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Ukraine is cutting back Russian gas supplies to Europe after pictures show wounded Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal Steel Plant

The Ukrainian natural gas pipeline operator said it would halt Russian supplies through a key hub in the east of the country, while its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Kiev military had made small gains and pushed Russian forces out of four villages near Kharkiv.

The pipeline operator said Russian supplies through its Novopskov hub in a Moscow-backed separatist-controlled area would be halted from Wednesday.

The hub handles about a third of Russian gas flowing through Ukraine to Western Europe. Russia’s state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom put the number at about a quarter.

The operator said it was halting the flow due to interference from “occupational forces,” including apparent gas siphoning.

Russia could reroute supplies through Sudzha, a major hub in a Ukrainian-controlled northern part of the country, it said. But Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said it was “technologically impossible”.

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A damaged car is pictured in the Saltivka neighborhood amid the Russian attack on Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Image: Reuters

Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that the military is gradually driving Russian troops out of Kharkiv, while Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed what appeared to be growing confidence – and broadened goals by suggesting Ukraine could do more than just push Russia back into areas that are in danger occupied it before the invasion began 11 weeks ago.

Kuleba told the Financial Times that Ukraine initially believed the victory was a withdrawal of Russian troops to positions they had held prior to the February 24 invasion. But the focus shifted to the eastern industrial heartland of the Donbass after Russian forces failed to take Kyiv early in the war.

“If we are strong enough on the military front now and win the battle for Donbass, which will be decisive for the further dynamics of the war, then, of course, victory for us in this war will be the liberation of the rest of our territories,” Kuleba said .

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A Ukrainian soldier walks next to a destroyed Russian T-90M Proryv main battle tank as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues near the village of Staryi Saltiv in the Kharkiv region. Image: Reuters

Kuleba’s statement appeared to reflect political ambitions rather than battlefield realities: Russian forces have advanced in Donbass and control more than before the war began. But it shows how Ukraine has thwarted a larger, better-armed Russian military, surprising many who expected a much quicker end to the conflict.

One example is Ukraine’s ability to prevent easy victories in Mariupol, where Ukrainian militants holed up in a steel mill are denying Russia full control of the city. The regiment defending the plant said Russian warplanes continued to bomb it, striking 34 times in 24 hours.

In recent days, the United Nations and the Red Cross organized a rescue of what some officials said were the last civilians trapped at the facility. But two officials said on Tuesday about 100 are believed to remain in the complex’s underground tunnels. Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said those who remained were people “who the Russians did not choose for evacuation.”

Azov regiment fighters published photos that could not be independently verified, of their wounded comrades at the factory, including some with limbs amputated. They said the wounded were living in unsanitary conditions “with open wounds associated with unsterile remnants of bandages, without the necessary medicines and even food.”

In its statement on Telegram, the regiment appealed to the United Nations and the Red Cross to evacuate the wounded soldiers to areas controlled by Ukraine.

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An injured Ukrainian soldier receives medical treatment at a field hospital in a bunker of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, Ukraine. Image: Reuters

Ukraine said on Tuesday that Russian forces had fired seven rockets at Odessa a day earlier, hitting a mall and a warehouse in the country’s main port. One person was killed and five injured, the military said.

Pictures showed a burning building and debris – including a tennis shoe – in a debris pile in the Black Sea city.

A general has suggested that Moscow’s goals are to cut off Ukraine’s maritime access to both the Black and Azov Seas. That would also give Russia a corridor connecting it to both the Crimean Peninsula, which it captured in 2014, and Transnistria, a pro-Moscow region in Moldova.

On Tuesday, America’s spy chief said Vladimir Putin expected the West’s resolve to weaken as the cost-of-living crisis hits while he wages a protracted war in Ukraine.

Avril Haines, Joe Biden’s director of national intelligence, said Putin’s decision to pull out of Kyiv and focus on the eastern Donbass region was a “temporary shift to regain initiative” amid broader territorial ambitions.

She said it was a “war of attrition” with little “viable” hope for peace and that a Russian victory in Donbas may not end the conflict as Putin is determined to grant a land bridge to Transnistria, the pro-Russian enclave in Moldova to build.

Appearing before the Congressional Armed Services Committee, Ms Haines said she expects more “ad hoc decisions” from Putin and an increasing potential for him to “use more drastic means, including the imposition of martial law, the rebalancing of industrial production or a possible… Escalation of military options”.

She said Putin will also use “nuclear rhetoric” to deter the West. But Putin “would probably only authorize the use of nuclear weapons if he sees an existential threat to the Russian state or regime,” she said.

The U.S. House of Representatives strongly endorsed a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine as lawmakers stepped up President Joe Biden’s initial request and signaled increased, bipartisan engagement to end Russian President Vladimir’s three-month-old bloody invasion defeating Putin.

The measure sailed into passage with a lopsided margin of 368 to 57, providing $7 billion more than Biden’s April request and splitting the increase evenly between defense and humanitarian programs. The law would provide military and economic aid to Ukraine, help regional allies replenish weapons shipped overseas by the Pentagon, and provide $5 billion to help address global food shortages caused by the war, which has left the normally robust Production of many crops in Ukraine was paralysed.

Even if Russia fails to detach Ukraine from its shores – and seems lacking the forces to do so – the ongoing missile attacks on Odessa reflect its strategic importance. The Russian military has repeatedly targeted its airport, claiming it destroyed several batches of Western weapons.

Odessa is also a major gateway for grain shipments, and the Russian blockade is threatening global food supplies. It’s also a cultural gem dear to Ukrainians and Russians alike. Aiming at it has symbolic meaning.

An attack on Odessa could force Kyiv to shift forces southwest, pulling them away from the eastern front in Donbass, where Ukrainian forces are fighting near Kharkiv to push back the Russians across the border.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s military general staff said its forces drove the Russians out of four villages northeast of Kharkiv. The city and its environs have been under sustained Russian attacks since the beginning of the war. In recent weeks, grisly images have testified to the horrors of these battles, with charred and mangled bodies strewn down a street.

The bodies of 44 civilians were found in the rubble of a five-story building that collapsed in March in Izyum, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Kharkiv, regional administration head Oleh Synehubov said on Tuesday.

Russian planes twice fired unguided rockets into the Sumy region northeast of Kharkiv on Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s Border Guard Service. The region’s governor said the rockets hit several residential buildings but no one was killed. Russian mortars hit the Chernihiv region along Ukraine’s border with Belarus, but there was no information about casualties.

Zelenskyi used his late-night address to pay tribute to Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of an independent Ukraine, who died Tuesday at the age of 88.

Kravchuk showed courage and knew how to get the country to listen to him, he said.

That’s especially important at “crisis moments when the future of the whole country may depend on the courage of one man,” said Zelenskyy, whose own communication skills and decision to stay in Kyiv when it came under a Russian attack made him one Strength made war leaders.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-chokes-off-russian-gas-supplies-to-europe-as-pictures-show-wounded-ukrainian-soldiers-inside-azovstal-steel-mill-41637919.html Ukraine is cutting back Russian gas supplies to Europe after pictures show wounded Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal Steel Plant

Fry Electronics Team

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