Kiev rejected the ceasefire as Russia stepped up attacks in eastern Ukraine

  • Ukraine ceases ceasefire, rejects concessions
  • Russia launched an offensive in Luhansk
  • The Polish president is scheduled to address parliament in Ukraine on Sunday

KYIV, May 22 (Reuters) – Ukraine has rejected a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow, while Russia has intensified its offensive in the eastern Donbass region and stopped sending gas to Finland in its latest salvo in response to Western sanctions and its deep international isolation.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, who met with President Volodymyr Zhelensky in Kiev last month, returned to address the Ukrainian parliament on Sunday, the first foreign leader to do so.

Russia is launching a major offensive in Luhansk, one of the two provinces in Donbass, after ending several weeks of protests by past Ukrainian militants in the strategic southeastern port of Mariupol.

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Prior to Russia’s occupation of Ukraine on February 24, pro-Russian separatists already controlled Luhansk and the neighboring Donetsk provinces.

In the Donetsk front, Russian forces were trying to break through Ukrainian defenses to reach the administrative borders of the Luhansk region, and in the north they continued heavy shelling on Sivrodonetsk and Lysyansk, Ukrainian civil servants said in their daily update on Sunday.

Sivirodonetsk and its dual Lyczynsk across the Shivarsky Donets River form the eastern part of the Ukrainian-controlled pocket, with Russia failing to capture Kiev since mid-April, trying to shift its focus to the east and south of the country.

The British Defense Ministry said Sunday that Russia was using its BMP-T “Terminator” tank-backed vehicles in the attack. Only 10 are available per unit, which has already suffered huge losses in the failed attempt on Kyiv, however, the ministry said, adding that they are “unlikely to have a significant impact”.

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Ukraine’s leading negotiator, who spoke to Reuters on Saturday, rejected any agreement, including a ceasefire or the surrender of territory to Moscow. Zelenskiy’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that Russia would strike hard after any break in the war because it would not make concessions. read more

“The war will not stop. It will be suspended for a while,” Bodoliyak said in an interview with the president’s office with heavy security. “They will launch a new attack, 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. read more

The outcome of the fighting in Mariupol, Russia’s largest city, marks a rare victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin after a series of setbacks in nearly three months of war.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that Ukrainian forces had surrendered to Mariupol’s vast Azovstel steel plant. read more

Mariupol gives full Russian command of a land route connecting the Crimean peninsula that Moscow captured in 2014, with Russia’s mainland and parts of eastern Ukraine occupied by pro-Russian separatists.

Gas dispute

Russian state gas company Gosprom (GAZP.MM) It said on Saturday it had halted gas exports to Finland, which had rejected Moscow’s demands for Russian gas to be paid in rubles after Western countries imposed sanctions on the invasion. read more

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Finland said it was ready to cut off Russian runs. Despite opposition from NATO member Turkey, it applied to join the NATO military alliance with its Nordic neighbor Sweden on Wednesday. read more

Most European supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars. Last month, Moscow cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland because it rejected the new rules.

Western nations have also stepped up arms supplies to Ukraine. On Saturday, Kiev received another major 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, arms supplies to Kiev are a “proxy war” between the United States and its allies.

Putin calls the invasion a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and eliminate radical anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine and its allies have rejected it as an unsubstantiated excuse for a war that has killed thousands of people in Ukraine and displaced millions of cities.

Zhelensky said in his call with Italy’s Troki on Saturday that he emphasized the need for additional sanctions on Russia and the blocking of Ukrainian ports.

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Editing by Natalia Zinets, Max Hunder, Tom Balmforth in Kyiv, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Reuters bureaux Richard Pullin, Doina Chiacu and Tomasz Janowski Editing by Jerry Doyle and Francis Kerry

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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