Severodonetsk: Officials in this key city, the easternmost under Ukrainian control, are bracing for a major, drawn-out battle as experts anticipate a Russian bid to take control of it. “Significant Russian offensive operations are confined” to near Severodonetsk, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, reported Friday, adding that Russian forces made “marginal gains” to the north, west and south of the city. Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said that “the Russians are destroying Severodonetsk, like Mariupol.”
Kharkiv region: At least seven people were wounded, including an 11-year-old, in a Russian missile strike on a cultural center in Lozova, Zelensky said, referring to the violence as “absolute evil.” Regional governor Oleg Synegubov said the strike was deliberate. Russian forces had sought to encircle the city of Kharkiv, the second largest in Ukraine, but have been forced to retreat after Ukrainian troops mounted a successful counteroffensive.