Zelenskyy said that while there was no end in sight to the war, Ukraine should do everything to make the Russians “regret everything they did”.
KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said no one knew how long the war in his country would last, but that Ukrainian forces were defying expectations by preventing Russian troops from overrunning eastern Ukraine, where fighting had been raging for weeks are most violent.
In his late-night video address, Zelenskyy said he was proud that Ukrainian defenders managed to stem Russian advances in the Donbass region, which borders Russia and where Moscow-backed separatists have controlled much of the territory for eight years.
“Remember how in early May in Russia they hoped to conquer the entire Donbass?” the president said late Saturday. “It’s already the 108th day of the war, already June. Donbass is holding out.”
After failing to capture Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, earlier in the war, Moscow focused on conquering those parts of the largely Russian-speaking Donbass that were still in Ukrainian hands, as well as the country’s southern coast. But instead of achieving a quick, decisive takeover, Russian forces were drawn into a long, uphill battle, thanks in part to the Ukrainian military’s use of Western weaponry.
Both Ukrainian and Russian authorities said Sievierodonetsk, an eastern city of 100,000 before the war, remained a matter of contention. The city and neighboring Lysychansk are the last major areas of the Donbass province of Luhansk not under the control of the pro-Russian rebels.
Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the Luhansk People’s Republic that had been declared a separatist, said Ukrainian militants remained in an industrial area of the city, including a chemical plant, where civilians had taken refuge from days of Russian shelling.
“Sieverodonetsk is not 100% liberated,” Pasechnik said Saturday, claiming the Ukrainians fired at the city from the Azot plant. “Therefore it is impossible to call the situation in Sieverodonetsk calm, that it is entirely ours.”
Luhansk Governor Serhii Haidai reported on Saturday that a large fire broke out at the facility during hours of Russian shelling.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, a counteroffensive pushed the Russians out of parts of the southern Kherson region they had captured earlier in the war, Zelenskyy said. Moscow has set up local authorities in Kherson and other occupied coastal areas, offering residents Russian passports, broadcasting Russian news programs and taking steps to introduce a Russian school curriculum.
Zelenskyy said that although there was no end in sight to the war, Ukraine should do everything to make the Russians “repent of everything they did and that they are responsible for every murder and every attack on our beautiful state”.
The Ukrainian leader claimed that Russia suffered about three times the military casualties estimated for the Ukrainian side, adding: “For what? What has it brought you, Russia?” So far, there are no reliable independent estimates of the death toll of the war.
Speaking at a defense conference in Singapore on Sunday, Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe said Beijing remains supportive of Russia-Ukraine peace talks and hopes the US and its NATO allies will hold talks with Russia “to set the terms for an early ceasefire.” create .”
“China will continue to play a constructive role and do its part to ease tensions and achieve a political solution to the crisis,” Wei said.
He suggested that nations supplying arms to Ukraine are impeding peace by “pouring fuel on the fire” and stressed that China failed to provide material assistance to Russia during the war.
“The growth of China-Russia relations is a partnership, not an alliance,” Wei said.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in its latest assessment that Ukrainian intelligence had hinted that the Russian military was planning “a protracted war.”
The institute quoted the deputy head of Ukraine’s National Security Agency as saying that Moscow had extended its timetable for the war until October, with adjustments to be made depending on any successes in Donbass.
The intelligence service “probably shows that the Kremlin has at least acknowledged that it cannot quickly achieve its goals in Ukraine and is continuing to adjust its military objectives to correct initial shortcomings in the invasion of Ukraine,” the think tank said.
Ambassador of the Lugansk People’s Republic to Russia Rodion Miroshnik said on Saturday that 300 to 400 Ukrainian soldiers along with several hundred civilians were blocked at the Sievierodonetsk chemical plant.
The Russians have made contact with Ukrainian troops to arrange the evacuation of the civilians, but the troops are only allowed to leave if they lay down their arms and surrender, Miroshnik said.
Similar conditions prevailed at a steel plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol for weeks before a civilian evacuation was ordered and defending troops ordered to retreat by Ukrainian military commanders. The fighters who came from the Mariupol plant were captured by the Russians.
Pasechnik, the separatist leader of the unrecognized Luhansk Republic, said Ukrainians taking a stand in Sieverodonetsk should save themselves the trouble.
“If I were her, I would already be making a decision[to surrender],” he said. “We will definitely achieve our goal. We will definitely liberate the industrial area. We will definitely liberate youvierodonetsk. Lysychansk will definitely be ours.”
David Rising contributed from Bangkok.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/ukraine/ukraine-president-says-his-troops-keep-defying-predictions/507-6b801951-4d74-4eba-85c0-bed65a0f1d92 Zelenskyy: Ukraine should make Russians regret everything