Russia is intensifying its offensive in the Luhansk and Donbas regions as heavy shelling continues in the key industrial city of Severodonetsk. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Donbas faces a "very difficult" moment.
Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine:
- Ukrainian military says Severodonetsk "not cut off:" Serhiy Hayday, the head of Luhansk's regional military administration, said on Saturday the key eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk was "not cut off," as Russian troops press a concerted offensive in the Luhansk region. Hayday said intense Russian shelling was underway in Severodonetsk, an industrial center which is the last major stronghold of Ukrainian control in Luhansk. Ukrainian forces are fighting to stave off an apparent effort by Russian forces to encircle the defenders of Severodonetsk, while Russian troops make advances from several directions.
- Russian-occupied Kherson: The Russian-occupied region of Kherson has closed its borders to surrounding Ukrainian areas, according to Russian state media. The deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, said Kherson’s border crossings with the Ukrainian regions of Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk are closed, while travel from Kherson to Crimea or the Russian-controlled areas of Zaporizhzhia remains possible.
- Supply lines: Ukraine's military said the Russians are mobilizing railway brigades with special machinery to repair damaged railway lines inside northern Ukraine to sustain supply routes. The railway from Russia into the Kharkiv region and south to Izium is a critical supply line for the Russian offensive.
- Weapons aid: US defense officials said they were "mindful and aware" of Ukraine's request for advanced, multiple-launch rocket systems, but decisions were yet to be made. CNN reported Thursday that the Biden administration is preparing to send MLRS systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week.
- Russia successfully tests its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile: Russia successfully tested its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile over a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) on Saturday, according to its Ministry of Defense. The missile was fired from the waters of the Barents Sea towards a “target in the White Sea” -- a southern inlet on Russia’s northwest coast -- as part of a broader test of new weapons, according to a ministry statement. Video of the test shared by the ministry showed the Zircon missile being fired at a steep trajectory from Russia’s Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate at sea.