Devastated by the Russian offensive in the east, Ukraine rules out a ceasefire

  • Ukraine rules out ceasefire, concessions
  • Russia launches attack in Luhansk, Mykolayiv
  • Ukraine must decide its own future, says Polish President

Kyiv, May 22 (Reuters) – Ukraine has ruled out a ceasefire or territorial concessions to Moscow as Russia ramps up its offensive in the eastern Donbass region and gas supplies to Finland in its latest response to western sanctions and its deepening international isolation ceased.

Polish President Andrzej Duda told lawmakers in Kyiv that the international community must demand Russia’s complete withdrawal from Ukrainian territory and that sacrificing even an inch of it would be a “huge blow” to the entire West.

“Concerning voices have surfaced saying that Ukraine should give in to the demands of (President Vladimir) Putin,” said Duda, the first foreign leader to personally address Ukrainian lawmakers since invading Russia on February 24. Continue reading

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“Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future.” Shortly after he finished speaking, an air raid siren sounded in central Kyiv, a reminder that the nation remained at war even though the front lines had shifted hundreds of miles south and east.

After the end of weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern port city of Mariupol, Russia is launching a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbass.

Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk province before the invasion, but Moscow wants to seize the remaining Ukrainian-held areas in the region.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday its forces had been using airstrikes and artillery bombardments on Ukrainian command centers, troops and ammunition depots in the Donbass and Mykolayiv region in the south. Continue reading

The Ukrainian General Staff reported continued heavy Russian shelling of the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in the Luhansk region.

The cities, separated by the Siverskiy Donets River, form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-controlled pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv and shifting its focus to the east and south of the country relocate

Reuters was unable to independently verify these battlefield reports.

Ukraine’s chief negotiator on Saturday ruled out a ceasefire that would leave Russian forces in occupied territories or a deal with Moscow that would involve a cession of territory, telling Reuters. Concessions would backfire because Russia would hit back harder after each lull in fighting, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. Continue reading

“The war will not stop. It will only pause for a while,” said Podolyak in an interview in the heavily guarded presidential office. “They will launch a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale.”

Recent calls for an immediate ceasefire have come from US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Continue reading

The end of fighting in Mariupol, the largest city Russia has captured, gives Putin a rare victory after a series of setbacks in nearly three months of fighting.

The last of the Ukrainian forces entrenched in Mariupol’s huge Azovstal Steel Plant have surrendered, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday. While Ukraine has not confirmed that all of its forces have withdrawn, the commander of the Azov regiment, one of the units at the factory, said in a video that the Ukrainian military command had ordered forces in Mariupol to withdraw to save their lives rescue. Continue reading

Full control of Mariupol gives Russia command of a land route connecting the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow captured in 2014, with mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists.

GAS DISPUTES

Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Saturday it had halted gas exports to Finland, which has rejected Moscow’s demands to pay for Russian gas in rubles after western countries imposed sanctions over the invasion. Continue reading

Finland said it was prepared for the disruption to Russian flows. On Wednesday, together with its Nordic neighbor Sweden, it applied to join the NATO military alliance, despite the opposition of NATO member Turkey. Continue reading

Most European supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars. Last month Moscow cut gas to Bulgaria and Poland after rejecting the new terms.

Western nations have also increased their arms supplies to Ukraine. On Saturday, Kyiv received another huge boost when US President Joe Biden signed legislation providing nearly $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid. Continue reading

Moscow says Western sanctions along with arms supplies to Kyiv amount to a “proxy war” by the United States and its allies.

Putin calls the invasion a “military special operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of radical anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine and its allies have dismissed this as an unfounded pretext for the war that has killed thousands of people in Ukraine, displaced millions and destroyed cities.

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Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Max Hunder, Tom Balmforth in Kyiv, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and the Reuters bureaus. Writing by Richard Pullin, Doina Chiacu and Tomasz Janowski. Edited by Frances Kerry and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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