Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia in the east, ruled out a ceasefire

  • Ukraine rules out ceasefire and concessions
  • Russia launches attack in Luhansk
  • Polish President of Ukraine addresses Parliament on Sunday

Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukraine has ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Moscow as Russia ramped up its offensive in the eastern Donbass region and halted gas deliveries to Finland in its latest response to Western sanctions and its growing international isolation.

Polish President Andrzej Duda told Ukraine’s parliament that ceding even “an inch” of the country’s territory would be a blow to the entire West and assured Kyiv of Warsaw’s strong support for its bid to join the European Union.

“Worrying voices have emerged saying that Ukraine should respond to (President Vladimir) Putin’s demands,” said Duda, who is the first foreign leader to address Ukrainian lawmakers in person since the Russian invasion on February 24. Read more

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Only Ukraine has the right to decide its own future.

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

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

On the front line in Donetsk, Russian forces have been trying to break through Ukrainian defenses to reach the administrative border of the Luhansk region, while continuing north with heavy shelling of Severodonetsk and Lysechansk, Ukraine’s General Staff said in its daily update Sunday.

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Severodonetsk and its twin Lysishansk across the Seversky Donets River form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-controlled enclave that Russia has been trying to bypass since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv and shifting its focus to the east and south of the country.

The British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that Russia would deploy BMP-T “Terminator” tank support vehicles in that attack. With only 10 available for a unit that had already incurred heavy losses in the failed attempt on Kyiv, the ministry said it was “unlikely to have a significant impact”.

Ukraine’s chief negotiator, speaking to Reuters on Saturday, ruled out a ceasefire or any agreement with Moscow that includes ceding territory. Mr Zelensky’s adviser, Mikhailo Podolak, said concessions were counterproductive because Russia would respond more forcefully after any pause in fighting. Read more

“The war will not stop. It will stop for a while,” Podolyak said in an interview in a heavily guarded presidential office. “They will start a new attack, which will be more bloody and extensive.”

The latest calls for an immediate ceasefire came from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Read more

The end of the fighting in Mariupol, the largest city captured by Russia, gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a rare victory after a series of setbacks in nearly three months of fighting.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that the last Ukrainian forces that were holed up in the huge Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered. While Ukraine has not confirmed the departure of all its forces, the commander of the Azov Regiment, one of the units at the plant, said in a video that the Ukrainian military command had ordered the troops in Mariupol to step down in order to save their lives. Read more

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Full control of Mariupol gives Russia command of a land route linking Crimea, which Moscow captured in 2014, with mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine under the control of pro-Russian separatists.

gas dispute

Russian state gas company Gazprom (GAZP.MM) On Saturday, it said it had halted gas exports to Finland, which rejected Moscow’s demands to pay rubles for Russian gas after Western countries imposed sanctions over the invasion. Read more

Finland said it was ready to stop Russian flows. On Wednesday, it applied with its Scandinavian neighbor Sweden to join the NATO military alliance, although this is facing resistance from NATO member Turkey. Read more

Most European supply contracts are made in euros or dollars. Last month, Moscow cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland after they rejected the new terms.

Western countries have also boosted arms supplies to Ukraine. On Saturday, Kyiv got another big boost when US President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide nearly $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid. Read more

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

Putin describes the invasion as a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian ultra-nationalists. Ukraine and its allies dismissed this as a baseless excuse for a war that has killed thousands of people in Ukraine, displaced millions and destroyed cities.

Zelensky said he stressed the importance of more sanctions against Russia and the opening of Ukrainian ports in a phone call with Italy’s Draghi on Saturday.

Additional reporting by Natalia Zenets, Max Hander and Tom Palmforth in Kyiv, David Younggreen in Ottawa, Lydia Kelly in Melbourne, Reuters offices.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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