Russian forces pounded the city of Lysychansk and its surroundings in an all-out attempt to seize the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, the governor said Saturday.

Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighboring Severodonetsk did a week ago. The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces took control of an oil refinery on Lysychansk’s edge in recent days, but Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai reported Friday that fighting for the facility continued.

“Over the last day, the occupiers opened fire from all available kinds of weapons,” Haidai said Saturday on the Telegram messaging app.

Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk are the two provinces that make up the Donbas region, where Russia has focused its offensive since pulling back from northern Ukraine and the capital, Kyiv, in the spring.

Pro-Russia separatists have held portions of both eastern provinces since 2014, and Moscow recognizes all of Luhansk and Donetsk as sovereign republics. Syria’s government said Wednesday that it would also recognize the “independence and sovereignty” of the two areas and work to establish diplomatic relations with the separatists.

In Slovyansk, a major Donetsk city still under Ukrainian control, four people died when Russian forces fired cluster munitions late Friday, Mayor Vadym Lyakh said on Facebook. He said the neighborhoods that were hit didn’t contain any potential military targets.

The National Weather Service has posted a severe thunderstorm watch for south and central Jersey through 9 p.m. Saturday.

The watch covers all counties from Mercer and Middlesex to the south except for Cape May County.

A cold front is expected to move in this evening and offer some relief to the hot and humid conditions that prevailed on Saturday. But that front is expected to trigger some potentially dangerous thunderstorms.

The storms could bring lightning, and even some hail, with winds gusting to up to to 65 mph. Once the storms move through the air should be cooler and drier, with less humidity on Sunday.

For a while Wednesday, the New Jersey Senate chambers looked a bit like it did in 2005.

Standing at the marble lectern was Sen. Richard Codey, who presided over a part of the last voting session at the Statehouse in Trenton before lawmakers set off for a summer break.

It’s something he knows well. The Essex County Democrat was Senate president from 2002-10, and this was his first time running a session since.

Senate President Nicholas Scutari ceded the podium to Codey for more than half an hour, allowing him to oversee votes on a number of bills.

So was it like riding a bike?

“Close,” Codey said afterwards.

He said his mind went “right back to when I was the president.”

Codey is veteran of New Jersey politics. The 75-year-old is the longest serving lawmaker in state history, having served in the state Legislature since 1974. He also served as governor from November 2004 to January 2006 after Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned.

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