Ukraine's troops keep defying predictions as battle over key eastern city continues, Zelensky says
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said no one knows how long the war in his country will last but that Ukrainian forces are defying expectations by preventing Russian troops from overrunning Eastern Ukraine, where the fighting has been fiercest for weeks. In his nightly video address, Zelensky said he was proud of the Ukrainian defenders managing to hold back the Russian advance in the Donbas region, which borders Russia and where Moscow-backed separatists have controlled much of the territory for eight years. "Remember how in Russia, in the beginning of May, they hoped to seize all of the Donbas?" the president said late Saturday. After failing to capture Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, early in the war, Moscow focused on seizing the parts of the largely Russian-speaking Donbas still in Ukrainian hands, as well as the country's southern coast. But instead of securing a swift, decisive takeover, Russian forces were drawn into a long, laborious battle, thanks in part to the Ukrainian military's use of Western-supplied weapons. Both Ukrainian and Russian officials said the battle for control of the eastern city of Severodonetsk continues. Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the separatist-declared Luhansk People's Republic, said Ukrainian fighters remained in an industrial area of the city, including a chemical plant where civilians had taken shelter from days of Russian shelling.
"Severodonetsk is not completely 100 per cent liberated," Pasechnik said Saturday, alleging that the Ukrainians were shelling the city from the Azot plant. Elsewhere in Ukraine, a counteroffensive pushed Russians out of parts of the southern Kherson region, which Russian forces had taken early in the war, according to Zelensky. Zelensky said that while an end to the war was not in sight, Ukraine should do everything it can so the Russians "regret everything that they have done and that they answer for every killing and every strike on our beautiful state. Speaking at a defence conference in Singapore on Sunday, Chinese Defence Minister Gen. "China will continue to play a constructive role and contribute our share to easing tensions and realizing a political resolution of the crisis," Wei said. He suggested that nations supplying weapons to Ukraine were hindering peace by "adding fuel to the fire" and stressed that China had not provided any military materials and equipment 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 think-tank based in Washington, D. The institute cited the deputy head of Ukraine's national security agency as saying that Moscow had extended its war timeline until October, with adjustments to be made depending on any successes in the Donbas. The intelligence "likely indicates the Kremlin has, at a minimum, acknowledged it cannot achieve its objectives in Ukraine quickly and is further adjusting its military objectives in an attempt to correct the initial deficiencies in the invasion of Ukraine," the think-tank said. The Luhansk People's Republic's ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, said Saturday that 300 to 400 Ukrainian troops remained blockaded inside the Severodonetsk chemical plant along with several hundred civilians. The Russians established contact with the Ukrainian troops to arrange the evacuation of the civilians, but the the troops will be allowed to leave only if they lay down their arms and surrender, Miroshnik said. With millions of tonnes of grain stuck at Ukrainian ports due to Russian blockades, the United Nations accused the Kremlin of creating a global food crisis. Similar conditions existed for weeks at a steel mill in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol before a civilian evacuation was arranged and the defending troops were ordered by Ukrainian military commanders to stand down.
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