Russia's army escalated its attacks in Donetsk as the Kremlin strives to capture more of the Donbas region.
In the past day, shelling has killed at least seven civilians in Ukraine, officials said Wednesday. Pro-Russia separatists said attacks by Ukrainian forces killed four civilians.
With Russian troops closing in on the city of Sloviansk, the British Defence Ministry said in a tweet that a battle for that city could be "the next key contest in the struggle for the Donbas."
Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post that two people died in the city of Avdiivka, which is located in the center of the province, and the Donetsk cities of Sloviansk, Krasnohorivka and Kurakhove each reported one civilian killed.
"Every crime will be punished," he wrote.
Kyrylenko urged the province's more than 350,000 remaining residents to flee late Tuesday, saying that evacuating Donetsk was necessary to save lives and allow the Ukrainian army to put up a better defense against the Russian advance.
In Brussels, European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen cautioned that the EU must consider a future without access to Russian gas.
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Ukraine: More than 21,000 war crimes, crimes of aggression committed by Russia
Russia has committed more than 21,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression against Ukraine since it launched its attack in February, Ukraine claims.
An infographic shared by Ukraine's prosecutor general's office Wednesday alleges that more than 20,000 of those crimes "broke the laws and customs of war."
'They behave like barbarians': Ukraine's chief war crimes investigator sees few prospects for reconciliation with Russian
The prosecutor general's office also claimed Russia committed more than 10,000 crimes against Ukraine's national security, and nearly 1,000 crimes against children - injuring 645 kids and killing 346.
- Ella Lee
Russia tightens grip in Luhansk: British Defense
The British Ministry of Defense said Wednesday on Twitter that the Kremlin "likely continues to consolidate its control over Lysychansk and Luhansk Oblast."
Russian troops from its eastern and western forces are closing in on the town of Sloviansk, which could be the next "key contest" in the battle for the Donbas.
The ministry said Russian forces are meeting with "determined Ukrainian opposition" as they move toward the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium.
Ukraine's top legal official: 'They behave like barbarians': Ukraine's chief war crimes investigator sees few prospects for reconciliation with Russians
A Europe without Russian gas?
BRUSSELS - European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the 27-nation European Union needs to make emergency plans to prepare for a complete cut-off of Russian gas in the wake of the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.
"It is obvious: (Russian President Vladimir) Putin continues to use energy as a weapon. This is why the Commission is working on a European emergency plan," she told legislators in Strasbourg, France.
The EU has already imposed sanctions on Russia, including on some energy supplies, and is steering away from Kremlin-controlled deliveries. But the head of the EU's executive branch said the bloc needed to be ready for shock disruptions coming from Moscow, and said the first plans would be presented by the middle of the month.
"If worst comes to worst, then we have to be prepared," she said, hoping to avoid the chaotic scenes, and the my-country-first attitude that some member states showed early on in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
- Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Russian troops escalate attack in Donetsk: Ukraine live updates