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Kyiv Halts Russian Gas Shipments Through Key Hub

  • Russian gas flows to Europe through Ukraine are falling.
  • Kyiv has halted the use of a key transit route for Russian gas deliveries.
  • The European Union is scrambling to reduce dependence on Russian gas, but it has stopped short of a full gas embargo on Moscow.

Kyiv has halted the use of a major transit route for Russian gas amid continued heavy fighting in the east and south of Ukraine, while Ukrainian forces claimed some progress in pushing Russian forces away from the city of Kharkiv.

Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter on May 11 after Kyiv announced that it would stop Russian shipments through its key Novopskov hub in the east, blaming interference by Russian forces in the region.

It is the first time exports have been disrupted since Moscow launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Despite the war, Ukraine has remained a major transit route for Russian gas to Europe.

Russia's state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, which has a monopoly on Moscow's gas exports by pipeline, said it was still shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine, but volumes were seen at 72 million cubic meters (mcm) on May 11, down from 95.8 mcm the previous day.

The European Union is scrambling to reduce its reliance on Russian energy supplies, but it has stopped short so far from imposing sanctions on crucial gas flows.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on May 10 that Ukrainian successes pushed Russian forces out of four villages around Kharkiv, which has been under bombardment since the war began.

The head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, Oleh Synegubov, said four villages -- Cherkasy Tyshky, Rusky Tyshky, Rubizhne, and Bayrak -- had been liberated, though "fierce battles" were still raging in some parts.

Zelensky hailed the gains but warned against celebrating prematurely.

"I also want to urge all our people...not to spread excessive emotions," Zelensky said in a video address. "We should not create an atmosphere of excessive moral pressure, where victories are expected weekly and even daily."

In the strategic southern port of Mariupol, Russian forces continued their assault on the Azovstal steel plant where the city's last defenders are holed up. An aide to the mayor said at least 100 civilians were still trapped there.

Russia is trying to reinforce exposed troops on Snake Island, which could enable it to dominate the northwestern Black Sea with strategic air-defense and coastal defense cruise missiles, the British Ministry of Defense said in a regular bulletin.

"Ukraine has successfully struck" Russian air defenses and resupply lines in the Black Sea with drones, the bulletin noted, leaving Russian resupply lines exposed after the Russian Navy retreated to Crimea following what the United States says was the sinking of the Moskva missile cruiser by Ukraine last month. Ukraine has not confirmed the attack.

Russian missile strikes also hit the southern port of Odesa in an apparent effort to disrupt supply lines.

In Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion more aid for Ukraine as Congress races to keep military aid flowing and support the government in Kyiv. The measure now goes for Senate approval before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.

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The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, meanwhile, told a Senate committee that the United States believes Putin is preparing for a long conflict in Ukraine.

There are indications Russia wants to extend a land bridge to Transdniester, the breakaway region in Moldova, said Haines, adding that Putin is counting on Western resolve to weaken over time.

Haines also told the committee that Putin is expected to become more unpredictable and could order martial law in Russia.

Zelensky said 36 foreign missions are operating in the capital, and the resumption of diplomatic work in Kyiv "confirms Europe's confidence in the future of Ukraine."

Biden's nominee to be the next ambassador to Ukraine, veteran diplomat Bridget Brink, was expected to also easily win confirmation to a crucial position that has been vacant for three years.

Brink spoke to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 10 ahead of what's expected to be her easy Senate confirmation.

Brink told senators that if confirmed she would work to fully reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and take up her work in the country.

By RFE/RL

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