Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 41 settlements in southern Ukraine had been liberated following Russia’s decision to withdraw to the eastern bank of the Dnipro.
« Today we have good news from the south – the number of Ukrainian flags returning to their rightful place as part of the ongoing defense operation has already reached tens. Forty-one settlements have been liberated, » said Zelensky.
Zelensky used his daily video address to congratulate several units involved in the advance through the southern Kherson region.
He added: “Everything that is happening now has been achieved through months of hard struggle. Achieved by courage, pain and loss. It is not the enemy that is leaving. It is the Ukrainians who are suing the occupiers at great expense.
Zelensky said police units had moved into several Kherson settlements, but liberating Ukrainian territory was only the first step in a long process.
The first fundamental thing is demining. The occupiers left behind thousands of mines and unexploded ordnance. I have often heard estimates that clearing Ukraine of Russian mines will take decades. We can’t wait that long, » the Ukrainian president said.
“The invaders are mining everything: power lines, commercial businesses, fields, forests,” he said. « At the peak of mine contamination in Ukraine, we had 300,000 square kilometers of potentially deadly territory. »
Now, he said, thanks to the efforts of the sappers, « there are about 170,000 square kilometers left to clear. In particular, it is in the most difficult places – where the fighting continues, where the enemy will add more mines before its withdrawal, as is now the case in Kherson. »
Zelensky thanked the dozen countries helping with mine clearance. He also alluded to Ukraine’s objectives in the conflict.
« We must go all the way – on the battlefield and in diplomacy – so that our flags, the Ukrainian flags and never again any enemy tricolor are on our entire territory, inside our internationally recognized border, » he said.
Zelensky also thanked the Netherlands and the United States for the new aid injections – around $100 million from the Netherlands and a new military assistance program from the United States. « Significant air defense assets. Exactly what we need, what we asked for, » he said.