Economic tensions between Russia and the West are approaching boiling point after the Kremlin deployed arguably its mightiest economic weapon in cutting off the delivery of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria, which are both NATO members. Europe, which is heavily reliant on Russian natural gas to heat homes and generate electricity, has struggled to cut this energy dependence since the invasion of Ukraine. Germany said Tuesday that it hopes in the coming days to find an alternative to Russian oil imports.
The United States and the United Nations said Tuesday that they were monitoring reports of explosions in Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova. The U.N. urged involved parties to “refrain from any statements or actions that could escalate tensions,” amid fears that Russia’s ambitions could spill over Ukraine’s borders into neighboring Moldova.
Some Western analysts say a successful power grab in Moldova could provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with “a cheap ‘win’” — though others doubt the Kremlin has the capacity while it is also bogged down in eastern Ukraine. The Institute for the Study of War also said Russia has “adopted a sounder pattern of operational movement” in that region, from Izyum to Rubizhne, where it is “making better progress” than its other recent advances.
Meanwhile, the U.N. said that Putin, during a Tuesday meeting with the organization’s Secretary General António Guterres, had agreed “in principle” to allow civilian evacuations from a Mariupol steel plant that is surrounded by Russian troops. Kyiv said that in recent days the Kremlin has inflicted airstrikes on the plant, where Ukrainian fighters are also holed up. Putin on Tuesday repeated a pledge not to attack the plant, though he has made similar assurances in recent weeks.
Here’s what else to know
- Top U.S. defense officials on Tuesday made an urgent case for sending more weapons to Ukraine, telling delegations from more than 40 countries that the coming weeks of war will be “so crucial.”
- Ukrainian officials in Kherson said the Kremlin has installed a pro-Moscow administration in the city, a day after Russian forces seized the city council building.
- Fires are erupting in Siberia this spring, and some experts are concerned that Russia may lack sufficient military resources to extinguish the blazes, especially as fire activity increases in the summer, given its invasion of Ukraine.
- The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.