(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 24, 9:01 am
Ukrainian forces to retreat from Severodonetsk
Ukrainian forces plan to retreat from the city of Severodonetsk, following weeks of fighting.
The local governor said Friday morning “it doesn’t make sense” to hold onto the city and “the number of people killed will increase every day,” in a statement on Telegram.
The city has faced a heavy bombardment of rockets and street-to-street fighting between Ukrainian and Russia troops for weeks.
Ukrainian officials said nearly 90% of buildings in Severodonetsk have been destroyed.
It’s believed 8,000 civilians remain. At one point, hundreds of civilians sheltered in a chemical plant.
-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti
Jun 23, 2:58 pm
Ukraine granted candidate status for EU membership
The European Council has granted Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for EU membership, European Council President Charles Michel tweeted.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the announcement on Twitter, calling it a “unique and historical moment,” adding, “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”
It could take years for Ukraine to become an EU member. Five other countries that have been granted candidate status are currently negotiating their EU membership: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.
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