Ukraine conflict: Russian progress slow but gains being held - says MoD

Russian progress has been slow but gains in Ukraine are now being held according to the latest intelligence briefing from the Ministry of Defence (MoD)

According to the MoD Russia has achieved greater local successes than earlier in the campaign by massing forces in small pockets of Ukraine, with their political goal aiming to occupy the full territory of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.

The update from the MoD reads: “Russia’s capture of Lyman supports its operational main effort, which likely remains the encirclement of Sieverodonetsk and the closure of the pocket around Ukrainian forces in Luhansk Oblast.

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"Heavy shelling continues, while street fighting is likely taking place on the outskirts of Sieverodonetsk town.

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"Elements of Russia’s Southern Grouping of Forces are likely leading the most successful axis in the sector, supported by the Central Grouping of Forces attacking from the North. Progress has been slow but gains are being held.”

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It added: “Routes into the pocket likely remain under Ukrainian control. Russia has achieved greater local successes than earlier in the campaign by massing forces and fires in a relatively small area. This forces Russia to accept risk elsewhere in occupied territory.

"Russia’s political goal is likely to occupy the full territory of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.

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A man walks next to heavily damaged buildings and destroyed cars following Russian attacks in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. The region, along with neighbouring Luhansk, is part of the Donbas, where Russian forces have focused their offensive. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

"To achieve this, Russia will need to secure further challenging operational objectives beyond Sieverodonetsk, including the key city of Kramatorsk and the M04 Dnipro-Donetsk main road.”

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European Union leaders reached a compromise on Monday to impose a partial oil embargo on Russia at a summit focused on helping Ukraine with a long-delayed package of sanctions that was blocked by Hungary.

The watered-down embargo covers only Russian oil brought in by sea, allowing a temporary exemption for imports delivered by pipeline.

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EU Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter the agreement covers more than two-thirds of oil imports from Russia, “cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine. Maximum pressure on Russia to end the war.”

“We want to stop Russia’s war machine,” Mr Michel said, lauding what he called a “remarkable achievement”.

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Mr Michel said the new sanctions, which needed the support of all 27 member countries, will be legally endorsed by Wednesday.