Russia threatens to halt energy exports to Europe while the Ukrainian army retakes territory in the east

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to halt all energy supplies to Europe if Brussels goes ahead with a proposal to cap Russian gas prices, in a hawkish speech in which he said Russia will not lose the war in Ukraine.

The speech came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced “good news” from the front near Kharkiv in the east, saying some settlements had been retaken as both sides reported heavy fighting in the region.

Ukrainian and pro-Russian officials said there had been fighting around the town of Balakleia some 60 km (38 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, with unconfirmed reports of heavy casualties among Russian forces.

Meanwhile, an explosion at a power plant near Odessa in the south cut power to 360,000 people, a spokesman for the regional administration said.

Speaking to an economic forum in Russia’s Far East on Wednesday, Putin said Russia will not lose its “military special operation” in Ukraine.

He threatened to halt all energy supplies to Europe if Brussels goes through with the proposed price cap on Russian gas, the West’s latest move to rip off funds from the Kremlin to finance the war.

“We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we will not supply anything,” he said. Europe typically imports about 40 percent of its gas and 30 percent of its oil from Russia.

The United States and France say Moscow is already using energy as a “weapon” to weaken Europe’s resistance to its invasion, with the main pipeline carrying Russian gas to Europe, Nord Stream 1, closed for maintenance.

Ukraine has remained cautious about its counteroffensive in the east, but Presidential Advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video posted to YouTube that Ukrainian troops surprised Russian defenders at Balakleia.

“The Russians say Balakleia is encircled, when in fact (our troops) went much further…they cut off the road to Kupyansk,” he said, referring to the main transport hub supplying Russian forces at Izyum East.

A pro-Russian regional official, Rodion Miroshnik, said on Telegram that despite fighting north of the city, Balakleia remained in Russian hands.

Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports, but Yuri Podolyak, a Ukrainian often quoted by pro-Russian officials, also said Russian troops were surprised by the Ukrainian advance.

“The enemy, with a relatively small force, had a notable success near Balakleia… It seems that the Russian forces slept through this advance and awaited it elsewhere,” he wrote on Telegram.

“Everything now seems to depend on the speed at which reserves are brought into battle… there have been significant casualties.”

Asked about the course of the war at the forum in Vladivostok, Putin said: “We have lost nothing and will not lose anything.”

The United States accused Moscow of war crimes by unlawfully detaining, interrogating and deporting up to 1.6 million Ukrainians, including 1,800 children.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council that Russian officials are monitoring so-called filtration operations “aimed at identifying individuals that Russia deems insufficiently compliant or compatible with its control.”

The envoy said the practice was in preparation for the annexation of territory.

United Nations political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo said the council confirmed that Ukrainian civilians were being filtered and requested access to all those detained.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said Ukrainians traveling to Russia “go through a registration rather than a filtering process.” Russia threatens to halt energy exports to Europe while the Ukrainian army retakes territory in the east

Fry Electronics Team

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