(Kharkiv region) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday promised “victory” from the strategic city of Izyum, which the Russians recaptured in a surprise counterattack, while Moscow said it was determined to continue bombing “Ukraine.”
Posted at 7:29
Updated at 12:45 PM.
This is the first trip by a Ukrainian head of state to the Kharkiv region since the liberation of the region this month, which his forces have regained almost complete control in two weeks.
The city of Izyum, which had a pre-war population of about 50,000, was the subject of deadly fighting in the spring before it was captured by the Russians who made it a strategic staging post to supply their forces. The restoration of Kyiv thus represented a setback for the Russian army.
“We are moving only in one direction, forward, towards victory,” Zelensky wrote in Telegram. Amid his bodyguards, the president wore a khaki “Ukraine or Death” patch on his shoulder, according to photos from the presidency.
In a video, he compares the destruction of Izyum with the destruction of Busha, a town near Kyiv from which Russian forces withdrew in the spring, leaving behind the bodies of civilians who were quietly executed. Abuses Moscow denied committing.
“It’s the same: buildings were destroyed, people were killed. It is part of our history and part of the modern Russian nation,” he said in English, without giving details of the accusations against the Russian occupier at Izyum.
Intense Russian strikes
German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said, on Wednesday, that despite Russia’s retreat from the Ukrainians, President Vladimir Putin does not consider the invasion that began on February 24 a “mistake”.
Ukraine announced that it had retaken from the Russians in September alone thousands of square kilometers in the east and south, where the situation is “absolutely tense” and “very dynamic,” a command spokeswoman warned. Army of Southern Ukraine, Natalia Gomynyuk.
For its part, the Russian army, whose strikes have caused power outages in many Ukrainian regions in recent days, said on Wednesday that it is bombing Ukrainian forces across the country, especially in the Kharkiv region.
“Massive strikes were carried out in the Dvorechna, Balaklya and Kobyansk localities,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Many other cities and regions were also targeted.
In Mykolaiv (south), two buildings were hit and two people were killed, according to local authorities. And in the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region that Moscow has been trying to occupy for months, five civilians were killed on Tuesday, according to the region’s governor.
In the Donetsk region, Governor Pavlo Kirilenko reported bombing “along the entire front line”. The neighboring Luhansk region, Sergio Gaedic, announced that Russian forces had regained control of the city of Kremena.
don’t calm down
The Ukrainian counterattack made it possible to restore almost the entire Kharkiv region, bordering Russia, in particular the cities of Balakleta, Kobyansk and Izyum. The last two were major logistical centers for Russian forces.
With the support of Western arms shipments, Ukraine is conducting a parallel operation in the south of the country, in the occupied Kherson region, but the gains are less than in the northeast.
In recent weeks, the Ukrainian military has bombed strategic bridges there to disrupt the supply of Russian forces. On Monday, she claimed to have covered a distance of 500 km2.
On Wednesday, the Russian National Guard, deployed in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, told Russian agencies that it had “arrested more than 130 people” working with the Ukrainian special forces and army.
Ukraine’s advance in September is the biggest since Moscow withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv and the center of the country in the spring after failing to capture it.
The West adopted sanctions against Russia and increased arms shipments to Ukrainians. European Union and NATO leaders come regularly to Kyiv to show their support for Mr. Zelensky.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told the European Parliament in Strasbourg (France) to go there on Wednesday, pledging “unshakeable solidarity” with Ukraine and firmness against Moscow.