River — which is a natural barrier to its axes of advance –- is vital for Russian forces as they secure Luhansk Oblast and prepare to switch focus to Donetsk Oblast,” the ministry added. “Potential crossing sites include between Sieverodonetsk and the neighbouring town of Lysychansk; and near recently-captured Lyman. In both locations, the river line likely still remains controlled by Ukrainian forces, who have destroyed existing bridges.”

Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk are the last major cities in the Luhansk area still controlled by Ukraine.

“It is likely Russia will need at least a short tactical pause to re-set for opposed river crossings and subsequent attacks further into Donetsk Oblast, where Ukrainian armed forces have prepared defensive positions,” the ministry added. “To do so risks losing some of the momentum they have built over the last week.”

Jun 01, 9:27 pm
Ukraine’s first lady tells ABC News that giving up land is ‘like conceding a freedom’

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska spoke about the state of the ongoing conflict with Russia and where the Ukrainian people currently stand as a country.

In her first televised solo interview since the invasion began, Zelenska, 44, told Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts that conceding territory to Russia won’t stop the war.

“You just can’t concede…parts of your territory. It’s like conceding a freedom,” Zelenska said. “Even if we would consider territories, the aggressor would not stop at that. He would continue pressing, he would continue launching more and more steps forward, more and more attacks against our territory.”

The interview with Zelenska will air Thursday, June 2, on Good Morning America and across ABC News. GMA airs at 7 a.m. ET on ABC.

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