Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the eastern front near Kupiansk on Thursday, a city threatened for several months by Russian attacks, whose bombings killed six civilians in eastern and southern Ukraine.
At 22e months of a largely frozen conflict in the south and east after a summer Ukrainian counter-offensive without a major breakthrough, President Zelensky visited a command post near Kupiansk, in the Kharkiv region (north-east).
“I wish you victory, be strong and do not lose the initiative,” he said during a presentation of decorations to soldiers, according to a video published by the presidency.
In the evening, he said he attended two meetings with the military devoted to defensive fortifications, while Russian troops have regained the initiative in recent months by launching assaults near Kupiansk and Avdiivka, in the east.
According to Mr. Zelensky, the discussion focused on “all important areas where we need to stimulate and accelerate the construction of” defensive structures.
He had already visited this region at the beginning of October. While it was the target of Russian attacks in the summer, Ukrainian authorities called on the local population to evacuate the area.
The Russian Defense Ministry, for its part, said Thursday that it had “repulsed two attacks” by the Ukrainian army near the village of Synkivka, less than 10 km from Kupiansk, with the help of artillery and aircraft. fight.
Nighttime Russian bombings left at least two dead and ten injured – including four children – in three towns near the town of Avdiivka (east), which Moscow’s forces have been trying to surround and take for almost two months.
In total, six S-300 missiles hit the towns of Pokrovsk, Myrnograd and Novogrodivka, located about forty kilometers northwest of Avdiïvka, according to the Ukrainian Interior Minister.
In Novogrodivka, the bodies of two men were found under the rubble of an apartment building, where emergency services were still looking for three other missing people, including a child, emergency services said in a new report.
In Pokrovsk, a six-month-old baby and two boys aged 16 and 13 were injured, the minister said.
Since mid-October, the industrial town of Avdiïvka has faced incessant attacks from Moscow’s forces, which are located to the east, north and south of the town.
In the Avdiïvka sector, “the enemy continues its active land infantry attacks. […] In some places it uses armored vehicles,” said Oleksandr Tarnavsky, the Ukrainian commander in charge of the area.
Prisoner exchanges blocked
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian army continued its bombings, causing victims in particular among civilians.
In the Kherson region (south), three people were killed in the morning by artillery fire on the village of Sadové, on the right bank of the Dnieper river, controlled by Ukrainian forces, according to local authorities.
Finally, in Toretsk, in the east, one person was killed and three were injured in the evening by a Russian strike carried out using two KAB-250 bombs, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.
The Ukrainian Air Force also declared Thursday morning that it had shot down 14 of the 20 Russian attack drones launched overnight over the southern, eastern and central regions of the country.
According to Oleksandr Tarnavsky, Ukrainian forces repelled more than 20 Russian attacks on several towns and villages around Avdiivka and captured dozens of Russian soldiers in the past month.
On the subject of prisoners of war, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner on Thursday accused Russia of blocking any exchange between the two countries, as thousands are believed to be held by each side and the last exchange, according to media reports, dates back to last August.
“The exchanges are not taking place, because Russia does not want them,” Dmytro Loubinets, human rights commissioner of the Ukrainian Parliament, said on Telegram.
He indicated in August that kyiv had managed to recover nearly 2,600 of its prisoners since the start of the Russian invasion, i.e. since February 2022.