volodymyr zelenskiy: Ukraine refuses concessions after Russian invasion

Ukraine has refused a ceasefire or any regional concessions to Moscow because Russia has stepped up attacks in the east and south of the country, hitting the Donbass and Mykolive region with airstrikes and artillery.

Kiev’s position has become increasingly uncompromising in recent weeks as Russia faces a military crisis when Ukrainian officials fear they may be pressured to sacrifice land for a peace deal.

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

Polish President Andrzej Duda has offered to back Warsaw, telling lawmakers in Kiev on Sunday that the international community must demand Russia’s full withdrawal and that any of its sacrifices would be a “huge blow” to the West.

“Concerns have been raised that Ukraine (President Vladimir Putin’s) demands should be met,” Duda said, referring to the first foreign leader to address the Ukrainian parliament in private since Russia’s February 24 invasion.

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

Speaking at the same parliamentary session, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed an appeal for strong economic sanctions against Moscow.

“Half measures should not be used to stop aggression,” he said.

Shortly after the two had finished speaking, an air raid siren sounded in the capital, a reminder that the war was still going on even though the front lines were hundreds of kilometers away.

Jelinsky told a press conference with Dudar that 50-100 Ukrainians were dying every day on the eastern front, which appeared to be a reference to military casualties.

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

Vadim Denisenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry, told Ukrainian television on Sunday that the fierce fighting was centered around the twin cities of Siviarodonetsk and Lisichansk.

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

Ukraine’s military statement said Russian shelling and “heavy fighting” continued near Siviarodonetsk, but the invading forces had failed to secure the nearby village of Oleksandrivka.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that its forces had hit Ukraine’s command center, army and ammunition depots in the Donbass and Mykolaiv regions in the south with air strikes and artillery.

Reuters could not independently verify the report of that battlefield.

Russian-backed separatists controlled parts of Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk before the invasion, but Moscow wants to occupy the rest of the region’s Ukraine-controlled territory.

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency says a Russian-appointed mayor has been seriously injured in an explosion in the city of Enerhoda. Reuters could not immediately confirm the cause of the blast.

No concessions, no ceasefire

Ukraine’s chief negotiator, Mikhailo Podoliak, Zelensky’s adviser, has denied any regional concessions and called for an immediate ceasefire, saying it would mean Russian troops would remain in the occupied territories, which Kyiv could not accept.

“(Russian) forces must leave the country and then the peace process can be resumed,” Podoliak said in an interview with Reuters on Saturday, calling the call for an immediate ceasefire “very strange.”

He said the concessions would be reversed as Russia would return to power using the ceasefire.

There has been a recent call for an immediate ceasefire from the US Secretary of Defense

Austin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The end of the war in Mariupol, Russia’s largest occupied city, has given Putin a rare victory after nearly three months of continuous fighting.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that the last Ukrainian troops to hold large Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol had surrendered. Although Ukraine has not confirmed the full withdrawal, the commander of a unit of the factory said in a video that the Ukrainian military command had ordered troops to stand there to save their lives.

Mariupol’s full control gives Russia command of a land route connecting the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow occupied in 2014, the mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine occupied by pro-Russian separatists.

Russia cuts gas supply to Finland

Russia’s state gas company Gazprom said on Saturday it had cut off gas exports to Finland, rejecting Moscow’s demand for rubles for Russian gas after Western nations imposed sanctions.

Most European gas supply agreements are valued in euros or dollars, and last month Moscow isolated Bulgaria and Poland after rejecting new terms.

In addition to sanctions, Western nations have increased arms supplies and other assistance to Ukraine, including $ 40 billion in new packages from the United States.

Moscow says Western sanctions and arms supplies to Kiev amount to a “proxy war” between Washington and its allies.

Putin called the attack a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and free it from extremist anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine and its allies have dismissed it as a baseless pretext for war, which has killed thousands of Ukrainians, displaced millions and destroyed cities.

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