War in Ukraine: What to remember on the 203rd day of the Russian invasion
Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday visited the strategic city of Izium, recaptured from the Russians during a surprise counter-offensive, and promised his people “victory” on the 203rd day of Russia’s invasion of 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 in just under 15 days.
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. Kyiv’s recapture is therefore a setback for the Russian army, which has retreated towards Donetsk, an area under Kremlin control since 2014. “We are only advancing in one direction, forward, towards victory,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram .
Information to remember:
– “We are moving towards victory,” assured Izium’s Zelensky
– The Russian army continues to shell Ukrainian forces
– Von der Leyen travels to Kyiv on Wednesday
The destructions of Izioum compared to those of Boutcha
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.
Russian army attacks Ukrainian troops
Ukraine has announced it has retaken thousands of square kilometers in the east and south from the Russians in September alone. 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 aimed at the vital forces and equipment of the 14th and 93rd motorized brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were carried out in the areas of the villages of Dvoritchna, Balaklya and Kupyansk,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in its statement daily briefing. Many other cities and regions were also targeted.
Almost complete recapture of Kharkiv region
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. Russia justifies its invasion by claiming that the Ukrainian government oppresses the country’s Russian speakers and that NATO is using Ukraine to threaten them.
The lightning-fast counteroffensive of Ukraine enabled the recapture of almost the entire Kharkiv region bordering Russia, in particular the cities of Balakliia, Kupyansk and Izium. The latter two were important logistics centers for the Russian armed forces.
A counteroffensive in the south of the country
Supported by western supplies of arms, Ukraine is conducting a parallel counter-offensive 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 Zaporizhia 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.
Von der Leyen this Wednesday in Kyiv
For its part, the West has imposed heavy sanctions on Russia and increased arms sales to the Ukrainians. The heads of state and government of the European Union and NATO countries regularly come to Kyiv to show their support to Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to travel there on Wednesday, promising “unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine and determination towards Moscow.
“It’s time for determination, not appeasement,” she said, before welcoming Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, who was applauded by the European Parliament, and her “tremendous courage to resist the cruelty of[Vladimir Poutine]. Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke to the Russian President on Tuesday and called for a “complete withdrawal” from Ukraine.
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