kyiv: Pounded by Russian offensive in east, Kyiv rules out concessions

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KYIV: Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Moscow as Russia stepped up its attack in country’s the east and south, pounding the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions with air strikes and artillery fire. Kyiv’s stance has become increasingly uncompromising in recent weeks as Russia experienced military setbacks while Ukrainian officials grew worried they might be pressured to sacrifice land for a peace deal. “The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
Polish President Andrzej Duda offered Warsaw’s backing, telling lawmakers in Kyiv on Sunday that the international community had to demand Russia’s complete withdrawal and that sacrificing any of it would be a “huge blow” to the entire West. “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 parliament in person since Russia’s February 24 invasion. “Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future,” he said. Speaking to the same parliamentary session, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed a plea or stronger economic sanctions against Moscow. “Halfmeasures should not be used when aggression should be stopped,” he said.
Shortly after both finished speaking, an air raid siren was heard in the capital, a reminder that the war raged on even if its front lines were now hundreds kilometres away.
Russia is currently waging amajor offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas, after ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern port of Mariupol. The heaviest fighting focused around the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko told Ukrainian television on Sunday. The cities 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. Military analysts say Russia is attempting to control Sievierodonetsk so that it can mount a push toward the city of Kramatorsk to the west. Kramatorsk is the headquarters of Ukraine’s military command in the east.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday its forces pummeled Ukrainian command centres, troops and ammunition depots in Donbas and the Mykolaiv region in the south with air strikes and artillery. Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk before the invasion, but Moscow wants to seize the remaining Ukrainian-held territory in the region.



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