Ukraine pushes back Russian forces and restricts gas flow to Europe

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  • Ukraine redirects Russian gas to Europe
  • Ukrainian counter-offensive could change the momentum of the war
  • Ukrainian forces seek to cut Russian supply lines
  • Kremlin: Kherson residents can decide whether or not to join Russia
  • Mariupol steelworks bombed again

KYIV/VILHIVKA, Ukraine, May 11 (Reuters) – Ukrainian forces reported battlefield gains on Wednesday in a counterattack that could signal a change in the momentum of the war, as kyiv shut down gas flows on a route through Russian-held territory, raising the specter of an energy crisis in Europe.

After days of advances north and east of the second-largest city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian forces were only a few kilometers from the Russian border on Wednesday morning, a Ukrainian military source said on condition of anonymity. Prior to the advance, Russian forces were on the outskirts of Kharkiv, a city 40 km (25 miles) from the border.

The advance appears to be the fastest Ukraine has made since it ousted Russian troops from kyiv and the north of the country in early April. If maintained, it could leave Ukrainian forces threatening the supply lines of the main Russian attack force, and even place rear logistical targets in Russia even within striking range of Ukrainian artillery.

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In Vilkhivka, a village east of Kharkiv held by Ukrainian forces, the thump of almost constant artillery and the swoosh of several rocket launchers could be heard from the fighting at the front, now pushed much further east. , where Ukraine has attempted to capture villages on the banks of the Donets River and threaten Russian supply lines on the other side. [ nL2N2X31RL]

On Wednesday evening, the Ukrainian General Staff said its forces had captured Pytomnyk, a village on the main road north of Kharkiv, halfway to the Russian border.

Further east, Ukrainian forces appeared to control the village of Rubizhne on the banks of the Donets.

“It is burned, like all Russian tanks,” a Ukrainian soldier told Reuters near Rubizhne, next to the ruins of a Russian tank. “Weapons help a lot, anti-tanks.”

KHARKIV ADVANCE

kyiv has so far confirmed few details of its progress in the Kharkiv region.

“We have successes in the direction of Kharkiv, where we regularly repel the enemy and liberate population centers,” said Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, deputy head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff. , during a briefing, without providing details.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the successes put Ukraine’s second-largest city – under constant bombardment since the early days of the war – beyond the reach of Russian artillery. But he warned Ukrainians against raising their expectations too high.

“We must not create an atmosphere of excessive moral pressure, where victories are expected every week and even every day,” he said in an overnight video address.

In Vilkhivka, the advance had allowed residents to venture out to comb through the rubble of their homes. Although the village itself was retaken by Ukrainian forces weeks ago, the frontline was only now far enough away to allow a safe return.

The bloated body of a Russian soldier still lay rotting in front of the bombed-out school where his unit had established its headquarters before being driven out.

GAS SUPPLIES

Ukraine’s separate decision on Wednesday to cut off Russian gas supplies through territory held by Russian-backed separatists marked the first time the conflict has directly disrupted shipments to Europe.

Shipments from Russian export monopoly Gazprom to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter after kyiv said it was forced to stop all flows from a single route, via the point of Sokhranovka transit in southern Russia. Ukraine has accused Russian-backed separatists of siphoning off supplies. Read more

If the supply cut continues, it would be the most direct impact on European energy markets so far from the war the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”.

Russia says it sent troops to Ukraine to demilitarize a neighbor threatening its security. Ukraine and its allies say Russia is waging an unprovoked war of conquest that has killed thousands, destroyed towns and villages and driven nearly 6 million people from the country.

Besides the east, Russia has taken over part of southern Ukraine, where kyiv and its Western allies say they believe Moscow is planning to hold a fake referendum on independence or annexation. to make his occupation permanent.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it was up to residents living in the Russian-occupied Kherson region to decide whether they wanted to join Russia, but any such decision must have a clear legal basis. Earlier, the TASS news agency quoted a Russian-controlled administration official as saying the region planned to ask President Vladimir Putin to integrate it into Russia.

Russian forces also continued to shell Azovstal steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last stronghold of Ukrainian defenders in a city now almost entirely under Russian control after more than two months of siege.

The Ukrainian General Staff said that Moscow was trying to take over the steel plant. The Azov regiment holed up inside said Russia was shelling from the air and trying to storm it.

“Azovstal is on fire again after the shelling. If there is hell on earth, it is there,” wrote Petro Andryushchenko, assistant to Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko, who left the city.

kyiv says it is likely that tens of thousands of people were killed in Mariupol. Ukrainian authorities claim that between 150,000 and 170,000 of the city’s 400,000 inhabitants still live there among the ruins occupied by the Russians. Read more

“Without medicines and medical care, the restoration of water supply and adequate sanitation in the city, epidemics will break out,” the mayor said. “Today, the majority of the current population is old and sick. Without adequate conditions, mortality among vulnerable groups will increase exponentially.”

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Additional reporting Tom Balmforth and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv and Vitalii Hnidyi in Rubizhne; Written by Philippa Fletcher and Peter Graff; edited by John Stonestreet and Alex Richardson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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