Ukraine wants “victory this year”, prepares a counter-offensive

Ukraine wants “victory this year” -offensive


Ukraine said on Friday that it would do everything to “win this year” against Russia, announcing an upcoming counter-offensive, on the day of the first anniversary of the invasion of the country by the Russian army . 

In Moscow, former president and number two of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev also swore “victory”, going with his threat, saying Russia ready to go to the “borders of Poland”.

“We are strong. We are ready for anything,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during an address to the nation in a video posted on social media

“Ukraine surprised the world. Ukraine inspired the world. Ukraine has united the world,” he added, sitting at a desk in chiaroscuro, wearing a black sweater stamped with the coat of arms of Ukraine, a yellow trident.

Equally determined, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov promised to strike Russia in “the air, on land, at sea and in cyberspace”.

“There will be our counter-offensive. We are working hard to prepare it,” he said.

Mr. Zelensky also cited the towns, whether occupied or not, which experienced fighting or even massacres: “Kharkiv, Cherniguiv, Mariupol, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Gostomel, Volnovakha, Boutcha, Irpin, Okhtyrka. Hero Cities. The capitals of invincibility”.

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“We will never rest until the Russian murderers are not punished. By the international court, by the judgment of God or by our soldiers”, launched the Ukrainian president.

This Friday, President Zelensky is still expected with a press conference, while local ceremonies are planned in particular in Boutcha, in the suburbs of Kiev, the scene of a massacre of civilians attributed to Russian troops.

Around the world, the tone was one of solidarity with Ukraine.

The UN General Assembly on Thursday demanded an “immediate” withdrawal of Russian troops, voting by an overwhelming majority on a resolution calling to a “just and lasting” peace. But there were notable abstentions, starting with Russia's ally China.

NATO said it was “resolved to help Ukraine” in the face of Russia, which “has failed to break the determination of the Ukrainian people”.

President Emmanuel Macron addressed Friday a message of “solidarity” to the Ukrainians: “France stands by your side”. Vladimir Putin “will not achieve his imperialist goals” in Ukraine, added German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was illuminated on Thursday evening in the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian flag. In London, a minute of silence and a prayer in the presence of MPs and diplomats will take place before a march to the Russian Embassy.

Ukraine entered its second year of war against the Russian forces, marking the first anniversary of an invasion to which it showed fierce resistance and, aided by the West, inflicted unexpected setbacks on Vladimir Putin.

Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory in the early morning hours of February 24, 2022, starting the worst conflict Europe has seen since World War II.

A year later, Ukrainian cities were Reduced to rubble, part of the country is under Russian occupation and both sides have more than 150,000 killed or wounded each, according to Western estimates.

But the Ukrainian army forced the Kremlin to give up Kiev in the spring, and then in the summer and autumn pushed the invader back to the northeast and south. Since then, the front has stabilized, but both sides are preparing new offensives.

In addition to the Crimea annexed in 2014, Russia now claims four other regions in eastern and southern Ukraine as its own.

End it”

Vladimir Putin lambasted Westerners this week, whom he accuses of waging a proxy war to “end it” with Russia.

Far from backing down, he vowed on Wednesday to “methodically” continue his offensive in Ukraine, once again claiming Russian “historic land” there.

Despite the difficulties on the front, the losses and the mobilization, the anniversary of the war is likely to make few waves in Russia, where any criticism of the army is harshly repressed and the opposition is imprisoned or in exile.

Russia still hopes to conquer the four partially occupied regions for which it has claimed annexation and where the fighting is concentrated, in particular around the fortress city of Bakhmout, which is holding firm despite recent Russian advances.

The boss of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner said on Friday that his troops had taken the Ukrainian town of Berkhivka, just north of Bakhmout,

“We will take back all our territories”, ex-president Medvedev vowed , assuring that the objective was to “push the borders of threats against our country as far as possible, even if it is the borders of Poland”.

Westerners have for a year adopted a shower of sanctions against Moscow, targeting its gas and oil revenues, its banking sector, air transport and the defense industry. And they have offered more than 128 billion euros in aid to Ukraine, according to the Kiel Institute for the World economy.

On Thursday, Washington announced two billion dollars in new military aid to Ukraine, without giving details.

And other sanctions are in preparation, because so far the Russian economy has been able to adapt.