Ukrainian Zelensky sees damage in restored towns; Russia hits the city’s water network

  • Ukraine says Russian missiles attack Kryvyi Rih water system
  • Zelenskiy made a surprise visit to Izium, raising the Ukrainian flag
  • The Russian and Chinese navies conduct joint patrols in the Pacific Ocean

IZYUM, Ukraine (Reuters) – Towns and villages retaken from Russian forces have been devastated, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, while a major city struggles to contain damage to its water network from missile attacks by Kremlin forces.

Kryvyi Rih, the largest city in central Ukraine with an estimated pre-war population of 650,000, was targeted by eight cruise missiles on Wednesday, officials said.

“The water pumping station was destroyed. The river broke through the dam and overflowed its banks. Residential buildings are a few meters from the river,” Ukrainian lawmaker Inna Sofson said on Twitter.

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Zelensky said in a video speech released early Thursday that the missile strikes hit the Karachonov reservoir dam. He said the water system “has no military value” and hundreds of thousands of civilians depend on it daily.

The video was published after Zelensky returned to Kyiv from the northeastern Kharkiv region and after word from his office that his car had collided with a private car in the capital.

“The president was examined by a doctor and no serious injuries were found,” presidential spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov said in a Facebook post early Thursday. Read more

Russian forces suffered a stunning reversal this month after Ukrainian forces made a rapid armored incursion into the Kharkiv region, forcing Russia’s swift withdrawal.

On Wednesday, Zelensky made a surprise visit to Izyum — even four days earlier Russia’s main stronghold and the region’s logistics hub — where he watched the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag hoisted in front of the charred city hall.

“Our law enforcers are already receiving evidence of murder, torture and kidnapping of people by the occupiers,” Zelensky said in his speech.

He added, “They only destroyed, took possession, and only left. They left villages destroyed, and in some of them not a single house is alive.”

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians, and Reuters was not immediately able to verify the allegations. Read more

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

Diplomacy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are set to discuss Ukraine and Taiwan during a meeting in Uzbekistan on Thursday that the Kremlin said would be of “particular significance”. Read more

Prior to the meeting, the two navies conducted joint tactical maneuvers and exercises involving artillery and helicopters in the Pacific Ocean. Read more

Moscow and Beijing announced a “borderless” partnership earlier this year, bolstering each other over confrontations over Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise of greater cooperation against the West. Read more

Also on the diplomatic front, the United Nations General Assembly is set on Friday to consider a proposal for Zelensky to address the annual gathering of leaders next week with a pre-recorded videotape. Russia opposes Zelensky’s speech. Read more

Beyond Ukraine, Russian authorities face challenges in other former Soviet states, with bloody fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia and border guard clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Read more

Western politicians and military officials said it was too early to tell if Ukraine’s recent success marked a turning point because Russia has yet to fully respond.

“We must avoid euphoria. There is still a lot of work to be done to liberate our territory, and Russia has a large number of weapons,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said in an online post.

“Russia is a terrorist state and should be recognized as such,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet after the attacks on Kryvyi Rih.

In this context, US senators from both parties, Democrats and Republicans, have introduced legislation that would designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. The administration of President Joe Biden opposed this measure. Read more

Fear remains in Iseum

Back in Iseum, smashed windows, facades marked with potholes, and burnt walls lined a main avenue strewn with scarred and deserted meat shops, pharmacies, and ruined beauty parlors. A miserable handwritten sign on the door reads: “People live here.” Read more

Still, Izium residents are still afraid, 74-year-old Lyubov Sina said, as she wears a pink hoodie wrapped around her face for warmth.

“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 said.

She said the town stands at the “gates of Donbass”, the eastern region that Putin has spoken of as a major war target.

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, who spoke to Putin by phone this week, said the Russian president “unfortunately” still did not believe his invasion was a mistake.

Putin says he wants to ensure Russian security and protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of waging an unjustified war of aggression.

In a move indicating that 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.

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

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Grant McCall and Himani Sarkar; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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