Live: No ceasefire or concessions, Ukraine said, as fighting in Donbas intensifies

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A Russian serviceman holds his weapon as he guards an area at a destroyed part of the Illich Iron & Steel Works Metallurgical Plant in Mariupol on 18 May 2022

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Ukraine ruled out a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow while Russia intensified an offensive in the eastern Donbas region, waging a major offensive in Luhansk.

The Russian army is attempting to seize the cities of Sloviansk and Sievierodonetsk, but Ukrainian forces held off their advance by Sunday.

**Follow the day’s developments in our live blog below and watch Euronews TV coverage in the video player above.
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09:23

Sunday’s key points:

    Diplomacy is the only way to end the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. His advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, however, said in an interview that there will be no ceasefire or concession to Russia.

    Russia suspended its gas delivery to Finland on Saturday morning in response to the country’s NATO membership bid.

    Moscow will consider exchanging the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal steel mill for the previously captured pro-Putin lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky said.

    Earlier, Moscow said more than 1,900 Ukrainian fighters at the plant had surrendered.

    US President Joe Biden signed a bill approving $40 billion (about €37.5bn) in military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

    Russian Duma has said it will consider allowing Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 to sign up for the military.

    Russia is to set up 12 new military bases in the west of the country in response to Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids.

    The G7 is pledging $19.8bn (€18.75bn) in aid to boost Ukraine’s finances and more than $18bn (€17bn) in aid for Ukrainian defence efforts.

12:51

WHO meets to discuss impact of war in Ukraine, consider Kyiv’s resolution denouncing Moscow

The 194 member countries of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are meeting in Geneva against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and its attendant global threats, and a never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, to build a more effective and fair global health system.

A resolution initiated by Kyiv aims to specifically denounce Moscow’s attacks on the health system but also condemn the grave consequences of the invasion and blockade of Ukrainian ports on global supplies and the explosion in grain prices.

“The war in Ukraine has a systemic impact on international organisations, as it means that a considerable amount of time must be spent on managing the Russian issue in organisations and on the consequences for health in Ukraine, Europe and the world,” a European diplomat told AFP.

12:15

Turkish president discusses ‘concerns’ with leaders of Sweden and Finland ahead of NATO membership bids

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has objected to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, held phone calls with the leaders of the two countries on Saturday and discussed his concerns about terrorist organisations.

Turkey says Sweden and Finland harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Erdogan told Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that Ankara expected concrete steps to address its concerns, according to the Turkish presidency.

He also said an arms exports embargo imposed on Turkey after its Syria incursion in 2019 should be lifted, it added.

In another call, Erdogan told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that failing to deal with terrorist organisations that posed a threat to a NATO ally would not suit the spirit of the alliance, Ankara said.

11:26

Luhansk governor: Sievierodonetsk attacked from four directions

The Russian army is focusing its efforts on taking Sievierodonetsk, according to Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai.

“The Russians tried to enter Sievierodonetsk from 4 directions at once, but they were repelled and retreated to their earlier positions,” Haidai said on Telegram.

The Russian troops have continued to bombard civilian targets with artillery, Haidai said.

It is widely believed that taking control the city of about 100,000 on the Siverskyi Donets river is one of Moscow’s main tactical priorities in the east of Ukraine.
 

09:49

Kremlin bans almost 1,000 US citizens from entering Russia

Moscow issued an updated list of 963 US individuals who are now banned from entering Russia, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, actor Morgan Freeman, George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg.

The list also features the late US senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, while Donald Trump is not under any Russian sanctions.

The “counter-sanctions” aim to “force the current American powers, which are trying to impose a neo-colonial “world order” on the rest of the planet (…) to change their position and recognise new geopolitical realities”, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

09:38

Russian forces hit civilian targets in Donbas, Ukrainian authorities claim

Ukrainian forces in the separatist-controlled regions of Luhansk and Donetsk said on Saturday they had repelled nine attacks and destroyed five tanks and 10 other armoured vehicles in the previous 24 hours.

Russian forces were using aircraft, artillery, tanks, rockets, mortars and missiles along the entire front line to attack civilian structures and residential areas, the Ukrainians said in a Facebook post. At least seven people had been killed in the Donetsk region, they said.

Russian troops destroyed a bridge on the Siverskiy Donets River between Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said.

There was fighting on the outskirts of Sievierodonetsk from morning through the night, he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk across the Siverskiy Donets River form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv.

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