Russian forces advance in Ukraine's Donbas

STORY: In Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Russian forces have been making gains.

Ukrainian authorities said on Thursday (May 26) that Russian forces were coming closer to surrounding Ukrainian troops, adding that they briefly seized positions on the last highway out of a crucial pair of Ukrainian-held cities before being beaten back.

Among Moscow's victories is the town of Svitlodarsk, which fell to Russian forces earlier in the week.

The streets are largely empty. And a Russian flag hangs on a local administration building.

Drone footage filmed by Reuters journalists of the nearby abandoned battlefield showed scores of craters pockmarking a green field surrounded by wrecked buildings.

After failing the seize the capital Kyiv in its three-month war, Russia is now trying to wrest full control of the eastern Donbas region, where it has backed a separatist revolt since 2014.

It has poured thousands of troops into the region, attacking from three sides in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces holding out in the city of Sievierodonetsk and its twin, Lysychansk.

Their fall would leave almost the whole of Luhansk province under Russian control.

More than 40 towns in the region have been hit by Russian shelling, Ukrainian authorities said on Thursday.

Among them, Kramatorsk.

Lyudmyla says her apartment was damaged in a strike earlier this week.

"It is not nice because it caused a lot of grief. None of the rooms are left with the windows intact. None of the rooms have any windows.”

Moscow denies targeting civilians in what it calls a "special operation" in Ukraine.

In a bid to solidify its grip on the territory it has seized, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process for residents of newly captured districts to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.

In a late night address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hit out at suggestions that Kyiv give up territory and make concessions to end the war with Russia, drawing parallels with attempts to appease Nazi Germany in 1938.

“And behind all these geopolitical reasons, those who advise Ukraine to give something to Russia, "great geopoliticians," do not always want to see ordinary people. Ordinary Ukrainians. Millions of those who actually live in the territory they propose to give in exchange for the illusion of peace.”

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Moscow expected Kyiv to meet its demands.

Which include Ukraine acknowledging Crimea as Russian territory, and recognition of breakaway Russian-backed parts of eastern Ukraine as independent states.

Kyiv rejects those demands.

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