1. 'Everything on fire' as Russian barrage targets Ukraine resistance in east
Russian attacks laid down a curtain of fire Tuesday across areas of eastern Ukraine where pockets of resistance are denying Moscow full military control of the region.
“Today everything that can burn is on fire,” Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, told The Associated Press.
AFP quoted Haidai as saying the Russian army was inflicting "catastrophic destruction" on Lysychansk, a city neighbouring Sievierodonetsk in the Donbas.
The Luhansk governor said strikes were continuing on the three bridges already destroyed between the twin cities, further cutting off the 100,000 inhabitants of Lysychansk from other Kyiv-controlled territories.
The town is key towards gaining control of the whole of the Donbas, an industrial basin partially controlled since 2014 by Russian-backed separatists.
A few kilometres away, the Russians "fully control" the frontline village of Tochkivka, Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday.
According to the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces want to cut off Ukrainian communication lines along the highway between Bakhmut and Lysychansk.
In Sievierodonetsk, Ukrainian defenders have been holding on to the Azot chemical plant in the industrial outskirts. About 500 civilians are sheltering at the plant, and Serhiy Haidai said the Russian forces are turning the area “into ruins”.
“It is a sheer catastrophe,” Haidai told the AP in written comments. “Our positions are being fired at from howitzers, multiple rocket launchers, large-calibre artillery, missile strikes”.
Airstrikes on Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk have ruined more than 10 residential buildings and a police station, the president's office said.
The Russian military currently controls about 95% of the Luhansk region. But Moscow has struggled for weeks to overrun it completely, despite deploying extra troops and possessing a massive advantage in equipment.
Several other cities in the east are preparing for an advance by Russian troops. "The front has moved closer in recent weeks, up to 15-20 kilometres," Vadym Lyakh, mayor of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, told AFP. He hoped that "the new weapons our army needs will arrive soon".
The Ukrainian president's office also said that in the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, a school burned down as the result of the shelling.
According to its daily update, Russian forces over the day shelled the northern Chernihiv region and intensified their shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Explosions also occurred on Tuesday morning in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
At least six civilians were killed and 16 injured over the previous 24 hours, said the president's office.
Elsewhere, in the Black Sea, a hydrocarbon drilling platform and its well were on fire on Tuesday after being hit by Ukrainian fire the day before, according to Moscow.
"The fire on the platform is not subsiding, we tried in vain to approach it by boat. The fire has spread to the well, attempts to extinguish it are continuing," Olga Kovitidi, a senator from Ukraine's Russian-annexed Crimea peninsula, was quoted as saying by the Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti.
Russia has accused Ukrainian forces of firing on three Chernomorneftegaz drilling platforms, which it says left at least three people injured and seven missing.
The Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday that its missiles had struck an airfield near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, Russian news agencies reported, in response to the Ukrainian attack on Black Sea gas production platforms.
2. Russia threatens Lithuania over Kaliningrad transport ban
Russia threatened on Tuesday to punish Lithuania with measures that would have a "serious negative impact" for blocking some shipments by rail to Kaliningrad. Moscow also summoned the head of the EU's delegation in Russia.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Kremlin’s Security Council, visited the Russian exclave on Tuesday and vowed to respond to the ban. "Relevant measures" were being drawn up and would be "adopted shortly", he said, without elaborating.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said it was "ironic to hear rhetoric about alleged violations of international treaties" from Russia, which she accused of violating "possibly every single international treaty".
She denied Lithuania's actions amounted to a blockade and repeated Vilnius's position that it is only implementing sanctions on Moscow imposed by the EU, that took effect on Saturday.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell defended Lithuania's stance on Tuesday, agreeing that Vilnius was simply implementing the Commission's guidelines.
The rail route from the rest of Russia to Kaliningrad through Lithuania has been shut for the transport of steel and other ferrous metals.
Kaliningrad, with a population of nearly half a million people, is isolated geographically from the rest of Russia and wedged between Lithuania and Poland, both EU countries and NATO members.
3. Sweden and Germany issue energy warnings over Russian gas supply
Sweden has joined European allies in triggering the first stage of its energy crisis plan, to prepare for possible disruptions of natural gas from Russia.
The state energy agency said on Tuesday supplies were still robust but warned that the market was strained and supply may deteriorate.
Sweden, where gas accounted for just 3% of energy consumption in 2020, depends on piped gas supplies from Denmark, where storage facilities are now 75% full. Denmark activated the first stage of its emergency plan on Monday.
Germany faces certain recession if already faltering Russian gas supplies completely stop, an industry body warned on Tuesday. The BDI industry slashed its economic growth forecast for 2022 on Tuesday to 1.5%, revising it down from 3.5% expected before the war.
Russian gas is still being pumped via Ukraine but at a reduced rate and the Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic, a vital supply route to Germany, is working at just 40% capacity.
Moscow says it is because Western sanctions are hindering repairs. Europe says this is a pretext to reduce flows.
The slowdown has hampered Europe's efforts to refill storage facilities, now about 55% full, to meet an EU-wide target of 80% by October and 90% by November, a level that would help see the bloc through winter if supplies were disrupted further.
Meanwhile, Italy said it would consider offering financial backing to help companies refill gas storage to avoid a deeper crisis in winter.
4. Russia blocks access to Telegraph website over article about mobile crematorium
Russian authorities blocked the website of British newspaper The Telegraph over an article it published, the internet rights group Roskomsvoboda reported Tuesday.
The Telegraph story alleged that Russian forces had prepared a mobile crematorium for use in its war with Ukraine, possibly to hide its military casualties.
Roskomsvoboda said in an online statement that Russia’s media and internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, blocked Russian access in a move that made the entire Telegraph website inaccessible for some Russians.
Russia's TASS news agency quoted the regulator as saying that The Telegraph was found to have disseminated "inaccurate information about the special military operation conducted by Russia's Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine".
Since sending troops into Ukraine in February, Russia has cracked down on media coverage of the conflict, blocking the websites of foreign news outlets it deems to have spread "fake" news about its military campaign.
Moscow calls its actions a "special military operation" to protect Ukraine's Russian-speaking population from persecution, but Kyiv and its allies say this is a baseless pretext for a land grab that has killed thousands and driven millions from their homes.
5. EU proposes extra €600 million to tackle global food security crisis
The European Commission has proposed an extra €600 million from development reserves to fund African, Caribbean and Pacific countries cope with the food security crisis, aggravated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia's war of aggression is taking a heavy and senseless toll, not only on the Ukrainian population but also those most vulnerable around the world," Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement released by Brussels.
"Russia is still blocking millions of tonnes of desperately needed grain. To help our partners we will mobilise an additional 600 million euros to avoid a food crisis and an economic shock."
The Commission proposes €150 million for humanitarian assistance), €350 million for the sustainable production and resilience of food systems, and €100 million for macro-economic support.
Even before Russia's invasion, nearly 193 million people in 53 countries and territories were "acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance", the Commission says.
The money would come from de-committed EU development funds. The proposal must be agreed unanimously by the European Council, made up of national leaders, otherwise the funds will return to member states.