Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky made a visit to the town of Izium after Ukrainian troops liberated the city, which had been a central supply hub for invading Russian forces.
Zelensky posed for pictures and selfies with the troops, and watched as the troops once again raised the Ukrainian flag over the charred city council building. The mood of the soldiers was very upbeat, reflecting the feeling that they could be successful in the war with Russia, and now had a major victory offensively to bolster their confidence.
“Our soldiers are here. That’s a very important thing. It supports people,” Zelensky said. “I see how people meet them, in what a sensitive moment. It means that with our army, the life comes back.”
The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south and east has resulted in the retaking of 8,000 square kilometers (3,090 square miles), according to the Ministry of Defense. The Russians left behind hundreds of main battle tanks, armored infantry vehicles, self-propelled artillery, as well as ammunition, equipment, and supplies.
It was not an orderly withdrawal. Russian troops left meals on tables, personal effects, abandoned their vehicles without destroying them, and their uniforms were left behind as they changed into whatever clothes they could find. Russian troops stole about 300 Ukrainian cars, loaded them with plunder, and fled east to the Luhansk separatist held areas.
And then there were the bodies. Russian troops had killed at least a dozen civilians after brutal interrogations and torture.
Zelensky Accuses Russia of Further “Genocide”:
President Zelensky, in his nightly video address, said that evidence was being gathered in the areas that had been just retaken for the “murders and kidnappings, by the occupiers, just as in Bucha and in the occupied territory of Chernihiv Oblast.”
Zelensky called out the Russian military for targeting and conducting a missile strike on the Karachunovsky reservoir dam in central Ukraine, far from the fighting. Zelensky said the dam “has no military value whatsoever.”
He added, “History is written by the people, not the monster, never. What will be written about you in the history books?” Zelensky said, urging Russian troops to surrender, guaranteeing that “they won’t be treated like cannon fodder in an obvious lost cause of a war for Russia.”
Reservoir Dam Targeted With Missiles:
The Russians conducted a missile strike on the Karachunovsky reservoir dam outside the southern Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih. Zelensky mentioned (see above) that the dam had no military value, but many analysts believe that the strike was revenge for the counteroffensive that routed Russian troops in the Kharkiv region. Not so coincidentally, it happens to be the city where Zelensky was born.
“You are weaklings who fight civilians,” Zelensky said in his late-night video address. “Scoundrels who, having escaped from the battlefield, are trying to do harm from somewhere far away.”
The city, with a pre-war population of 600,000, had its water supply affected as the missiles impacted below the waterline. The Inhulets River was flooding in areas downstream, and citizens were urged to evacuate. Pedestrian bridges were washed away in the initial moments of the missile attack.
However, on Thursday morning, the city’s mayor Oleksandr Vilkul, said that the water levels had dropped dramatically overnight. There were no reported casualties.
In other developments, the German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, has urged Chancellor Olaf Scholz to make a decision quickly on whether or not to supply Ukraine with advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, a decision the Germans have not been willing to do since they didn’t want to anger Russia.
Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.