Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday estimated Russia now controls about 20% of his countryan estimate which includes conquests during the current invasion as well as Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and partial command of disputed territory in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east.
In the beginning of the invasion, Ukraine largely repelled Russian advances, with Moscow’s plans to swiftly take the capital city of Kyiv foiled by intense resistance. After retooling its strategy and more squarely focusing on the Donbas regionhowever, Russia has made impactful gains, and its influence appears to be setting in for the long haul.
In the Kherson region, the ruble is an official currency, and Russian passports are being offered to residents there and in the Zaporizhzhia region. Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, “Of course (Russia) intends to stay.”
The toll of war on everyday Ukrainians has been brutal: At least 4,169 citizens have been killed, including 268 children, and at least 4,982 citizens have been injured, according to the latest count from the United Nations’ human rights officewhich says its tally is believed to be an undercount.
►The European Union on Friday formally approved an embargo on Russian oil and other sanctions targeting major banks and broadcasters. EU leaders say the move means that around 90% of Russia’s oil exports to Europe will be blocked by year’s end.
►Roughly 60% of infrastructure and residential buildings in Lysychansk, one of only two cities in the east still under partial Ukrainian control, have been destroyed, said Oleksandr Zaika, head of Lysychansk City Military-Civil Administration.
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As Russia continues its intense assault aimed at taking over the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian forces are attempting to fend them off while awaiting new weapons that “really can save the lives of our people and defend our land,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy reported some progress in efforts to defend the city of Sievierodonetsk, which is mostly under Russian control, and said fierce battles are also being waged in Lysychansk, Bakhmut and others.
“The longer the war goes on, the more vile, shameful and cynical things Russia is forever inscribing in its history,” he said.
Help for the Ukrainians in on the way. Britain said it will send them sophisticated medium-range rocket systems, a day after the US and Germany made similar pledges. Sweden (anti-ship missiles, semi-automatic rifles, anti-tank weapons) and Slovakia (howitzers) also committed Thursday to delivering weapons.
“Any advance in the southeast is already costing Russia a lot, including the loss of equipment and soldiers,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov told The Associated Press. “And new deliveries of Western weapons to Ukraine could turn the tide.”
— Jorge L. Ortiz
Contributing: The Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism