Ukrainian President Zelenskyy tells the West: “Stop playing with Russia”, end the war

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the West to stop messing with Russia and impose tougher sanctions on Moscow to end its “senseless war” in Ukraine, adding that his country will remain independent, the question is which ​Price.

Zelensky’s criticism of the West has grown in recent days, as the European Union slowly moves toward a possible Russian oil embargo and thousands of Russian forces seek to encircle two key eastern cities, Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Three months after invading Ukraine, Russia has halted its assault on the capital, Kyiv, and is seeking to consolidate control of the industrial eastern Donbass region, where it has supported a separatist revolt since 2014.

Western military analysts see the battle for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk as a possible turning point in the war after momentum shifted towards Russia following the surrender of Ukraine’s Mariupol garrison last week.

“Ukraine will always be an independent state and will not break. The only question is what price our people will have to pay for their freedom and what price Russia will pay for this senseless war against us,” Zelenskyy said in a late-night address on Thursday.

A burnt car seen on the street in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on May 25, 2022.
A burned car is spotted on the street in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, May 25, 2022.
ZUMAPRESS.com

“The catastrophic events could still be stopped if the world treated the situation in Ukraine as if it were facing the same situation, if those in power were not messing with Russia, but were really pushing to end the war.”

Zelenskyy lamented disagreements within the EU over further sanctions against Russia and asked why some nations should be allowed to block the plan.

The EU is discussing a sixth round of punitive measures, including an embargo on Russian oil imports. Such a move requires unanimity, but Hungary has rejected the idea for the time being on the grounds that its economy would suffer too much.

“How many more weeks will the European Union try to agree on a sixth package?” asked Zelenskyy, noting that Russia receives €1 billion a day from the bloc of 27 for energy supplies.

“Pressuring Russia literally means saving lives. Every day of procrastination, weakness, various disputes or proposals to ‘pacify’ the attacker at the expense of the victim only means more Ukrainians are killed.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the West to impose tougher sanctions on Moscow to end the war.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the West to impose tougher sanctions on Moscow to end the war.
EPA

Zelenskyy’s comments mark the second day in a row that he has sharpened his criticism of the world’s approach to the war.

On Wednesday he vehemently suggested that Kyiv should make concessions to bring about peace, saying the idea smacked of attempts to appease Nazi Germany in 1938.

Advancing Russian troops

Russian forces attacked from three sides on Thursday in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, the Ukrainian military said. If the two cities on the Seversky-Donets river fall, almost the entire Donbass province of Luhansk would be under Russian control.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said around 50 Russian soldiers reached the highway and “managed to gain a foothold” and even set up a checkpoint.

“The checkpoint was breached, they were thrown back… the Russian army doesn’t control the route now, but they’re shelling it,” he said. It is possible that Ukrainian troops “would leave one settlement, maybe two. We must win the war, not the battle,” he said.

“It is clear that our boys are slowly retreating to more fortified positions – we must stop this horde.”

Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denisenko said at a briefing that 25 Russian battalions were trying to encircle Ukrainian forces.

An aerial view shows destroyed houses on May 26, 2022 in Novoselivka, Ukraine.
An aerial view shows destroyed houses on May 26, 2022 in Novoselivka, Ukraine.
Getty Images

Reuters journalists in Russian-held territory further south saw evidence of Moscow’s advance in Svitlodarsk, where Ukrainian forces were withdrawing earlier this week.

The city is now firmly under the control of pro-Russian militants who have occupied the local government building and hung a Soviet hammer and sickle flag on the door.

Reuters drone footage of the nearby abandoned battlefield showed craters pockmarking a green field surrounded by ruined buildings. Pro-Russian fighters scurried about in trenches.

The Donbass advance was supported by massive artillery shelling. According to the Ukrainian military, 50 cities in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces were shelled on Thursday.

Servicemen of pro-Russian troops drive a tank along a road during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the city of Popasna, Ukraine, May 26, 2022.
Servicemen of pro-Russian troops drive a tank in the city of Popasna, Ukraine, May 26, 2022.
REUTERS

The head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhny demanded from Telegram more western weapons, in particular “weapons that allow us to hit the enemy at long range”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later warned that any shipment of arms that might reach Russian territory would be a “serious step toward an unacceptable escalation.”

RISK OF ESCALATION

Western countries led by the United States have provided Ukraine with long-range weapons, including M777 howitzers from Washington and Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark.

Washington is even considering equipping Kyiv with a missile system that can have a range of hundreds of kilometers and has held talks with Kyiv about the risk of escalation if it hits deep in Russia, US and diplomatic officials told Reuters.

Debris covers a street after the area was bombed with artillery shells May 26, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Debris covers a street after the area was bombed with artillery shells May 26, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
EPA

“We have concerns about escalation and yet we don’t want to set geographic boundaries or tie their hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” a US official said on condition of anonymity.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist charge is unfounded and the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow expects Ukraine to accept their demands at future peace talks. She wants Kyiv to recognize Russian sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, and the independence of territory claimed by separatists.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/27/stop-playing-with-russia-end-war-zelensky-tells-weststop-playing-with-russia-end-war-zelensky-tells-west/ Ukrainian President Zelenskyy tells the West: “Stop playing with Russia”, end the war

JACLYN DIAZ

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