Ukraine to reclaim fallen cities including Severodonetsk, says Zelenskiy – The Irish Times
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday Ukraine would get back all the cities it had lost to Russia, including Severodonetsk, and admitted the war was becoming difficult to deal with emotionally.
In a late-night video address, he also said Ukraine had been hit by 45 Russian missiles and rockets in the past 24 hours, which he described as a cynical but doomed attempt to break the morale of his people.
“Therefore, all our cities – Severodonetsk, Donetsk, Luhansk – we will get them all back,” he said.
It was the only time in his speech that he mentioned Severodonetsk, which finally fell to Moscow forces earlier in the day after weeks of brutal fighting.
“At this stage of the war, it’s spiritually difficult, emotionally difficult…we don’t know how long it will last, how many blows, losses and additional efforts will be necessary before we see victory in sight. on the horizon,” he said.
The relentless missile attacks confirmed that sanctions against Russia were not enough to help Ukraine, which needed more weapons, he said.
“Air defense systems – the modern systems that our partners have – should not be on training grounds or in storage, but in Ukraine, where they are currently needed, more than anywhere else in the world,” he said. -he declares.
Earlier, the mayor of Severodonetsk, Ukraine, said on Saturday that the city was now fully under Russian occupation. Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said Ukrainian troops had “almost left” the city’s strategic frontline after resisting advancing Russian forces for weeks.
On Friday, regional authorities said Ukraine was preparing to withdraw its troops there. “Unfortunately, they almost left town,” Mr Stryuk told national television.
On Saturday, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said their forces were regrouping from the rubble of the city of Severodonetsk towards the heights of the neighboring town of Lysychansk to gain a tactical advantage over Russia.
In an interview in Kyiv, Kyrylo Budanov told Reuters that Ukrainian forces would continue their defense of this front from Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine and that it was no longer possible to hold the line in Severodonetsk.
“The activities taking place in the Severodonetsk region are a tactical regrouping of our troops. This is a withdrawal to advantageous positions to gain a tactical advantage,” said Mr. Budanov, head of defense intelligence at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
“Russia is using the tactic…it used in Mariupol: wipe the city off the face of the earth. Given the conditions, holding defense in ruins and open fields is no longer possible. Ukrainian forces are therefore moving to higher ground to continue defense operations,” he said.
When asked if he meant Lysychansk, he replied, “Yes, that’s the only higher ground.”
Earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine stood with Moldova in response to renewed threats from Russia, after Moscow warned of negative consequences if the two countries became candidates for EU membership.
“We stand with the people and government of friendly Moldova in the face of renewed threats from Moscow. All that is left for Russia is to spew threats against other states after decades of failed policies based on aggression, coercion and disrespect,” Kuleba said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Russia launched artillery strikes and airstrikes on the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk on Saturday, hitting a chemical plant where hundreds of civilians were trapped.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said Russian forces attacked the Sievierodentsk industrial zone and also tried to enter and blockade Lysychansk.
“There was an airstrike in Lysytchansk. Severodonetsk was hit by artillery,” Gaidai said on the Telegram messaging app, adding that the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk and the villages of Synetsky and Pavlograd and others were shelled.
He made no mention of casualties at the Azot chemical plant and Reuters could not immediately verify the information.
Mr Gaidai said 17 people were evacuated from Lysychansk on Friday by police, rescuers and volunteers.
Ukraine said on Friday its troops had been ordered to withdraw from Severodonetsk, a key battlefield city, as there was very little left to defend after weeks of heavy fighting.
“During the last [several] days, an operation was carried out to withdraw our troops,” Kharatin Starskyi, a National Guard brigade press secretary, said on Saturday.
Mr Starskyi, who was in Severodonetsk, said on morning television that the flow of information on the withdrawal had been delayed to protect troops on the ground. The retreat marks the biggest turnaround for Ukraine since losing the southern port of Mariupol in May.
News of Friday’s withdrawal came four months to the day since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops across the border, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands, uprooted millions and reduced entire cities to rubble.
The latest Russian advances appeared to bring the Kremlin closer to taking full control of Lugansk, one of Moscow’s declared war objectives, and setting the stage for Lysychansk to become the next primary fighting objective.
Vitaly Kiselev, an Interior Ministry official in the breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic – recognized only by Russia – told Russian news agency TASS it would take another week and a half to gain full control of Lysychansk.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, but abandoned an early advance on the capital Kyiv in the face of fierce resistance reinforced by Western weapons.
Since then, Moscow and its proxies have focused on the south and Donbass, an eastern territory made up of Luhansk and its neighbor Donetsk, deploying overwhelming artillery in some of the fiercest ground fighting in Europe since World War II. .
On Saturday, Russia again launched missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in the north near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, as far east as Severodonetsk, the general staff said. Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Several regional governors reported bombings of towns across Ukraine on Saturday.
Russia denies targeting civilians, but Kyiv and the West say Russian forces have committed war crimes against civilians.
Ukraine pressed again for more weapons on Friday, with its top general, Valeriy Zaluzhniy, telling his US counterpart in a phone call that Kyiv needed ‘fire parity’ with Moscow to stabilize the situation in Luhansk.
South of Severodonetsk, Ukrainian soldiers have also withdrawn from the towns of Hirske and Zolote in the face of overwhelming Russian force, said Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
He said the Ukrainian army had learned the hard lesson of trying to defend its positions at all costs during battles with pro-Russian forces in 2014.
“Now for the first time we have a precedent where our boys have retired in an orderly fashion,” he said in an online video post.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister downplayed the significance of the possible loss of more territory in the Donbass.
“Putin wanted to occupy Donbass before May 9. We are (here) June 24 and we are still fighting. Withdrawing from a few battles does not mean losing the war at all,” Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, said in a note Friday evening: “Ukrainian forces are likely to maintain their defenses around Lysychansk and continue to exhaust Russian troops after the fall of Severodonetsk”.
He said Ukrainian forces would likely take higher ground at Lysychansk which could see them fend off Russian attacks and that Russian forces would have to cross the river from Severodonetsk which will require additional time and effort.
On Friday, the Ukrainian General Staff said its troops had achieved some success in the southern Kherson region, forcing the Russians out of their defensive positions near the village of Olhine, the latest of several Ukrainian counterattacks.
Russia says it sent troops to Ukraine to degrade its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and root out people it calls dangerous nationalists.
Ukraine, which claims Russia has launched an imperial-style land grab, won fresh support from the West this week.
The war has had a massive impact on the global economy and European security arrangements, driving up gas, oil and food prices, pushing the EU to reduce its heavy reliance on energy Russia and encouraging Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership.
The West imposed an unprecedented set of sanctions on Russia, its key businesses, and its business and political elite in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a major sign of support, European Union leaders this week endorsed Ukraine’s formal bid to join the bloc – a move Russia said on Friday amounted to “subjugation” by the EU neighboring countries. —Reuters
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