• Putin warns of retaliation if West interferes
  • Ukraine says Europe should stop relying on Russia
  • France will host EU energy ministers on May 2
  • Russia denies energy blackmail
  • Canada says Russian attacks are war crimes

WARSAW/SOFIA/KYIV, April 28 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of lightning-fast retaliation if countries interfere in Ukraine, as European leaders accused Russia of “blackmailing” over its cuts in the gas supply.

Russia has told the United States to stop sending weapons to Ukraine, saying large Western arms deliveries were inflaming the conflict.

Addressing lawmakers in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin said the West wanted to divide Russia into different parts and accused him of pushing Ukraine into conflict with Russia.

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“If anyone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from abroad and create strategic threats to Russia that are unacceptable to us, he should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning fast,” Putin said, according to his video. provided speech. by the Russian media.

“We have all the tools for this, things that no one else can brag about right now. And we won’t brag, we’ll use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know that.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 and has reduced towns and cities to rubble and forced more than 5 million people to flee abroad. Western countries have responded with sanctions and weapons for Ukraine to fight a war that has raised fears of a wider conflict in the West, unthinkable for decades.

Russia calls its intervention a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say this is a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression by President Vladimir Putin.

As Russia presses its military assault into eastern and southern Ukraine, its economic battle with the West threatens gas supplies to Europe and is hitting the Russian economy as it grapples with the worst crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. .

Ukraine said Europe should stop relying on Russia for trade after it stopped gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for not paying in rubles.

“The sooner everyone in Europe recognizes that they cannot depend on Russia for trade, the sooner it will be possible to ensure stability in European markets,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday night.

Germany, the biggest buyer of Russian energy, expects to stop importing Russian oil within days, but has warned that a Russian energy embargo or blockade would push Europe’s largest economy into recession. read more

Gazprom (GAZP.MM), the Russian gas export monopoly, suspended gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday for not paying in rubles, as stipulated in a Putin decree that aims to soften the impact of sanctions.

While the European Commission president said Gazprom’s suspension was “another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” ambassadors from EU member states called for clearer guidance on whether sending euros violated sanctions.

France will host a meeting of EU energy ministers on May 2.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia remained a reliable energy supplier and denied it was involved in blackmail.

He declined to say how many countries agreed to pay for gas in rubles, but other European customers said gas supplies were flowing normally.

The sanctions are taking a heavy toll on Russia, with its economy ministry indicating in a document that the economy could contract by as much as 12.4% this year. read more

Canadian lawmakers voted unanimously on Wednesday to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine “genocide,” with members of parliament saying there was “ample evidence of massive and systemic war crimes against humanity” committed by Russia.

Canada’s parliament said in a motion that Russia’s war crimes include mass atrocities, intentional killing of civilians, desecration of corpses, forcible transfer of children, torture, physical and mental harm and rape. read more

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Since the Russian invasion force was repulsed outside kyiv last month, Moscow has refocused its operation on eastern Ukraine, launching a new offensive to fully capture two provinces known as Donbas.

Ukraine said Russian forces had used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a pro-Ukrainian demonstration in Kherson, the first major city it occupies. A series of powerful rocket explosions hit Kherson on Wednesday night, the Ria News agency reported. read more

Explosions were heard earlier in three Russian provinces bordering Ukraine, authorities said, and an ammunition depot in Belgorod province caught fire. read more

kyiv has not confirmed responsibility for these and other incidents, but has described them as revenge. “Karma is a cruel thing,” presidential adviser Mikhaylo Podolyak wrote on social media.

An aide to the mayor of the ruined port city of Mariupol said Russian forces had renewed their attacks on the Azovstal steel plant, where fighters and some civilians remain in hiding.

Concerns have also grown over the prospect of the conflict spreading to neighboring Moldova, where pro-Russian separatists have blamed Ukraine for reported attacks this week in their region, occupied since the 1990s by Russian troops.

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Additional reporting by Reuters journalists; Written by Michael Perry; Edited by Robert Birsell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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