Another round of negotiations aimed at ending the crisis in Ukraine was set for Tuesday, as the combat on the ground looked to be at a standstill, with the two sides swapping control of a town in the east and a suburb of Kiev.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday that Ukrainian forces had retaken Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, from Russian soldiers who were regrouping to retake the territory.
In his nightly video message to the country, Zelenskyy added, “We still have to battle, we still have to persevere.” “We are unable to communicate our feelings at this time.” We can’t boost expectations only to avoid burning out.”
The Ukrainian president stated ahead of the talks in Istanbul that his nation is ready to declare neutrality, as Moscow has wanted, in statements that might give the discussions a boost.
Over the weekend, Zelenskyy said that a deal may be reached on “the complicated subject of Donbas,” Ukraine’s highly contested eastern territory. It’s unclear how this squares with his assertion that “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are unquestionable.”
Russia has long insisted that Ukraine abandon any plans to join NATO, which it regards as a danger. For his part, Zelenskyy has stated that any agreement must include Ukraine’s own security assurances.
As battle continued across the nation, the mayor of Irpin, which has seen some of the most intense fighting, declared the city “liberated” from Russian forces.
According to a senior US defense official, the Ukrainians have also retaken the town of Trostyanets in the east, south of Sumy.
The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. intelligence assessments, said Russian soldiers were mostly in defensive positions near Kyiv, the country’s capital, and were making little forward movement elsewhere.
According to the official, Russia appears to be focusing less on ground operations near Kyiv and more on the Donbas, a primarily Russian-speaking region where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting for eight years.
With its soldiers mired down in several sections of the nation, Russia appeared to tone back its war objectives late last week, stating that its main goal was to regain control of the Donbas.
The possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face-saving departure strategy has sparked suspicions in Ukraine that the Kremlin is attempting to partition the nation and force it to give a slice of its land.
Ukrainian army have driven the Russians back in other areas in recent days.
After combat a few days ago, Associated Press reporters discovered the carcass of a Russian rocket launcher, a burnt Russian truck, the body of a Russian soldier, and a wrecked Ukrainian tank in Makariv, on a major route west of the capital.
The AP saw fortifications abandoned by Ukrainian forces who had retreated farther west in the neighboring settlement of Yasnohorodka, but no Russian troops.
In barely over a month of conflict, Russia has destroyed more than 60 religious structures across Ukraine, with the majority of the damage focused in Kyiv and in the east, Ukraine’s military stated in a statement Tuesday.
The Orthodox church, which is the country’s main faith, was the worst hit, but mosques, synagogues, Protestant churches, and religious schools were also damaged, according to the report.
On Monday, Ukraine’s national telecommunications operator, Ukrtelecom, was nearly totally taken offline due to a cyberattack. Yurii Shchyhol, the head of Ukraine’s state service for special communication, blamed “the adversary” without identifying Russia, and claimed most clients were cut off from phone, internet, and mobile service to guarantee that Ukraine’s military was covered.
The governor of western Ukraine’s Rivne region said an oil store was damaged by a missile on Monday, the second attack on oil infrastructure in the region near the Polish border.