Day 635 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Pentagon Chief Visits Kyiv, Zelensky Wants Reforms in the Army

World » UKRAINE | November 20, 2023, Monday // 14:21
Bulgaria: Day 635 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Pentagon Chief Visits Kyiv, Zelensky Wants Reforms in the Army @novinite.com

Day 635 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • The head of the Pentagon arrived in Kyiv
  • Zelensky wants rapid reforms in the army
  • A grenade exploded in a residence in Kyiv; there are two dead
  • A Ukrainian teenager has returned to his homeland after being taken to Russia


The head of the Pentagon arrived in Kyiv

American Defense Minister Lloyd Austin announced today on the “X” social network that he has arrived on a visit to Kyiv, Reuters reported.

"I am here today to convey an important message - the United States will continue to support Ukraine in its struggle for freedom against Russian aggression, both now and in the future," the minister stressed.

Austin's visit comes amid growing disagreements over Ukraine in the US Congress. A defense industry conference is expected to take place in Washington on December 6 and 7. The event aims to boost the production of weapons in Ukraine, against the background of the conflict that began nearly two years ago.

US aid to Kyiv since the start of the war in February 2022 amounts to tens of billions of dollars. Washington has repeatedly pledged to support Ukraine for as long as necessary, but is facing growing resistance from some Republican congressmen, notes AFP.

Austin is in Kyiv "to meet with Ukrainian leaders and to reinforce unwavering US support for Ukraine's struggle for freedom," the Pentagon said in a statement about the visit, which was not announced in advance for security reasons. Austin will emphasize "the continued commitment of the United States to provide Ukraine with the security assistance it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression."

This is Austin's second visit to Kyiv since the beginning of the war, AFP recalls.

Washington is Kyiv’s biggest provider of military aid, and cutting US aid would be a major blow to Ukraine and its efforts to liberate the southern and eastern parts of the country occupied by Russian forces. "Without our support, Putin will succeed," Austin told congressmen in October.

Zelensky wants rapid reforms in the army

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded rapid changes in the work of the army of Ukraine and announced the change of the head of the medical military units.

It came after Zelensky's meeting with Defense Minister Rustem Umierov and coincided with the debate surrounding the conduct of the 20-month-long war with Russia - with questions about how quickly the counteroffensive in the east and south is happening.

"The task is clear - and this has been discussed many times in the public, especially among our military doctors - we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our army ... The experience of the effectiveness of certain units must be extended to all defense forces. At a meeting with Defense Minister Umierov, we defined priorities, and there will not be much time to wait for results. Changes must be made quickly," Zelensky said.

Tatyana Ostashchenko's dismissal comes a week after Ukrainian media reported that she and other officials would be removed soon after consultations with paramedics and other officials responsible for providing military support to the army, Reuters noted.

Ukrainian forces fought 45 battles against the Russian aggressor on Sunday, the General Staff in Kyiv announced. From there, they specify that the enemy continues to attack in the hottest points of the front, although with reduced intensity. Ukrainian forces continue to hold positions on the left bank of the Dnieper River in the Kherson region and from there fire on the positions of the Russians, causing them losses in manpower and equipment.

The General Staff in Kyiv also reported that on Sunday, Russian troops carried out 16 airstrikes and carried out 41 strikes with rocket launchers on positions of Ukrainian troops and on a number of populated areas.

A grenade exploded in a residence in Kyiv; there are two dead

A Ukrainian soldier and a woman were killed late last night when a grenade exploded in an apartment in Kyiv, the police in the Ukrainian capital said. The cause of the explosion, in which one person was injured, is currently unclear, Reuters reported.

Explosives technicians and investigators are working on site in Kyiv's Dnipro region, the Kyiv police said in a statement.

A citizen reported to the police that there was an explosion in a neighboring apartment, and law enforcement officers and doctors arrived at the scene, reports Ukrinform. According to preliminary police data, the wounded man is the brother of the dead serviceman. He is hospitalized.

Reuters recalls that at the beginning of this month, an aide to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, died when a grenade he received as a birthday present exploded.

A Ukrainian teenager has returned to his homeland after being taken to Russia

A Ukrainian teenager who was taken to Russia from the occupied city of Mariupol during the war returned to Ukraine yesterday, Reuters reported.

Bohdan Ermokhin, who turned 18 on the same day, appealed to President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this month to help return him to Ukraine. In March, he tried to leave Russia and go to Ukraine via Belarus, but was stopped and turned back. Ermokhin is an orphan and was placed in a foster family near Moscow.

"I believed I would be in Ukraine, but not on this day," Yermokhin told Reuters while eating at a gas station after crossing into Ukraine. "It's a very nice gift, if I must be precise. The emotions are very strong," he added.

Zelensky welcomed Ermokhin's return in his evening video address. "Many attempts were made to help him. I am happy that everything worked out," he said, expressing gratitude to Ukrainian officials, international organizations, and in particular the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Qatari authorities for their help in mediation.

Ukraine claims that since the February 24, 2022 invasion, 20,000 children have been illegally transferred to Russia, some of them given up for adoption. Kyiv claims it is a war crime, a charge rejected by Russia, which says it is protecting children in a war zone.


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