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The Russian leader’s troops have been delivered a blow in their attempts to encircle Ukrainian defenders in northern Donetsk Oblast. The Ministry of Defence said Ukraine’s ability to continue fighting would “be a key factor in the outcome of the campaign”. It posted: “At the operational level, Russian forces continue to make limited progress as they attempt to encircle Ukrainian defenders in northern Donetsk Oblast via advances from Izium. “It is highly likely that Ukrainian forces’ ability to continue fighting delaying battles, and then withdraw troops in good order before they are encircled, will continue to be a key factor in the outcome of the campaign.” It comes as Russia pressed on with its offensive in eastern Ukraine on Thursday after NATO branded Moscow the biggest “direct threat” to Western security and agreed plans to modernise Kyiv’s beleaguered armed forces. READ BELOW FOR LIVE UPDATES

Ukrainian city under relentless shelling

Ukrainian authorities said they were trying to evacuate residents from the frontline eastern city of Lysychansk, the focus of Russia’s attacks where about 15,000 people remained under relentless shelling.

Regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television: “Fighting is going on all the time. The Russians are constantly on the offensive. There is no let-up. 

“Absolutely everything is being shelled.”

Good morning

Good morning, I’m Rebecca Perring. I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Rebecca_Perring

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