Russia cuts gas to Poland and Bulgaria as West mounts new arms push
KHARKIV, Ukraine — Moscow on Wednesday turned off the naturalgas spigot to the frontline Eastern European states of Poland and Bulgaria, signaling its willingness to take sharp economic aim at those who aid Ukraine, where Russian forces rained shells in the east as they pressed ahead with their devastating 2-month-old invasion.
Addressing the first such supply disruption since the war’s start, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov strongly hinted that other European economies may be next. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, he said that if some customers “decline to pay under the new system” Russia has instituted — meaning in rubles instead of dollars or euros — they would “of course” could face the same treatment.
Along a 300-mile battlefront in Ukraine’s Donbas region, meanwhile, Russian forces managed to capture a small town,
Zarichne, the Ukrainian military said in an early morning operational report. The giant Azovstal steelworks in the battered southern port city of Mariupol, which has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, also came under new bombardment, the military said.
Russia has been trying since the start of the war to capture Mariupol, and the city’s last-ditch defenders and some civilians are holed up inside the sprawling Soviet-era steel complex laced with tunnels and bunkers. Even though fighting continues, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already claimed victory in the siege of the city, which Ukraine refuses to acknowledge.
In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, partially hemmed in by Russian troops and under heavy bombardment since the start of the war, loud explosions rocked the city shortly after midnight. Later, the regional governor said on the messaging app Telegram that overnight strikes in outlying towns had killed three people and wounded 15 others.