Russia on Wednesday claimed to have destroyed a large quantity of arms shipped to Kyiv from the West and halted its gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, two NATO and EU member states heavily dependent on Russia’s ‘blue gold’ to have.
At a time when the West is stepping up efforts to arm Ukraine against Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that “sheds with a large quantity of foreign arms and ammunition supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces by the United States and European countries , were destroyed by Kalibr missiles fired from the sea at the Zaporizhia aluminum plant in southern Ukraine.
Russian forces are bombing bridges and railroads to slow Western arms shipments to Ukraine, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister said Tuesday after destroying a strategic road connecting the country with Romania.
Around 40 states met in Germany for the first time on Tuesday at the invitation of the United States to coordinate the acceleration of deliveries of armaments that Ukraine is demanding to ward off the Russian invasion.
The Russian military also claimed to have carried out airstrikes against 59 Ukrainian targets. For its part, the Ukrainian army has acknowledged, in a rare event itself, progress in the east of the country, in the Kharkiv region and Donbass, an industrial region partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
She admitted the Russians had taken locations stretching north-south west of areas already under the control of Russian forces, suggesting Moscow is trying to take a vice in a big pocket that still under Ukrainian control.
In Kharkiv itself, Ukraine’s second-largest city, the frontline is less than 5 km from the city’s northern and eastern districts. But that doesn’t discourage the three young volunteers, Nazar, Alexiï and Oleg, who, with suitcases full to the brim and blaring techno music, provide humanitarian aid every day in areas of Kharkiv that are regularly attacked by Russian missiles.
“Our main goal is to feed children and the elderly, they need it the most,” Nazar Tishchenko, 34, told AFP.
– “escalation” –
Russian company Gazprom announced on Wednesday that it had suspended all gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland to ensure those two countries had not paid in rubles, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has been demanding since March.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new “gas blackmail” campaign, reiterating that Europe has prepared for this eventuality and is developing “a coordinated response”.
Warsaw and Sofia claim to have other gas suppliers to fall back on.
These developments come as many chancellery offices are concerned about the risk of the conflict spreading outside of Ukraine in Moldova’s pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria, following a series of blasts attributed by Kyiv to Moscow.
“This is an attempt to increase tensions. We condemn such actions in the strongest possible terms. The Moldovan authorities will ensure that the republic is not drawn into a conflict,” Moldovan President Maïa Sandu said on Tuesday.
“Russia wants to destabilize the Transnistria region, which suggests that Moldova should expect + guests +,” said Advisor to the Ukrainian Presidency Mikhaïlo Podoliak on Twitter, referring to the Russian soldiers who have been deployed since February 24 invaded Ukraine.
On Wednesday, authorities in Transnistria said that a border village, where a large Russian army ammunition depot is located, had been shelled by Ukraine.
Paris has reiterated its support for Moldova given “the risks of destabilization” and Washington has warned of “an escalation of tensions” around Transnistria.
– Guterres in Kyiv to Moscow –
The United States wanted “Russia to be so weakened that it will no longer be able to do the things it did by invading Ukraine,” and on Tuesday said it was ready to “take heaven and earth.” to set in motion” to win Ukraine against the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vladimir Putin.
For her part, the head of British diplomacy, Liz Truss, during a speech in London on Wednesday, must call for “doubling” support to Ukraine and preparing for a “prolonged” war after the Russian invasion. “Heavy weapons, tanks, planes — digging in our stocks, ramping up production, we have to do all of that,” she said.
After initially hesitating to supply Ukraine with offensive weapons, the United States has made the leap, as has Britain, France and the Czech Republic. Even Germany, particularly reluctant, announced on Tuesday that it intends to authorize the delivery of Guepard-type tanks.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on Ukraine and Russia to work together, in coordination with the United Nations, to allow humanitarian corridors to open in Ukraine.
The United Nations announced on Twitter on Wednesday that after the meeting in Moscow between Mr Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian side “accepted in principle” the United Nations’ participation in the evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
The UN Secretary General is now expected in Kyiv and will meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in particular.
Almost 5.3 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their country since Russian troops invaded two months ago. Although the flow has slowed significantly since March, the United Nations still predicts that 3 million additional refugees could arrive by 2022.
About 90% of the refugees are women and children – the Kiev authorities do not allow men between 18 and 60 of military age to leave the country.
In addition to the fighting and bombing, sexual violence from the warring factions, the host family, even humanitarian workers is an ever-present threat to Ukrainian women, fears Colleen Roberts from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Moldova.