Kyiv rules out ceasefire as Russia steps up offensive in Ukraine’s east

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KYIV
Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow while Russia intensified an offensive in the eastern Donbas region and stopped sending gas to Finland in its latest salvo in response to Western sanctions and its deepening international isolation.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv last month, was back to address the Ukrainian parliament on Sunday, the first foreign leader to do so in person.
After ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern port of Mariupol, Russia is waging a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas.
Russian-backed separatists already controlled swathes of Luhansk and the neighbouring Donetsk provinces before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, but Moscow wants to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in the region.
On the Donetsk frontline, Russian forces were trying to break through Ukrainian defences to reach the administrative borders of the Luhansk region, while further north they continued heavy shelling of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Ukraine’s general staff said in its daily update on Sunday.
Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk across the Siverskiy Donets River 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.
The British Defence Ministry said on Sunday that Russia was deploying its BMP-T “Terminator” tank-support vehicles in that offensive. With only 10 available for a unit that already suffered heavy losses in the failed attempt on Kyiv, however, the ministry said they were “unlikely to have a significant impact”.
Ukraine’s lead negotiator, speaking to Reuters on Saturday, ruled out a ceasefire or any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory. Making concessions would backfire because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting, Zelenskiy’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.