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Port of Odesa Comes Under Missile Attack As Russians Advance In Eastern Ukraine

 Russian forces captured territory along a frontline river in eastern Ukraine on Monday and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy predicted Moscow would escalate attacks ahead of a summit of European leaders expected to welcome Kyiv’s bid to join the EU.

Moscow’s separatist proxies claimed to have captured Toshkivka, a town on the mostly Ukrainian-held western bank of the Siverskyi Donets river, south of Sievierodonetsk, which has become the main battlefield city in recent weeks.

Ukraine acknowledged that Moscow had success in Toshkivka.

In Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest Black Sea port, a food warehouse was destroyed in a Russian missile attack on Monday, the Ukrainian military said. No civilians were reported killed.

The city has come under sporadic bombardment since the start of the war and is blockaded by the Russian navy, while each side accuses the other of laying mines in the sea.

European Union leaders at a summit on Thursday and Friday are expected to give their blessing to Ukraine becoming an official candidate to join, a decision that will be marked as a triumph in Kyiv.

“I think that’s very likely it would happen,” U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters when asked if he felt Ukraine would become an EU member.

The war has entered a brutal attritional phase in recent weeks, with Russian forces concentrating their overwhelming artillery firepower on a Ukrainian-controlled pocket of the Donbas, which Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the grain blockade “a real war crime.” It was “inconceivable…. that millions of tonnes of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are suffering hunger.”

Russia blames the food crisis on Western sanctions curbing its own exports.

Moscow meanwhile threatened to retaliate against EU member Lithuania for banning transport of basic goods to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory.

The Lithuanian ban, which took effect on Saturday, blocks shipments of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology to the outpost

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