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Finland and Sweden formally apply to join NATO

Ukrainian military officials say the Russians have stepped up their efforts to destroy Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region, bringing in 15 helicopters to reinforce the offensive.

Ukrainian defenses around the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk remain under intense pressure from artillery bombardments and air attacks, which have also increased in villages further south, such as Vrubivka.

Ukrainian soldiers ride on a moving truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher near Lysychansk, eastern Ukraine, on May 13.
Ukrainian soldiers ride on a moving truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher near Lysychansk, eastern Ukraine, on May 13. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Why this area: Russian forces are trying to break through Ukrainian lines in this area and complete the seizure of Luhansk. They control about 90% of the region, according to most estimates.

Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk region military administration, said four civilians had been killed in the latest fighting and the nitrogen plant in Severodonetsk had been hit again.

"The Russian world destroys everything in its path trying to impose that kind of life in Luhansk region — without people, houses, factories," he said.

Hayday said the city had withstood 15 artillery attacks on Tuesday.

Fresh attacks in Donetsk: The General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces also acknowledged fresh attacks by Russian forces toward Sloviansk in the Donetsk region.

For weeks, Russian forces have been trying to push south to complete the takeover of Donetsk. The General Staff said Russian forces were trying to encircle Ukrainian units around the town of Lyman and were trying to gain full control over the nearby settlement of Drobysheve.

If they succeed, Ukrainian defenses in Lyman would be vulnerable to attack from three directions. There was heavy artillery fire in the area on Tuesday.

Further north: In Kharkiv, the General Staff said the Russians continued to shell villages north of the city to hinder Ukraine's counteroffensive, which has taken Ukrainian troops to the Russian border in several places.

Elsewhere, without giving details, the General Staff said "the enemy continues to shell artillery positions of our troops and civilian infrastructure in the border settlements of Chernihiv and Sumy regions."

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