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Russia’s offensive gains pace in Donetsk; focus shifts to Slovyansk

Russia fired missiles at a market and residential area in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on July 5, causing multiple casualties. (Video: Reuters)

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After sweeping through Luhansk, Russian forces are gaining ground in the neighboring Donetsk region. Both are part of the industrial Donbas heartland of eastern Ukraine that Moscow is seeking to control. Donetsk’s regional governor is urging the area’s 350,000 residents to evacuate as Russia intensifies its bombardment campaign, telling reporters Tuesday: “The destiny of the whole country will be decided by the Donetsk region.”

Russian forces are about 10 miles north of the strategic city of Slovyansk in Donetsk, making it likely to be the next key battleground, according to Britain’s Defense Ministry.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said the recently captured cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are still reeling, with thousands of civilians now living under Russia occupation. “Overall, over 300,000 people have left the Luhansk region” since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, he said Wednesday. He vowed: “We will return. We will rebuild everything.”

Here’s what else to know

  • The French government plans to nationalize its nuclear giant EDF amid an energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Latvia’s Defense Ministry has proposed a return of mandatory military service for young men, citing the Russian threat as among the motivating factors.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to Indonesia for a gathering of Group of 20 foreign ministers this week that will focus on food and energy security. A traditional one-on-one meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is not on the agenda, according to the State Department.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on Sept. 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia.” Follow our live updates here.

The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Annexation referendums: Staged referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place from Sept. 23 to 27 in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another staged referendum will be held by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson starting Friday.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

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