Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the intense battles in eastern Ukraine represent “the toughest spot” in the conflict, with Russian forces “pressing strongly” in the region.

Several cities, towns and villages in the Luhansk region have been the focus of severe fighting for several weeks with Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in street battles while Russian artillery fire destroys infrastructure and homes in the region.

Meanwhile, tensions are high between Russia and Lithuania after the latter, a NATO member, banned the rail transfer of all EU sanctioned goods (such as metals, coal, construction materials and high-technology products) coming from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea.

Russia has warned of “serious” consequences against what it has called “hostile actions” of Lithuania, while NATO members have reiterated their support for the country.

Elsewhere, it’s a tense week for Ukraine as it awaits to see whether it will be granted the status of a candidate country for the European Union. It should know by the end of the week when an EU summit concludes.

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