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Pounded by the Russian offensive in the east, Ukraine excludes any concession


Kyiv’s stance has grown increasingly intransigent in recent weeks as Russia suffered military setbacks and Ukrainian officials feared they would be forced to sacrifice land for a peace deal.

“The war must end with the full restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

Polish President Andrzej Duda offered Warsaw’s support, telling kyiv lawmakers on Sunday that the international community should demand Russia’s complete withdrawal and that sacrificing part of it would be a “serious blow” to the whole West.

“Disturbing voices have emerged saying that Ukraine should give in to (President) Putin’s demands,” said Duda, the first foreign leader to address the Ukrainian parliament in person since the February 24 Russian invasion.

“Only Ukraine has the right to decide its future,” he added.

Addressing the same parliamentary session, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy renewed his plea for stronger economic sanctions against Moscow.

“Half measures should not be used when aggression needs to be stopped,” he said.

Shortly after the two men finished speaking, an air raid siren sounded in the capital, a reminder that the war continues even though the front lines are now hundreds of miles away.

Russia is currently carrying out a major offensive in Luhansk, one of the two provinces of Donbas, after having put an end to weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic port of Mariupol, in the south-east of the country.

The most intense fighting has been concentrated around the twin towns of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Interior Minister adviser Vadym Denysenko told Ukrainian television on Sunday.

These towns form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to invade since mid-April after failing to take kyiv and shifting its focus to the east and south of the country.

The Russian Defense Minister said on Sunday that his forces pounded Ukrainian command centers, troops and ammunition depots in Donbas and the southern Mykolaiv region with airstrikes and artillery fire.

Reuters was unable to independently verify these battlefield reports.

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

NO CONCESSIONS, NO CEASEFIRE

Ukraine’s top negotiator, Zelenskiy’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, ruled out any territorial concessions and rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire, saying this meant Russian troops would remain in the occupied territories, which kyiv could not accept. .

“The (Russian) forces must leave the country and after that the resumption of the peace process will be possible,” Podolyak said in an interview with Reuters on Saturday, calling calls for an immediate ceasefire “very strange”.

Concessions would backfire on Russia, which would take advantage of the break in fighting to come back stronger, he added.

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

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

The last Ukrainian forces entrenched in the vast Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol surrendered, the Russian Defense Minister said on Friday. While Ukraine has not confirmed a full withdrawal, the commander of one of the plant’s units, said in a video that the Ukrainian military command had ordered the troops present to withdraw in order to preserve their lives. .

Full control of Mariupol gives Russia control of a land route linking the Crime Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-separatists. Russians.

RUSSIA CUTS GAS TO FINLAND

Russia’s national gas company Gazprom said on Saturday it had halted gas exports to Finland, which has refused Moscow’s demands to pay in rubles for Russian gas after Western countries imposed sanctions following the invasion.

Finland has declared that it was prepared to cut off Russian flows. It asked on Wednesday, along with Sweden, to join the NATO military alliance, although this request met with resistance from Turkey, a member of NATO.

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

Along with the sanctions, Western nations have stepped up arms shipments to Ukraine. On Saturday, kyiv received another huge boost when US President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide nearly $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid.

Moscow says Western sanctions and arms shipments for kyiv amount to a “proxy war” by Washington and its allies.

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



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