(Kyiv) President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the eastern front near Bakhmout, a city that has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, on Wednesday, while a Russian strike on a residential building injured around 30 and one dead in Zaporizhia.
The Russian army, for its part, claimed to have “repelled” a drone attack in annexed Crimea, a few days after a very rare visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin there.
“ Donetsk region. Frontline positions of the Ukrainian soldiers in the direction of Bakhmout”, announced Volodymyr Zelensky on Telegram by posting a video of his trip on Wednesday in the vicinity of this city, “ almost surrounded ” by Russian forces according to an official of the pro-Russian separatists.
His visit near Bakhmout, the epicenter of the fighting against the Russians, comes a few hours after the departure of Chinese President Xi Jinping from Moscow, after a summit with Vladimir Putin where they displayed their union against Westerners.
Volodymyr Zelensky was thus making his second visit to the Bakhmout area, the first dating from December 20, just before making a historic trip to the United States.
In the images, he is seen in a hangar without protective equipment, but accompanied by heavily armed bodyguards handing out decorations to soldiers in combat gear.
“ I am honored to decorate the best of our heroes, to shake your hand and thank you for the defense of our State and sovereignty”, he declared to them.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russia launched 21 Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 combat drones against Ukraine, an operation that began shortly before midnight, the Ukrainian Air Force said, claiming to have shot down 16 of them. .
Besides sending these “Iranian murderous drones”, the Russians fired missiles, there were “numerous bombardments”. “All this is just the last night of Russian terror”, denounced Mr. Zelensky, condemning “criminal strikes”.
Seven people were killed and nine others were injured when a vocational high school in Rzhyshchiv, a town about 80 kilometers south of Kyiv, was hit overnight Tuesday-Wednesday in a drone raid, according to Andriy Nebytov , the chief of police of the Kyiv region.
In another strike, at least one person was killed and 32 were injured, including three children, according to the rescue services, when “ two Russian missiles ” fell on an apartment building in Zaporizhia, in the south of the Ukraine, according to local authorities.
Volodymyr Zelensky immediately accused Russia of “bombing the city with bestial savagery”.
Russia, for its part, assured that it had “repelled” on Wednesday a drone attack on Sevastopol, the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, in southern Crimea, four days after a rare visit there by Vladimir Cheese fries.
“ The three aircraft were destroyed ”, assured the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu.
There were no casualties and “ the situation is under control ”, said local governor Mikhail Razvojayev, installed by the Russians.
Since the start of the offensive against Ukraine, Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, has been the target of combat drones several times, without Kyiv claiming responsibility for the attacks.
Xi Jinping left for Russia in the morning where he showed his agreement with Vladimir Putin against the West.
The two men had praised, the day before, the entry into a “new era” of their “special” relationship, the Russian president cautiously supporting the Chinese plan intended to settle the conflict in Ukraine, while accusing Kyiv of rejecting it.
In the absence of a breakthrough on this issue, their summit was above all intended to demonstrate the solidity of the ties uniting Russia and China.
The Kremlin said Wednesday that it was not surprised at the critical comments coming from the West.
“As far as the reaction of the countries of the collective West is concerned, the fact that their reaction on all subjects was unfriendly and hostile in nature is not news to anyone,” quipped Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. .
In this context, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov judged that the supply by London to Ukraine of ammunition containing depleted uranium, recently mentioned by a British official, would constitute a “serious aggravation” of the conflict.
Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday that Russia would be “forced to retaliate” if such a delivery took place, without providing further details.