Ukraine has firmly refused to head for a ceasefire with Russia even as Moscow has boosted attacks on the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions. "The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," Ukraine president's chief of staff Andriy Yermak said.
Emboldened by the capture of Mariupol, where more than 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered, Russia has stepped up its campaign on the eastern front. The Russian goal is to win decisive victory in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas where it has witnessed pockets of Ukrainian resistance.
Scorched Earth Tactic
There is intense fighting around the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, and Kyiv has said Moscow is carrying out a 'scorched earth' military campaign in the predominantly Russian-speaking region.
The governor of Yugansk, Seri Gaia, said the Russian offensive is destroying the region. "They are wiping Sievierodonetsk from the face of the earth," he said, according to Reuters.
Parts of the city of Yugansk was controlled by the Russian-backed separatists before the start of the war, but Moscow now wants complete control of the region.
Russia pummelled Ukrainian command centres and ammunition depots in the region as it aims to gain total control over more Ukrainian territory.
With Ukraine facing more territorial losses, there has been speculation that Kyiv might be open about a ceasefire talk with Moscow. However, Ukraine has turned down demands for talks to end the war.
US, Italy Pushes Ceasefire
Ukraine's western allies have also added pressure on Zelensky in the recent days to accept immediate ceasefire and possibly end the war. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi were prominent among supporters to have called for peace talks recently.
However, Ukraine's lead negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said the country has no plans to accept ceasefire and would continue fighting against Russia. He explained that Ukraine won't allow any territorial concessions for stitching together a peace deal that ends the war. He told Reuters that he believed such concessions might backfire.
With Ukraine staring down the possibility of losing more territory to Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy once again requested his western allies to supply more arms and enforce harsher economic sanctions against Moscow.
"Half-measures should not be used when aggression should be stopped," Zelensky said while speaking at a parliamentary session.
Big Blow for Entire Bloc
Meanwhile, Poland has offered total support to Ukraine as it gets into a last-ditch attempt to prevent further territory loss.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, while visiting Kyiv, said the Russians must be asked to completely withdraw from Ukraine. He said any territory loss for Kyiv would be a "big blow for the entire western bloc.
"Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin's demands ...Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future," the Polish president said.