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Ukrainian President: ‘We Have to Make Time Our Weapon’

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Russian strikes in the Southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed three people Sunday and injured six.

The strike prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, once again, to express the need for allies to speed up their deliveries of promised weapons.

“We have to make time our weapon,” the president said in his daily address. “We must … speed up the supply and opening of new necessary weaponry options for Ukraine.”

Zelenskyy also said that residential buildings, a hospital, a school, a bus station, a post office and a bank were also damaged by the shelling in Kherson.

Ukrainian firefighters work in a house in flame following Russian shelling in the city of Kherson, on Jan. 29, 2023, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian firefighters work in a house in flame following Russian shelling in the city of Kherson, on Jan. 29, 2023, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine made conflicting claims Sunday on who controls the territory near Blahodatne in the eastern part of the Donetsk region.

Russia’s Wagner mercenary military group claimed it took control of the village, while Ukraine’s military said its troops had repelled the attack.

“Units of Ukraine’s Defense Forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of … Blahodatne … in the Donetsk region,” the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in its daily morning report, referring to fighting on Saturday.

Ukraine said its forces also repelled Russian attacks in areas near 13 other settlements in the Donetsk region.

But the Wagner Group, designated by the United States as a transnational criminal organization, said on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday that its units had taken control of Blahodatne.

The French news agency reports there was no immediate confirmation from Russia’s defense ministry.

With warfare intensifying in the Donetsk region, the exact battleline has been unclear, especially around the town of Bakhmut, where heavy fighting has been occurring in recent weeks. The Wagner Group has made premature success claims before.

Ukraine has said that Russia has not taken over Bakhmut, but that the situation along the front line there has been growing difficult. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that it was acute.

Four civilians were killed, one in Bakhmut, and 17 wounded in Russian attacks on the region on Saturday, Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region said on the Telegram messaging app.

Monday, the British Defense Ministry reported in its intelligence update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that Russia is “likely keeping open” an option for partial mobilization to increase its troops, after stories emerged that Russian border guards have stopped Kyrgyz migrant workers who hold dual passports from leaving the country because their names are on mobilization lists.

Russia is “highly likely” continuing to look for ways to make sure it has the personnel it needs to continue to execute its major offenses in Ukraine, the British ministry said.

Ukraine’s National Security Council chief, Oleksiy Danilov, told RFE/RL that Moscow was preparing for a new offensive on February 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion.

“Now they are preparing for maximum activation … and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements,” Danilov said. “There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say.”

Also in his daily address Sunday, President Zelenskyy made the case for Russia’s exclusion from the 2024 Olympics in France.

“In the first half of the 20th century, too many mistakes were made in Europe that led to horrific tragedies. There was also a major Olympic mistake. The Olympic movement and terrorist states should definitely not intersect,” the president said.

“The International Olympic Committee’s attempt to get Russian athletes back to compete and participate in the Olympics is an attempt to tell the world that terror can allegedly be something acceptable,” Zelenskyy said. “As if it is possible to turn a blind eye to what Russia is doing to Kherson, to Kharkiv, to Bakhmut and Avdiivka.”

The president said he has sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron about this issue.

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