Ukraine’s Zelensky has condemned Russia’s attack on a chemical plant

'Madness': Ukraine's Zelensky condemns Russia for attacking chemical plants

Ukraine war: The battle for control of Severodonetsk by Russian troops is intensifying this week.

Kiev:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday accused Moscow of “madness” when Russian troops struck a chemical plant to complete the occupation of a key eastern city.

Fighting for control of Severodonetsk has intensified this week, with heavy casualties on both sides as EU leaders push for a ban on Russian gas to punish the Kremlin for a three-month-old attack on its western neighbor.

Severodonetsk, one of Russia’s industrial hubs for taking over the eastern Lugansk region, has been the target of huge Russian firepower since the failed attempt to occupy Kyiv.

Russians are now in control of most of the destroyed city, regional authorities said Tuesday, as enemy forces hit a nitric acid tank at a chemical plant and warned people to stay indoors.

“Given the presence of large-scale chemical production in Severodonetsk, the Russian military’s attacks there, including indiscriminate airstrikes, are just madness,” Zelensky said in a video message.

“But on the 97th day of this kind of war, it is no longer surprising that for the Russian military, for Russian commanders, for Russian soldiers, any insanity is absolutely acceptable.”

In Brussels, meanwhile, European Union leaders split over a gas ban from Moscow after agreeing on a two-thirds oil embargo to tighten economic screws.

While these countries have reduced the likelihood of a quick gas embargo to follow, Zelensky still appreciates the EU’s actions so far against Russia’s “terrorist state”.

“It is important to understand that the abandonment of Russian oil and other fossil fuels by European countries will accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources,” he said.

“Strategically, this puts the Russian state on the side of the modern economy. With such an aggressive policy and the path to secession from the civilized world, Russia simply will not be able to adapt.”

– Endless shelling –

The State Department also praised the EU’s efforts, saying there was “widespread support” among Washington’s allies for “reducing the power of Russia’s war machine.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has suggested that Brussels has made significant progress against Russian fossil fuels, and that it is time to pay more attention to the “financial and economic sectors”.

The oil embargo will “effectively reduce oil imports from Russia to the European Union by about 90 percent by the end of the year,” he said.

After the Netherlands, Finland, Poland and Bulgaria, Denmark has become the last European country to be targeted by Russia for gas exports.

Danish energy firm Orested says Russian exclusive Gazprom exports will cut gas supplies on Wednesday after Denara refused to pay the ruble.

The situation on the eastern frontline of Donbass has become increasingly desperate, with Ukrainian cities facing constant shelling from Russian forces.

An uninterrupted flow of vehicles carried about 1,350 people on a Red Cross bus through eastern Ukrainian checkpoints on Monday, desperate to escape the horrors of life in Russian-controlled territory.

Tired crowds, including women and children, crossed a dam through a reservoir that served as the border line between Russian and Ukrainian troops.

“I can breathe more easily now,” Anna, a teacher who fled with her 13- and 11-year-old children, told AFP as she crossed the checkpoint.

Tetiana, a 19-year-old student, said she was happy to be back in her “native Ukraine” after three months in the “Russian world”.

French journalist Friedrich Leclerc-Imhof was killed while covering a civilian transfer in Donbass on Monday.

And an overnight rocket attack in the town of Sloviansk has killed at least three people and injured six, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said in a telegram on Tuesday.

– ‘Save your life’ –

“There is no safe place in the Donetsk region, so I’m calling again: evacuate – save your life,” he said.

Four more civilians were killed and seven were injured in Donetsk on Tuesday, he added in a subsequent telegram post.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova said authorities had identified “thousands” of war crimes cases in Donbass, including murder, torture and forcible displacement of children.

Kyiv is already on trial for 80 war crimes suspects on Ukrainian soil, said Jelensky’s aide, who met with international opponents in The Hague on Tuesday.

A Ukrainian court on Tuesday sentenced two Russian soldiers to 11 and a half years in prison for firing on two villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region. Earlier this month, another man was sentenced to life in prison for killing a civilian.

Russia’s aggression against its pro-Western neighbor also threatens a global food crisis, effectively removing Ukraine’s huge grain crop from the world market.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz had called on Russian leader Vladimir Putin to end the blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was up to the West and Kiev to resolve the crisis, starting with lifting sanctions.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has called on Macron to visit France before the end of the EU presidency on June 30.

He told the French news channel LCI that “it would be good if Macron came during the time of the French EU president, and the best thing would be that he brought more arms supplies to Ukraine.”

“This is the most valuable help we can get from France.”

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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