Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that his territorial ambitions in Ukraine go beyond the Donbass region.
Russia on Wednesday extended its goals to territories other than those eastern Ukraine and the Donbass basin, still bombarded in a war that is depriving part of the world of grain and threatening Europe with gas shortages.
To overcome the drop in Russian deliveries, Brussels also proposed a plan on Wednesday to reduce European gas demand by 15%. This plan provides for an arsenal of measures such as limiting the heating of certain buildings, postponing the closure of nuclear power plants and encouraging companies to reduce their needs.
After almost five months of war, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has asserted that Russia's military objectives are no longer limited only to eastern Ukraine, but also extend to other areas. territories and could still expand.
Sergei Lavrov justified this change by a different geography compared to the situation on the ground at the end of March.
< p class="e-p"> Part of the offensive on February 24, Russia had said it wanted to focus on the Donbass basin, a mining region partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, after having notably failed to take kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
It is no longer just the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk [breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine], it is also the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions [in the south] and a series of other territories, and this process continues, steadily, Lavrov told the Ria-Novosti news agency and the RT channel.
Faced with Moscow's hegemonic claims, kyiv is demanding more weapons from its Western partners.
Mr. Lavrov also said that holding talks with Kyiv would make no sense in the current situation, believing that previous contacts had only revealed the lack of will on the Ukrainian side to discuss anything seriously. either.
Ukraine responded to the Russian announcement by calling for more weapons and additional sanctions against Moscow. The Russians want blood, not negotiations. I call on all partners to strengthen sanctions against Russia and speed up arms deliveries to Ukraine, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
< p class="e-p">Supplementing the six sets of sanctions adopted since the start of the war, the European Union also approved on Wednesday an embargo on gold exports from Russia. It will also freeze the assets of the Russian bank Sberbank and add several personalities and entities to its blacklist.
Moscow has made gains in recent weeks in the Donbass, including breaking the double lock of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, two cities in the Luhansk region, which cleared the way for it to try to advance towards the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, further west in the Donetsk region.
Heavy fighting continues to unfold in this part of Ukraine, however, with kyiv rely on recent deliveries of more capable Western artillery pieces.
Lavrov also warned that if the West continued to supply Ukraine with weapons capable of long-range strikes, such as the US HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, Russia's geographical targets would still evolve.
In the south, new bombardments left at least two dead and nine wounded in the city of Nikopol, according to its mayor Oleksandre Saïouk.
In Kharkiv, the Ukrainian army faces massive bombardments from the Russian air force.
According to regional official Oleksandre Vilkoul, the Russian military fired salvoes of Grad missiles from occupied territories in southern Ukraine, 30 of which hit the city.
Among the injured, four are children, the youngest being three years old. Three buildings were completely destroyed, up to 10 others damaged, he said on Telegram.
In Kharkiv, in the northeast, shelling killed at least three people, according to local authorities. Among the victims was a 13-year-old boy killed near a bus stop whose body and relatives were seen in shock by AFP journalists, kneeling beside him amid the debris of glass.
In Brussels, the European Commission is preparing people's minds for gas shortages that could slow down economic activity and cause heating difficulties.
Russia supplied 40% of Europe's gas supply until last year.
Despite a surge in imports since the Norway, Azerbaijan or Algeria, and a tripling since March of the shipments of American liquefied natural gas, the Europeans fear a difficult winter.
Russia uses the gas as a weapon. In the event of a total shutdown, Europe will have to be ready, said EU executive chairwoman Ursula von der Leyen.
In addition to a request to save at least 15% of gas between August 2022 and March 2023, the Commission foresees that the 27 Member States can resort to coal, oil or nuclear power if necessary.
For the time being, Europe is suspended on Moscow's decision whether or not to reopen the valves of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which mainly supplies Germany and does not deliver more than 40% capacity since mid-June.
The European Union has proposed to its member states to reduce their gas consumption by at least 15% over the next few months .
In remarks to the press overnight Tuesday-Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that the pipeline could restart Thursday morning, but that if Russia did not receive a missing turbine, it would operate at 20% capacity. as of next week.
A pretext, immediately lambasted Germany.
The Russian president also showered the ;hope for a resumption of exports by the Black Sea of the 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain blocked due to the war.
Referring to a progress at the end of a summit in Tehran with his Turkish counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian Ebrahim Raïssi, he immediately set conditions.
We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian cereals, but assuming that all restrictions on possible export deliveries of Russian grain are lifted, he said.
The war led to a jump in the price of cereals [wheat, maize], unsustainable for the countries most dependent on their imports, such as Egypt, Lebanon or Tunisia.