June 19 (Reuters) – The war in Ukraine could last for years, the head of NATO said, calling for steadfast support from Ukraine’s allies as Russian forces battle for territory in the country’s east.Read full story
* The eastern industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, a prime target in Moscow’s offensive to seize full control of Luhansk – one of the two provinces making up the Donbas – faced heavy artillery and rocket fire again, the Ukrainian military said.
* Luhansk’s Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television that “all Russian claims that they control the town are a lie. They control the main part of the town, but not the whole town”. He added that fighting made evacuations from the city impossible.
* Russia’s defence ministry said it had taken control of Metyolkine, just southeast of Sievierodonetsk, with Russian state news agency TASS reporting that many Ukrainian fighters had surrendered there. Ukraine’s military said Russia had “partial success” in the area.
* Analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War think tank wrote that “Russian forces will likely be able to seize Sievierodonetsk in the coming weeks, but at the cost of concentrating most of their available forces in this small area”.
* In Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv, northwest of Luhansk, Russia’s defence ministry said its Iskander missiles had destroyed weaponry recently supplied by Western countries.
* A Ukrainian interior ministry official said Russian forces were trying to approach Kharkiv and turn it into a “frontline city”.
* Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a need to prepare for a long war, which meant ensuring “Ukraine receives weapons, equipment, ammunition and training more rapidly than the invader”.
* Two top commanders of fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant in the southeastern port of Mariupol have been transferred to Russia for investigation, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported. Read full story
* Ukraine’s defence intelligence directorate said on Saturday five Ukrainian civilians had been returned in a swap for five Russian prisoners. It did not say whether the Russians were combatants.
* Germany announced its latest steps to boost gas storage levels to prepare for the next winter season, when it fears Russia, which has cut deliveries in recent days, could reduce or even completely halt supplies. Read full story
(Compiled by Frances Kerry)