By Reuters, published by Channel NewsAsia, plus CNN
Kharkiv – Flows of Russian gas to Europe through a transit point in Ukraine dried up on Wednesday (May 11), while Kyiv reported battlefield gains over invading Russian forces that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum.
Ukraine has remained a major route for Russian gas to Europe even since the Feb. 24 invasion, which President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation”.
Mounting Western sanctions are seeking to ban or phase out the use of Russian energy, a key source of funds for Putin’s war effort and a vulnerability for Europe, especially Germany.
Blaming the presence of occupying forces for the suspension, Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator said on Tuesday it would redirect gas from the Sokhranivka transit point, which is in an area occupied by Russian forces, to another in a Ukraine-controlled area.
Requests for Russian gas transit for May 11 via Sokhranivka fell to zero, data from the operator showed early on Wednesday.
Since Russia was forced to abandon an assault on the capital Kyiv at the end of March, its main force has been trying to encircle Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donbas region, using Izyum near Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, in the northeast, as a base.
But Ukrainian troops have mostly held out against assaults, and in recent days recaptured four settlements north of Kharkiv, Tetiana Apatchenko, a press officer with the main Ukrainian force in the area, said on Tuesday.
Russian forces were trying to prevent Ukrainian troops from moving further towards the border in the Kharkiv region and trying to fully capture the town of Rubizhne, Ukraine’s general staff said early on Wednesday.
Across the border, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said on his Telegram channel that a “yellow”, second-highest, security alert would be maintained there until May 25. The area has come under sporadic attack from Ukrainian forces.
A Ukrainian counterattack near Kharkiv could signal a new phase of the conflict, making supply lines into Russia potentially vulnerable.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian successes were gradually pushing Russian forces out of Kharkiv, which has been under bombardment since the war began.
“But I also want to urge all our people … not to spread excessive emotions. We should not create an atmosphere of excessive moral pressure, where victories are expected weekly and even daily,” he said in a video address.
In the retaken villages of Staryi Saltiv and Vilkhivka near Kharkiv, Ukrainian servicemen gathered the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in the fighting, according to Reuters witnesses.
Ukrainian border guards said on their Telegram channel that Russian forces were shelling the Sumy and Chernihiv regions close to the border.
In the country’s south, Ukrainian armed forces said they struck nine enemy targets, with enemy losses of 79 servicemen.
Russian fire was concentrated on the Mykolaiv region bordering the Black Sea where homes, farms and power lines were damaged.
Russian forces also continued to bombard the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol with, Ukraine’s general staff said, trying to capture the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined city.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports of fighting.
Ukraine says tens of thousands of people have been killed there during two months of Russian siege.
Russia denies targeting civilians and rejects Ukrainian and Western allegations of war crimes.
If Russia consolidated its position there it could dominate the northwestern Black Sea, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a regular bulletin.
Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the flagship Moskva, it said.
Prosecutor says first Russian soldier will stand trial in death of Ukrainian man
Ukraine has announced the first Russian soldier set to stand trial in the death of a 62-year-old man in Ukraine’s Sumy region, according to a statement published by the country’s prosecutor general’s office on Wednesday. The prosecutor general’s office said it has filed an indictment against Vadim Shishimarin, commander of the military unit 32010 of the 4th Tank Kantemirov Division of Moscow region. The investigation alleges the 21-year-old Russian killed an unarmed 62-year-old resident who was riding a bicycle along the roadside in the village of Chupakhivka in Sumy region on Feb. 28
Foreign weapons are at the front lines
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar, says that weapons supplied to Kyiv by the US and other partners are already deployed to the front lines. “Apart from the Javelins and Stingers, 155 mm American howitzers are already being used at the front,” Maliar said in a briefing on Wednesday. “We are working to accelerate the pace of aid, as this is the life of our soldiers.” A senior US defence official told reporters on Tuesday that 89 of the 90 Howitzers the US agreed to give to Ukraine have been transferred to Ukrainian possession.
Top: Ukraine in recent days recaptured four settlements north of Kharkiv, the country’s forces say. Photo: Canberra Times
First insert: Emergency personnel work near a building damaged after a military strike, in Odesa, Ukraine, in this handout image released May 9, 2022. Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters and published by CNA
Second insert: Ukraine issued postage stamps commemorating its soldiers’ moment of defiance on Snake Island. Photo: EPA and published by BBC
Third insert: A rocket is pictured inside a multi-sports court of a school, where, according to residents, Russian soldiers were based before the Ukrainian Army retook the Vilhivka village, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 11, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes reuters_tickers SwissInfo.ch
Home Page: Injured Ukrainian troops at a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol. Photo: Reuters/Press service of Azov Regiment and published by BBC