Live: Biden says US will provide Ukraine with medium-range rocket systems

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Russian troops fought to take complete control of the eastern industrial city of Sievierodonetsk as the United States said it will provide Ukraine with advanced rockets to help it force Moscow to negotiate an end to the war. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

8:06am: Russian forces ‘inexorably’ taking more of Severodonetsk

“The governor of the Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai just posted on his Telegram that Russian forces now control the better part of Severodonetsk – more than half, I take that to mean – but of course it’s very hard to know how exactly you calculate these things: are we talking in terms of square metres or the most densely populated parts of the town?” said FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg, reporting from Kyiv.

“And the situation is fluid; there are Russian offensives, Ukrainian counter-offensives that push them back. Then the Russians push forward again. But it does seem that over the last few days that — albeit slowly, inexorably — Russian forces are taking more and more of this city of Severodonetsk.”

4:02am: Denmark to hold referendum on scrapping EU defence opt-out

Danish voters will on Wednesday decide whether to join the European Union’s defence policy, potentially becoming the final hold-out in the bloc to sign up as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces countries to radically reassess their security.

Denmark is the only member of the 27 nation bloc not in the Common Security and Defence Policy, having secured exemptions from it and the euro currency in a 1993 referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the groundwork for the modern EU.

If the Danes vote to abolish the opt-out, as polls suggest will be the case, it would mark another significant shift in policy for Europe after Russia launched the invasion in February.

2:17am: US sending Himars multiple rocket system to Ukraine military: official

The United States is sending Himars advanced multiple rocket systems to Ukraine, a US official said Tuesday, ending days of speculation over the latest upgrade of military aid to Kyiv in its fight against Russia.

The Himars use precision-guided munitions, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters. The range is about 50 miles (80 kilometers), with Washington deciding against sending munitions with a far longer range.

“These systems will be used by the Ukrainians to repel Russian advances on Ukrainian territory but they will not be used against Russia,” the official said.

12:10am: Ukraine’s Zelensky blasts ‘crazy’ Russia over chemical plant hit

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of “madness” Tuesday after Russian troops hit a chemical plant in their bid to complete the capture of a key eastern city.

The battle for control of Severodonetsk has been intensifying this week, with heavy casualties on both sides, as EU leaders haggle over banning Russian gas to punish the Kremlin for its three-month-old invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

One of the industrial hubs on Russia’s path to taking the eastern Lugansk region, Severodonetsk has become a target of massive Russian firepower since the failed attempt to occupy Kyiv.

Russians now control most of the destroyed city, regional authorities said Tuesday, adding that enemy forces had hit a nitric acid tank at a chemical plant and warning people to stay indoors.

“Given the presence of large-scale chemical production in Severodonetsk, the Russian army’s strikes there, including blind air bombing, are just crazy,” Zelensky said in a video message.

“But on the 97th day of such a war, it is no longer surprising that for the Russian military, for Russian commanders, for Russian soldiers, any madness is absolutely acceptable.”

11:05pm: Exclusive: Embedded with the Karpatska Sich battalion in Donbas

The Ukrainian army is determined to slow down Russia’s steady advance in the eastern Donbas region as Moscow concentrates its efforts on encircling the area. Reporting from the northwestern frontline in the Donbas, a FRANCE 24 team followed the Karpatska Sich battalion as they fight to halt the Russian advance.

10:05pm: Communication shutdown in Russian-occupied Kherson: Ukraine

Ukrainian officials are reporting a “shutdown of all communications” in the Russian-occupied southern region of Kherson.

In a statement, Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communication and Information Protection said there was an unspecified intrusion “by the occupation regime” and equipment had been powered down and cables disconnected.

“The residents of the region are currently left without Ukrainian mobile communication and Internet access, as well as with no means to make national and international phone calls using landline phone devices,” the agency said.

9:48pm: Ukrainian forces making some progress in southern region: Zelensky

Ukrainian forces have had some success near the southern city of Kherson and are advancing in parts of the Kharkiv region to the east of Kyiv, said President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Our defenders are showing the utmost courage and remain masters of the situation at the front despite the fact the Russian army has a significant advantage in terms of equipment and numbers,” he said in a late-night address.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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