© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda during Russia’s invasion of Kyiv, Ukraine, May 22, 2022. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi
By Pavel Polityuk and Conor Humphries
Kyiv (Reuters) – Russian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the West to stop toying with Russia and impose tougher sanctions on it to end its “pointless war” in Ukraine, adding that his country will Remaining independent, the only question is at what cost.
In recent days, with the EU slowly moving towards a possible Russian oil embargo and thousands of Russian troops trying to surround the eastern cities of Westvero Donetsk and Lysichansk, Zelens Key’s criticism of the West has grown.
Three months after invading Ukraine, Russia abandoned its offensive on the capital, Kyiv, and tried to consolidate control of the industrial zone in eastern Donbass, which has supported a separatist insurgency since 2014.
After the surrender of the Ukrainian garrison in Mariupol last week, Western military analysts believe the battles of Sivye Donetsk and Lysichansk could be a turning point in the war.
“Ukraine will always be an independent country, it will not be broken. The only question is what price our people will pay for their freedom, and what price will Russia pay for this senseless war against us, ” Zelensky said in a statement. Late night address on Thursday.
“If the world sees the situation in Ukraine as facing the same situation, if these powers don’t play with Russia but are really forced to end the war, then the catastrophic events can still stop.”
Zelensky complained of divisions within the EU over imposing more sanctions on Russia and asked why some countries were allowed to block the plan.
The EU is discussing a sixth round of punitive measures, including an embargo on Russian oil imports. It needs unanimous consent, but Hungary opposes the idea on the grounds that its economy would suffer too much.
Hungary needs 3-1/2 to 4 years to get rid of Russian crude and make huge investments to adjust its economy, and it cannot support the EU’s proposed oil embargo until an agreement is reached on all issues, a senior Hungarian aide said.
Zelensky said Russia receives 1 billion euros a day in energy supplies from the 27-nation bloc.
“How many weeks until the EU agrees on a sixth package?” he asked.
“Pressure on Russia is actually a life-saving issue. Every day delays, weakness, disputes of all kinds or proposals to ‘pacify’ the aggressor at the expense of the victims will only mean more Ukrainians are killed.”
Zelensky’s remarks marked the second day in a row that he sharply criticized the world’s attitude toward war.
On Wednesday, he slammed Kyiv’s proposal to make concessions to bring peace, saying the idea smacked of a 1938 attempt to appease Nazi Germany.
An EU summit on May 30-31 could lead to a split between members who want a tough stance on Russia and those calling for a ceasefire.
push the russians
The Ukrainian military said Russian troops attacked from three sides on Thursday in an attempt to surround Ukrainian troops in Sivye Donetsk and Lysichansk. If the two cities across the Donets River fall, almost all of Luhansk in the Donbas province will fall under Russian control.
The Russian offensive in the Donbass was supported by massive shelling. The Ukrainian military said 50 towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces were shelled on Thursday.
Five civilians were killed in Sievierodonetsk within 24 hours, Luhansk Governor Sergei Ghede said.
On Thursday, he said about 150 people were buried in a mass grave in the Lysychansk district because it was too dangerous for families to collect bodies and bury them individually. Russia says it does not target civilians.
The head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhny, called on Telegram to provide more Western weapons, especially “weapons that allow us to strike the enemy from a distance.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later warned that any arms supply that could reach Russian territory would be a “serious step towards an unacceptable escalation”.
Danger of Escalation
Western countries led by the United States have provided Ukraine with long-range weapons and equipment, including M777 howitzers and Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark.
Washington is even considering supplying Kyiv with a rocket system with a range of hundreds of kilometers, U.S. and diplomatic officials told Reuters, and has discussed with Kyiv the dangers of escalation if it goes deeper into Russian territory.
“We’re concerned about the escalation, but still don’t want to set geo-restrictions or tie their hands to what we’re giving them,” said a U.S. official who asked not to be named.
Russia called its operation in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegations are baseless and the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia wanted Ukraine to accept its demands in any peace talks. It wants Ukraine to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow occupied in 2014, and the independence of the separatist-claimed territory.