* Ukraine officials said troops in Sievierodonetsk have been ordered to withdraw, with very little left to defend in the bombed-out eastern city where hundreds of civilians remain trapped in a chemical plant.
* Sievierodonetsk's twin-city of Lysychansk will become the next main focus of fighting, with a pro-Russian leader saying it would take another week-and-a-half to secure full control.
* South of Sievierodonetsk, Ukrainian soldiers have retreated from the towns of Hirske and Zolote in the face of overwhelming Russian forces, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
* Ukraine's foreign minister says retreating does not mean losing the war, noting Russia had wanted to occupy the eastern Donbas region by May 9.
* Ukraine's general staff said its troops had some success in the southern Kherson region, forcing the Russians back from defensive positions near the village of Olhine, the latest of several Ukrainian counter-assaults.
* Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the ground.
ECONOMY AND DIPLOMACY
* European Union leaders formally accepted Ukraine as a candidate to join the EU, a bold geopolitical move triggered by Russia's invasion.
* Russia says the EU candidacy decision amounted to the EU "enslaving" neighbouring countries.
* The Group of Seven democracies will seek to show long-term support for Ukraine at a summit starting on Sunday, even as the war's growing impact on the world economy tests their resolve.
* Ukraine held a preliminary hearing in its first trial of a Russian soldier charged with raping a Ukrainian woman during the invasion. Prosecutors say there could be dozens of such cases.
* "Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense," Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukrainian television.
Australian Associated Press
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