100 days after the Russian invasion of his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his belief in victory. There are three things his compatriots are fighting for: peace, victory, Ukraine, Zelenskyy said in his video address on Friday. This was recorded outdoors in front of his official residence in Kyiv.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the attack on the neighboring country. So Saturday is the 101st day of the war for Ukraine.
Representatives of his country would only sit down again at the negotiating table when their military position was stronger, said Ukraine’s chief negotiator Dawyd Arakhamiya. A break in negotiations would be better as long as heavy fighting was raging in the east of the country.
There, in the city of Sieverodonetsk in the Donbass, Russian and Ukrainian soldiers continued to fight for every street. At the same time, according to the Ukrainian military, they observed a gathering of Russian troops who were apparently supposed to attack the city of Sloviansk.
“Exactly 100 days ago we woke up to a new reality,” Zelenskyy said in the speech. He described the experience of the war in 100 words that Ukrainians should have learned. These included terrible terms like rocket hits, ruins, deportation. Place names associated with war atrocities were added, such as Hostomel, Bucha or Mariupol, the names of Russian, Ukrainian and foreign weapon systems. But there are also positive words: reconstruction, return, liberation.
Before the attack, the Russian army had a reputation as the second strongest in the world, Zelenskyy said. “What’s left of her?” he asked: “War crimes, shame and hatred.” But Ukraine existed, it exists and will exist.
According to the Ukrainian General Staff, the Russian army is gathering forces for an attack on the city of Sloviansk. The military spoke on Facebook on Friday evening of up to 20 Russian tactical battalion groups (BTG). These are combat units with armored infantry, artillery and anti-aircraft defenses; they number from 600 to 800 soldiers.
Sloviansk is part of the eastern Ukrainian administrative region of Donetsk, which Russia is committed to conquering completely. The city is also in the rear of the city of Sievjerodonetsk in the Luhansk region, which has been fought over for days
The enemy is advancing there under cover of heavy artillery fire in the residential areas, but has only had partial success, the Ukrainian side said. Russian forces have announced that they have almost complete control of the city. On the other hand, the Ukrainian regional administration reported that its own army had won back a fifth of the city with counterattacks. As always, the military information was initially not independently verifiable.
The chief negotiator in Kiev, Arakhamiya, said on Ukrainian television: “Negotiations should continue when our negotiating position is strengthened.” Ukraine will become stronger primarily because “the weapons that international partners are constantly promising us finally arrive in sufficient quantities “.
The faction leader of the presidential party Servant of the People led the Kiev delegation in talks with Russia in the first weeks of the war. However, the contact ebbed away when, following the withdrawal of Russian soldiers, atrocities in Kiev suburbs such as Bucha became known. Selenskyj does not want to negotiate again until Russian troops withdraw to their pre-war positions. He also wants to speak directly to Putin, which Russia has so far refused to do.
According to a CNN report, the USA, Great Britain and European allies have been discussing how the war could be ended through a negotiated solution in the past few weeks. According to the information, it was also about a proposal that Italy had submitted in May.
According to this, Ukraine should remain militarily neutral, i.e. not join NATO and receive security guarantees in return. Kyiv and Moscow should agree in negotiations on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia and the separatist areas in the Donbass.
One consequence of the war is the loss of grain supplies from Ukraine, which threatens to lead to famine, especially in Africa. At a meeting with Putin on Friday, African Union (AU) President Macky Sall insisted on ending the blockade on exports. According to his interpretation of the conversation, Putin was ready to ensure the export of wheat and fertilizers to the African continent.
Putin denied any responsibility for the shortage of grain on the world market. The crisis had already begun before the war, which, according to official terminology in Russia, is called a special military operation. It is not his country that is preventing wheat exports from Ukraine, Putin said on television. Ukraine should remove the mines off its ports on the Black Sea coast. The Russian army will not use this for attacks, he promised.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine is ready to start exporting grain again through the port of Odessa. But there is no guarantee from Russia that this will not be used for an attack. “We are looking for solutions with the UN and other partners.”