War in Ukraine: Russian gas cut in Finland, “intense fire” on the Donbass

War in Ukraine: Russian gas cut in Finland,

WAR IN UKRAINE – The Azovstal steelworks, the last bastion defended by Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, passed Friday under Russian control. At the same time, the supply of natural gas to Finland by Russia was interrupted this Saturday, May 21.

On the 87th day of the war in Ukraine, the Donbass is still under fire from Russian bombardments and the Ukrainian forces are seeing “signs of aggravation”. The HuffPost takes stock of the situation.

The Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Saturday that it had suspended all its gas deliveries to Finland, following Helsinki’s refusal to pay it in rubles.

Gazprom, having not received payment in rubles from the Finnish public energy company Gasum by the May 20 deadline, has “completely stopped its gas deliveries”, the Russian group said in a press release. The Russian group says it has supplied 1.49 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Finland in 2021, i.e. two thirds of the country’s consumption.

After the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine on February 24 and the imposition of Western sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 31 demanded that buyers of Russian gas from “unfriendly” countries pay in rubles from accounts in Russia on pain of being deprived of supplies.

Natural gas, however, represents only 8% of the energy consumed in Finland and the Nordic country has indicated that it is counting on other sources of supply. A week earlier, Russia had already cut off its electricity supply to Finland, shortly after Helsinki formalized its desire to join NATO in the context of the war in Ukraine.

  • Donbass under “intense fire”

After failing to take kyiv and Kharkiv, the second Ukrainian city (northeast), Russia is concentrating its military efforts in the east and south. Moscow seeks in particular to completely conquer the Donbass, partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists.

“The Russian occupation forces are conducting heavy fire along the entire front line,” Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motouzianyk said, adding that the situation “showed signs of worsening”.

“It’s hell” in the Donbass, where a heavy artillery battle is underway, the Ukrainian president said Thursday evening. Its services reported Friday morning bombings on an axis running from the northeast to the south of the country.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for his part assured that the conquest of the Lugansk region, which with that of Donetsk constitutes the Donbass, was “almost completed”.

In Lozova, a city in the east, at least eight people including a child were injured by a Russian missile strike on a newly rebuilt cultural center, Ukrainian officials said on Friday.

The Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol, the last pocket of resistance in this strategic port on the Sea of ​​Azov, has “passed under the complete control of the Russian armed forces” after the surrender of the last Ukrainian soldiers, the spokesman said on Friday evening. from the Russian Ministry of Defense, stating that the news had been passed on to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The higher military command has given the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and to stop defending the city”, said in a video on Telegram the commander of the Azov regiment, Denys Prokopenko, a large bandage on the right arm and the swollen left, from what appeared to be an underground room.

kyiv rejects the term surrender, Volodymyr Zelensky evoking “the rescue of our heroes”. The Russian military released footage on Friday evening that it said was of the search of unarmed Ukrainian fighters by Russian soldiers.

Ukraine hopes to exchange prisoners of war but Russia has let it be known, implicitly targeting the Azov regiment, that it considers some of them to be “neo-Nazi” fighters. The International Committee of the Red Cross has urged both sides to grant it access to prisoners of war and civilian internees, “wherever they are held”.

The war in Ukraine can only be ended through “diplomatic” means, assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this Saturday, May 21, while negotiations between Moscow and kyiv are at an impasse. “The war “will be bloody, it will be fighting, but it will end definitively via diplomacy”he said in an interview with a Ukrainian television channel.

“There are things that we will only be able to achieve at the negotiating table. We want everything back (as before)”, which “Russia does not want”, he added, without giving further details. Tuesday, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, had indicated that the talks between Moscow and kyiv were “on hold”, considering that Moscow showed no “understanding” of the situation.

The next day, the Kremlin accused Ukraine of “total unwillingness” to negotiate with Russia to end the invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24.

  • Russia says it destroyed ‘large’ Western arms shipment to Ukraine

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that its forces had destroyed a large shipment of weapons supplied by the West in northwestern Ukraine.

“High-precision long-range Kalibr missiles, launched from the sea, destroyed a large consignment of arms and military equipment supplied by the United States and European countries, near Malin railway station, in the region of Zhytomyr,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, these weapons were intended for Ukrainian forces in the eastern region of Donbass. Western countries have supplied Ukraine with weapons, including artillery, anti-aircraft missiles or anti-tank weapons, and kyiv is asking for additional support from its allies.

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