Ukraine rejects concessions as Russians attack in the east and south

  • Ukraine rules out ceasefire and concessions
  • Russia launches assault on Luhansk, Mykolaiv
  • Ukraine must decide its own future, says Polish president

kyiv, May 22 (Reuters) – Ukraine has ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Moscow as Russia stepped up its attack on the eastern and southern parts of the country, hitting the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions with airstrikes and artillery fire. .

kyiv’s stance has become increasingly uncompromising in recent weeks, as Russia experienced military setbacks and Ukrainian officials began to worry they might be pressured to sacrifice land for a peace deal.

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

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Polish President Andrzej Duda offered Warsaw’s backing, telling lawmakers in kyiv on Sunday that the international community had to demand Russia’s full withdrawal and that sacrificing any territory would be a “major blow” to the entire West.

“Worrying voices have appeared saying that Ukraine should give in to (President Vladimir) Putin’s demands,” said Duda, the first foreign leader to address the Ukrainian parliament in person since Russia’s invasion on February 24. read more

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

Speaking at the same parliamentary session, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy renewed his call for stronger economic sanctions against Moscow.

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

Shortly after the two finished speaking, an air raid siren was heard in the capital, a reminder that the war continues even if their front lines are now hundreds of miles apart.

Zelenskiy told a news conference with Duda that 50 to 100 Ukrainians are killed every day on the eastern front of the war in what appeared to be a reference to military casualties.

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

The heaviest fighting was centered in the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko told Ukrainian television on Sunday.

The cities form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-controlled pocket that Russia has been trying to invade since mid-April after failing to capture kyiv and shifting its focus to the east and south of the country.

Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk, said in a local television interview that Russia was using “scorched earth” tactics in the region.

“They are wiping Sievierodonetsk off the face of the earth,” he said.

Russian shelling and “intense fighting” near Sievierodonetsk have continued, but the invading forces failed to secure the nearby village of Oleksandrivka, according to a Ukrainian military statement.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that its forces targeted Ukraine’s command centers, troops and ammunition depots in Donbas and the Mykolaiv region in the south with air and artillery strikes. read more

Multiple explosions were heard throughout the city of Mykolaiv on Sunday night, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said in a social media post.

Reuters was unable to independently verify those battlefield reports.

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

Ukraine’s military said seven civilians were killed and eight wounded during Russian strikes in Donetsk on Sunday. Luhansk numbers were not disclosed.

NO CONCESSIONS, NO CEASEFIRE

Ukraine’s top negotiator, Zelenskiy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, ruled out any territorial concessions and rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire, saying that 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, referring to calls for an immediate ceasefire as “very strange.”

Concessions would backfire because Russia would use the lull in fighting to become stronger, he said. read more

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

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

The last Ukrainian forces sheltering at Mariupol’s large Azovstal steelworks have surrendered, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday. Ukraine has not confirmed that development, but a commander of one of the units at the factory said in a video that troops had been ordered to stand down. read more

Full control of Mariupol gives Russia command of a land route linking the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, with mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists.

RUSSIA CUTTING OFF GAS TO FINLAND

The Russian state gas company Gazprom said on Saturday that it had halted gas exports to Finland after Helsinki refused to pay in rubles. read more

Moscow isolated Bulgaria and Poland last month after they rejected similar terms.

Along with the sanctions, Western nations have increased supplies of arms and other aid to Ukraine, including a new $40 billion package from the United States. read more

Moscow says Western sanctions and aid to 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 it as an unfounded pretext for the war, which has killed thousands of people in Ukraine and displaced millions.

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Information from Natalia Zinets, Max Hunder, Tom Balmforth in Kyiv, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Lidia Kelly in Melbourne, Ron Popeski and Reuters bureaus; Written by Richard Pullin, Doina Chiacu, Tomasz Janowski, and Lawrence Hurley; Edited by Frances Kerry, Frank Jack Daniel, Daniel Wallis, and Paul Simao

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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