The Ukrainian troops are still under massive pressure in the east and threaten to lose the last part of the Luhansk region with Sievjerodonetsk. President Zelenskyj is therefore calling for tougher sanctions from Russia and more weapons for his troops. They will probably be coming from the USA again soon, including the coveted HIMARS artillery system. Today, the focus is on the EU states that want to tighten the sixth package of sanctions for Russia. Some European countries are also being confronted with gas supply stops today.
Selenskyj calls for tougher sanctions
In view of the advance of Russian troops in the east of his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the EU for the planned new sanctions package and at the same time called for new punitive measures. "Ultimately, there should be no significant economic ties between the free world and the terrorist state," he said in a video speech. "We will work on new restrictions against Russia for this war." Thanks to the EU's planned oil boycott, Russia will lose "tens of billions of euros" that can no longer be used to finance terrorism. At the same time, Zelenskyi reiterated his demands for the delivery of heavy weapons to the West.
Meanwhile, the US government announced that it would deliver modern multiple rocket launchers as part of a new security package. Selenskyj wants to liberate areas occupied by heavy weapons. As soon as these heavy weapons are available, the army should start liberating the territories occupied by Russia. Ukraine will not rush to recapture its territories if it claims tens of thousands of victims, but will rather wait for the necessary weapons, Zelenskyy said in Kyiv at a meeting with Slovak President Zuzana Caputova. For weeks he has been demanding the delivery of heavy weapons from the West in order to ward off the Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine and push back the Russian troops.
Biden: US supplies modern missile systems to Ukraine
The US government will deliver advanced missile systems to Ukraine, according to President Joe Biden. Biden wrote in a guest article for the New York Times published on Tuesday evening (local time) that the attacked country should be able to hit "important targets on the battlefield in Ukraine" more precisely. At the same time, Biden assured: "We do not want a war between NATO and Russia." Nor did the US attempt to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The White House said Ukraine had pledged not to attack targets on Russian territory with the US-made HIMARS artillery system. The system is part of a $700 million package that also includes missiles, radar systems, Javelin anti-tank weapons, helicopters, vehicles and spare parts. A senior US official said the US would supply missiles with the HIMARS system that would only have a range of around 80 kilometers. Biden underscored that there is currently no evidence that Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. "Russia's occasional rhetoric of rattling the nuclear saber" is in itself dangerous and irresponsible.
Heavy fighting in Sieverodonetsk
In the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, Russian troops are poised to overthrow the last bastion of Ukrainian forces. If the embattled regional capital Sievjerodonetsk falls, Russia would have achieved one of its war aims: complete control of the Luhansk region. From there, the Russian troops and the Moscow-loyal separatists could advance further west to capture the strategically important cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region.
During the fighting in Sieverodonetsk, an incident occurred at a nitric acid chemical plant. The Ukrainian authorities spoke of a Russian air raid on the plant. The pro-Russian separatists, on the other hand, announced that there had been an explosion there. A large plume of smoke could be seen in photos published by the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajday, on his Telegram news channel. Sieverodonetsk, the administrative center in the Luhansk region controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, has been contested for days. The leader of the People's Republic of Luhansk, recognized by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin as a state, Leonid Pasechnik, said that two-thirds of the city was now under the control of pro-Russian forces.
Resistance to Russian invasion continues
Ukraine's governor Hajday also said most of Sievjerodonetsk is now under Russian control. Still, the Ukrainian defenders didn't give up. Ninety percent of the city's buildings are damaged, and 60 percent are not worth rebuilding, he said. Of the once 100,000 inhabitants, 12,000 are said to have stayed there.
President Selenskyj was combative. In his video speech he said that the Ukrainian armed forces are in a difficult situation due to the lack of weapons. Ukraine will, however, take back its territories guaranteed under international law.
What will be important on Wednesday
After weeks of discussions at a summit in Brussels, the EU countries agreed on an extensive boycott of oil supplies from Russia. This is part of the sixth package of sanctions, further details of which are to be worked out in Brussels this Wednesday. The package could then be formally approved. It is planned to exclude the largest Russian bank Sberbank from the communication network Swift. In addition, the state television news channel Rossija 24 and the state channels RTR Planeta and TV Center are to be banned in the EU.
The Russian state-owned company Gazprom will stop supplying gas to the Danish supplier Ørsted and Shell Energy Europe this Wednesday. Germany is also affected. Orsted and Shell informed Gazprom Export that they would not pay the bills in rubles, as Moscow had requested. Because no money had flowed for the month of April, deliveries would now be stopped. Shell has stated that gas deliveries to Germany will not be paid for in the Russian currency, Gazprom Export said. The maximum delivery volume per year under the contract is 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas.
You can read all further developments in our live ticker on the Ukraine war.