Day 725 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Vowed That Kyiv Would Regain Its Lost Territories

World » UKRAINE | February 18, 2024, Sunday // 14:12
Bulgaria: Day 725 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Vowed That Kyiv Would Regain Its Lost Territories

Day 725 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • Zelensky vowed that Kyiv would regain its lost territories
  • Russia hit Kramatorsk, there are casualties
  • Biden blamed Congress for the Ukrainian defeat in Avdiivka
  • Ukraine claims that Russian losses at Avdiivka are over 47,000 people
  • Navalny's relatives continue to search for his body
  • The foreign ministers of Ukraine and China discussed the prospects for peace between Moscow and Kyiv


Zelensky vowed that Kyiv would regain its lost territories

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the capture of the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka an "important victory" after Ukraine's military chief said his troops had withdrawn from the devastated eastern town after months of intense fighting. At the same time, Russian forces shelled the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region. Strikes were also carried out against the Kharkiv region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the army on the capture of Avdiivka. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the success will help move the front line away from the city of Donetsk. The ministry states that measures are currently being taken to clear the settlement and to block the Ukrainian soldiers who have left the city and are currently hiding in the nearby coke and chemical plant.

US President Joe Biden blamed the US Congress for the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka. He criticized Congress for failing to approve $60 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Biden urged lawmakers to urgently pass the bill to help Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

At the same time, however, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, who participated in the Munich Security Conference, said that Kyiv will regain its lost territories:

"Biden admits that the weakening of arms aid to Ukraine led to the withdrawal from Avdiivka. We want to save the lives of our guys, and I'm glad that the military command made such a right decision. But we will take everything back, and we will not give anything to these killers, I'm sure of it."

Yesterday, Russia struck the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. Local authorities reported two deaths, 2 buildings were destroyed and more than 20 others were damaged. In Sloviansk, a school was hit, where there is an aid distribution point. A fire has broken out, rescuers are working on the scene.

More than 20 strikes were carried out in the Kharkiv area, most in the direction of Kupiansk, targeting civilian infrastructure. A two-story building and several private houses were destroyed, and people were injured.

Russia hit Kramatorsk, there are casualties

A Russian strike on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk hit houses last night and killed at least two people, the regional governor said, quoted by AFP and BTA. Rescuers continued to search for a third person, who is believed to be still under the rubble.

"Rescuers recovered the body of a woman born in 1977, as well as that of a 23-year-old man," Governor Vadim Filashkin said after initially mentioning that there was "probably" a family of four under the rubble.

AFP journalists on the ground saw rescuers carrying a body out in a body bag as others cleared the rubble.

"First there was a loud noise, then an explosion, and finally the windows and doors of our house were blown out by the blast," said 25-year-old Kramatorsk resident Alexander.

The impact carved a large crater next to the house. Dozens of rescuers were at the site of the impact and were working with shovels in the light of searchlights, AFP journalists noted. From time to time they turned off the searchlights, powered by noisy generators, to detect possible signs of life.

The last major city in Donbas under Ukrainian control, Kramatorsk, is located about 20 kilometers from the front line in eastern Ukraine.

Since the start of the war two years ago, this city has been subject to repeated attacks by Russian forces. In April 2022, the Kramatorsk railway station was bombed, killing over 60 people.

Yesterday, Russian troops carried out more than 20 strikes in the Kharkiv region, most of them in the direction of Kupiansk. This was announced on Telegram by the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, Oleg Sinegubov, Ukrinform reported.

"The Kharkiv region is under intense shelling from the Russian Federation. The enemy is using artillery, guided aerial bombs and high-intensity missiles. They are targeting civilian infrastructure. Today alone, more than 20 attacks have been carried out, most of them in the direction of Kupiansk," wrote yesterday Sinegubov.

In particular, Russian troops attempted to fire at a civilian enterprise in the village of Tsirkuny, Kharkiv region, with S-300 air defense systems. There were no casualties, added the head of the regional military administration.

According to the head of the regional police, Volodymyr Tymoshko, there were three strikes in the Tsirkuny area.

As reported, Russian troops shelled Kupiansk around 1:30 PM on February 17 and destroyed a two-story building and several private houses, injuring five people. According to the police, the invaders dropped more than 10 guided and high-explosive bombs on residential areas.

At around 6:40pm last night, the Russians bombed a utility company. A search operation has been launched at both locations as there may be people under the debris.

In the Kupiansk region, two educational institutions were damaged as a result of the strikes.

Biden blamed Congress for the Ukrainian defeat in Avdiivka

US President Joe Biden blamed the US Congress for the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, saying that inaction in Washington led to this defeat, DPA reported, quoted by BTA.

"The Ukrainian military was forced to withdraw from Avdiivka this morning after Ukrainian troops had to conserve ammunition due to dwindling supplies as a result of congressional inaction, resulting in Russia's first noticeable advance in months," the White House announced yesterday after a telephone call between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Biden again assured Zelensky of US support and stressed the urgent need for Congress to authorize a new aid package for Ukraine, the White House reported.

After long delays, the Senate recently approved plans for about $60 billion in new aid to Ukraine.

Approval in the House of Representatives is not certain. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, said he would not bring the bill up for debate. A vote is still theoretically possible through a complicated, rarely used process known as a discharge petition, which could move the bill through the House of Representatives.

Biden, a Democrat, has repeatedly called on Congress to act. The White House recently warned of Avdiivka's fall and blamed congressional inaction for the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces.

The withdrawal from the city, which has been fought for months, is another setback for the Ukrainian army, which is defending itself against Russia.

Ukraine claims that Russian losses at Avdiivka are over 47,000 people

The losses of the Russian army in the battles for Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine exceed 47 thousand people, the Ukrainian General Staff of the army announced. Russia has never disclosed since September 2022 its losses or where they suffered them. Ukraine also does not indicate such information, and the explanation may be both keeping a military secret and an attempt not to demoralize the population.

A day earlier, the same data, but without details, announced Dmytro Lykhoviy, spokesman for the operational-strategic group "Tavria", in whose zone Avdiivka is located. The Ukrainians withdrew from the city on Friday, explaining that the lives of the soldiers had to be preserved. However, Ukrainian soldiers were confirmed to be surrounded and captured, and there were reports of fierce clashes in an attempt to protect the retreaters.

According to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, in the so-called Avdiivka defense operation, "with their courage, endurance and heroism, the Ukrainian defenders inflicted huge losses on the enemy and destroyed a significant reserve of the Russian occupiers, which they planned to use in other sections of the front for offensive actions".

For the past four months (from October 10, 2023 to February 17, 2024), the area of the fortified city, which guards an important transport line in the rear and could be used for the offensive towards nearby Donetsk, has seen almost continuous Russian attacks. According to US analysts from the Institute for the Study of War, numerical superiority, artillery fire (with scarce ammunition from the Ukrainian side) and especially air dominance in recent weeks and days with the use of kamikaze drones have proved decisive.

Here are the claims of the Ukrainian military about the enemy's damage:

personnel - 47,186 people tanks - 364 artillery systems - 248 armored fighting vehicles - 748 airplanes - 5

Dmytro Lykhoviy also said in an interview with the BBC that the number of Russian soldiers killed was 17 thousand. This cannot be independently verified.

In Munich on Saturday, the Ukrainian president said that in the fighting for Avdiivka, casualties were roughly one in seven, which would mean approximately 6,700 Ukrainian casualties, of which more than 2,400 were killed, if the General Staff figures were correct. The Russian Ministry of Defense today claimed that more than 1,500 Ukrainian soldiers were killed there.

Navalny's relatives continue to search for his body

Two days after the death of Alexei Navalny, his relatives continue to search for his mortal remains.

The opposition leader's mother, wife and lawyers are in Siberia but have not yet been allowed to the morgue where Navalny's body is believed to be.

Kira Yarmysh, who is a spokeswoman for the Russian opposition leader, called for the remains of Alexei Navalny to be handed over to his relatives immediately.

According to Yarmysh, the Russian authorities are lying and trying to cover up evidence surrounding his death.

An associate of Navalny reported that prison authorities told his mother that he had died of "sudden death syndrome".

There is no official report on the death of the oppositionist yet.

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and China discussed the prospects for peace between Moscow and Kyiv

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has discussed the prospects for peace with his Chinese counterpart as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its third year, he said yesterday, quoted by Reuters.

Kuleba's talks with Wang Yi are in the context of Kyiv's long-standing efforts to strengthen relations with Beijing, BTA points out.

In a statement released today by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang said Beijing is working tirelessly to promote peace talks with Ukraine and called for the talks to be restarted as soon as possible.

"I met with my Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to discuss bilateral relations, trade and the need to restore a just and lasting peace in Ukraine," Kuleba wrote on the X social platform regarding the talks at the Munich Security Conference ending today.

The Ukrainian army, meanwhile, reported that it shot down a Su-34 fighter-bomber, an Kh-59 cruise missile and twelve attack drones sent by Russia last night.

"I want to thank the units of the Air Force for their successful combat activity," wrote the commander of the Air Force of Ukraine Mykola Oleshchuk this morning on his channel on the Telegram application.

"Have a nice day everyone!" he added.

Reuters makes the caveat that the information mentioned has not been independently verified.


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Tags: Ukraine, Zelensky, Russia, Avdiivka

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