Finland is expected to announce its intention to join NATO on Thursday, and Sweden is likely to do so shortly thereafter, diplomats and officials said, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changes European security and the Atlantic military alliance.

NATO allies expect Finland and Sweden to gain membership soon, five diplomats and officials told Reuters, paving the way for increased troop presence in the Northern Region within a one-year ratification period.

In the wider Northern Region, Norway, Denmark and the three Baltic states are already members of NATO, and the accession of Finland and Sweden is likely to anger Moscow, which says NATO enlargement is a direct threat to its own security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the issue the reason for his actions in Ukraine, which also expressed a desire to eventually join the alliance.

On the front line, Ukraine said on Wednesday it had repulsed Russian forces in the east and shut off gas flows en route through Russian-held territory, sparking the specter of an energy crisis in Europe.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said it had recaptured the Nursery, a village on the main highway north of Kharkiv’s second largest city, about halfway to the border with Russia.

“The occupying forces have moved to the defense to slow down the pace of our troops’ offensive,” the statement said. “Nursery Villageā€¦ released.”

The advance seems to have been the fastest since in early April it drove Russian troops out of the capital Kyiv and northern Ukraine.

If maintained, this could allow Ukrainian forces to jeopardize the supply line of the main forces of the Russian attack and set rear logistics targets in Russia itself in the artillery zone.

The Kremlin calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarize its neighbor, which threatens its security.

He denies attacking civilians.

Ukraine says it poses no threat and that the deaths of thousands of civilians and the destruction of towns and cities indicate that Russia is waging a war of conquest.

GAS SUPPLY

Ukraine’s move Wednesday to cut off Russian gas supplies through Russian-backed separatist territory was the first time the conflict has directly disrupted supplies to Europe.

The flow of gas from Russia’s export monopoly Gazprom to Europe via Ukraine has been cut by a quarter after Kyiv said it had to stop all flows from one route – through the Sakhranovka transit point in southern Russia.

Ukraine has accused Russian-backed separatists of pumping supplies. If supply cuts continue, this will be the most direct impact on European energy markets.

Oskva also imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish section of the Yamal gas pipeline, which carries Russian gas to Europe, as well as a former German subsidiary of Gazprom, whose subsidiaries serve gas consumption in Europe.

The consequences for Europe, which buys more than a third of its gas from Russia, were not immediately apparent.

Berlin said it was studying the ad.

A spokesman for the economy ministry said the German government was “taking the necessary precautions and preparing for various scenarios”.

SHAVED TANKS

While the fighting continued, the governor of the Russian region of Belgorod, on the other side of the border from Kharkov, said that a village from Ukraine had been shelled, one person was wounded. Ukrainian authorities have so far confirmed several details of the advance through the Kharkiv region.

“We have success in the Kharkiv direction, where we are steadily pushing back the enemy and liberating settlements,” said Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of the General Staff of Ukraine, Brigadier General Alexei Gromov.

In southern Ukraine, where Russia has seized space, Kyiv has said Moscow plans to hold a fake referendum on independence or annexation to make its occupation permanent.

On Wednesday, the Kremlin said residents of the Russian-occupied Kherson region should decide whether they want to join Russia, but any such decision must have a clear legal basis.

Russian troops also continue to bomb the Azovstal metallurgical plant in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in the city. who left the city.

Ukraine estimates that tens of thousands of people have probably died in Mariupol.

Ukrainian authorities say 150,000 to 170,000 of the city’s 400,000 still live there among the Russian-occupied ruins.

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