Ukraine leader promises victory during visit to frontline town as Russia continues

  • Zelensky visits the liberated city
  • He vows complete victory
  • Ukraine is now under attack in both the south and east
  • It faces Russian resistance on both fronts
  • Biden says the war looks long-term despite Kyiv’s success

IZUM, Ukraine (September 14) (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed he would lead Ukraine to victory in its war against Russia as he visited shrapnel and recently retaken towns on Wednesday, but pro-Russia officials said they had halted Kyiv’s forces because Currently.

Russian forces suffered a stunning reversal this month after Ukrainian forces made a rapid armored incursion with special forces into the northeastern Kharkiv region, at times forcing Russia into a swift and chaotic withdrawal.

On Wednesday, Zelensky made a surprise visit to the city of Izyum, about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from the current frontline in the east. He thanked his soldiers for liberating the city, an important logistical center, whose buildings and people now bear the scars of war

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“Our blue and yellow flag is already flying in occupied Izyum. It will be so in every Ukrainian city and village,” Zelensky said in a social media post coinciding with the visit.

“We are moving in only one direction – forward and towards victory.”

Earlier on Wednesday, an emotional Zelensky handed medals to soldiers who took part in the operation to liberate the area in Balaklia, another town that has been retaken in recent days where citizens and local police told reporters that civilians were killed during months of Russian occupation. Read more

Reuters was not able to independently verify the allegations. Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians.

The president says his army has liberated about 8,000 square kilometers (3,100 square miles) of land so far this month, an area of ‚Äč‚Äčland roughly equivalent to the island of Cyprus.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the full scope of the battlefield successes claimed by Ukraine.

Oleksiy Aristovich, Zelensky’s adviser, said Ukrainian forces are now trying to retake the Russian-controlled town of Lyman in Ukraine’s Donetsk region and are looking to make territorial gains in the neighboring Russian-controlled Luhansk region.

“There is now an attack on Lyman,” Aristovich said in a video posted on YouTube.

“And this is what they fear most – to take Lyman and then advance to Lyschansk and Severodonetsk,” he said, referring to two twin cities in the Luhansk region captured by Russia after heavy fighting in June and July.

Denis Pushlin, president of the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, said that the pro-Moscow forces succeeded in repelling the Ukrainian forces that tried to penetrate Lyman and the north and south of the city.

“Nothing worked for the enemy,” Pushlin said.

Asked if Ukraine’s lightning counterattack in the east represented a turning point in the war, US President Joe Biden said it was hard to predict.

“Obviously the Ukrainians have made a lot of progress,” Biden said. “But I think that’s going to be a long time.”

Russian forces still control about a fifth of the country in the south and east, although Kyiv is now on the offensive in both regions.

The White House, which has provided billions of dollars in arms and support to Ukraine, said the United States was likely to announce a new military aid package in “the coming days.”

Ukraine’s fastest advance since Russian forces were expelled from the capital in March has turned the tide of the six-month-old war

Devastation

In the restored Izyum, Zelensky watched the Ukrainian flag raised in front of the charred City Hall.

On the main road, no buildings were left unscathed: an abandoned bathhouse with a hole in its side; Shrapnel was also sprayed on meat shops, pharmacies, a shoe store and a beauty salon.

“I know this area very well,” Zelensky told reporters.

“The view is shocking, but it is not shocking to me because…we saw the same pictures from Bosha, from the first areas taken out of the occupation. The same destroyed buildings, people killed.”

After a Russian withdrawal earlier in the war, civilians were found dead in the town of Bucha near Kyiv.

On the road to Izyum, bus stops were painted with “Z” signs, the symbol used by Russian troops to identify themselves, and charred remains of tanks and armored personnel carriers were laid by the side of the road.

Wearing a pink hoodie wrapped around her face for warmth, 74-year-old Lyubov Sina said residents were still afraid.

“We’ve been waiting for our men for a long time. Of course we feel positive. Fun. But there is also fear – fear that the Russians will come back here,” she added.

“Because we lived these whole six months. We put them in basements. We went through everything we could go through. We can never say we feel safe.”

She added that there was no gas, electricity or water supply in the town, saying she was not sure how people would survive the winter.

In a move suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin had broader war aims when he ordered troops to be sent to Ukraine on February 24, three people close to the Russian leadership told Reuters that Putin had rejected an interim agreement with Kyiv as the war began. Read more

They said the deal would have satisfied Russia’s demand that Ukraine remain outside NATO. The Kremlin said the Reuters report had “absolutely nothing to do with reality.” She also said that Ukraine’s continued ambitions to join the Western military alliance of NATO remain a threat to Russia. Read more

On top of their setbacks in Ukraine, Russian authorities are also facing challenges in other former Soviet republics with deadly fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia and border guard clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Read more

The situation in the former Soviet Union will be the backdrop at this week’s Uzbekistan summit where Putin will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and discuss the war in Ukraine. Read more

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Andrew Osborne; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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