Back in Kyiv from visit to Washington, Zelensky vows to keep ‘working toward victory’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sounded another defiant note on his return to his nation’s capital Friday following his wartime visit to the United States, saying his forces were “working toward victory” even as Russia warned that there would be no end to the war until it achieved its military aims.
Zelensky posted on his Telegram account that he’s back in his Kyiv office following his trip to Washington, which secured a new $1.8-billion military aid package, and pledged that “we’ll overcome everything.” He also thanked the Netherlands for pledging up to $2.65 billion for 2023 to help pay for military equipment and rebuild critical infrastructure.
Zelensky’s return to his war-torn homeland comes amid relentless Russian artillery, rocket and mortar fire and airstrikes on the eastern and southern fronts and elsewhere in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the war would end at the negotiating table once the “special military operation” — Russia’s term for its invasion of its neighbor — achieved “the goals that the Russian Federation has set,” adding that “significant headway has been made on demilitarization of Ukraine.”
Peskov said no Ukrainian peace plan could succeed without taking into account “the realities of today that can’t be ignored,” a reference to Moscow’s demand that Ukraine recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014, as well as other territorial gains.
At least six civilians were killed and 18 others were wounded in Russian attacks on eight regions in Ukraine’s south and east in the last 24 hours, according to the deputy head of Zelensky’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
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In a regular Telegram update, Tymoshenko said Russian missiles destroyed a boarding school in the the eastern city of Kramatorsk, home of the Ukrainian army’s local headquarters.
The Ukrainian military said Russian forces fired multiple-rocket launchers “more than 70 times” across Ukrainian territory overnight. Fierce battles raged around the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Bakhmut and Lyman, in the neighboring Luhansk region, as well as the front line between the Luhansk and Kharkiv regions bore the brunt of the Russian strikes, but didn’t specify to what degree.
As many as 61 Russian rocket, artillery and mortar attacks were launched in the southern Kherson region over the last 24 hours. Kherson regional Gov. Yaroslav Yanushevych posted on Telegram that Russian forces attacked from dug-in positions on the right bank of the Dnieper River, hitting educational institutions, apartment blocks and private homes. Tymoshenko said renewed Russian shelling on Kherson city Friday killed one person.
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In the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, Ukraine’s military said, Russia launched six missile strikes and as many air attacks on civilian targets while Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks on or near 19 settlements in the north and east.
Russian shelling overnight also struck a district hospital in the northeastern city of Volchansk, in the Kharkiv region, wounding five people, according to local Gov. Oleh Sinegubov. He posted on Telegram that the four men and one woman injured were all in “moderate condition.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said several blasts tore through factory buildings housing Russian troops in the occupied city of Tokmak in the southern Zaporizhzhia region late Thursday, sparking a fire. The Center for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine didn’t immediately report on casualties or who was behind the blasts.
Earlier Friday, the Ukrainian mayor of the southern city of Melitopol said that a car used by Russian occupation forces exploded, although it’s unclear if anyone was hurt.
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The reports came a day after a car bomb killed the Russia-appointed head of the village of Lyubymivka in neighboring Kherson region, according to Russian and Ukrainian news reports. Ukrainian guerrillas have for months operated behind Russian lines in Ukraine’s occupied south and east, targeting Kremlin-installed officials, institutions and key infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.
Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit a weapons factory in Tula, about 90 miles south of Moscow, on Friday and chair a meeting on the country’s arms industry.
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