Ukraine war, Russia aims to 'destroy' Donbas says Zelensky.

President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of trying to "destroy" the Donbas region.

"There were massive air and artillery strikes in Donbas. The occupier's goal here is unchanged, they want to destroy the entire Donbas step-by-step," Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

He also repeated his calls for Western leaders to speed up the delivery of heavy artillery to his troops.

"We again and again emphasise the acceleration of arms deliveries to Ukraine. What is quickly needed is parity on the battlefield in order to halt this diabolical armada and push it beyond Ukraine's borders," he said.

UKRAINE'S President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the European Union's expected offer of candidate status for his battle-weary nation, as Russian forces pounded Ukraine's second-biggest city Kharkiv and the eastern Donbas region.

Zelensky said how he had been conversing with European leaders since the morning for "the sake of a positive decision on the candidacy for Ukraine," with talks expected to continue.

European leaders will formally set Ukraine on the long road to EU membership at a summit in Brussels on Thursday (June 23). Though mainly symbolic, the move will help lift national morale at a very difficult time in a four-month conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and flattened towns and cities.

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