LIVE: 120th day of Russian aggression against Ukraine

A view on a destroyed building in the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo: PAP/EPA

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Moscow's massive air and artillery attacks were aimed at destroying the entire Donbas region and urged Ukraine's allies to accelerate the shipment of weapons to match Russia on the battlefield.

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EU leaders have accepted Ukraine and Moldova as membership candidates of the European Union, European Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday evening.

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Ukraine, in a symbolic move, on Thursday said it had formally filed a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights to end "the mass and gross human rights violations" by Moscow's forces during the war in Ukraine.

The bid has no chance of substantive success, given that on June 7 the Russian parliament approved two bills ending the court's jurisdiction in Russia.

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Ukrainian troops may need to retreat from the frontline city of Lysychansk to avoid encirclement after Russian forces captured two settlements to its south, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Thursday.

Lysychansk and nearby Sievierodonetsk have become the focus of Russia's offensive in the eastern Donbas region and the battle there is approaching a "fierce climax," a Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Wednesday.

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The prospect of EU membership motivates Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline, the country's ambassador in Brussels told Reuters on Thursday.

European leaders were set to meet later on Thursday to approve Ukraine being accepted as an official candidate to join the bloc, along with its neighbour Moldova.

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U.S. sportswear maker Nike is making a full exit from Russia, three months after suspending its operations there, the company said in an emailed statement Thursday.

Nike said on March 3 it would temporarily suspend operations at all its Nike-owned and -operated stores in Russia in response to Moscow's actions in Ukraine, adding that those still open were operated by independent partners.

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European leaders will formally accept Ukraine as a candidate to join the EU on Thursday, a bold geopolitical move triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine but a reminder that the 27-nation bloc will need a major overhaul as it looks to enlarge again.

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Russian forces have captured the settlements of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka south of Ukraine's cities of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk, which are the focus of the Russian offensive in the region, Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Thursday.

Ukrainian forces continue the defence of Sievierodonetsk and the nearby settlements of Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, he said.