Volodymyr Zelenskyy vows to win back lost cities after Severodonetsk ‘fully occupied’ by Moscow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday said Ukraine would win back all the cities it had lost to Russia, including Severodonetsk, and admitted the war was becoming tough to handle emotionally.
In a late-night video address, he also said Ukraine had been hit by 45 Russian missiles and rockets over the previous 24 hours, which he described as a cynical but doomed attempt to break his people’s spirits.
“Therefore all our cities – Severodonetsk, Donetsk, Luhansk – we’ll get them all back,” he said.

It was the only time in the address that he mentioned Severodonetsk, which finally fell to Moscow’s forces earlier in the day after weeks of brutal fighting.


“At this stage of the war it’s spiritually difficult, emotionally difficult … we don’t have a sense of how long it will last, how many more blows, losses and efforts will be needed before we see victory is on the horizon,” he said.
The relentless missile attacks confirmed that sanctions against Russia were not enough to help Ukraine, which needed more weapons, he said.
“The air defence systems – the modern systems that our partners have – should not be on training grounds or in storage, but in Ukraine, where they are needed now, needed more than anywhere else in the world,” he said.
On Saturday, Severodonetsk’s mayor said the city was “fully occupied” by the Russian army. “The city has been fully occupied by the Russians,” Oleksandr Striuk said.

Later on Saturday, the Russian defence ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov announced the “total liberation” of Severodonetsk as well as nearby villages Borivske, Voronove and Syrotyne.


“All territory on the left bank of the Donets river within the limits of the Lugansk region is under control” of Russian and pro-Russian forces, he said.
The Ukrainian army on Friday said it would withdraw its forces from the city of around 100,000 inhabitants before the war to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk. Both lie in the wider Lugansk region.
Moscow to send Belarus nuclear-capable missiles
Russia will deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Mr Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television at the start of his meeting with Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg.


He also offered to upgrade Belarus’ warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons, amid soaring tensions with the West over Ukraine.

“Many Su-25 (aircraft) are in service with the Belarusian military. They could be upgraded in an appropriate way,” the Russian leader said.

“This modernisation should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this,” he added after Mr Lukashenko asked him to “adapt” the planes.
“We will agree on how to accomplish this,” Mr Putin said. Mr Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country launched a military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, in what the West has seen as a warning to the West not to intervene.

Mr Lukashenko said last month that his country had bought Iskander nuclear-capable missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft anti-missile systems from Russia.

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