Zelensky visits liberated Izyum as Ukraine aims to keep Russia on the run

IZYUM, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi made a bold visit on Wednesday to the recently liberated city of Izyum in eastern Kharkiv region, where he called it the country’s largest city since repelling Russian invaders. Participated in flag hoisting ceremony on the occasion of important military victory. The suburbs of Kyiv in late March.

Zelensky said in a determined tone that while Russia could temporarily occupy parts of Ukraine, “it is certainly impossible to occupy our people, the people of Ukraine.”

“The heroes are here,” he said, explaining the significance of the blue and yellow banner. “It means the enemy has gone, fled.”

The swift and remarkably successful counter-offensive that liberated Izyum and towns and villages throughout the Kharkiv region proved to be a major military victory as well as a psychological one, raising national sentiment, Ukraine’s international led to calls for reinforcements of support and additional weapons and equipment. Hoping to capitalize on what appears to be a turning point in the nearly seven-month war.

Western military and intelligence analysts say Russia’s forces are severely depleted, largely incapable of offensive operations to retake land, and potentially vulnerable to further attacks. In return, the Ukrainian military plans to press its countermeasures in the east and south.

Addressing the Ukrainian soldiers, Zelenskiy said, “We thank you all for defending our state from the enemy – from the terrorists of the Russian Federation and from the traitors who betrayed our state with the fake republic bill.” . A municipal building destroyed by city bombing.

“The last few months have been very difficult for you. So, I am asking you: take care of yourself. You are the most precious thing we have,” he said.

The president’s visit here was one of several war zone visits he has made since February. They have provided a contrast between Ukraine’s young leader and aging Russian President Vladimir Putin, who calls the war a “special military operation” and has not accompanied his troops into the field since starting the war.

Zelensky said on Tuesday that Ukraine had recaptured only 3,000 square miles during operations in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.

The city was almost silent in the hours following the president’s visit on Wednesday.

Military vehicles were being guided over the bridge by pontoons installed to replace the one destroyed by Russian troops. A few civilians wandered into the city center, where most buildings were badly damaged by shelling or fire and most shops were looted.

Residents described Russian occupiers as giving up without a fight.

One resident, Maksim, 29, who spoke on condition that he only use his first name for fear of reprisals, said Russian forces imposed a curfew in the days before Ukrainian troops retook the city. had done “Meanwhile, they’re gone,” he said. “They were running away from here.”

Maxim’s wife, Toma, 27, said the battle was “absolutely not” for the city. Russian forces knew they would lose, he said, and chose to withdraw as nearby towns began to fall to the Ukrainians.

Putin, tone-deaf and aloof, pursues war ‘goals’ and refuses to give up.

In the face of reports of such utter devastation, Putin is coming under pressure from pro-war hardliners for tougher action. On Wednesday, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a longtime Putin ally, called for martial law and mandatory military mobilization, a move the Kremlin has so far rejected.

Putin has avoided such moves because they could prove politically toxic by undermining passive Russian public support for the war, particularly in major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, where there have been few combat casualties. It is possible.

Kadyrov also said that Russia should use “all kinds of weapons”, a reference to the use of nuclear or chemical weapons, claiming that Russia is fighting not only Ukraine but also NATO, which is now state authorities and is a common claim of propagandists.

“If it were up to me, I would declare martial law in the whole country and use all kinds of weapons, because today we are at war with the entire NATO bloc,” the Chechen strongman said. He added that they would have been mobilized long ago. “And used every opportunity to exterminate these evil spirits speedily.”

Meanwhile, Zelenskiy’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak also doubled down, saying Ukraine should liberate all of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Parts of these areas have been under Moscow’s control since the Kremlin sparked a separatist war in 2014.

“Time for the final strike against the evil empire,” Podoliak said On Twitter, Podoliak called on the West to supply the tanks with armored vehicles, multiple launch rocket systems, air defense systems and more drones.

As Russia’s military struggles in Ukraine, Moscow’s finances are coming under similar strain. Government finance data released on Wednesday showed oil and gas revenues fell dramatically in August due to sanctions and lower energy sales to Europe.

Russia’s economy has faltered but not collapsed. Under Western punitive measures, it performed better than expected thanks to higher energy prices and aggressive state measures to prop up the ruble and prevent the currency from collapsing. But the Finance Ministry’s August revenue data hinted at a longer-term problem, as Moscow gradually loses its biggest energy-import market in Europe, and must accept cheaper prices in Asia.

Ukraine’s invasion thwarted Russia’s plan to annex Kharkiv.

Russia has cut gas supplies to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in recent months and finally cut supplies this month, aimed at tightening pressure on Europe and raising fears of a harsh winter. designed for, as the continent tries to wean itself off cheap Russian gas. .

European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen condemned Russia for “actively manipulating our energy market” during her State of the European Union speech on Wednesday.

“They prefer to flare rather than deliver gas,” von der Leyen said. “This market is no longer working,” he said, adding that Europe faces difficult months ahead as a result.

Van der Leyen said Russia’s financial sector was “on life support” thanks to sanctions and its industry was “devastated”. He also said Western powers had made a historic mistake by ignoring years of warnings about Putin from Poland’s Baltic states. The leaders of these countries, including Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallis, are once again calling on Western allies to send more powerful weapons to Ukraine.

Putin insisted on Monday that the West’s “economic blitzkrieg, which he was counting on, has failed, which is already clear to everyone, and to him as well.” Russia has softened the impact of the sanctions through social payments to families and pensioners and support for industry.

Ukraine Germany: Send armored vehicles to keep pressure on Russia.

Still, Russia’s heavy industry, including the automobile and manufacturing sectors, has been hit hard by Western restrictions on the transfer of computer chips and other technology, with many Russian fabricators relying heavily on imported parts.

After Ukraine’s spectacular advance over the weekend in the Kharkiv region, Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials have stepped up calls for Western military aid. He released a proposal on Tuesday for security guarantees from a group of Western countries and underscored decades of efforts involving major arms transfers and industrial investment to bolster Ukraine’s military against Russian aggression. gave

But Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top spokesman, said only Putin and the Russian leadership could guarantee real security for Kyiv. And Peskov said Ukraine’s demand for security guarantees from Western countries showed it still wanted to join NATO. Ukraine’s NATO aspirations were a key reason Putin cited in threatening military action before the attack.

“Therefore, the biggest threat to our country remains,” Peskov said.

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