You are here

Ukraine fights Russian surge on anniversary of revolution

By AFP - Feb 20,2024 - Last updated at Feb 20,2024

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine said on Tuesday it was fighting off dozens of attacks, after President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces were exploiting delays in Western military aid and called the situation "extremely difficult".

A heightened Russian offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine saw Moscow's forces capture the key eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka last week in a boost ahead of the second anniversary of the Kremlin's February 2022 invasion.

The surge comes as Ukraine marks the 10th anniversary of the shooting of dozens of protesters in Kyiv during a revolution that toppled the country's Moscow-backed leadership.

The uprising also signalled the start of Russia's annexation of Crimea in the south of Ukraine and a pro-Russian separatist movement in the east.

"It has been 10 years since the attempts to destroy us and our independence," Zelensky said on Facebook on Tuesday.

"But we stood firm 10 years ago and continue to do so today," he said.

The head of Zelensky's office, Andriy Yermak, said Russia "sought to turn us into its colony but did not achieve its goal. We will win".

Sviataslav Yaremenko fought for several months in the industrial eastern Donetsk region in 2014, when Kremlin-backed separatists seized towns and cities there in the wake of the Maidan protests.

The 40-year-old joined again on February 25, 2022, the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"It feels like a different life. After these two years, the fatigue is overwhelming," he told AFP in the town of Kostyantynivka, which was briefly captured by the separatists during the fighting a decade ago.

He said there was still resolve among Ukrainian forces to fight until Russia has been pushed out entirely but said he hoped the war would end "as soon as possible".

“I think we’ll have to keep fighting for several years, two or three more. It all depends on how much our Western partners will help us.”

“We have a lot of needs, armoured vehicles, weapons, ammunition. We need everything.”

The Ukrainian army general staff said there had been “81 combat clashes” over the past 24 hours, adding that Russian forces had carried out 87 air strikes.

Five civilians died in a strike on a village near the Russian border in Ukraine’s Sumy region, the army said.

The Ukrainian military has said it is critically short of ammunition and shells, worsened by the holdup of a $60 billion US aid package.

“The situation is extremely difficult in several parts of the front line, where Russian troops have concentrated maximum reserves,” Zelensky said on Monday after visiting frontline troops in the Kharkiv region.

Russian troops “are taking advantage of the delays in helping Ukraine”, Zelensky added, highlighting shortages of artillery, frontline air defence and longer-range weapons.

US President Joe Biden told Zelensky on Sunday that he was “confident” the Republican-dominated US Congress would approve the critically needed aid package.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Tuesday he also believed Congress would come through after it returned from recess.

He said his country would “continue our fight” with international support.

Asked about “Ukraine fatigue” in the international community at a press conference in Tokyo, Shmygal said: “I believe the United States will support Ukraine also, like the European Union, like Japan, like all the G7 countries and the IMF and all international financial organisations.”

“We can’t speak about fatigue because it’s an existential war,” he said.

“You can’t be fatigued when you’re fighting for your future, for your life... for [the] global security order.”

Biden has said another Ukrainian town could fall to Russia without the new US aid and Ukrainian commanders have predicted that Russia will move troops from Avdiivka to other parts of the front line.

Following the fall of Avdiivka, the US-based Institute for the Study of War said “Russian actors” had conducted a cyber operation “aimed at generating panic in the Ukrainian information space and weakening Ukrainian morale”.

up
21 users have voted.


Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.

PDF