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Ukrainians fight for ‘every meter’ of Sievierodonetsk as city risks being cut off 

The key eastern Ukrainian city is facing fierce fighting, making mass evacuation and humanitarian aid deliveries "impossible," a regional governor said.

As fierce fighting continues in Sievierodonetsk, its residents are trapped after two bridges out of the key eastern city in the Donbas were destroyed and the third one has been heavily fired on, a regional governor said late Sunday. 

Ukrainian troops were fighting for “every meter” of the city amid “very fierce fighting,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address, as Russian forces were pressing to take full control of Sievierodonetsk. 

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A view of smoke columns rising from Sievierodonetsk as seen from Lysychansk, Ukraine, on June 10, 2022. Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, which together with Donetsk makes up the industrial region of the Donbas, said in a television interview Monday that Russia now controls 70 percent of the city and “mass evacuation and humanitarian aid deliveries are impossible due to shelling.”

Up to 500 residents, including 40 children, were hiding at a chemical plant in the city, he said, and he was concerned its shelters were not as strong as those at the Azovstal steelworks plant in the port city of Mariupol, where the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance and civilians were holding out for months under heavy bombardment.   

Here is what else to know about developments in and around Ukraine on Monday.

1) Hundreds killed in indiscriminate shelling of Kharkiv in alleged war crime, report says 

A report released by the human rights organization Amnesty International on Monday said hundreds of civilians have been killed in the northeastern city of Kharkiv by what it called “indiscriminate Russian shelling, using widely banned cluster munitions and inherently inaccurate rockets,” alleging it constitutes a war crime. 

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A man looks at the remains of a missile in a residential area of Kharkiv, on April 21.Sergey Bobok / AFP via Getty Images

The organization said its report details how Russian forces have caused “widespread death and destruction” by relentlessly bombarding residential neighborhoods of Kharkiv since Moscow launched its invasion Feb. 24. It said its investigation has found evidence of the Russian army repeatedly using cluster munitions, as well as scatterable mines, both of which are subject to international treaty bans because of their indiscriminate effects. 

NBC News could not independently confirm the details contained in Amnesty's report. 

2) North Korea’s Kim Jong Un throws his support behind Putin 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent veiled praise to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine war and pledged his people’s support for Moscow’s cause, North Korean state media reported Sunday. 

Congratulating the Russian leader on his country’s national day celebrated June 12, the KCNA state news agency said, Kim noted that “the Russian people have achieved great successes in accomplishing the just cause of defending the dignity and security of their country,” without directly mentioning Ukraine. The North Korean people extend full support and encouragement to them, his message added, according to KCNA. 

3) Turkey’s security concerns are legitimate, NATO chief says

Concerns voiced by Turkey about NATO membership bids by Finland and Sweden are legitimate, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday. “This is about terrorism, it’s about weapons exports,” he said during a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

Both Sweden and Finland moved to submit their formal applications to join NATO last month in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But Turkey, a key member of the military alliance, voiced opposition to the two nations joining, accusing them of alleged support for Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers to be terrorists.

4) Ukraine’s vulnerable disabled community feels more isolated by Russia’s war

Russia’s invasion has made life even more difficult and isolated for more than 200 physically and intellectually challenged Ukrainians living in an orphanage in the central Ukrainian town of Vilshanka, according to NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel who traveled there. 

After similar shelters in eastern Ukraine were evacuated, the facility became overcrowded with two vital therapy rooms converted into dormitories for 38 new arrivals. Director Bogdan Kikina had to suspend modernization plans because of Russia’s invasion and said, “this damn war set back their development.”

5) No reasons to pardon foreign nationals sentenced to death, separatist leader says

The leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, backed by Moscow, said Sunday he saw no reason to pardon the foreign nationals who were sentenced to death in the breakaway republic last week, the Russian state news agency Tass reported

Two British citizens, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, as well as Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, were found guilty of working toward a violent overthrow of power by a court in the self-proclaimed republic, Russian media reported Thursday. They were also convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism. Britain has condemned their death penalty sentences. Aslin, Pinner and Brahim were given a month to appeal the court’s decision, according to the news agency.