Ukraine warns that only negotiations can end the war as Russia cuts Finland’s gas

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warns on Saturday that Moscow has cut gas supplies to Finland so that only a diplomatic breakthrough, not a complete military victory, can end Russia’s war in his country. bottom.

After only 12 weeks of fierce fighting, Ukrainian troops have stopped Russia’s attempts to occupy Kyiv and the northern city of Kharkiv, but are under new fierce pressure in the East Donbus region.

Moscow troops flattened and occupied the southeastern port city of Mariupol, exposing Ukrainian troops and eastern towns to ruthless ground and artillery.

Zelensky’s western allies shipped modern weapons to his army and imposed drastic sanctions on the Russian economy and the inner circle of President Vladimir Putin.

However, the Kremlin responded by disrupting Europe’s energy supply, cutting off gas transport to Finland on Saturday and angering Moscow by applying to join the NATO alliance.

“Become bloody”

Against this background, Zelensky told Ukrainian television that the war would end “by diplomacy.”

The conflict was “bloody and there is a fight, but it will surely end only by diplomacy,” he warned.

President Putin demanded that importers from “disadvantageous countries” pay for the ruble’s gas in order to avoid economic sanctions and encourage European energy customers to support the central bank.

Russia’s energy giant Gazprom said it had stopped supplying to neighboring Finland because it had not received rubles from Finland’s state-owned energy company Gasum by the end of Friday.

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Gazprom supplied Finland with 1.49 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2021, which is about two-thirds of Finland’s gas consumption, but only 8% of its total energy consumption.

Gasum said it would fill the shortfall from other sources through the Baltic connector pipeline connecting Finland with its fellow European Union member Estonia.

Moscow cut off gas to Poland and Bulgaria last month in a move described by the European Union as “blackmail,” but importers from several other EU countries have decided to open a ruble account at a bank in Gazprom. It depends on Russia’s gas program.

Sweden, which is adjacent to Finland, broke the historic military nonalignment and applied for NATO this week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine followed by a surge in public support for the alliance.

“Serious mistake”

Moscow warned Finland that accession to NATO was a “serious mistake with widespread consequences,” and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said he would respond by building a military base in western Russia.

However, both Finland and Sweden appear to be on a fast track to join the military alliance, and this week U.S. President Joe Biden provided “full, complete, full support” for their bids. doing.

All 30 existing NATO member states need to agree on new entrants, Turkey has accused Sweden of accepting Kurdish militants, but diplomats are confident in avoiding veto. ..

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On the Ukrainian ground, fighting has been fierce since 2014 in the eastern part of the Russian-speaking Donbus, which has been partially dominated by pro-Kremlin separatists.

“They completely destroyed Rubizhne and Bonokvaka, just like Mariupol,” Zelensky said on Friday, adding that the Russians “are trying to do the same in Severodonetsk and many other cities.”

In the front-line city of Severodonetsk, which is currently on the verge of siege, Russian bombardment killed 12 people and injured another 40, according to the regional governor.

“End of operation”

Zelensky described the bombardment of Severodonetsk as “brutal and absolutely meaningless.” The inhabitants barking in the basement explained the endless test of horror.

The city forms part of the last pocket of Ukraine’s resistance in Lugansk and, along with the neighboring areas of Donetsk, constitutes the War in Donbas.

Moscow said on Friday that the battle for the Azovstal ironworks in Mariupol was over. This is a symbol of Ukraine’s persistent resistance since Putin launched its invasion on February 24th.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenko said that from 16 May, 2,439 Ukrainian employees have surrendered to the steelworks and the last 500 on Friday have surrendered.

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Ukraine wants to exchange surrendered Azovstal iron soldiers for Russian prisoners. But in Donetsk, pro-Kremlin authorities have threatened to bring some of them to justice.

Biden cast the Ukrainian War as part of a US-led struggle for democracy against authoritarianism.

This week, Congress approved a $ 40 billion (€ 38 billion) aid package, including funding to strengthen Ukraine’s armored vehicles and air defense systems.

And at a meeting in Germany, the G7 developed countries promised $ 19.8 billion to support Ukraine’s shattered finances.

Underground living

The invasion has declined around the northeastern city of Kharkiv, but it remains within the range of Russian artillery and hundreds of people refuse to leave the relatively safe areas of its subway system.

“We’re tired. You can see the comfort of the house we have,” said 35-year-old Kateryna Talpa, pointing at the ground mattresses and sheets, and the food in the cardboard boxes. Said.

“They got used to it,” Tulpa said.


Originally published on RFI Ukraine warns that only negotiations can end the war as Russia cuts Finland’s gas

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