Lavrov’s comments came as Russia is intensifying its attack around the key city Severodonetsk in the east.
- The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
- Ukrainian forces endured heavy artillery barrages as they held off Russian attempts to capture Severodonetsk, the largest city of Ukraine still controlled in the eastern region of Luhansk, officials say.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits troops on the front line in Ukraine’s war-torn northeastern Kharkiv region, his first official appearance outside the capital Kyiv since the war started.
- The Ukrainian leader fired Kharkiv’s security services chief for “not working on the defense of the city” since the start of Russia’s invasion.
- No agreement among European Union’s members has been reached over an embargo on Russian oil, an EU official told the Reuters news agency.
Here are the latest updates:
Serbia secures gas supply deal with Putin
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has announced that he has secured an “extremely favourable” three-year natural gas supply deal with Russia, amid efforts by the European Union to phase out Russian energy supplies.
“What I can tell you is that we have agreed on the main elements that are very favorable for Serbia,” the Serbian president said after clinching the deal during a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
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No EU deal on Russian oil embargo yet; more talks on monday
European Union governments have failed to reach an agreement on an embargo on Russian oil, but will continue negotiations on Monday morning, an EU official told the Reuters news agency.
The proposal under discussion now among EU countries assumes a ban on Russian oil delivered to the EU by sea by the end of the year, but foresees an exemption for oil delivered by the Russian Druzhba pipeline, which supplies Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech republic.
Top Kharkiv official fired over city’s defense: Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy says he fired Kharkiv’s security services chief for “not working on the defense of the city” since the start of Russia’s invasion.
“I came, figured out and fired the head of the Security Service of Ukraine of the (Kharkiv) region for the fact that he did not work on the defense of the city from the first days of the full-scale war, but thought only about himself,” Zelensky said in his daily national address.
He spoke after visiting the country’s war ridden east for the first time since Russia’s invasion.
All critical infrastructure in Severodonetsk is destroyed: Zelenskyy
Russian forces stormed Severodonetsk after trying unsuccessfully to encircle the strategic city, Ukrainian officials said, creating a situation that Zelenskyy described as “indescribably difficult”. He said a relentless Russian artillery barrage had destroyed the town’s critical infrastructure and damaged 90 percent of its buildings.
“Capturing Severodonetsk is a main task for the occupation force,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the Russians don’t care about casualties.
The deteriorating conditions raised fears that Severodonetsk could become the next Mariupol, a city on the Sea of Azov that spent nearly three months under Russian siege before the last Ukrainian fighters surrendered.
Ukraine’s Donbas ‘unconditional priority’ for Moscow: Lavrov
The “liberation” of Ukraine’s Donbas is an “unconditional priority” for Moscow, while other Ukrainian territories should decide their future on their own, the RIA news agency cited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.
“The liberation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognized by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority,” Lavrov said in an interview with French TV channel TF1, according to RIA.
For the rest of the territories in Ukraine, “the people should decide their future in these areas,” he said.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Go here for all the updates from Saturday, May 28.