Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy yesterday said that only a diplomatic breakthrough rather than an outright military victory could end Russia’s war on his country, as Moscow cut gas supplies to Finland.
“There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table,” Zelenskiy said, just as Russia claimed its long-range missiles had destroyed a shipment of Western arms destined for Ukraine’s troops.
After more than 12 weeks of fierce fighting, Ukrainian forces have halted Russian attempts to seize Kyiv and the northern city of Kharkiv, but are under renewed and intense pressure in the eastern Donbas region.
Moscow’s army has flattened and seized the southeastern port city of Mariupol, and subjected Ukrainian troops and towns in the east to a remorseless ground and artillery attack.
Zelenskiy’s Western allies have shipped modern weaponry to his forces, and imposed sweeping sanctions on the Russian economy and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
However, the Kremlin has responded by disrupting European energy supplies and yesterday cut off gas shipments to Finland, which angered Moscow by applying to join the NATO alliance.
Against this backdrop, Zelenskiy told Ukrainian television that the war would end “through diplomacy.”
The conflict, he said, “will be bloody, there will be fighting, but will only definitively end through diplomacy” — promising only that the result would be “fair” for Ukraine.
“Discussions between Ukraine and Russia will decidedly take place. Under what format I don’t know — with intermediaries, without them, in a broader group, at presidential level,” he said.
To side-step financial sanctions and force European energy clients to prop up his central bank, Putin has demanded that importers from “unfriendly countries” pay for gas in rubles.
Russian energy giant Gazprom said it had halted supplies to Finland, as it had not received ruble payments from Finland’s state-owned energy company Gasum by the end of Friday.
Gazprom supplied 1.49 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Finland last year, about two-thirds of the country’s gas consumption, but only 8 percent of its total energy use.
Gasum said it would make up for the shortfall from other sources, through the Balticconnector pipeline, which links Finland to Estonia, a fellow EU member.
Moscow cut off gas to Poland and Bulgaria last month in a move the EU described as “blackmail,” but importers in some other EU countries more dependent on Russian gas plan to open ruble accounts with Gazprom’s bank.
Finland and Sweden this week broke their historical military non-alignment and applied to join NATO.
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