Putin says he is doing “everything right” in Ukraine.
Russia is behaving “right” in Ukraine: Vladimir Putin has addressed complacent conditions after nearly eight months of war and despite his army’s series of setbacks towards the Ukrainian armed forces, which are receiving $725 million in additional military aid from the United States.
The Russian President spoke to the press in Kazakhstan after regional summits. On the same day, Ukraine, for its part, celebrated Defenders’ Day for the first time since the beginning of the invasion, an occasion for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to promise his people victory.
“It’s not nice what’s happening now, but (if Russia hadn’t attacked Ukraine on February 24) we would have been in the same situation a little later, the conditions would have just been worse for us. So we’re doing everything right,” the Russian president replied to a journalist who asked him if he had any regrets.
Vladimir Putin was also satisfied with the massive strikes that hit important Ukrainian infrastructure as well as parks and residential buildings on Monday and Tuesday. He judged that new large-scale bombing raids on the cities of Ukraine “at the moment” are not necessary.
Russia earlier this week carried out numerous rocket attacks in retaliation for the blast that partially destroyed Russia’s strategically important Crimean bridge.
In a sign of the embarrassment of Moscow’s traditional partners over the conflict in Ukraine, Mr Putin admitted for the first time on Friday that the former USSR countries that remain close to Moscow are “concerned” about the situation.
– Russian power plant hit –
“We thank (…) all those who fought for Ukraine in the past and all those who are fighting for it now, those who won then and those who will undoubtedly win now,” said Mr Zelenskyj at the conference Army Tribute Day.
On the same occasion, the photo portraits of around 180 soldiers were placed on the square in front of the famous St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. All were killed in Mariupol, a port city that was besieged by the Russian army for months before falling in May.
Galina Golitsyna lost her two sons in the war. The oldest in 2014 and denys on March 23 in Mariupol. At 61, in tears, she lays a hand, then her forehead, on the portrait of her younger brother, who died at 32.
“Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen. And I lost both of my children in the same war. It’s a memorial day for me,” she told AFP, wiping her eyes.
Building on the successes on several fronts since early September, the Ukrainian authorities are showing their determination and do not hesitate to launch attacks on Russian territory.
On Friday, after a Ukrainian strike, an electric power station in Belgorod, in the far west of Russia, “caught on fire,” said the governor of the border region of Ukraine where it is located, Vyacheslav Gladkov, after which the fire finally broke out and was brought under control .
The city of 330,000 has rarely been hit by fire from Ukrainian soil, unlike its surroundings, which are regularly attacked.
And if Ukraine does not own up to the blast that ripped open the Crimean bridge, it did welcome the partial destruction of this essential structure for supplying occupying forces facing a counter-offensive to the south.
The damage was so great that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mikhoustin set July 1, 2023 as the date for the work to be completed.
– New US Aid –
In the north of southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, Ukrainian forces advanced village by village throughout the week.
On Thursday, Moscow-installed leader Vladimir Saldo asked the Kremlin for help, which was immediately granted, to evacuate civilians.
For their part, the Russian forces remain on the initiative on part of the Eastern Front, where they have been trying to capture Bakhmout since August.
By capturing this bomb-ravaged city, Moscow hopes to open the way to two major cities in the Donetsk region, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.
According to Andrei Marochko, the representative of the Lugansk region’s separatist forces fighting in the region, “fighting continues” and Ukrainian forces are being pushed back “to the north-west and west” from Bachmout.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian army has faced a series of setbacks since early September, giving up thousands of square kilometers.
These failures prompted Vladimir Putin in late September to order the mobilization of 300,000 reservists, i.e. civilians, to reverse the trend.
On Friday he assured that he would not foresee a new wave of conscription. According to him, 222,000 people were mobilized, of which 16,000 are already in “units involved in combat.”
Internationally, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on the same day that she was “disappointed” that the European Commission had not joined the group of creditors that had agreed to suspend Ukraine’s debt repayments for two years.
A little later, Washington announced a new military aid of 725 million dollars for Kyiv. “This payment will bring total American military aid to Ukraine to an unprecedented figure of more than $18.3 billion,” since Joe Biden took office, US diplomatic chief Antony Blinken said in a statement.
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