Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Kiev is determined to reclaim control over the country’s southern cities that have been captured by Russia.
Zelensky made the remark in his nightly video address to the nation on Wednesday, stressing that Kiev would take back the captured cities — namely Kherson, Melitopol, Berdiansk, Enerhodar, and Mariupol.
“All of our cities and communities under occupation — under temporary occupation — should know that Ukraine will return,” he said.
Zalensky said Russia had fired more than 2,000 missiles during its offensive against Ukraine, adding that the majority of the missiles had hit civilian infrastructure and had brought no strategic military benefit.
In the past day, Russian missiles have hit the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Dnipro, he added.
The Ukrainian president further thanked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for the EU’s 9-billion-euro ($9.5bn) macro-financial aid and recovery program for Ukraine.
“This step by the European Commission is a testament to the true leadership that the European Union is capable of. And it will definitely help us in the struggle for our common freedom,” he said.
Later in the day, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Ukraine would not compromise with Russia and would not give up any territory.
“The only option for reconciliation is Russia’s capitulation, the withdrawal of troops and talks on compensation. This is the principle position of the government,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the military offensive against Ukraine on February 24.
The Untied States and its allies have stepped up military support for Ukraine, sending an array of sophisticated weapons meant to hold off Russia’s rapid advances. The operation has also drawn unprecedented sanctions from the US and its European allies.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that such a flow of weapons to Kiev will prolong Russia’s operations.
Over 900 Ukrainian soldiers from Azovstal sent to detention center: Russia
Meanwhile, Russia says more than 900 Ukrainian troops who were at the blockaded Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, have been sent to a detention center on Russian-controlled territory.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that of the 959 Ukrainian servicemen who had surrendered since Tuesday, 51 were being treated for their injuries and the remainder had been sent to a former prison colony in the town of Olenivka in a Russian-controlled area of the eastern Donetsk region.
She said all the wounded Azovstal soldiers “will be provided with qualified medical care.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry also released videos of “Ukrainian fighters” receiving hospital treatment in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk after surrendering at Azovstal.
It said 1,730 fighters had surrendered from Azovstal since Monday, which includes a further 771 who surrendered in the last 24 hours. Eighty were wounded.
The Russian defense ministry said “those in need of inpatient treatment receive assistance in medical institutions” in Novoazovsk and Donetsk.
ICRC registers Ukrainian POWs in Azovstal
Meanwhile, a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has registered hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) who left the Azovstal steel plant this week. On May 17, the ICRC started registering combatants leaving the flashpoint industrial area, including the wounded, at the request of the parties.
Mariupol is the biggest city Russia has managed to capture since its offensive against Ukraine started in late February.