/Ukrainians Stop Russian Gas At One Hub, Make Gains In East | HuffPost Latest News

Ukrainians Stop Russian Gas At One Hub, Make Gains In East | HuffPost Latest News

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine stopped the flow of Russian natural gas on Wednesday through a hub that feeds European homes and stoves, while Kyiv’s military claimed it made some gains in grinding battles near a key northeastern city.

But the move could hold symbolic significance as the first time Ukraine has disrupted the flow westward. It comes as the European Union has sought to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, phasing out its use of coal and considering doing the same for oil. Gas presents a more complicated problem, given both how much Europe uses and the technical difficulties in sourcing it elsewhere.

On the battlefield, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s military had pushed Russian forces out of four villages near Kharkiv — the country’s second largest city, and a key to Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas.

Kuleba’s statement seemed to reflect political ambitions more than battlefield realities: Russian forces have made advances in the Donbas and control more of it than they did before the war began. But it highlights how Ukraine has stymied a larger, better-armed Russian military, surprising many who had anticipated a much quicker end to the conflict.

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it would stop Russian shipments through a hub in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists because of interference from “occupying forces,” including the apparent siphoning of gas. It also complained about interference along the route last month.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said a Russian rocket attack targeted an area around Zaporizhzhia, destroying unspecified infrastructure. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The southeastern city has been a refuge for many civilians who have fled a Russian siege in the devastated port city of Mariupol.

To protect Odesa, Kyiv might need to shift forces to the southwest, drawing them away from the eastern front in the Donbas, where they are fighting near Kharkiv to push the Russians back across the border.

Russian aircraft twice launched unguided missiles Tuesday at the Sumy area northeast of Kharkiv, according to the Ukrainian border guard service. The region’s governor said the missiles hit several residential buildings, but no one was killed. Russian mortars hit the Chernihiv region, along the Ukrainian border with Belarus, but there was no word on casualties.

Gambrell reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, David Keyton in Kyiv, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, Kelvin Chan in London and AP’s worldwide staff contributed.