ANKARA – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday announced the start of a new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.
It can now be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time. A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the nation.
Since 2014, the eastern Donbas region has been wracked by Russian-backed separatists. Just before starting the war in late February, Russia recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as “independent.”
Zelenskyy underlined that “it is only a matter of time” before the entire territory of Ukraine will be liberated.
“In the east and south of our country, the occupiers are recently trying to attack in a little more thought-out manner than before. They are putting pressure, looking for a weak spot in the defense of our state to go there with the main forces,” he said.
There is speculation Russia turned its focus to Donbas after its efforts elsewhere in Ukraine fell short, but Ukrainian leaders have ruled out giving away territory to end the war.
“No matter how many Russian soldiers are driven there, we will fight,” Zelenskyy stressed. “We will defend ourselves. We will do it daily. We will not give up anything Ukrainian, and we do not need what’s not ours.”
Zelenskyy thanked all Ukrainian “fighters,” all “heroic cities” in the eastern Donbas region, the besieged city of Mariupol, and also the cities of the Kharkiv region for holding out their defense which “protects the fate of the whole state, restraining the forces of invaders.”
He hailed among others the cities of Rubizhne, Popasna, Zolote, Lysychansk, Severodonetsk, and Kramatorsk.
Zelenskyy underlined that he already held a meeting on the country’s post-war reconstruction and development of Ukraine, adding: “We already need to work out everything in detail so that when the war is over, we are fully prepared.”
On the same day he handed over initial accession paperwork to the EU, Zelenskyy also stressed the importance of Ukraine’s accession to the bloc, calling this an “integral part of (Ukraine’s) strategic vision.”
The top Ukrainian negotiator and adviser to Ukraine’s president on Monday said the negotiation process with Russia to end the war has become much more complicated following Russia’s war crimes in the cities of Bucha and Mariupol and the town of Volnovaha.
Mykhailo Podolyak made the comments while speaking to Ukraine’s Channel 24.
Noting that Ukraine demanded that Russia open a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Berdiansk, he said Russia rejected this.
Civilized dialogue with Russia is not possible, he added.
At least 2,072 civilians have been killed and 2,818 injured in Ukraine so far in the war, according to UN estimates, with the true figure believed to be much higher.
More than 4.9 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with over 7 million more internally displaced, said the UN refugee agency. (Anadolu)
Source: Philippines News Agency