Ukraine’s Zelenskiy sees damage in recaptured towns; Russia strikes city water system

  • Russian missiles attack Kryvyi Rih water system, Ukraine says
  • Zelenskiy makes surprise visit to Izium, Ukrainian flag raised
  • Russian, Chinese ships conduct joint patrols in the Pacific

IZIUM, Ukraine, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said towns and villages recaptured from Russian forces had been devastated, while a major city struggled to contain damage to its water system from missile attacks by Kremlin’s forces.

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

“The water pumping station was destroyed. The river broke through the dam and overflowed its banks. Residential buildings are just a few meters away from the river,” Ukrainian legislator Inna Sovsun said on Twitter.

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The missile strikes hit the Karachunov reservoir dam, Zelenskiy said in a video address released early on Thursday. The water system had “no military value” and millions of thousands of civilians depend on it daily, he said.

The video was released after Zelenskiy’s return to Kyiv from the northeast Kharkiv region and following word from his office that his car had collided with a private vehicle in the capital.

“The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found,” presidential spokesman Serhii Nykyforov said in a Facebook post early on Thursday. read more

Russian forces suffered a stunning reversal this month after Ukrainian troops made a rapid armored thrust in the Kharkiv region, forcing a rushed Russian withdrawal.

Zelenskiy on Wednesday made a surprise visit to Izium – until four days ago Russia’s main bastion and logistics hub in the region – where he watched as the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag was raised in front of the charred city council building.

“Our law enforcers are already receiving evidence of murder, torture, and abductions of people by the occupiers,” Zelenskiy said in his address.

“They only destroyed, only seized, only deported. They left devastated villages, and in some of them there is not a single surviving house,” he added.

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians, and Reuters could not immediately verify the claims. read more

Ukraine’s swiftest advance since driving Russian forces away from the capital in March has turned the tide in the six-month war

DIPLOMACY

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are set to discuss Ukraine and Taiwan at a meeting in Uzbekistan on Thursday which the Kremlin said would hold “special significance”. read more

Ahead of the meeting, the navies of the two countries conducted joint tactical maneuvers and exercises involving artillery and helicopters in the Pacific Ocean. read more

Moscow and Beijing declared a “no limits” partnership earlier this year, backing each other over standoffs on Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise to collaborate more against the West. read more

Also on the diplomatic front, the UN General Assembly is on Friday due to consider a proposal for Zelenskiy to address the annual gathering of leaders next week with a pre-recorded video. Russia is opposed to Zelenskiy speaking. read more

Away from Ukraine, Russian authorities are facing challenges in other former Soviet states, with deadly fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia and border guard clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. read more

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

“We should avoid euphoria. There is still a lot of work to be done to liberate our lands, and Russia has a large number of weapons,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the national security and defense council, said in an online post.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in a Twitter post after the attacks on Kryvyi Rih, said “Russia is a terrorist state and must be recognized as such”.

In that vein, US senators from Democratic and Republican parties introduced legislation that would designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. The measure is opposed by President Joe Biden’s administration. read more

FEAR LINGERS IN IZIUM

Back in Izium, smashed windows, pock-marked facades and scorched walls lined a battle-scarred main thoroughfare comprised of deserted meat shops and pharmacies and ruined beauty salons. A forlorn handwritten sign on a door read: ‘People live here’. read more

With a pink hood wrapped around her face for warmth, Liubov Sinna, 74, said Izium residents were still fearful.

“Because we lived through this whole six months. We sat it out in cellars. We went through everything it is possible to go through. We absolutely cannot say that we feel safe,” she said.

She said the town stood at the “gates of the Donbas”, the eastern region whose entire capture Putin has talked up as a key war objective.

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

Putin says he wants to ensure Russian security and protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine. Ukraine and the West accuses Russia of an unprovoked war of aggression.

In a move that suggests Putin had wider war aims when he ordered troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, three people close to the Russian leadership told Reuters that Putin had rejected a provisional deal with Kyiv around the time the war began.

They said the deal would have satisfied Russia’s demand that Ukraine stay out of the US-led Western military alliance NATO. The Kremlin said the Reuters report had “absolutely no relation to reality”. It also said Ukraine’s ambitions to join NATO still presented a threat to Russia. read more

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Reporting by Reuters offices; writing by Grant McCool and Himani Sarkar; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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