Kyiv rules out ceasefire
Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Moscow while Russia intensified its attack in the east and south and stopped sending gas to Finland in its latest response to Western sanctions.
Polish President Andrzej Duda told Ukraine's parliament that ceding even "one inch" of the country's territory would be a blow to the whole West and reassured Kyiv of Warsaw's strong backing for its European Union membership bid.
"Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to (President Vladimir) Putin's demands," Duda said, the first foreign leader to address Ukrainian lawmakers in person since Russia's February 24 invasion.
"Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future."
After ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern port of Mariupol, Russia is waging a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas.
Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and the neighbouring Donetsk province before the invasion, but Moscow wants to seize the remaining Ukrainian-held territory in the region.
On the Donetsk frontline, Russian forces were trying to break through Ukrainian defences to reach the administrative borders of the Luhansk region, while further north they continued heavy shelling of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Ukraine's general staff said in its daily update yesterday.
Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk across the Siverskiy Donets River form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv and shifting its focus to the east and south of the country.
Russian forces destroyed a bridge between Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, according to the head of the regional military administration.
The British Defence Ministry said yesterday that Russia was deploying its BMP-T "Terminator" tank-support vehicles in that offensive. With only 10 available for a unit that already suffered heavy losses in the failed attempt on Kyiv, however, the ministry said they were "unlikely to have a significant impact".
In the southern region of Mykolaiv, Russian rockets hit a mobile anti-drone system near the settlement of Hannivka, around 100 km northeast of Mykolaiv city.
Ukraine's lead negotiator, speaking to Reuters, ruled out a ceasefire or any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory. Making concessions would backfire because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting, Zelensky's adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.
"The war will not stop. It will just be put on pause for some time," Podolyak said in an interview in the heavily guarded presidential office. "They'll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale."
Russian state gas company Gazprom GAZP.MM said on Saturday it had halted gas exports to Finland, which has refused Moscow's demands to pay in roubles for Russian gas after Western countries imposed sanctions over the invasion.
Finland said it was prepared for the cutoff of Russian flows. It applied together with its Nordic neighbour Sweden on Wednesday to join the Nato military alliance, although that is facing resistance from Nato member Turkey.