More attacks in eastern Ukraine, gas supplies to Europe stopped

“The next few weeks are going to be very, very crucial to the outcome of the battle that is taking shape,” said US Army Commander Mark Milley. Attacks escalate as May 9 approaches. The United States assumes that Russian President Putin wants to win the Battle of Donbass before this day, as the victory over Nazi Germany is celebrated every year.

One of the main factors of uncertainty is whether Moscow will be able to capture Donbass with the combat units now deployed. The Kremlin decided last week to launch the offensive in eastern Ukraine, although the offensive force is not yet complete. According to British Foreign Secretary for Defense James Hebby, Putin is making “militarily unwise” decisions because he wants to play the “hero” on May 9.

The US and British governments have so far said the Russian military has made small gains since the offensive in the east began last week. The coming days should reveal whether the Russians are now trying to achieve a breakthrough in their attempts to advance from the north and south to encircle the more than 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbass.

And the Russian attempt to encircle is accompanied by increasingly fierce air strikes. Among other things, the Russians are trying to thwart the supply and reinforcement of the Ukrainian army in the Donbass.

The United States and its European allies are now trying with all their might to get especially heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine to prevent the capture of Donbass. The howitzers and other long-range artillery pledged by the United States, Canada and France will be decisive in the battle. This allows the Ukrainian army to fire at the Russians up to about 40 kilometers away.

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Meanwhile, Russia appears to be increasing pressure on Europe by partially shutting off the gas tap. On Tuesday, it was announced that gas supplies to Poland would be halted through the Yamal pipeline, which accounts for 15 percent of the gas Russia sends to Europe. With this intervention, Russia seems to be strengthening its claim that from now on payment for gas supplies should be made in rubles. The ultimatum expired last Friday. According to Bloomberg, prices on gas exchanges rose by 17 percent after news of the Yamal pipeline. This was followed by news that Russia had cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria.

Nerves are also tense in Moldova. The Security Council met there after explosions in the breakaway region of Transnistria, where Russia had stationed a small occupying force. Moldova feared that Russia might also wish to invade here to liberate the supposedly persecuted Russians.

Denton Watson

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