Zelensky goes to the front, near Bakhmout
President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the eastern front near Bakhmout, a city that has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, on Wednesday, while a Russian drone attack killed at least seven people in the region of Kyiv.
For its part, the Russian army said it had “repelled” a drone attack in annexed Crimea, a few days after a rare visit by President Vladimir Putin there.
“Donetsk region. Front-line positions of the Ukrainian soldiers in the direction of Bakhmout”, announced Volodymyr Zelensky on Telegram by posting a video of his movement on Wednesday in the vicinity of this city, “Almost surrounded” by Russian forces, according to an official of the pro-Russian separatists.
His visit to Bakhmout comes a few hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping left Moscow, following a summit with Vladimir Putin where they showed their union with Westerners.
Volodymyr Zelensky was performing thus his second visit to the Bakhmout area, the first dating from December 20, just before his historic trip to the United States.
In the images, we see him walking in a hangar, wearing a black sweater, without visible protective equipment, but accompanied by heavily armed soldiers. Then award decorations to soldiers in battle dress.
“I am honored to decorate the best of our heroes, to shake your hand and to thank you for the defense of our State and sovereignty,” he told them.
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Strike against a building
Earlier Wednesday, Russia launched 21 Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 combat drones against Ukraine, an operation that began shortly before midnight, the Ukrainian Air Force said, claiming to have shot down 16.
Besides sending these “Iranian murderous drones”, the Russians, according to this source, fired missiles, there were “numerous bombardments”.
Seven people died and nine others were injured in Rzhyshchiv, about 80 kilometers south of Kyiv, in a drone raid that hit a vocational high school overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, according to Andriï Nebytov, the head of the Kyiv region police.
In another strike, at least one person was killed and 32 others injured, including three children, according to rescue services, when “two Russian missiles” fell on an apartment building in Zaporizhia, southern Ukraine , according to local authorities.
Volodymyr Zelensky immediately accused Russia of “bombarding the city with bestial savagery”.
Russia claimed to have “repelled” a drone attack on Sevastopol, the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, in southern Crimea.
“The three aircraft were destroyed”, assured the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, while the local governor did not report any casualties.
Since the start of the offensive against Ukraine, Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, has been the target of combat drones several times, without Kyiv claiming responsibility for the attacks.
According to Moscow, the Russian and Turkish Defense Ministers, Sergei Shoigu and Hulusi Akar, also discussed on the telephone on Wednesday the application of the agreement on Ukrainian cereals in the Black Sea, extended in extremis on Saturday, but with uncertainty about its duration .
Xi Jinping left Russia
Xi Jinping, meanwhile, left Russia in the morning where he displayed his agreement with Vladimir Putin in the face of the West.
The two men had praised, the day before, the entry into a “new era” of their “special” relationship, the Russian president cautiously supporting the Chinese plan to settle the conflict in Ukraine, while accusing Kyiv of rejecting it.
The Kremlin said Wednesday that it was not surprised by the critical comments from the West.
“The fact that (the) (Western) reaction on all issues was unfriendly and hostile in nature is not news to anyone,” scoffed Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Despite Western fears of possible Chinese arms deliveries to Moscow, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken indicated that “to date”, Beijing had not “crossed this line”.
< p>In this tense context, his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, judged that London's supply to Ukraine of ammunition containing depleted uranium, recently mentioned by a British official, would constitute a “serious aggravation” of the conflict.
Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday that Russia would be “forced to retaliate” if such a delivery took place.
For its first year of war, Ukraine will need 411 billion dollars for its recovery and reconstruction, the World Bank, the UN, the EU and t the Ukrainian government.