Ukrainian Zelensky sees damage in restored towns; Russia hits the city’s water network

  • Ukraine says Russian missiles attack Kryvyi Rih water system
  • Dam repair work is underway and the floods recede – Kryvyi Rih official
  • Zelenskiy made a surprise visit to Izium, raising the Ukrainian flag
  • The Russian and Chinese navies conduct joint patrols in the Pacific Ocean

IZYUM, Ukraine (Reuters) – Towns and villages recaptured from Russian forces have been destroyed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, while a major city stepped up efforts on Thursday to repair damage to the water system from missile attacks.

Kryvyi Rih, the largest city in central Ukraine with an estimated pre-war population of 650,000, was hit by eight cruise missiles on Wednesday, officials said.

Zelensky said in a video speech published early Thursday that the strikes hit the Karachonov reservoir dam. He said the water system “has no military value” and hundreds of thousands of civilians depend on it daily.

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Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the military administration in Kryvyi Rih, said in a Telegram post that 112 homes had been flooded, but work was under way to repair the dam on the Inhulets River and that “the floods are receding”.

Russian forces suffered a stunning reversal this month after Ukrainian forces made a rapid armored incursion into its northeastern Kharkiv region, forcing Russia’s swift withdrawal.

On Wednesday, Zelensky made a surprise visit to Izyum – even four days earlier Russia’s main stronghold in the Kharkiv region – where he watched the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag raised in front of the charred city hall.

“Our law enforcers are already receiving evidence of killing, torture and kidnapping of people by the occupiers,” he said, adding that there was “evidence of genocide against Ukrainians.”

In the title of the video, Zelensky added: “They were only destroyed, detained, only gone. They left villages destroyed, and in some of them not a single house is alive.”

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians, and Reuters cannot immediately verify reports on the battlefield. Read more

The address of Zelensky’s video was revealed after returning to Kyiv from the Kharkiv region and after word from his office that his car had collided with a private car in the capital.

“The president was examined by a doctor and no serious injuries were found,” presidential spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov said in a Facebook post early Thursday. Read more

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said, Thursday, that Russian forces launched attacks on several settlements on the front line in Kharkiv during the past 24 hours.

However, the British Ministry of Defense said in an update on Thursday that Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their control over the newly liberated areas of the region.

Ukraine’s fastest advance since Russian forces were expelled from the capital in March has turned the tide of the six-month-old war

Diplomacy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are set to discuss Ukraine and Taiwan during a meeting in Uzbekistan on Thursday that the Kremlin said would be of “particular significance”. Read more

Prior to the meeting, the navies of the two countries are conducting joint tactical exercises and exercises involving artillery and helicopters in the Pacific Ocean. Read more

Moscow and Beijing announced a “borderless” partnership earlier this year, bolstering each other over confrontations over Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise of greater cooperation against the West. Read more

Also on the diplomatic front, the United Nations General Assembly is set on Friday to consider a proposal for Zelensky to address the annual gathering of leaders next week with a pre-recorded videotape. Russia opposes Zelensky’s speech. Read more

Beyond Ukraine, Russian authorities face challenges in other former Soviet states, with bloody fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia and border guard clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Read more

Western politicians and military officials said it was too early to tell if Ukraine’s recent success marked a turning point because Russia has yet to fully respond.

“We must avoid euphoria. There is still a lot of work to be done to liberate our territory, and Russia has a large number of weapons,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said in an online post.

“Russia is a terrorist state and should be recognized as such,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet after the attacks on Kryvyi Rih.

In this context, US senators from both parties, Democrats and Republicans, have introduced legislation that would designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. The administration of President Joe Biden opposed this measure. Read more

Fear remains in Iseum

Back in Iseum, smashed windows, facades marked with potholes, and burnt walls lined a main avenue strewn with scarred and deserted meat shops, pharmacies, and ruined beauty parlors. A miserable handwritten sign on my front door read “People live here.” Read more

Still, Izium residents are still afraid, 74-year-old Lyubov Sina said, as she wears a pink hoodie wrapped around her face for warmth.

“Because we lived these whole six months. We put them in basements. We went through everything we could go through. We can never say we feel safe,” she said.

She said the town stands at the “gates of Donbass”, the eastern region that Putin has spoken of as a major war target.

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, who spoke to Putin by phone this week, said the Russian president “unfortunately” still did not believe his invasion was a mistake.

Putin says he wants to ensure Russian security and protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of waging an unjustified war of aggression.

In a move indicating that Putin had broader war aims when he ordered troops to be sent to Ukraine on February 24, three people close to the Russian leadership told Reuters that Putin had rejected an interim agreement with Kyiv as the war began.

They said the deal would have satisfied Russia’s demand that Ukraine remain outside the US-led Western military alliance. The Kremlin said the Reuters report had “absolutely nothing to do with reality.” She also said Ukraine’s ambitions to join NATO remained a threat to Russia. Read more

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Grant McCall and Himani Sarkar; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Stephen Coates and Jerry Doyle

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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