Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
(Reuters) – Ukrainian forces reported battlefield gains on Wednesday in a counterattack that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum, while Kyiv shut gas flows on a route through Russian-held territory, raising the risk of an energy crisis in Europe.
* Ukrainian forces advanced to within several kilometres of the Russian border in the Kharkiv region, a Ukrainian military source told Reuters.
* Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanised Brigade said on Tuesday it had recaptured four villages north of Kharkiv.
* Soldiers holed up in the Azovstal steelworks, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the southern port of Mariupol, said Russia was bombing the site from the air and trying to storm it.
* Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter after Kyiv halted use of the Sokhranovka transit route, blaming interference by Russian forces, the first time gas exports via Ukraine have been disrupted since the war began.
* Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia remained committed to its gas supply deals, but that the country also had buyers for its energy resources outside of Western countries.
DIPLOMACY AND SANCTIONS
* The Russian-occupied region of Kherson in Ukraine plans to ask President Vladimir Putin to incorporate it into Russia, TASS news agency said, citing an official from the Russian-controlled administration there.
* The new leader of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia said it would wait for a signal from Moscow before holding a referendum on joining Russia.
* Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats called a parliamentary debate over NATO for Monday as the country readies for an expected decision to join the alliance, abandoning decades of military non-alignment.
* Russian shipments via pipelines should be exempted from planned EU oil sanctions against Moscow that, in their current form, would destroy Hungary’s economy, its Foreign Minister said.
“If Ukraine had been part of NATO before the war, there would have been no war,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Paris students via videolink.
“This war will not last forever. There will be a time when peace negotiations will take place. I do not see that in the immediate future. But I can say one thing. We will never give up,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
(Compiled by Robert Birsel and John Stonestreet)