Live updates | Pipeline operator to stop natural gas flow

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it would stop Russian shipments through its Novopskov hub in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it would stop Russian shipments through its Novopskov hub in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.

It said the hub handles about a third of the Russian gas passing through the country to Western Europe, although Russia’s state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom put the figure at about a quarter.

The operator, which also complained about interference along the route last month, said it will stop the flow starting Wednesday because of interference from “occupying forces,” including the apparent siphoning of gas. It said Russia could reroute affected shipments through Ukraine’s other main hub, Sudzha, in a northern part of the country controlled by Ukraine.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Ukraine’s rerouting request would be “technologically impossible” and that the company sees no grounds for Ukraine’s decision.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— US, Western Europe fret over uncertain Ukraine war endgame

— Ukrainians make gains in east, hold on at Mariupol mill

— Fighters appeal for evacuation of wounded from Mariupol mill

— House approves $40B in Ukraine aid, beefing up Biden request

— Leonid Kravchuk, independent Ukraine’s 1st president, dies

— Ambassador nominee for Ukraine seeks quick embassy reopening

— Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

The British military says Ukraine’s targeting of Russian forces on Snake Island in the Black Sea is helping disrupt Moscow’s attempts to expand its influence in the Black Sea.

In a daily intelligence briefing posted to Twitter on Wednesday, the British Defense Ministry said “Russia repeatedly (is) trying to reinforce its exposed garrison located there.”

It added: “Ukraine has successfully struck Russian air defenses and resupply vessels with Bayraktar drones. Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva.”

This corresponds to satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press this weekend showing the fighting there.

The British military warned: “If Russia consolidates its position on (Snake) Island with strategic air defense and coastal defense cruise missiles, they could dominate the northwestern Black Sea.”

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House emphatically approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package Tuesday as lawmakers beefed up President Joe Biden’s initial request, signaling a magnified, bipartisan commitment to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody three-month-old invasion.

The measure sailed to passage by a lopsided 368-57 margin, providing $7 billion more than Biden’s request from April and dividing the increase evenly between defense and humanitarian programs.

The bill would give Ukraine military and economic assistance, help regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped overseas and provide $5 billion to address global food shortages caused by the war’s crippling of Ukraine’s normally robust production of many crops.

The new legislation would bring American support for the effort to nearly $54 billion, including the $13.6 billion in support Congress enacted in March.

That’s about $6 billion more than the U.S. spent on all its foreign and military aid in 2019, according to a January report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which studies issues for lawmakers.

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cited some good news Tuesday from the front, where he said the Ukrainian military was gradually pushing the Russian troops away from Kharkiv.

The Ukrainian General Staff said its forces drove the Russians out of four villages to the northeast of Kharkiv as it tries to push them back toward the Russian border.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Ukrainian officials say Russian missiles pummeled the vital port of Odesa, apparently as part of efforts to disrupt supply lines and weapons shipments critical to Kyiv’s defense.

Ukraine’s ability to stymie a larger, better-armed Russian military has surprised many who had anticipated a much quicker conflict.

With the war now in its 11th week and Kyiv bogging down Russian forces in many places and even staging a counteroffensive in others, Ukraine’s foreign minister appeared to voice confidence that the country could expand its aims beyond merely pushing Russia back to areas it or its allies held on the day of Feb. 24 invasion.

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