The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ukrainian troops locked in brutal combat for key city as Putin believes time on his side

At least one fatality was reported as a result of overnight air strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine, on June 2. A school in the north side of the city was hit. (Video: AP)

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As the Russian invasion stretched beyond 100 days, Ukraine’s troops remain locked in brutal combat for the key eastern city of Severodonetsk, whose loss would allow Russian leaders to claim a symbolic and territorial victory.

U.S. military officials have assessed that the coming weeks could bring a decisive phase in the war. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes time is on his side, according to members of Russia’s economic elite, who say the Kremlin will use economic weapons such as a blockage of Ukrainian grain exports to weaken Western support. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Washington Post on Thursday that Ukraine-supporting nations need to develop “sustainable” strategies for their aid.

Here’s what else to know

  • Almost 3 million Ukrainian refugees had registered for temporary protection in Europe by the end of last month, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • The head of the African Union met Putin and called for steps to end the growing food crisis in Africa caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • The scale of destruction in Ukrainian cities “defies comprehension,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said as the country marked 100 days of war.
  • The Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.