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KYIV — The President of Ukraine says the fate of the Donbas region lies in the battle for Sievierodonetsk.

Russian troops continue to shell the city as it attempts to take control of eastern Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky described the fighting in the city as “very brutal” and “perhaps one of the most difficult throughout this war.”

Russia switched its focus to the Donbas region after it failed to take the capital city of Kyiv. About a third of the Donbas region is controlled by separatists who broke away from the Ukrainian government in 2014.

Zelensky says his country will launch a new system to track alleged Russian war crimes. In a video address Tuesday, Zelensky said “The Book of Executioners” will be used to collect data about “criminals from the Russian army.”

He added that this would be key in his promise to hold Russian troops accountable. Zelensky said the publication will contain “concrete facts about concrete individuals guilty of concrete cruel crimes against Ukrainians.”

Russia has denied targeting civilians and said alleged pictures of mass executions are “fabrications.”

As Ukraine tries to restart its exporting of grain, Zelensky says it still hasn’t reached an agreement with Russia or Turkey to allow its grain ships to pass safely into the Black Sea.

The warning from Kyiv on Tuesday came before today’s meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey. The United Nations is leaning on Moscow to remove mines blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports so food shipments can go out and ease a global food crisis made worse by Russia’s naval blockade.

Stories in Russian media have talked up the prospect of a deal that would allow the Kremlin to claim it’s helping hungry nations in Africa and the Middle East.