Ukraine: In recaptured Izioum, Zelensky promises ‘victory’

Ukraine: In recaptured Izioum, Zelensky promises ‘victory’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday vowed a “victory” from the strategic city of Izium, which was retaken from the Russians in a surprise counteroffensive, as Moscow said it was determined to keep pounding Ukraine.

This is the Ukrainian leader’s first trip to the Kharkiv region since the liberation of the area earlier this month, which was almost completely recaptured by its forces within two weeks.

Izioum, a pre-war town of nearly 50,000, had been the subject of deadly fighting in the spring before being taken by the Russians, who made it a strategic hub for the supply of their troops. The recapture by Kyiv is therefore a setback for the Russian army.

“We are only moving in one direction, forward, towards victory,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. Surrounded by armed bodyguards, the khaki president wore a patch that read “Ukraine or Death” on his shoulder, photos of the presidency show.

In a video, he compared the destruction of Izium to that of Boutcha, a town near Kyiv from which Russian forces withdrew in the spring, leaving behind the bodies of civilians shot cold. Abuses that Moscow denies.

“It’s the same: buildings destroyed, people killed. It’s part of our history, part of the modern Russian nation,” he said in English, without explaining these allegations against the Russian occupier Izioum.

– Massive Russian strikes –

Despite Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainians, President Vladimir Putin does not consider the invasion launched on February 24 to be a “mistake,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.

Ukraine announced that in September alone it had taken back thousands of square kilometers from the Russians in the east and south, where the situation is “totally tense” and “very dynamic”, warned the spokeswoman for the southern Ukrainian army, Natalia Goumenyuk.

For its part, the Russian army, whose strikes have caused major power outages in several Ukrainian regions in recent days, said Wednesday that it was shelling Ukrainian forces across the country, particularly in the Kharkiv region.

“Massive strikes were carried out in the areas of the villages of Dvoritchna, Balaklya and Kupyansk,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Many other cities and regions were also targeted.

According to local authorities, two buildings were hit and two people died in Mykolaiv (south). Five civilians were killed on Tuesday in Bakhmout, a town in the Donetsk region that Moscow has been trying to seize for months, according to the regional governor.

In the Donetsk region, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported shelling “along the entire front line”. Lugansk’s neighboring region, Serguiï Gaïdaï, announced that Russian forces had regained control of the city of Kreminna.

– No appeasement –

Ukraine’s counteroffensive made it possible to recapture almost the entire Kharkiv region bordering Russia, in particular the towns of Balakliia, Koupiansk and Izium. The latter two were important logistics centers for the Russian armed forces.

Supported by Western arms supplies, Ukraine is conducting a parallel operation in the south of the country, in the occupied Kherson region, but gains are smaller than in the north-east.

In recent weeks, the Ukrainian army has blown up strategic bridges there in order to cut off supplies to the Russian armed forces. She claimed on Monday to have taken over 500 km2.

On Wednesday, the Russian National Guard stationed in the occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhya told Russian authorities that they had “arrested more than 130 people” who had been cooperating with the special services and the Ukrainian army.

Ukraine’s advances in September are the largest since Moscow withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv and the center of the country in the spring after failing to capture them.

The West imposed sanctions on Russia and increased arms sales to the Ukrainians. The heads of state and government of the countries of the European Union and NATO regularly come to Kyiv to show their support for Mr. Zelenskyy.

Speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to go there on Wednesday, promising “unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine and determination towards Moscow.


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