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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: -2°C
AP/PA Images Volodymyr Zelenskyy awards a serviceman during his visit to Sloviansk, Donbas region
# Ukraine
Zelenskyy visits Donbas near 'difficult' Ukraine front
The focus of fighting in Ukraine has shifted to Donbas since Ukraine recaptured the Kherson region.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 6th 2022, 2:56 PM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR Zelenskyy has visited the frontline region of Donetsk in east Ukraine, describing fighting in the area as “difficult” with Russian forces pushing to capture the industrial city of Bakhmut.

The visit came as Russian President Vladimir Putin convened his security council in the wake of the latest spate of drone attacks on military-linked facilities inside Russian territory.

The focus of fighting in Ukraine has shifted to Donbas after Kyiv’s forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson last month following a Russian retreat from the regional capital.

aftermath-of-the-combats-between-ukrainian-and-russian-armies-in-the-sviatohirsk-monastery-ukraine Celestino Arce Lavin Celestino Arce Lavin

Zelenskyy appeared in a video wearing a heavy winter coat, standing next to a large sign in Ukraine’s blue and yellow colours bearing the city name Sloviansk and calling for a moment of silence to commemorate killed Ukrainian soldiers.

“The east of Ukraine today is the most difficult front. And I am honoured to be here now with our defending troops in Donbas. I believe that next time we will meet in our Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk and in Crimea as well,” Zelenskyy said.

Russian forces and their proxies have controlled parts of Donetsk and Lugansk since 2014, when fighting with separatists broke out and the Kremlin annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

“From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate you on this great holiday, the Day of the Armed Forces,” said Zelenskyy, who was later shown meeting soldiers and distributing awards.

In the nearby Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, its Moscow-appointed mayor said that Ukrainian shelling had killed six civilians and injured others.

Drone attacks in Russia
The Ukrainian leader has visited several frontline regions after more than nine months of fighting, including Kherson in the south recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, calling its recapture “the beginning of the end of the war”.

Sloviansk, which was among regions in Donetsk briefly held by Russian-backed separatists, lies some 45 kilometres north of Bakhmut, which has become the centre of fighting since Kherson’s fall.

The Kremlin said Putin met senior officials to discuss issues related to the country’s “domestic security” and that Russia was taking “necessary” measures to fend off more of what it said were Ukrainian attacks.

Officials in Russia’s Kursk region near the border with Ukraine said earlier Tuesday that a drone attack near an airfield had caused a fire at a oil storage unit.

That attack came after the defence ministry said a day earlier that Ukraine had tried to attack another airfield in Ryazan region and also the key Engels airfield in the Saratov region.

Engels is a base for the country’s strategic aircraft that Kyiv says have been used to strike Ukraine, and both sites are hundreds of kilometres away from Ukraine’s border.

The British defence ministry said that if Russia deems Ukraine to have been responsible then Moscow will “probably consider them as some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine.”

The drone attacks come on the back of weeks of systematic Russian attacks that have crippled Ukrainian critical infrastructure like water, electricity and heating ahead of winter.

‘Crush’ Ukraine military
Russia on Monday fired another barrage of dozens of missiles that knocked out power and water in cities across Ukraine, the latest wave of attacks that Moscow has said Kyiv was responsible for because it refused Russian demands.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu today said that Russian forces were using long-range, precision weapons to target military-linked facilities and “crush the military potential of Ukraine”.

The defence ministry also announced it had received back from Ukraine captivity 60 Russian servicemen in their most recent exchange.

Russia’s invasion and its decision to conscript hundreds of thousands of men has set off an exodus of Russians from the country, including critical politicians and journalists.

However, neighbouring Latvia announced today it was revoking the licence for exiled independent TV channel Dozhd for multiple violations that included showing the Crimea peninsula annexed from Ukraine as part of Russia.

“The laws of Latvia must be respected by everyone,” Ivars Abolins, head of the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council, said on Twitter.

Russian forces and their proxies have controlled parts of Donetsk and Lugansk since 2014, when fighting with separatists broke out and the Kremlin annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

“From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate you on this great holiday, the Day of the Armed Forces,” said Zelenskyy, who was later shown meeting soldiers and distributing awards.

Drone attacks in Russia
The Ukrainian leader has visited several frontline regions after more than nine months of fighting, including Kherson in the south recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, calling its recapture “the beginning of the end of the war”.

russia-ukraine-war AP / PA Images A destroyed college building in Arhanhelske, Ukraine AP / PA Images / PA Images

Sloviansk, which was among regions in Donetsk briefly held by Russian-backed separatists, lies some 45 kilometres north of Bakhmut, which has become the centre of fighting since Kherson’s fall.

The Kremlin said Putin met senior officials to discuss issues related to the country’s “domestic security” and that Russia was taking “necessary” measures to fend off more of what it said were Ukrainian attacks.

Officials in Russia’s Kursk region near the border with Ukraine said earlier today that a drone attack near an airfield had caused a fire at a oil storage unit.

That attack came after the defence ministry said a day earlier that Ukraine had tried to attack another airfield in Ryazan region and also the key Engels airfield in the Saratov region.

Engels is a base for the country’s strategic aircraft that Kyiv says have been used to strike Ukraine, and both sites are hundreds of kilometres away from Ukraine’s border.

The drone attacks come on the back of weeks of systematic Russian attacks that have crippled Ukrainian critical infrastructure like water, electricity and heating ahead of winter.

‘Crush’ Ukraine military
Yesterday, Russia fired another barrage of dozens of missiles that knocked out power and water in cities across Ukraine, the latest wave of attacks that Moscow has said Kyiv was responsible for because it refused Russian demands.

russian-missile-attack-on-novosofiivka Dmytro Smolienko / PA Ukrainian servicemen use torches to examine the site of a Russian rocket strike Dmytro Smolienko / PA / PA

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said today that Russian forces were using long-range, precision weapons to target military-linked facilities and “crush the military potential of Ukraine”.

The defence ministry also announced it had returned from Ukraine captivity 60 Russian servicemen in their most recent exchange.

Russia’s invasion and its decision to conscript hundreds of thousands of men has set off an exodus of Russians from the country, including critical politicians and journalists.

However, neighbouring Latvia announced today it was revoking the licence for exiled independent channel Dozhd for multiple violations that included showing the Crimea peninsula annexed from Ukraine as part of Russia.

“The laws of Latvia must be respected by everyone,” Ivars Abolins, head of the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council said on Twitter.

© AFP 2022

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