Ukrainian President Zelenskyy marks the 500th day of the war and praises the Ukrainian soldiers

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday marked the 500th day of the war by praising the country’s soldiers in a video of a Black Sea island that has become a symbol of Ukraine’s resilience in the face of Russian invasion.

Refer to snake islandPaying tribute to the Ukrainian soldiers who fought for the island and all other defenders of the country, Zelenskyy said that regaining control of the island “is great proof that Ukraine will retake every part of its territory.”

“From here, from this place of victory, I would like to thank each of our soldiers for these 500 days,” said Zelenskyy. “Thank you to everyone fighting for Ukraine!”

It was unclear when the video was shot. Selenskyj was in Turkey on Saturday.

Russian forces seized control of the tiny stone island on February 24, 2022, the day Moscow launched its invasion, in apparent hopes of using it as a base for an attack on Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port and the headquarters of its navy , to use.

The island gained legendary importance in Ukraine’s resistance to Russian invasion when Ukrainian troops there were reportedly ordered to surrender or be bombed by a Russian warship. The response reportedly came back: “Go (explosively) yourself.”

The island’s Ukrainian defenders were captured by the Russians but later released as part of a prisoner exchange. After capturing the island, the Ukrainian military heavily bombed the small Russian garrison there, forcing the Russians to withdraw on June 30, 2022. The Russian withdrawal reduced the threat of a Russian naval attack on Odessa and paved the way for an agreement to resume Ukrainian grain exports.

“The freedom that all our heroes of all times wished for Ukraine and that must be fought for now should be a tribute to all those who gave their lives for Ukraine,” said Zelenskyy. “We will definitely win!”

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy listens to a question during a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey early Saturday, July 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy listens to a question during a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey early Saturday, July 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Fierce fighting continued in the east and south of the country on Saturday as Ukrainian forces stepped up attacks against the multi-layered Russian defenses in the initial stages of their counteroffensive.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said eight civilians were killed and 13 others wounded in a Russian missile attack on the town of Lyman early on Saturday. Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the eastern Donetsk region, released images showing some of the dead, including a body lying under a bicycle and body fragments on the pavement next to a damaged vehicle, saying that “Russian terrorists continue to target civilians .” Donetsk.”

A private house, a shop and some cars were damaged in the attack on Lyman, which is just a few kilometers (miles) from the front line where Russian troops recently intensified fighting in the Kreminna forests.

The British Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence report that the eastern town of Bakhmut, captured by the Russians in May, has seen some of the fiercest fighting on the front lines in the past week.

It stated that Ukrainian forces had made steady advances both north and south of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, noting that “the Russian defenders were most likely with poor morale, a mix of disparate units and a limited ability to engage Ukrainian to find artillery and to attack, have to struggle.” .”

Amid the fighting, Russia and Ukraine accused each other of plotting to sabotage the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, fueling fears of a nuclear catastrophe. Ukrainian military intelligence claimed on Saturday that Russian troops had laid more mines around the power plant, a claim that could not be independently verified.

A Ukrainian self-propelled howitzer "Bohdana" Shots fired at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, Friday, July 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A Ukrainian Bohdana self-propelled howitzer fires at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Friday, July 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

United Nations nuclear agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi told The Associated Press on Friday that experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency had recently done so get access to a larger portion of the site, including the cooling pond and fuel storage areas, and found no mines there. Grossi said he was still pushing for access to the roofs of reactors where Ukrainian officials accused Russia of planting explosives.

As tensions rose around the power plant, the Russian military insisted it had successfully repelled Ukrainian attacks on various sectors of the frontline.

On Saturday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was shown visiting firing ranges where volunteer soldiers are being trained. This trip comes two weeks after a failed mutiny by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner troops marched on Moscow to overthrow Shoigu.

Prigozhin agreed to end the mutiny that posed the greatest threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his more than two decades in power, in exchange for an amnesty for him and his troops and permission to move to Belarus. On Saturday, Russian messaging app channels published comments from one of Wagner’s commanders, Anton Yelizarov, saying the mercenaries were on furlough but would eventually be deployed to Belarus.

Fierce battles are raging on the front line in Ukraine NATO leader will meet next week in Vilnius for a two-day summit to offer more assistance in modernizing Ukraine’s armed forces, set up a new high-level forum for consultations and reaffirm that they will one day join their alliance.

Ahead of the NATO summit, the US announced it would supply Ukraine with cluster munitions, a move President Joe Biden described as a “difficult decision”. Two-thirds of NATO members have banned the relevant ammunition a track record Many civilian casualties are inflicted, but the US sees their delivery as a way to reinforce Ukraine’s offensive and push through the Russian front lines.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov welcomed the US move, saying the supply of cluster munitions would help the country occupy its territories while saving the lives of Ukrainian soldiers.

Reznikov promised that Ukraine would only use the ammunition to liberate its territory and not fire it at Russia’s proper territory. Reznikov also noted that the Ukrainian military will not use cluster munitions in urban areas so as not to injure civilians, adding that they will be used on the ground to “penetrate enemy defense lines with minimal risk to the lives of our soldiers.” break through”.

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