Fighting in a key eastern Ukrainian city remained intense, with street battles breaking out for each home, and Russian shelling on the outskirts of Ukraine's second-largest city hospitalized at least two civilians, officials said Friday.
Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Friday that Ukrainian troops were holding onto an industrial area in the city of Sievierodonetsk, which remains largely under Russian control.
“Battles are going on for every house and every street," he told the Associated Press.
While Russian troops have most of the city, they have made "little progress in attempts to encircle the wider area from the north and south," according to an intelligence update on the fighting from Britain's Defense Ministry.
Following the shelling in Derhachi, lees than 10 miles northwest of Kharkiv, fires broke out in residential buildings and emergency teams searched for more casualties.
The Kharkiv region continues to be targeted in regular strikes and Mayor Ihor Terekhov has accused Russia of sabotaging the city's ability to recover.
“The intensity of shelling … has become a little less, but bombs and rockets of higher power are being used in the city of Kharkiv. The destruction that we see today is very, very serious,” Terekhov said in a televised briefing.
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►Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told the BBC that Ukrainian forces were losing between 100 and 200 troops a day.
►Supply disruptions from the war in Ukraine could increase the number of "acute food insecure people" by 47 million people this year, the United Nations warned in a new report.
►Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that foreign companies that have left Russia "will regret" their decision.
►Vadym Danylkiv, the CEO of a Ukrainian regional power company, has accused Russian troops of deliberately destroying energy infrastructure in the southern Mykolayiv region.
►Intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine prompts hundreds of people to flee further west.
Hundreds flee eastern Ukraine as forces fight for control of key cities
About 300 people left eastern Ukraine on Friday on a special evacuation train heading for cities further west.
Mostly women, children and older adults were forced to leave as Russian and Ukrainian forces battle for control over key cities and villages.
The majority of the evacuees are from areas where Russian forces are concentrating their offensive to capture the whole of Donbas, a historical and economic region in southeastern Ukraine.
Russian troops accused of destroying Ukrainian energy infrastructure
The CEO of a Ukrainian regional power company has accused Russian troops of deliberately destroying energy infrastructure in the southern Mykolayiv region.
“Electricity for the population, industry and agriculture is a basic good, without which normal life is impossible. Therefore, energy facilities become a target for enemy troops,” Vadym Danylkiv, CEO of regional monopoly Nikolaevoblenergo, said in a statement.
Since the start of June, Russian shelling has destroyed 14 overhead power lines and 377 transformer substations, and damaged a key 40 MVA transformer, the company said.
Zelenskyy meets with UK defense chief, calls for EU membership
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met in Kyiv with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, the U.K. defense ministry said Friday.
Wallace told Zelenskyy that “U.K. support will continue to meet Ukraine’s needs as the conflict enters a different phase," according to a statement from the British defense ministry. Wallace also met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov.
Meanwhile, Zelenskyy also appeared via video at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit and called for Ukraine to be placed on track for membership to the European Union.
Zelenskyy said Ukraine was in a “gray zone,” which encouraged Russia's aggression, and that he wanted to see the E.U. act so "its words about the Ukrainian people being part of the European family aren’t a hollow sound."
Zelenskyy adviser wants 'de-imperialization' after Putin's Peter the Great comparison
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was time to talk about "immediate de-imperialization" after Russian President Vladimir Putin compared himself to Peter the Great, the Russian leader in the late 17th and early 18th centuries who founded St. Petersburg.
Putin made the comment at a meeting with young entrepreneurs in Moscow while asserting Russia’s sovereignty and emphasizing the need for Moscow to defend itself.
“What was (Peter the Great) doing? Taking back and reinforcing. That’s what he did. And it looks like it fell on us to take back and reinforce as well,” Putin said.
Mykhaylo Podolyak, Zelenskyy's adviser, responded, saying there should be no talk of Russia "saving ... face," but rather "its immediate de-imperialization."
UK says death sentences for British POWs came in 'sham trial'
The British government on Friday said Russia must take responsibility for the “sham trial” of two Britons who have been sentenced to death for fighting against Russian forces in Ukraine.
Two Britons and a Moroccan were sentenced to death by firing squad Thursday after the Supreme Court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic found the men guilty of working toward a violent overthrow of power. They men were also convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism.
Prosecutors claimed that the three fighters are “mercenaries” who are not entitled to protections afforded prisoners of war. Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner's families said the men have lived in Ukraine since 2018 and were “long-serving” members of the Ukrainian military.
U.K. government minister Robin Walker said it was “an illegal court in a sham government” but that the U.K. would use “all diplomatic channels to make the case that these are prisoners of war who should be treated accordingly.” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the judgments an "egregious breach of the Geneva convention" after speaking with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine recap: Russian shelling near Kharkiv 'very serious'