KHARKIV: Flows of Russian gas to Europe through a transit point in Ukraine dried up on Wednesday (May 11), as Kiev reported battlefield gains over invading Russian forces that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum.
Ukraine has remained a major route for Russian gas to Europe even since the February 24 invasion, which President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation.”
Increasing Western sanctions are seeking to ban or phase out the use of Russian energy, a major source of money for Putin’s war effort and a vulnerability to Europe, especially Germany.
The Ukrainian gas pipeline operator, who blamed the occupier presence for the suspension, said on Tuesday it would divert gas from the Sokhranivka transit point, which is in an area occupied by Russian troops, to another in a Ukrainian-controlled area.
Requests for Russian gas transit through Sokhranivka by May 11 have fallen to zero, operator data showed early on Wednesday.
Since Russia was forced to stop an attack on the capital Kiev in late March, the main force has been trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbas region, based at Izyum near Ukraine’s second city, Kharkov, in the northeast.
But Ukrainian forces have mostly held back against attacks and have recaptured four settlements north of Kharkov in recent days, Tetiana Apatchenko, a press officer with the main Ukrainian force in the area, said Tuesday.
Russian forces tried to prevent Ukrainian troops from moving further to the border in the Kharkov region and attempted to completely capture the city of Rubizhne, the Ukrainian General Staff said early Wednesday.
Across the border, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said on his Telegram channel that a “yellow” second-highest security warning would be enforced there until May 25. The area has been sporadically attacked by Ukrainian troops.
A Ukrainian counter-attack near Kharkov could mark a new phase of the conflict, potentially leaving supply lines to Russia vulnerable.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s successes gradually drove Russian troops out of Kharkiv, which has been bombed since the beginning of the war.
“But I also want to urge all our people… not to spread undue emotion. We should not create an atmosphere of undue moral pressure, where wins are expected on a weekly and even daily basis,” he said in a video address.