: Russia bombed railroad stations and other supply-line locations across the country, complaining that the West is “stuffing Ukraine with weaponry,” as the European Union prepared to further penalize Moscow for the war on Wednesday by putting a restriction on oil imports, a vital source of revenue.
According to the mayor, heavy fighting also raged in the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, which served as the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the destroyed southern port city. However, a Russian spokesperson denied that Moscow’s troops had stormed the factory, as Ukrainian authorities had said the day before.
The Russian military stated on Wednesday that it destroyed electric power infrastructure at five railway stations across Ukraine with sea and air-launched missiles, as well as army strongholds and fuel and ammunition stores, with artillery and aircraft.
The attacks come as Russia prepares to commemorate Victory Day, which commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany on May 9. The world is waiting to see if Russian President Vladimir Putin will declare victory or expand what he refers to as a “special military operation.”
Putin would be able to impose martial law and deploy reservists to compensate for huge troop casualties if he declared all-out war.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, dismissed the rumors as “nonsense.”
Belarus, which Russia used as a staging ground for its invasion, scheduled military drills starting Wednesday as locations across Ukraine came under renewed attack. If Belarus joins the war, a top Ukrainian official stated the country will be ready to intervene.
According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the attacks on rail infrastructure were intended to delay the transport of Western armaments. The West is “stuffing Ukraine with weaponry,” according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Western armament has helped Ukraine’s military thwart Russia’s initial attempt to grab Kyiv, and it is expected to play a key part in the expanding battle for the Donbas, the eastern industrial region that Moscow now claims as its primary goal.
Ukraine has urged the West to increase military supplies ahead of what may be a decisive conflict. Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his government is considering sending howitzers in addition to the Gepard anti-aircraft weapons and other equipment it has committed to send. Germany had been sluggish to help arm Ukraine at initially.
According to the governor of the eastern Donetsk region, which is part of the Donbas, Russian attacks killed 21 people on Tuesday, the largest number of confirmed fatalities since April 8, when a missile attack on the Kramatorsk railway station killed at least 59 people.
Europe and the United States have sought to punish Moscow with sanctions in addition to delivering weaponry to Ukraine. On Wednesday, the EU’s top diplomat urged the 27-nation bloc to impose an embargo on Russian oil imports.
“We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in a way that allows us and our allies to secure alternative supply lines while minimizing the impact on global markets,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Strasbourg, France.
The measures will almost certainly be the topic of heated debate because they require unanimous support from EU nations. Hungary and Slovakia have previously stated that they will not participate in any oil embargoes. It’s possible that they’ll be granted an exemption.
The EU has also begun discussing a possible Russian natural gas embargo. A Russian coal embargo has already been agreed by the EU.
Russia’s economy, as well as military budget, is primarily reliant on oil and natural gas exports.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other significant banks will be cut off from the SWIFT international financial payment system, according to Von der Leyen.
Ukrainian fighters say Russian soldiers began attacking the bombed-out steel factory in Mariupol on Tuesday, in one of the war’s most significant confrontations. The Kremlin, though, denied this.
“There isn’t any kind of assault.” There have been instances of escalation as a result of militants taking up fire positions. “These attempts are being immediately thwarted,” Peskov said.
During a cease-fire over the weekend, more than 100 people were evacuated from the plant, including women, the elderly, and 17 children, in an operation monitored by the UN and the Red Cross. However, the attacks on the plant resumed soon after, and no more evacuations were planned.
It was unclear how many Ukrainian fighters were inside, but the Russians estimated there were around 2,000 in recent weeks, with 500 reported injured. According to the Ukrainian side, a few hundred residents remained in the area.
Russian forces were hitting the facility with heavy artillery, tanks, aircraft, warships, and “large bombs that pierce concrete 3 to 5 meters thick,” according to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko.
“Our gallant men are defending this citadel, but it is proving to be a difficult task,” he explained.
His assertions were unsubstantiated, and he claimed to have lost communication with the fighters at Azovstal.
“Unfortunately, the connection with the guys to understand what’s going on there and whether they’re safe or not has vanished today,” Boychenko said.
Mariupol, and the factory in particular, have come to represent the war’s devastation. In a two-month siege, the Russians have destroyed most of the city, trapping residents with little or no food, water, medicine, or heat.
The collapse of the city would deny Ukraine access to a critical port, enabling Russia to construct a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014, and free up soldiers to fight elsewhere in the Donbas.