The besieged city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine appears to be almost completely surrounded by attacking Russian forces. Russia has continued to make incremental gains in the Donbas region, backed by shelling. The regional governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, said Russian forces have surrounded two-thirds of Sievierodonetsk.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, accused the Kremlin of carrying out a “genocide” in the country’s east. He said Ukraine was not eager to talk to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, but that it had to face the reality it would probably be necessary to end the war. Russia did not appear to be ready for serious peace talks, he added.
More than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts concluded that Russia is inciting genocide in Ukraine and committing atrocities intended to destroy the Ukrainian people. Their independent report accused the Russian state of violating several articles of the UN Genocide Convention, according to CNN.
The Kremlin blamed Ukraine for frozen peace talks, saying it was unclear what Kyiv wanted. The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, accused the leadership in Kyiv of making “contradictory statements” that do “not allow us to fully understand what the Ukrainian side wants”.
Ukrainian authorities have issued contradictory statements about their control over the strategic city of Lyman in Donetsk. A presidential adviser said he had unverified information that Ukraine had lost Lyman, while Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian troops were trying to strengthen their positions in the city. The governor of the region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said there was heavy fighting around the city after Ukrainian troops withdrew to a new line of defence. Russian media reported that pro-Russian separatists had seized the city.
Ten people were killed and at least 35 were injured after Russian missile strikes hit the Dnipropetrovsk region in central-eastern Ukraine on Friday morning, according to reports. Regional governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, said rescuers were working in the rubble to look for possible survivors in the aftermath of “an unquiet night and an unquiet morning”.
The UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, said Russia was making “slow but palpable progress” in Donbas. He said Ukraine should be supplied with long-range multiple launch rocket systems to help Kyiv’s embattled forces, but stopped short of committing the UK to send the powerful M270 rocket system, which Kyiv has been pleading for from Britain, the US and other Nato members for several weeks.
Kharkiv was hit by new strikes amid fears the city is still on Russia’s agenda. At least nine civilians were killed, including a child, and 19 were injured, authorities said. Residents have been urged to shelter. Kharkiv’s regional governor, Oleh Synehubov, said “doctors are providing all necessary assistance” and that there were no further casualties overnight.
Officials in Ukraine have admitted Russia has the “upper hand” in fighting in the country’s east. The governor of the Luhansk region said only 5% of the area remained in Ukrainian hands – down from about 10% just over a week ago – and that Ukrainian forces were retreating in some areas.
Samantha Lock was a live blogger and foreign news reporter for the Guardian
Léonie Chao-Fong is a news reporter and live blogger for Guardian US, based in Washington. Twitter @leonie_chaofong
Martin Belam is the Guardian's senior social reporter in London