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Fighting rages near Donetsk as Russia’s Donbas offensive grinds on

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Fierce fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian town of Pisky on Thursday as Russia continued its campaign to take the entire industrialized Donbas region, while to the west Kiev accused Moscow of using a nuclear power plant to protect its artillery. Follow our live updates for all the latest developments regarding the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

06:10 a.m.: Fighting rages near Donetsk as Russia’s Donbas Offensive advances

Fierce fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian city of Pisky on Thursday as Russia continued its campaign to conquer the entire industrialized Donbas region.

An official from the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic said Pisky, on the front line just 10 km (6 miles) northwest of the provincial capital of Donetsk, was under control of Russian and separatist forces.

“It’s hot in Pisky. The city is ours, but there are still scattered pockets of resistance in the north and west,” the official Danil Bezsonov said on Telegram.

Ukrainian officials denied that the heavily fortified city, a key to Donetsk’s defenses, had fallen. Reuters could not verify the battlefield records.

The Donbas region, made up of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, became Moscow’s main target after it failed to capture the capital Kiev at the start of the war in February. Luhansk is now almost completely under Russian control, but Donetsk is holding out.

5:27 am: Russia-backed separatist leader says Azov trial will start this summer

Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed separatist government in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, said on Wednesday that a trial of captured personnel of Ukraine’s Azov regiment will take place by the end of the summer, likely in the city of Mariupol.

The Azov regiment, a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard of far-right and ultra-nationalist descent, gained international attention for its resistance to the Russian siege of the massive Mariupol steel plant.

After weeks of fighting from the bunkers and tunnels beneath the steel mill, hundreds of Azov fighters surrendered to Russian-backed forces in May.

Although the Azov detainees have not yet been formally charged, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled on August 2 that the regiment was a terrorist organization, paving the way for captured combatants to be charged as such.

Ukraine, which has itself tried and convicted a series of Russian soldiers for war crimes against civilians, says the Azov prisoners are POWs deserving of protection under the Geneva Conventions.

2:20 am: Russian advance stops in Donbas

“The Russians continue to exert pressure in the Donbas region, but they have made little progress in the last month or so,” reports Rob Parsons, editor-in-chief of FRANCE 24. “We’re talking mileage in single figures. It is very difficult and they are taking heavy losses.”

The Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kherson region has further complicated the military situation for Russia, explains Parsons:

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(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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