President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine predicted that Russia will intensify its attacks this week, as European Union policymakers deliberate whether to support his country's application to join the bloc and Russia continues its drive to seize control of eastern Ukraine.

Four days after Russian forces crossed the border in February, Ukraine submitted its application to join the EU. Friday, the European Commission, the EU's executive, recommended that Ukraine be granted candidate status.

Zelenskiy stated in his Sunday evening video message, "Clearly, this week we should anticipate a heightened level of hostility from Russia. We're preparing. We're all set."

At a conference on Thursday and Friday, the leaders of the 27-nation union will deliberate the issue and are anticipated to approve Ukraine's application, despite some member states' reservations. Many years may be required to complete the procedure.

Putin stated on Friday that Russia had "nothing against" Ukraine's EU membership, but a Kremlin spokesman stated that Russia was closely monitoring Kyiv's application, particularly in light of greater defense cooperation among EU members.

The EU's embrace of Ukraine would conflict with one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's stated intentions when he ordered his soldiers into Ukraine, which was to keep Moscow's southern neighbor outside of the West's sphere of influence.

On the battlefield, Russian soldiers are attempting to seize total control of the eastern Donbas region, portions of which were already occupied by Russian-backed separatists before the February 24 assault.

The industrial city of Sievierodonetsk is a primary objective of Russia's offensive in the eastern region. 

Russia announced on Sunday that it had captured the town of Metyolkine, located on the outskirts of the city, and the Russian state news agency TASS reported that numerous Ukrainian fighters had surrendered there. Russia had "limited success" in the region, according to Ukraine's military.

The governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Gaidai, stated on Ukrainian television that a Russian offensive on Toshkivka, located 35 kilometers (20 miles) south of Sievierodonetsk, "had some success."

In Sievierodonetsk, a city of 100,000 prior to the war, the mayor, Olekander Struk, stated that Russian forces controlled approximately two-thirds of the city, including the majority of residential areas, and that they continued to throw forces at the Ukrainians in an attempt to completely take over.

Russia and Ukraine have maintained intense bombardment at Sievierodonetsk "with little change to the front line," the British Ministry of Defense reported Sunday.